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Archive for the 'Science Fiction' Category

The Lost Week

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

After putting together my computer this week I was left with the decision whether to update my old drive or do a clean install and set it up from scratch. I chose the latter and what a pain it has been. You just want to sit down with your shiny new hardware and do something but instead it’s an endless series of installs and reboots. On top of that, the connector on my old keyboard got loose I had to replace it. This is the first time I have tried to type very much on my new one and it’s going to take getting used to.

Last week someone left a comment asking if I had tried the Nick Bounty games at Pinhead Games. Saturday we spent a lot of time doing things like dealing with frozen water pipes. Luckily they weren’t damaged. So it was nice to kick back on Sunday and play some games. The Nick Bounty series are classic adventure games with full voice acting and the look, talk, get, etc. verb set. One thing I was reminded of when playing them was although choosing a verb as opposed to just clicking on an object is more work, in the old adventure games as well as these, adding the extra step provides a way to inject more (often silly) humor into them. The plot lines were pretty silly too but that is the point to playing them I suppose. I did laugh at some of the jokes and there is a pretty funny scene in the second game where everything is dark and the voice actor describes an outrageous scene to you.

I’ve been writing this blog long enough I have gotten to the point where it is hard to remember whether I have already mentioned something or not. I guess if it’s a good thing it’s worth mentioning again. That’s the way I felt about this video of people doing maintenance on high voltage cables. I suppose you probably get used to it but there’s no way I would get out there.

I know I’ve mentioned this alloy before, I’m pretty sure I linked to this video. It’s also known as muscle wire because it is not only a shape-memory alloy but it also shrinks when heated so you can make things move by running current through it.


More Science experiments at 5min.com

Check out these awesome ice storm photos.

Speaking of winter, that’s a lot of snow!

Last night we watched Resident Evil- Degeneration. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the other Resident Evil films but I wanted to see it because it is computer generated. It’s funny how not-quite-real computer generated people look creepy. This article at New Scientist talks about that and how machines are coming closer to people in other ways like talking and playing music.

According to this article the next group of people to be put out of jobs by technology will be call center workers.

I thought this was kind of interesting; this guy was an expert at putting things in bottles.

If you’re not a programmer you probably have never heard the phrase “That’s not a bug, it’s a feature“.

It’s kind of fuzzy but this is what meteors look like from space.

This is what a hermit crab in a glass shell looks like.

Here are some long time exposure photos. The one of the fireworks is particularly cool.

If you are prone to seizures you probably don’t want to follow this link. Here are more examples of what I call wiggle vision 3D photos. The author calls them lenticulations. It kind of makes my head hurt to look at them. I thought the one of the dog (14) was the best one.

I suppose you could call lenticular clouds lenticulations. This one looks a lot less like a UFO than others I’ve seen.

How would you like to live in a house made of paper that costs 5000 dollars? By the way, 36 square meters is 387.5 square feet.

Here are some large computer generated fantasy landscapes.

This is a pretty cool picture of a drop of seawater and what is inside.

I thought this was kind of funny. A bank made a mistake and deposited a bunch of money in a couple’s account. They claimed they didn’t notice. This actually happened to a friend of mine, but he was smart enough not to try to keep it.

This is just a nice sunset picture.

My fingers hurt from this new keyboard. Here is your funny animal picture of happy seals.

Dream Machine

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

I read this article about scientists developing a machine that can produce images from your dreams with some skepticism. I guess it’s one of those things you would have to experience to believe. I had the thought if they could do that then why couldn’t they make a machine that allows you to render an image and all you have to do is imagine it.

The biggest full moon of the year occurs on Dec. 12th.

A Dyson sphere is where an advanced civilization has built a sphere completely encompassing a star to optimize solar energy collection. This article is about trying to detect them. If a civilization were advanced enough to actually build one of those things, they might also have the technology to keep even low level infrared energy from escaping.

I posted some wallpaper sources recently. Here is another one which is mostly holiday pet pictures. Then again I can’t read anything there so maybe that is just a section.

As if dressing up your poor animal isn’t bad enough, these people actually painted their cats. I wonder what type of paint you would use given the first thing they would do is try to clean themselves off.

I got a chuckle out of this story about a real life cat burglar who steals fuzzy toys from the neighbors. It reminded me of one a while back where a cat collected gloves and mittens.

This is another one of those collections of fantasy sci-fi like creations.

This is a pretty funny shot.

