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Archive for the 'Ancient Mysteries' Category

It’s a Wonderful Life

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

I’ve seen the movie It’s a Wonderful Life a zillion times. I happened to catch the second half of it the other day. In light of recent events, the film took on a whole different meaning. I sat there giggling at the irony. Here is the film online. Today George Bailey would sell balloon mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them and package the loans as derivatives. Instead of $8000, it would be a trillion dollar bailout.  Bank examiners, what a quaint idea! Here is the movie in thirty seconds done by animated bunnies.

If you are not familiar with the Antikythera mechanism, it was a device of astounding technology for it’s time. You have to wonder how it was possible for the technology to disappear. Not just the technology of the way the device worked but the ability to build it. It took over a thousand years before similar gear technology appeared again.  I can’t help but think if it wasn’t lost in time we would be living like the Jetson’s now. This article has some interesting background on the device. Below is a video of a recreation of it and how it worked.

I’m not sure how much faith I have in this story but maybe they invented Swiss watches a lot earlier too. There is nothing like finding one in a 400 year old tomb. It must have been a careless time traveler!

Have you had enough? Check out these stories of eight metal objects. At least the other ‘finds’ were dated to a time when humans were around. These reminded me of a sci-fi story where they would send prisoners back in time so far they wouldn’t be able to influence the future.

I tend to step outside for a minute before I write to clear my head. We got some freezing rain last night. Not enough to damage things and not enough to make it pretty, just enough on top of a small layer of snow to make a really large crunching sound when you walk.  Here is why even looking at this lovely nature picture could improve your memory and attention. Here is another nice nature shot and here are some real ice storm photos.

Besides the sliding track I use to create 3D pictures I wrote about here, I’ve also built a macro lens but I need to redo it to fit my digital camera. Here are some pretty nice do-it-yourself photography tools. I should try the Pringles can tube for my macro.  They mention using a scanner which is how I produced this image. The resulting image is so large, I have yet to see it printed at full resolution. Some day I’d like to see an eight foot tall print of it.

You have to love a silly dog photo.

If you are at work, this next bit contains an image of a woman in a seriously small bikini. It’s some cool gadgets for winter fun. We didn’t have snowball guns when I was a kid.

Prepare to be grossed out in this fascinating look at zombie animals and the parasites that control them.

I have been following the story of Blacklight power for some time now. I’m becoming convinced these people have found a way to generate power in a way that violates the laws of physics as we know them. They have a theory but personally I don’t think it’s correct. Here is some recent news about them. Ha! Maybe it works but it has the side effect of sending metal objects back in time.

Remember Teddy Ruxpin? Check out this robot teddy. The video is not very good. There is something really bizarre about seeing it with its skin off. I’m just waiting for it to grab a gun and start looking for Sarah Conner.

As you watch this video where guys put the equivalent of giant caps on the ends of hammers and slam them into the ground, you have to think, what could possibly go wrong?

And finally, here is your funny cat photo.

Good Germs vs Bad Germs

Friday, November 7th, 2008

I have mentioned before I try not to buy antibacterial soap but it is getting hard to find regular soap. The reason is the antibacterial agents don’t work in the time range they would be on your hands, there is no evidence they work better, and they stick around  in the environment for a very long time causing damage. The other point is by killing off friendly bacteria you have now created a possible space for the non-friendly kind. This is an interesting article where a hospital used friendly bacteria instead of antiseptics with positive results.

I used to write paint programs and my first big product was software for plastic surgeons so I wasn’t surprised when I saw this piece about an automated system which can make everyone beautiful. I’m also not surprised when they say the process doesn’t work well with familiar faces because they would look too different if you changed basic facial features. Generally when I re-touch photos of people I follow pretty standard processes like lightening their eyes and smoothing their skin but I have found it works best when you overdo it and then blend it back with the original photo. The idea is to get something that looks like you took the best possible picture of someone not that you messed with the photo.

Speaking of beauty, here is a picture of Megan Fox as Wonder Woman.

This was clever, the original Photoshop.

There are tons of online image editors these days. Here is a list of ten with some recommendations.

