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Archive for the 'Strange Creatures' Category

HDTV

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

I’m sure if we had waited, the price of a new HD set would have continued to fall but I was tired of squinting at my old Sony monitor. We don’t really have much HD material to watch, just the local stations. This weekend we finally broke down and purchased a 40″ Toshiba HDTV. I had read a number of bad reviews from people who bought a set online only to find the picture quality was disappointing. I wanted to see the set in the store. With an instant manufacturer’s rebate of $100 we ended up spending $750 on it at the local Costco. That is just about what we paid for our first 32″ television many years ago.  I would have gone with a 32″ but they didn’t have many to choose from. It seems huge. I usually write on my smaller computer which had a 19″ LCD display set at 800 x 600. At that resolution, it’s pretty readable but the web has gone wide screen and I found myself scrolling around more and more to see what is out there. My larger machine where I do most of my art had the same size monitor. I usually ran it at 1024 x 768 but it was a CRT and over the years it seemed to get fuzzier. Maybe it’s my eyes. A lot of the tools I use required scrolling through a bunch of icons. Now I’m running at 1360 x 768. The text is large and clear and I can see all my icons without scrolling and my menus are out of the way in my workspace.

One feature some of the new sets have is the 120 Hz refresh rate. I was afraid at 60 Hz this set would flicker when using it as a monitor but it looks good. It is barely noticeably darker in the corners. I had to put the cursor in the corner and point it out for my wife to see it. It does draw a lot more power than the small screen. Last night the power went out and I hooked it up to my battery/inverter. It was drawing 100 watts. Luckily the power wasn’t out for long. I guess I was surprised to realize how many digital channels were out there since I didn’t have a tuner capable of picking them up before. Since a lot of the web uses white backgrounds it can be a little too bright at night.

Speaking of the web, how long before you speak to it and it speaks back? That is one of the things IBM predicts will happen in the next five years. We recently learned an old friend is losing the use of her arms and hands. I was googling voice recognition software and I wondered if it really has improved much.

I played with this tool which allows you to choose colors and then it finds pictures on Flickr that use those colors. I’m not sure how useful it is but it was kind of interesting for a few minutes.

This was cool. I have seen this done before but on a much smaller scale. It’s a video of a fountain with strobe lights where the water appears to be suspended in air or moving backwards.

This is one of those pictures that looks just awesome on my new monitor. It’s a shot of Crater Lake in Oregon with the clouds moving in.

Of course everything looks better on here including this cute cat picture.

This is a collection of wild cat pictures.

Time magazine choose the eight new natural wonders. Too bad the images aren’t larger.

Here are 100 underwater hi-res images.

Also, these images could be larger but they are spectacular solar and lunar eclipse pictures.

I thought this concept of chalk shadows was pretty creative.

I’ve read about this strange creature recently, but this is one of the better sets of pictures of a Raz. That thing is so odd looking!

Now for some odd mice, the computer kind that is.

When Neil Young was young; Sugar Mountain — Live At Canterbury House 1968 is being released today but you can listen to the entire album at NPR.

Christmas and holiday cards for geeks are really geeky. Let me explain that first one for you. In hexadecimal a single digit can have 16 values. That means zero through nine then they start using letters so F is fifteen. In two digit hex the largest number is FF or 255 in decimal. Since colors are described in the amount of the primary colors red, green, and blue FFFFFF is white. The # sign is normally used to indicate the number is in hexadecimal. Hence may all your Christmas be #FFFFFF.

I have linked to some of these liquid magnetic sculpture videos before. This one has some cool towers.

I first ran across the storm cloud image in this collection and then realized there were lots of other nice images there as well. Here is the top level of Neil Paskin’s galleries.

My wife doesn’t care much for blond jokes but I thought this keyboard for blonds was pretty creative.

Turritopsis nutricula is an immortal jellyfish.

Here is another large panoramic image; this one is of Melbourne at night.

I have to say I agree with this guy. The amount of money being thrown at banking bailouts is so huge, solving the climate problems or ending poverty is small change in comparison. To try to stay positive here are a couple interesting articles. This one is about how financing can make solar cost effective. This one is about a new generator that can make use of slow currents for generating electricity.