This one’s just pretty.

I’ve never actually seen lenticular clouds, just pictures. Then again I haven’t spent much time near any large mountains.

And finally, here is a collection of photos of cats sleeping in unusual places.

Meteor

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

This spectacular footage from a police car dash camera is a meteor over Edmonton, Canada.

Something about all those legs makes centipedes really creepy. I had no idea they grow as big as 13 inches. At the end of this video, one catches a bat out of the air.

I liked this picture of a puppy sleeping under a gun in Iraq.

This is a pretty strange fish story about a giant cat fish who tried to swallow a basketball.

I have heard about most of these people with extraordinary abilities. Most of the ones I hadn’t heard about seem plausible except for Magnetic Man.

Here is an extraordinary ability. Watch this guy stack 20 bricks on his head and then carry them off that way.

We actually did pretty well on this turkey trivia quiz. We don’t really know much about turkeys but we had a lot of lucky guesses.

I didn’t make it all the way through this list of programmer jokes. Some of them are really bad and some you have to be a programmer to get, but there were a few good ones mixed in.

This story deals with a subject of a sexual nature. I just found it so funny. I thought I’d throw the title out there and let you decided whether to click or not. Morally Repressed Mattel Pulls “Vibrating” Harry Potter Broomstick

I thought this image editing trick was a pretty original idea.

Speaking of image manipulation, I’ve seen a number of these images before. Some could be real.

On a more artistic note, here are some sci-fi fantasy landscapes. My Russian is non-existent but I believe the artist may be Inga Nielsen.

Here is another collection of painted and rendered artwork from 18 different artists. If you are at work, there is some artistic nudity in that one.

In the following video George Smoot talks about the structure of the universe. When ever I see stuff like that I’m always awestruck by the sheer size. Every person on earth could own lots of galaxies each containing 100 billion stars but we won’t even get to explore them.

It’s strange how an extremely simple video can be so intriguing when it’s ultra slow motion.

This is another example of using an ink-jet type technology in medical science. In this case they are constructing custom made bones within hours!

On a more depressing note, it turns out the oceans are turning to acid much faster than anyone thought they would.

This article on making motor oil from cows manages to combine environmentalism with a sort of “ick” factor.

Sometime back, I published a picture of my cat Amy being silly in a punch bowl. Here are two cats getting into the same jar.

And finally, speaking of cats in strange places, this collection includes both cute ones and ones that seem like they would be dangerous places for the cats to be.

Portal Through Time

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

I can’t say I put much stock in his portal to another time story but it makes a really good story. It’s complete with strange lights, weird noises, and ghost horses, not to mention the pebbles from the sky. I used to read stories like that all the time when I was a kid.

There have been a lot of magnetic motor designs and videos out there lately. Here is an open source one.

I was helping my folks set up their wireless network recently. I ran across this article on securing your network. A lot of people don’t bother but with all the things you can get thrown in jail or sued for, you really don’t want strangers on your network.

From my friend Matt, the Heart Attack Grill diet center. My arteries were hardening just from looking at that site. I got a laugh out of the line “The Government Requires Us To Inform You That Our “Nurses” Do Not Actually Have Any Accredited Medical Training”.

How to pay for the 700 billion dollar bailout? Invest 4.5 trillion in clean energy sources, become energy independent, and make 5.5 trillion on it!

Some of these are pretty funny. Here are the 25 weirdest newspaper headlines.

And we have the world’s weirdest wedding customs.

And finally there was a story in the news lately where someone had taught their dog to call 911 and saved them. Here’s a funny picture of a puppy giving CPR.

Future Shock

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

I read this article at InfoWorld on 10 future technologies which may be available in ten years. Number 8 is a little scary. I laughed at number 3. Everything works and you don’t have to wait. Some times I sit down to do something on my computer and by the time it boots and everything asks me if I want to upgrade it, I’ve forgotten what it was I was going to do in the first place. I guess I have thought about the idea of being able to capture all of your life and record it somehow. As much as it would be nice to be able to create a high resolution image of something beautiful you saw when you didn’t have your camera. I often think how strange it would be now to be a kid and have something stupid you did being posted to YouTube.

The idea of using a space elevator has been around for a long time. This article points out carbon nanotubes would only have to be 4 times stronger than they are now to accomplish that. This is one technology I thought was well off into the future but if you believe the article, the Japanese are planning to build one.