Dru Blair is an artist who paints remarkably photo-realistic paintings. Here is a breakdown of him painting an image you would swear is a photograph.

Check out these nice pictures of roads. Some of them are really striking.

It turns out the whole universe may be mysteriously moving in the same direction.

This is a pretty cool photo of the robot Dextre at work on the space station.

This article talks about how to deal with ‘body glitches’. My favorite cure for hiccups was to bite into a lemon. I haven’t had them for a long time now but I got to the point where I could get rid of them by merely thinking about biting a lemon. Hmm, the site may be down at the moment.

Any idea what this mysterious piece of metal is?

What could be cuter than a puppy cam?

My cats loved boxes but generally ones which were large enough for them to get in. This cat does finally manage though.

And finally, if you read this blog you have seen some of these pictures before but here is a collection of cute small animal photos.

Physics Test

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

I was at the hardware store the other day. The line was long and I struck up a conversation with the woman in front of me. I can’t remember why the subject came up, we were taking about hardware but I said something about having worked at the Indiana University Cyclotron. She said “so you’re a physicist?” I paused and said “Well I used to be”. She looked at me and said “It’s been my experience that once someone is a physicist, they are always a physicist.”  I’m not sure, maybe it’s one of those things you have to practice to be one, or maybe it’s just a way of looking at the world around you.

I got a laugh out of this funny account of the famous physicist Niels Bohr taking a test where he was to describe how to determine the height of a skyscraper using a barometer. It turns out it isn’t true but it’s still a good story.

Often I don’t get around trying a game until I see it linked in a couple of places. That was true of the eyeballing game which isn’t much of a game actually; it’s more of a test. I wondered if people who do graphics arts are better at it but my score varied pretty wildly.

I keep seeing amazing articles about new cancer drugs. I never really thought about how many normal cells would die from a drug verses how many cancer cells.  My guess is someday they will have a drug which only kills cancer cells but this one kills 12,000 cancer cells for every normal one and it’s based on a salad plant.

This is strange. It’s a picture of a man who had an image of Senator Obama shaved into the back of his head. I was surprised you could get that much detail in ‘hair’ media.

My cucumbers this year were from seeds that were a few years old. I wondered if they would sprout. This article is about sprouting an extinct date palm from seeds which were over 2000 years old. If it’s female they may be able to taste the fruit in 2010. After all that, I hope it doesn’t taste bad.

This summer when my garden was in full swing I joked if I could just get fish to swim through my yard I could live off the land. I thought this article about fish farming was pretty clever. They put them in cages that can navigate themselves so they show up at some destination city at just the right time.

Some years ago when the economy was also in a downturn and our business was failing, I used to go out in the yard and transplant volunteer forsythia to burn off steam. It got so bad my wife used to joke about me ‘moving bushes’ again. Now my yard is pretty amazing in the spring when they flower. It’s not really a maze but it’s arranged like you would if you were 10 years old and designed a yard for the game hide-and-seek. That’s nothing compared to these examples of hedge art.

Ha! Check out these levitating islands in the Bermuda Triangle.

This is a funny picture of what happens when Cupid gets rough.

Here is an interesting way to design a robot. It needs a couple arms so it can fetch from the fridge though.

I found this site on how to make paper pop-up cards.

And finally, Amy (my cat) doesn’t do it anymore but she used to come up and attack my foot when I put my pants on. That’s what I thought of when I saw these cute baby polar bear pictures.

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.

Light-Bot

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

I played this little robot game over the weekend called light-bot. You have to program the robot to step over squares and light them up. You create your program by dragging the symbols onto your programming space. If you aren’t a programmer, I think it gives you a pretty good idea of what programmers do, although it’s a pretty simple programming language. Also the days of trying to keep your program small are long gone. I think it also illustrates a mistake programmers make so often we just call it OBO (off by one).

There are 12 levels. I’m thinking I must have missed something on level 10 because even though I finally solved it, it seemed so much harder than all the other levels. My solution involved re-using a lot of code where the robot did a bunch of useless but not harmful things.