The song If I only had a brain was stuck in my head after seeing this.

And finally, I didn’t even know red pandas existed. They sure are cute!

Magicians and Pickpockets

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

This article at Scientific American on how magicians and pickpockets trick your brain mentioned a couple of videos. Before you read the article, if you haven’t seen the video where you are supposed to count the number of times a basketball is passed between people wearing white shirts I wrote about it in this post.

I’m pretty sure I’ve linked to another one of the videos they mention before but it’s worth re-posting below.

It’s interesting in the article when they point out simply moving your hand in a curved or straight manner causes a different perception on the part of the viewer.

Of course, it’s nature who presents the grandest illusion of them all. This article is rather strong in physics content but the gist of it is summed up in the ending paragraph. All reality is virtual.

Speaking of physics, apparently there is an annual contest in Delaware to see who can build a device that can throw a pumpkin the farthest. According to this, it will be televised on the Science channel on Thanksgiving. After reading that I’m wondering what they meant by “growing special, aerodynamic pumpkins”.

Could solving the worlds energy needs be as simple as putting giant pipes in the ocean? I guess when it’s that big, it’s not simple.

After reading this article on why McDonald’s fries taste so good, I was reminded of the time I had to make artificial banana flavoring in chemistry. I spilled a little on my notebook and it stunk for months. All that chemistry and we still can’t seem to find frozen food we like.

Time magazine picks the best inventions of 2008. I was amused to see Hulu on the list. I have to admit I have gotten so used to it already I find it frustrating I can’t watch the shows I want at CBS and the Discovery channel sites. Also, I don’t know if it’s my setup or what but it’s not unusual for me to lose my data stream while watching a show online at ABC and have to try to find where I was. It’s funny you have to try to figure out which episode you saw last or want to see next.

On the subject of videos, I had seen some of these amazing animal videos before but not the one of the polar bears playing with dogs. I can’t imagine having a hippo around the house.

I got a chuckle out of this silly cat picture.

I don’t remember any archery at the bowling alley I went to as a kid.

The most dangerous roads in the world look pretty dangerous.

This house would be nice for the solitude but if would be tough when you needed groceries.

Here is a nice collection of beautiful landscape photos.

This rather bizarre article about Tennessee universities’ intention to spend 9.5 million dollars on anti-piracy measures made me wonder if it would just be cheaper for the university to buy content for their students.

These animal pictures are pretty nice, but it’s the landscape shot that really impressed me.

The photos of this Japanese winter light show featuring 4.5 million LEDs just gives you a taste of how cool it would be to actually be there.

And finally, we often joked getting one of those robot vacuum cleaners would scare our cats but obviously this one seems to enjoy it.

Halloween

Friday, October 24th, 2008

I had seen some of these do-it-yourself Halloween projects individually but this site has a nice collection. I remember going to a party a few years back where a guy was wearing those spooky contact lenses. When we use to get a lot of kids, we would build spooky critters on our front porch but we learned quickly not to make them too spooky or the very young kids freaked out.

Just in time for Halloween, scientists create a glow-in-the-dark cat. Really, a real glow-in-the-dark cat.

I thought this collection of old Halloween photos was pretty interesting.

Someone ordered a cake with Olympic rings on it and this is what they got.

This escape video reminded me of my cat Maggie. She was unbelievably good at getting outside especially when we went on vacation.

This is an interesting tutorial on how to shoot infra-red pictures. It also has some nice examples of what you can get.

Here is another nice aurora picture.

I didn’t have kids myself but this rather humorous list of what can be learned from raising sons did remind me a little of my childhood. Sorry Mom and Dad!

In this science experiment, I’m not sure what the material in the tub is, but I was surprised how it worked out.

Could mosquitoes actually deliver vaccines instead of diseases?

This is a pretty funny video of a shopping cart calamity.

I’ve seen pictures of this cave in Mexico before. I can’t remember if I’ve already posted about it but if you haven’t seen it, you will be amazed.

