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Archive for the 'Optical Illusions' Category

Better Batteries

Friday, March 20th, 2009

I haven’t been blogging much lately as I have really gotten caught up in writing this little game I’m working on. Since it’s based on a game I wrote many years ago and I’m learning Flash for the first time, it’s really striking how even though I’m learning something new how productive it seems since the machines and tools have improved so much.

This past week or so there has been some big news in batteries. First they found out how to make common lithium ion batteries charge and discharge rapidly.  Imagine charging your computer, cell phone, or camera in seconds. Secondly although technically not a battery, nanotechnology has lead to some amazing improvements in capacitors. Batteries store chemical energy and capacitors store electrical energy but the most surprising to me was the announcement of a system which could deliver electricity based on storing magnetic energy.

Speaking of energy, the newer designs of nuclear power plants are a lot safer than the old ones but the problems of how to manage the waste persists. The traveling wave reactor is a really clever design that deals with both the waste issue and the nuclear proliferation issue.

If you had a secret nuclear bunker, maybe you shouldn’t … oh, never mind!

If you have ever wondered how various engines work, here is a nice site with animations of different types.

I got a chuckle out of the other side of America.

That is one bug grub! Wonder what kind of fish would go for that.

Ever start to fall asleep and feel like you are falling and wake up? It’s called a Hypnic jerk. This used to happen more to me when I was younger but I suppose I was often sleep deprived.

This is a pretty cool optical illusion. You have to go to the last picture to see it.

Talk about amazing! In the following video they use sheep as display devices.

This young boy decided to do something similar but much less complex with his dog.

What the heck is a long eared jerboa?

Motion capture systems have really come a long way. Check out the videos from Mova.

This article on artificial muscles is really impressive but as I was reading it I couldn’t help but think  it reminded me of a late night info-mercial. But wait! It can also do this! Who would have guessed the amazing material of the future was going to be carbon.

When I was reading this article on the top 10 inventions of the Middle Ages, it occurred to me how big a role the church used to play in supporting science.

This is one very determined bear.

I’ve seen this guy’s work before. Willard Wigen makes microscopic sculptures.

Here is a nicely done cat close-up.

This is a rather bizarre story about a paralyzed man who was able to walk again after being bitten by a spider.

It’s nice spring is finally here but you know there are always some big storms ahead. Check out this tornado shot. Also this shot of what they can do.

Here is lightning of a different kind; from a volcano.

And finally, here is a nice collection of pictures of big cat families.


Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Here is an amusing article. I suppose it wouldn’t surprise anyone to find out incompetent people are unaware they are incompetent. I guess I did find the part about joke telling abilities a little surprising because getting a good laugh verses polite chuckles should be semi-obvious. Then again, a lot of it has to do with the quality of the joke and just not messing it up.

From MSNBC here is a list of 10 odd creatures. Now, I was familiar with most of those but have you seen the fish with a transparent head? How about a pink dolphin? Look at the size of this stingray! Look at the size of this wasp!

Just plain weird but I suppose not surprising are Japanese bug fights.

I liked the surreal clouds in this storm photo.

I linked to one of these the other day but here are more street art paintings. I think the lava one is the most impressive one I have seen yet. I suspect the artist had a sponsor for this one.

My sister and her husband went on a vacation a while back and my parents stayed at their house. We went to visit and at one point attempted to turn on the TV. It occurred to me everyone has integrated their speaker systems in such a way they are all custom and the only way to figure them out would be to follow the wires. I suppose some day we will just tell our computers to configure the systems to do what we want. This solution wouldn’t even work here but it’s kind of amusing.

I was just outside and it’s cold out there. Lucky for us the forecast is for nice spring-like temperatures late in the week.  Here is a nice photo to remind you of spring.

I got a laugh out of this.

Check out this TriceraCopter!

If you watch the TV show Mythbusters you’ll laugh at this.

The world’s largest salt flat, the Salar de Uyuni in Southwestern Bolivia is like standing on a gigantic mirror.

Imagine standing in a tunnel made out of 40,000 LEDs.

This is a funny video about how to “hack your old VCR”.

That’s one happy looking elephant.

This is pretty funny video of a dog dreaming but you have to feel a little sorry for the dog at the end.

In this video a person asks someone for directions. In the middle of the discussion they move a large picture between the two people having the conversation and change the person asking for directions. It was one thing when people didn’t notice the change with similar looking people but they didn’t notice when they changed to a different race or sex! Amazing! I suppose with the map and all the pointing, there are a lot of distractions.

My friend Matt sent me this video about everything is amazing but nobody is happy. It reminded me how you used to have to waste a lot of time going inside the gas station and wait in line when you bought gas. I wonder if I have put that  extra time to good use?

Here is a collection of photos of birds stealing ice cream. I didn’t realize birds liked ice cream.

And finally check out this cute video of a cat who adopted a rabbit.