The Keppe motor is another one of those motors where the inventors claim it gets ‘free’ energy. They wanted to get you to fill out a form to see a video so I did a check of YouTube and found these. If they have actually achieved what they claim, they are brilliant but I can’t say they know how to make a good video. The real demonstration of the motor starts about halfway through part two.

You have to wonder given the size of this ancient reef and it’s proximity to Melbourne why no one noticed it before.

This is different. Scientists discover a way to turn recycled plastic bottles into a more valuable type of plastic.

I had a macro lens I built for my old camera but unfortunately it doesn’t fit on my new one. Here is a nice collection of macro photos.

Staying with the photo theme, here are some beautiful pictures from Scotland.

Also, here are some funny photos taken from just the right angle.

And finally, here is your funny animal picture. This one is a little sexier than usual and although it doesn’t really show anything, it may not be appropriate if you are at work.

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.

Realism

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

This animation is pretty good but something about her mouth still seems off. Maybe it’s just the video compression. One thing that is clear is total realism at video game speeds is not far off. Also it will be extremely cheap not long after it’s achieved. I haven’t done any animation for a while and one of these days I’m going to upgrade my equipment and get back into it.

Speaking of digital art, here is a nice collection. I particularly like the landscapes.

Here is more strange art by an artist named Frank Uyttenhove.

I’ve linked to articles about Valcent before. They are one of the companies planning on producing fuel from algae. Here is a short video about the process. They point out we could meet the energy needs of America by turning one tenth of the state of New Mexico into algae production. It sounds nice but one tenth of New Mexico is still a big area.

Here is yet another story about progress on using sunlight to produce hydrogen.

My mystery story of the day is this one about five strange skulls.

Here is a pair of very nice lightning at sunset pictures.

Check out these pictures of more elaborate sand sculptures.

Here are some pictures of cats in water and includes video of a cat riding the front of a surf board. My cats would never get in water but they seem to be fascinated by it. I suppose it’s the only liquid they experience in their daily life so maybe that has to do with it.

And finally, yes it’s another silly kitten picture.

Ancient Aliens

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

I got a kick out of this story about the supposed discovery of a spaceship that crashed on earth 150 million years ago. It makes a good story. I had not heard of the Eben so I googled ‘Eben alien‘ and got a ton of conspiracy theory links. The article made me think about how silly it is in Star Gate when they find some alien ship and Carter is all up in the wiring like it’s based on familiar technology.

On the subject of flying objects here are pictures of objects sucked into an MRI scanner. The pictures aren’t necessarily that good but it does give you a feel for how powerful those things are.

I found this article at the Times interesting because one of the things I like about our new car is it displays the tire pressure. I find the whole thing about offshore drilling depressing. I’m hoping in twenty years we surely will have some technology to replace gasoline. As I’ve said before, oil is too valuable to burn. It’s the source of plastics, solvents, and many pharmaceuticals. Also given the power of sunlight, and the implications of Moore’s law, I just can’t believe we won’t figure out how to harness it and use it more cheaply than any other energy source.

Speaking of new technology, I had never heard of electron-stimulated luminescence but it sounds a lot like how a TV works. Apparently there is a company coming out with lightbulbs based on it.

A friend of mine sent me an email with pictures of things made out of oranges and lemons and so forth. I found the web site but the slide show doesn’t seem to work. You can see the pictures changing on the banner though.

This parking garage is an interesting use of perspective. I’ve often thought you could use a 3D program to generate a template for doing something like this.

If you owned an 8 foot eagle wouldn’t you teach it to play fetch?

One of the cool things about having a high resolution digital camera is being able to crop out a smaller part of the picture and still get a decent shot.  Kodak has released a fifty megapixel sensor. I can’t wait to get a camera with one of those. Then again when I saw the price at the end of the article, I guess it’s going to be a while.

Creating a ball which bounces on water never occurred to me. I’m surprised they aren’t selling paddles and a floating net with it. I have often thought it would be cool to play golf where you used a boat instead of a cart to get around. I suppose you could make some sort of water golf game using that ball.

And finally, check out these cute pictures of dogs and cats together.