And finally, someone is watching you.

Furniture

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Now that we have finally finished painting, we are thinking about buying furniture. We have few pieces of furniture we have actually purchased. It seems most of our lives someone we knew wanted to dump a couch, chair, or table which was in reasonable condition. Not so this time, but with the economy melting down maybe now isn’t the best time. Does this chair somehow look sad to you?

Here are some pretty creative tables.

I can see how you would train the top of this chair but I’m not clear on how the bottom would be done.

This guy offers a tutorial on carving pumpkins. Check out the predator pumpkin. I once carved a pumpkin using a Dremel but he has some serious talent.

Speaking of pumpkins, watch out for the baby eating variety.

Not pumpkins but still sculpture these garden works of art are very surreal.

Everyone likes a good treasure story.

A big fish story is one thing but man eating catfish?

The typewriter vs computer.

And finally here is a whole collection of funny animal pictures. My favorite is the kitten in the cup holder.

Water

Monday, October 20th, 2008

When I went to look at these 50 underwater photos, I expected sea life. There are some but also some unexpectedly creative water photos as well.

Speaking of water pictures, check out these images of swimming with tigers. Those are some big cats!

And who would have thought rats can surf?

I learned a couple of things I didn’t know about bees in this article. Plus it has some nice macro photographs.

I got a good laugh out of this.

In this TED Talk, Ken Robinson makes some good points about how schools kill creativity. He is also quite an amusing speaker.

The other day I linked to an article about metal foam but buckypaper sounds so much cooler.

A pilot was ordered to shoot down a UFO which gave a radar signature the size of an aircraft carrier.

I thought this article on using light to reduce wrinkles was interesting. Who would have guessed pressing lights to your face would have that effect?

And finally, seals can be cute too.

The Giant Swing

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

This video of a guy completing a full loop on a giant swing was far more suspenseful than I expected. When he gets close, you are just waiting for him to fall on his head. It’s a victory for kids everywhere.

For obvious reasons, one of my favorite recipe sites is Cooking for Engineers. I recently purchased a new set of steak knives from Costco. At $19.95 I was afraid they would not be very nice but I’m really happy with them. This article about knives reminded me of my neighbor who has a Chinese wife saying that Chinese cooks retire early because of their wrists.

Here is a cool micro photograph.

I’ve written about making gasoline from plant material before but I think this article explains it pretty well for non-scientists.

And finally, yeah it’s a short post but I’ve been wasting a bunch of time on that game I talked about yesterday. Here’s your funny animal picture.

Robot Painters

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

We are painting the living room. We’ve gotten to the point where you look at it and decide whether to do another coat or it’s good enough and time to move on to another room. We have a lot of house plants and it won’t be too long before we have to get them inside. As I work, I can’t help but think how I would design a robot to paint a room. I found a couple of painting robots but they aren’t the kind that paints a house. This one ‘Action Jackson‘ mimics Jackson Pollock’s style of painting. This site had a number of examples including a simple one you could build.

Speaking of different ways of creating art, here is a video of what happens when you pour salt on a speaker.

Google is celebrating their tenth anniversary by offering ten million dollars for a world changing idea.

Canon has a new camera.

Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera features a 21.1-megapixel full frame 24 x 36mm CMOS sensor, DIGIC 4 imaging processor and significantly lower noise, with an expanded sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 25,600.

It does full HD video too, and my wife says “No, you can’t have one”. Someday it will be nice to have something that’s not only very high resolution but so fast you can shoot in any natural light.

I thought these videos of the most amazing UFO sightings were intriguing but the camera work could have been so much better. The second one is interesting because you see the movement.

Here is something you also don’t see everyday. It’s a video of a crab riding a jellyfish.

My guess is most Americans who read my blog are familiar with both nanotechnology and synthetic biology.

I got a laugh out of some of these crazy bikes.

And finally, here is your silly 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.