Flash Physics

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Over the weekend we played with this Flash physics game called Roly-Poly Cannon. One of the things about physics simulators is they can be so open ended. That is what makes them fun but since you can’t totally predict what a user will do. I imagine you have to be pretty careful about writing your code so unexpected bugs don’t come up. After charging though all the levels of Roly-Poly Cannon, I went searching for other physics games and found this one called Flash Physics. It’s a very simple game with very simple graphics but we played it for quite a while until it just got too hard. There is a strange bug in the third level where the chain ‘breaks’ occasionally.

This is an interesting application which uses a web-cam and turns any brightly colored object into a controller for gaming. It’s called CamSpace.

Here is a collection of pictures of creative bench advertising.

Speaking of creativity, someone was full of it when they created this.

Having trouble keeping your baby in its playpen? I wouldn’t recommend this.

Matt sent me this link. It’s a compilation video of some extremely close calls and lucky events. Some are simply amazing.

There are more silly cat pictures here and here.

What’s cuter than a bunch of baby pandas?

I liked this dramatic shot of a horse statue in Las Vegas.

This was interesting. Scientists stop the aging process in mice livers.

Entropyman talks about thermodynamics. When I’m cleaning, I often think somewhere the universe is getting more disorganized to compensate.

My, what big ears you have!

This is a video of a bird catching a fish but from the perspective of the fish.

If you have learned to cross view you can see this illustration in 3D.

Here is a nice collection of Macro photographs. I think the ones with the water drops are really impressive.

This is another example of painting with light during a long time exposure.

That is one big bug!

Look at the teeth on this fish!

This is what video games were like in 1936.

Here is a very large collection of computer repair tools. My older machine used to be so stable but now it reboots when I go to back it up.

Not that this Earth isn’t cool but if there are one hundred billion trillion other ones out there, it’s a shame we won’t get to visit them.

The TED conference recently ended and the talks are online. In this one Woody Norris does some pretty interesting things with sound.

They don’t quite have the hang of it, but I got a laugh out of this video of foxes jumping on a trampoline.

And finally here is a collection of baby animals from National Geographic and also this collection of mothers and babies made me think even baby hippos are cute.


Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

We are finally getting a nice break from winter here in the Midwest. It’s funny how just not having to bundle up or watch your footing can seem so nice.

We spent part of the weekend playing this physics game called Perfect Balance. I can’t say I cared much for the sound track so I just turned off the audio but it was a good example of how a simple balancing game can get your puzzle solving skills fired up. We also played a game at the BBC called CDX. It’s the second game we have played from the BBC and in both cases they were terribly disappointing. It’s painful to see a game with a lot of professional video production but such terrible game play.

Speaking of the Brits, the following interview is actually from Australia and it’s a real interview but if you have ever seen Monty Python you’d swear it was one of their skits.

I have Matt to thank for that little gem; he also sent me this rather amazing video of dolphins.

Last week I created my first hand draw animation in years. I can’t say it was very good. It was just a stick figure walking and I’m just trying to learn some tools. While searching the web for animation resources I ran across this page on claymation. Most of what it says is pretty obvious but one of the tricks it mentioned was putting magnets in the feet of the characters and placing them on a cookie sheet. Years ago when we did a very short claymation, we did have problems with the characters falling over and that would have helped.

Speaking of stop action, here is a simple stop action video done by a couple kids.

I got a laugh out of this.

This is another one of those street painting perspective illusions. This one is of a glacial type ice age scene. I wonder how large the painting was.

Ever wonder how cats purr? Skip down towards the bottom for the simpler explanation.

I have seen fractal zooms before. This one is just a lot longer than most.

Darpa is funding a project to reverse engineer the brain.

A company called Jovion Corporation has been issue a patent for a zero point energy device. I’m a little skeptical useful energy can be extracted from the Casimir effect but I hope the thing works.

The RepRap 3D printer can finally make a copy of itself!

Here are some pretty cool pictures of an Alaskan ice festival.

If I saw one of these crossing the road, I would definitely stop.

I have seen pictures of these monkeys in a hot spring before. I think this is in Japan.

This is a funny bear cub shot.

Here is a cute story about a hot koala.

And finally, here are some very cute pictures of a kitten and a bird.

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

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.

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.

Hardware Prices

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Back in the old days, I used to work with Targa cards. When most of the world was using 8 or 16 colors at a time, these were true color cards, something we take for granted now. The problem was, I’m not sure I remember exactly, but just the graphics card was something like five thousand dollars. When you added in the machine and two monitors, well it amounted to a small fortune.

These days I try not to follow prices too closely because I might be tempted to upgrade. However, I had to do some repair work on my parent’s machine lately and I was amazed. As this article pointed out you can save a lot of money not just on hardware but other stuff too.

I’m used to putting together my own machines. When I built my first machine we really ‘built them’. We soldered and wire wrapped. Now it’s just  a matter of buying a motherboard, memory, graphics card, and drives and slapping them together. I just bought a Terra byte drive, that’s 1000 Gigabytes, for a little over $100!

Not that I do that much anymore which really challenges the hardware except when I render 3D stuff. Here’s a creative image using that technology I wish I had thought of.