Science Show

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I woke up to my UPS beeping again this morning. That makes it 3 times in 10 days we have lost power, although the first time wasn’t weather related. The news said the group of storms that knocked it out the other day had dropped softball sized hail on Illinois. According to this personal account of a hail storm at a wedding in Minnesota, the world’s largest hailstones are baseball size.

There was also another tornado last night but not that near to us. Here are two short videos from bank cameras of the EF-5 tornado in Iowa on May 25th.

There was a science show in New York last week and the turn out was pretty impressive.

Every event at the four-day science festival was sold out — more than 22,000 tickets in all — according to Ben Austin, the festival’s vice-president of marketing and communications. After the free science street fair began Saturday, Mr. Austin said, police had to close four extra blocks to traffic because so many people showed up — 100,000, by the police’s estimate. And that was on a day with intermittent thunder, lightning and torrential rain.

“I don’t think we ever expected to see 800 people in an auditorium about the weirdness of the quantum world, but we got that — and another 400 people were lined up outside waiting for overflow seats,” Mr. Austin said. “That kind of thing happened over and over again.”

If you read this blog you know I write about quantum weirdness a fair amount. Of course I don’t know if people read that stuff or just skip over it.

I’ve written about Ray Kurzweil before. He has some pretty optimistic predictions about the future. This article covers basically the same thing in more detail but there are interesting comments at the bottom. I think he is right about solar energy because of Moore’s law. Also, I think some technologies will grow even faster. Take this article about Lithium-ion batteries. They aren’t talking about a doubling of performance; they are talking about a battery which is twenty times as powerful!

Cisco is sponsoring a game where the winner gets $10,000. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m guessing any teenager would be faster than I am.

Years ago I worked in a lab which had an electron microscope. When they used to look at chips under them you could actually watch them run because the charged areas repelled the electron beam causing them to “light up”. These photos are from 2003 but they are still pretty cool.

Here is a really creepy article about zombie caterpillars.

More strange animal news; marked up birds become sexier.

I got a chuckle out of this; the definition of irony.

Lost? Here is a collection of funny road signs.

Still lost? You are here. If you can’t see us it’s about 3/4ths the way down, in the middle.

I also got a laugh out of this opinion piece about ‘Deficit Attention Disorder!’

This is a pretty cool collection of ancient inventions. Some of them like the tumbler lock were around well before I would have guessed. I also liked the ship shaker.

The ten deepest lakes on earth.

And finally, check out this silly cat.

Spaces

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

The big space news on Sunday was that the Phoenix had landed on Mars. I suppose it’s not that much of a surprise the first photos were not what was expected. Apparently the size of the polygon patterns in the soil is related to the depth of the ice.

Speaking of Mars, this article talks about making a one way trip with soldiers. They point out soldiers take great risks all the time and even carry out “suicide missions”.

“Here is an idea: Send battle-hardened, strong-minded soldiers and marines on the long trips into space. We are conditioned to live with the bare minimal (of) life’s necessities and are trained to be prepared for … the worst conditions that any environment could throw at us. Hell, me and my men will go, set up a colony somewhere and await colonists to arrive.

Speaking of space, when your toilet acts up, it’s not like you can just step outside to go. On the international space station, toilet problems are pretty serious.

This is odd. I didn’t realize tornadoes could form on the sun.

This TED talks video contains strong language. He uses the F-word several times so be warned. However, James Howard Kunstler is quite passionate about the design of public spaces and the talk is pretty entertaining. He does have a rather pessimistic view of our energy future and his idea is to plan cities accordingly. His criticisms of suburbia are right on the mark I think.

If I seem fascinated by low cost housing it’s probably because I’m thinking I fooled around with too many businesses which didn’t make it, and should have been planning for retirement sooner. Here are a bunch of buildings made from cargo containers. They are not what you might imagine they would look like.

Now, THAT’S a mushroom!

Now, THOSE are horns!

I remember hearing about mysterious crystal skulls years ago. Now the latest Indiana Jones movie is about them. According to this they are fakes.

And finally, check out this tiny horse.