Politics vs Logic

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

I got up this morning and as usual, sat down with a cup of coffee to read the news on the internet. I don’t know why I start my day this way. The news is always bad and it often makes me angry. Once again the government is bailing out another private financial institution to the tune of 85 billion dollars. I’ve had a number of businesses and the government never helped me out. In fact, when I was doing well and trying to grow they just taxed the hell out of me. Then there was the political wrangling of the story by both parties. My degrees are in physics, chemistry, and computer science, all tied strongly to experimental verification and logic. I often ask myself why politics is so illogical. I mean, it seems social policies, tax laws, and so forth could be subjected to experimentation and people on both sides could surely see what works and what does not. We could examine policies in other countries and takes what works from them. That is absolutely never going to happen and I think I’m beginning to understand why.

This article by Psychologist Jonathan Haidt is titled “What Makes People Vote Republican?” but it could just as well be titled “What makes People vote Democratic?” I found it a pretty fascinating read and also an explanation for why politics is the way it is and why it will never change. Then I found this video he did at TED Talks. It does contain some adult language. It is insightful and at times very humorous. It also presents some ideas on how it might be possible for people to work together for the greater good.

Also if you wonder why there is so much misinformation and lying in the political process, it’s because it pays off. If you read quotes from this article on left leaning websites you would only find the stuff towards the bottom but if you read the article in full you see both sides will believe things even after they have been refuted. There is no hope for the “truth” therefore no possibility of logic.

If you read the article by Jonathan Haidt and or watched the video, you are on my team. You know, my side, my tribe. I don’t mean Democrat or Republican, I mean you are just like me, you get online. What ever you think of Senator McCain, you have to think it’s odd he doesn’t use the internet because you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this now. Now you might be young and just think it’s that age group but my parents are considerably older and they are avid users of the web, email, and using a printer to produce my Mom’s artwork. Their friends are too. I have to admit I was unsure what to expect when my nephew gave them an old computer. I guess I was expecting to have to do a lot of support but they learned very quickly and were quite capable of finding solutions on their own. I have to admit it was a bit of a shock the first time my mother used the word Jpeg in a sentence.

On the other hand, click this.

Don’t believe for a second I’m going to get people to come to my site based on the above intellectual observations.  Here are some really hot pictures of Jessica Alba.

And we have alien speech found in a NASA radio signal.

And yes, I do have an explanation. If you start frequency shifting audio you can make a lot of things sound like very different things.

If that wasn’t strange enough for you, check out the Mongolian Death Worm.

That’s it from me today. Here are your cute animal pictures.

Ball Lightning

Monday, September 15th, 2008

I read a post today about generating power from ball lightning. I tracked down the site belonging to Dr. Kiril Chukanov here. Dr. Chukanov claims to have developed Quantum Free Energy generators capable of generating clean energy without fuel. There are some interview videos at the site but his accent is pretty heavy so it can be hard to follow at times.

It seems like I saw a movie or TV show recently where someone wanted to fire a gun in space and they ended up putting it in something so it would shoot. Turns out you don’t need oxygen to fire a gun in space.

This is just strange. It’s an article you might expect in the Enquirer but it’s from the Discovery Channel and it is about a girl with X-ray eyes.

Here is a pretty nice animation of how the Large Hadron Collider works.

Speaking of the LHC they are having a contest to give it a better name. I don’t suppose they would go for ‘Smash-o-matic’?

Binaural recording isn’t just using two microphones. It actually models the human head and ears. It’s pretty amazing to hear when you are used to just stereo. Here is an interesting demonstration.

Check out these dramatic pictures of tornadoes. We had the remains of hurricane Ike pass over us yesterday. When the house was creaking and you could hear debris hitting it, you just can’t believe some people would attempt to ride out the real thing.

From the violent to the serene, here is a nice collection of photos of reflections.

This was kind of funny. Someone used photo editing to just remove some elements from different scenes.

No photo editing here. I was just pleased on how our garden has done this year so I took a picture of what I harvested in one day.

A Nice Harvest

A Nice Harvest

I was joking my old van would make a nice tree house if you could get it up in a tree. These guys made a deer stand out of a trailer.

And finally, who would have thought hedge hogs could be so cute?