I’ve often felt like there should be a way to go play golf on an extremely hot day and stay cool somehow, especially if you rented a cart. This device sounds like the only real difference between it and sticking you hands in cold water is that it draws a vacuum on your palms to speed up the process. The part where the guy goes from 180 pull-ups to 616 in six weeks is pretty amazing.

First there was dark energy, then dark matter, now dark flow. Is there a cosmic vacuum cleaner sucking up the universe?

This is an ad for condoms which has an interactive visualization of the “beer goggle” effect.

I thought this came out kind of cool. A guy decorates his basement by drawing on the walls with a Sharpie.

Probably not safe for work, but if you can cross view, check out these photos from a bikini contest. If you want to learn to cross view, see my tutorial here.

TV on the web is really evolving. Now at Hulu you can watch shows which have not premiered on TV yet.

And finally, here is your funny animal picture.

Painting

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Hello On-liners

I’m beginning the long overdue process of painting my living room. I watched Iron Man last night and I could sure use one of those exoskeletons. Grabbing a large speaker I hadn’t lifted in years, I wondered if I could still lift it. It was up high and once I started there was no going back. Luckily it didn’t flatten me. Why doesn’t someone invent wall paper that just peels off and has another layer underneath? So instead of painting you just peel off the dirty sheet to reveal a clean one. You could have fresh walls in minutes without having to move everything.

Our house is pretty small so having to do without our largest room even for a short time is pretty painful. I guess one thing I like is now I have the computer I use for blogging next to the one I use for rendering so it’s easier to post while I have the other one making pictures. Check out these computer generated pictures by 33 different artists.

I have a picture in the 2D art section where I created a 2D fractal and then reflected it on a 3D object.  I’ve thought about this issue before; how would you create a true 3D fractal?

I’ve linked to musical roads before. The idea is you put a pattern of grooves in the road so they play a tune as you drive over them. I’ve always thought the ones they have on the side of the road, which my wife calls slumber bumps, should say “Wake Up!”

These cloud pictures reminded me of one time when we had a bunch of Mammatus clouds. Some of the others are very cool and scary.

Here are some interesting and very innovative photographic techniques.

Speaking of clever pictures, here is one I like.

Oh my, scroll down to the section on reproduction. I sure wouldn’t want to be an Anglerfish.

With all the political news, I keep seeing a lot of studies on why people vote the way they do in the science sites. Do conservatives scare more easily than liberals?

I’ve written about Bisphenol A before. Here is how to avoid eating it.

And finally, check out this collection of tiny animals.

The Mad Scientists’ Club

Friday, August 8th, 2008

This article about a “dinosaur-like’ creature being spotted in Papua New Guinea reminded me of a book I read as a kid called The Mad Scientists’ Club. I Googled the title and was surprised to find the author’s son had a web site and the book is still in print. The publisher Purple House Press was apparently created to publish books people enjoyed as children which were out of print. Anyway, the story was The Strange Sea Monster of Strawberry Lake in which a bunch of kids build a monster and mount it on a boat. My wife said she remembered seeing a movie about it and according to this article at Wikipedia it was a two part story on the Wonderful World of Disney entitled “The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove”.

It also reminded me to visit a site I hadn’t been to in a while called Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories where they have instruction on how to build some strange things like a cardboard cat chaise and a 3D printer that fuses sugar. That persistence of vision thing they had on there reminded me of something I built with a friend of mine when we were kids. It was a florescent string on a motor and it gave the appearance of a semi-solid object you could deform with your hands under a black light.

Speaking of mad scientists, I’ve been reading all these weird things about the Large Hadron Collider causing the end of the world by creating black holes or something. Never mind cosmic rays hit the upper atmosphere with the same amount of power every day. Anyway, here is one that I really found amusing. The LHC will be shutdown before it starts by ripples from the future.

I thought this picture of a bridge that becomes a tunnel was kind of interesting.

Here is another photo I liked of fire and water.

How about a house made out of Styrofoam? I was thinking at least if it fell on you it wouldn’t hurt but according to the article, the panels are 175 lbs each, so maybe not.

How about a mirror made out of wood? You really have to watch the video on this one to appreciate it. It also gives you a close up so you can see how it works. Very cool!