Of course, you just can’t beat being in the right place at the right time with a silly cat and a  plain old camera.

I have been to parts of Alabama were the soil is red. I wonder where this was taken.

Also, check out this roll cloud over Missouri.

I was going to try to make it to Cataract Falls this fall when the leaves were nice and try some long exposure photos. Unfortunately the fall was hectic and unusually disappointing as far as color goes. We had some really big wind just as the leaves were starting to turn which took a lot of them down. Also we had pretty dry conditions in late summer and there was a lot of plain brown. Here’s a nice collection of photos of what a good fall really looks like.

Here are some examples of long time exposures including but not limited to waterfalls.

Speaking of time, is it possible someone has finally built a machine which is seeing noise from the fact that time is fuzzy?

If there are a bunch of parallel universes, the odds that you are rich in one of them is pretty high. Too bad you can’t ask yourself for a loan. This article on the subject points out even though it sounds like sci-fi, it could explain a lot including the probabilistic nature of quantum outcomes and an explanation of why time travel would not cause paradoxes. As I once pointed out to a friend; if you believe in an infinite universe, it’s not that big of a step to believe in an infinite number of infinite universes.

O.K. this is a little silly. It’s a tee shirt that lights up to show you when you are near Wi-Fi signals and how strong they are.

This article goes on about how this robot can make facial expressions just like a real human but when you watch the video, you don’t think real, you think creepy.

I have a friend who lives on a lake down south of here. The lake is spring fed and even in the summer it’s comfortable on top but if you go down even a foot or two it can become very cold.  I have often thought about trying to float a pool in it which would hopefully become warmer. Turns out there are a number of floating pools out there in the world already.

Put this on the list of things you don’t want to have done to your car at one of those quick oil change places.

I wasted a fair amount of time last night on this game called RoboKill. I didn’t see a way to save my game. If there is one and I just missed it, someone leave a comment telling me how.

If you have epilepsy or are inclined to seizures you definitely don’t want to click on this optical illusion of a spider where it seems like you keep getting closer but you don’t. It’s so flashy; I can hardly stand to look at it.

Here’s another nice fractal image.

And finally, check out these pictures of a squirrel who thinks it’s just another one of his puppy friends.

Why We Vote On Tuesday

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

I guess I always wondered why we vote on Tuesdays. In the old days you traveled to the county seat on Monday, voted on Tuesday and traveled home on Wednesday. The article also points out in the countries with high voter turnout, they vote on the weekend.

This is strange. John McCain and Tina Fey on the cover of Life Magazine in 2004.

It’s pretty depressing but this site shows the national debt scaled to match the median income of around $50,000 a year and who we owe.

This list of odd inventions includes some pretty humorous ones. The stair drawers looked useful to me.

Years ago I bought a book on Isle Royale which is the largest natural island in Lake Superior. We have still never made it there. I thought it was amusing you could camp on an island on a lake on an island on a lake. This site takes that idea and expands on it.

Check out this amazing basketball shot.

A spectrometer is a device that analyzes light. This is a pretty clever way to build one using a cardboard box and a CD.

This is one of those doodling programs where you can draw abstract pictures. It has more variations than some of the other ones I’ve seen.

I’ve got to try this to see if it really works. You should at least watch the end of it.

How to Turn “water” into Balls

One time we had a party and everyone created a clay creature. We made a really short and simple claymation. This claymation of a chess game must have taken a very long time to do.

In this optical illusion you are supposed to see the dancer turn either clockwise or counterclockwise depending on whether the right or left half of your brain is the dominate one. I can pretty much make myself see it either way.

I got a laugh out of this.

Turn your name into a face. I wonder what algorithm it uses.

Check out this nice killer whale shot.

My neighbor takes his dog to the golf course with him. She is the white one in my 2D art section. She is usually pretty well behaved but one time we were out several holes behind them. She saw us and went racing across the course to come see us. This is a story about a dog who likes to eat golf balls.

Here is another funny dog photo.

And finally, these two cats sure like to talk.


Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

There is a video out there which teaches you something about perception. I had seen it on some site originally but it took some looking to find it. What I want you to do is watch the video and count the number of times the people in the white shirts pass the basketball. Here it is, it takes a while to load. When you are done watching it, leave the window open because you may want to see it again.

I’m going to get back to that in a minute. The video was also presented in a TED Talk by Michael Shermer publisher of Skeptic magazine. I think it was probably this talk but then got edited for copyright reasons. When I went looking for it and realized it wasn’t part of the talk I still thought the guy was interesting and entertaining.

Okay back to the first video. Did you see the guy in the gorilla suit?

If you liked the Virgin Mary muffin check out these images. I really liked the third one.

I’m no economist but the first thing I would do in a financial crisis is look to see how other countries handled a similar situation. Here’s how the Swedes handled it.

Esquire magazine recently had a cover created with E-paper. The stuff is remarkably tough.

Looking at the pictures of this snake, I was reminded there are real monsters out there.

And finally, it’s not very good at it but this cat tries to play the piano.

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.