And finally, oh you know I always end with a cute animal picture.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

I didn’t realize the main bottleneck in splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen efficiently are the catalysts used in the design of the electrodes. One of the problems with using solar power has been storing the energy for night use. If you could efficiently generate hydrogen during the day, then you could use a fuel cell to turn the hydrogen back into electricity at night. Apparently researchers at MIT have solved this problem. It’s pretty interesting how the catalyst works.

The new catalyst marks a radical departure from earlier attempts. Researchers, including Nocera, have tried to design molecular catalysts in which the location of each atom is precisely known and the catalyst is made to last as long as possible. The new catalyst, however, is amorphous–it doesn’t have a regular structure–and it’s relatively unstable, breaking down as it does its work. But the catalyst is able to constantly repair itself, so it can continue working.

If you didn’t catch it there was also an apparent breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease recently. I can’t imagine how frightening it would be to be diagnosed with that affliction. Read more here.

This was an interesting article. Couch potatoes can rejoice as researchers have found taking a pill can provide some of the benefits of exercising. We aren’t really go-to-the-gym kind of people. In the summer, we get most of our exercise gardening, playing golf, or camping. In the winter, there isn’t much to do outside. Especially for the last 5 years or so when there isn’t enough snow to do anything snow related.

The other day I linked to an article about someone who clipped a portrait of the Mona Lisa into their yard. This takes that to an extreme, where people actually exposed plots of grass to light through a photographic plate to produce a picture using grass.

I’ll probably never make it to Norway but Trolltunga looks like a really nice place to visit.

A trick to traveling faster than light? Make the ship stand still and have space move underneath it instead.

I’ve been making 3D objects on the computer for many years. I have yet to actually have one turned into a real physical object. Shapeways uses a 3D printing process to create 3D objects out of plastic for consumers. I’m going to have to try it.

And finally, check out this picture of a dog who adopted tiger cubs at a Kansas zoo.

The End Of The World As We Know It?

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

You have to wonder what the mood would be like at a Global Catastrophic Risk Conference. I suppose mostly somber with a few people partying like it’s the end of the world. This article at CNN quotes some of the things Ray Kurzweil said I’ve linked to before. Some of the comments are interesting. I have often thought people will infuse themselves with artificial blood just because it makes them feel better. The idea you could spend hours under water hadn’t occurred to me. I don’t see how the economy could function once an intelligent machine could surpass a human. Companies wouldn’t bother paying enhanced people if they could get the same work done without the brain part. You would end up with some tiny enhanced rich part of humanity and a whole lot of poor people. I suppose it’s possible everything would become really cheap but if you have no income it wouldn’t matter.

Speaking of the future, this article about fusion is encouraging. If we are all going to be super humans we are going to need a whole lot of energy.

I’ve always thought we should have cars that can travel short distances where we could then link up to a rail system which not only guides the car but also provides the power. Finally someone is building something which is like that. It’s not surprising a guy who worked in the roller coaster industry had the idea.

I’m curious about the game Spore. I would really like to see what the code looks like for the game. Here is an article about it. You can download a free version of the creature creator here.

Living in a garbage truck doesn’t strike you as pleasant, unless it was this one.

Some of these houses made from bottles look pretty cool. I wonder what you do if you break one.

After reading this article about exotic fruits I was really wishing I could taste them.

And finally, this isn’t normally what you think of when you hear the term ‘food fight‘.

Violating the Laws of Physics

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

I’ve linked to the BlackLight web page before. For those of you who don’t know who they are, they are a company who claims to have found an endless source of cheap power using water. Here is a story about the company which seems, well, unbelievable. I’ve looked at their theory and it appears to be pure BS to me. That’s not to say they haven’t stumbled upon something important and just haven’t figured out how it works. I’ve got to say they are my new favorite mystery. I mean EEStor claims some amazing things but only amazing in the technical sense, not the ‘violate the laws of physics’ sense.

Speaking of the impossible, I thought this was interesting. Michio Kaku divides impossible stuff into three categories; impossible now but maybe we can do it in 100 years, stuff that will take 1000 years, and stuff which appears to be truly impossible. Read the article to see what he puts in which category.

Here is a nice flash movie with a lot of scenes from space.

Check out these computer generated landscapes.

I’ve seen some of these before but never heard the term coincidence photography.

Our galaxy makes about 10 stars a year. They just found one that makes 4000 a year! Maybe aliens are taking orders for custom stars.

I hope this dog didn’t get hurt but I like this picture.

And finally, I almost didn’t click on this but it made me laugh. It’s the world’s cutest letter opener.