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Archive for the 'Advanced Materials' Category

Asteroids

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Last month I told myself I was going to try to post more. So much for that. I spent a lot of time practicing digital sculpting and rigging characters and working on a silly walk.  Then out of nowhere a bunch of people I did web sites for wanted to redo their sites so I’ve been busy.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to come up with a good idea for this device from leapmotion. It allows you to control your computer with your hands going way beyond what you can do with 2d gestures. I would love to get one and the developer kit to play with. Virtual thumb wrestling anyone?

When I read this article about  Planetary Resources’ plans to mine asteroids it made me think about where wealth comes from. According to their website…

A single 500-meter platinum-rich asteroid contains the equivalent of all the Platinum Group Metals mined in history.

This article is interesting because it talks about the legality of mining in space.

Last month everyone was talking about mining asteroids. I was going to link to the jobs page at Planetary Resources because the application had some pretty amusing questions, but it seems they got so many applications  they took it down.

If this is actually practical, I kind of wish NASA had gone for it.  Maybe we wouldn’t have to pay taxes. I guess lately I’ve been thinking about not necessarily the Star Trek economic model where people don’t care about money but the whole asteroid mining via robots and delivering precious metals to earth thing got me thinking. What if there was something so lucrative no one would care if it were taxed at a rate where everyone could live comfortably from it.

Actually it reminded me of Project Azorian where supposedly Howard Hughes was building a ship to mine the sea floor for manganese nodules. The whole thing turned out to be a cover for an operation to recover a Soviet submarine. There’s probably some alien ship out there on an asteroid and this is their way of getting to it.

Speaking of Star Trek, I couldn’t help but think of Data in the Next Generation episode where they traveled back in time when I saw this photo.

It was interesting reading about metals in the platinum group. Apparently they are so rare because they sank to the middle of the earth when it was molten and the only ones we have now are from asteroid impacts. This article  is interesting as it is about finding ways to make catalysts which are far cheaper than platinum.

What if solar power got the same subsidies as fossil fuels?

BEC expects to be able to generate power at 1 cent per kilowatt-hour with no toxic emissions of any kind.

This article talks about “Modern Antiques” Today’s Kids Have Probably Never Seen where this one speculates about technologies young kids today will not remember.

They got me to thinking… “Hey kids you probably don’t even know we used to do math using a stick!”

This is just embarrassing.

Siri just got patched. Isn’t this the kind of thing that made HAL go crazy?

A lego crab.

I really love the light in this picture.

We ride at dawn!

And finally something to make you say awww…

It’s Noisy!

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

I wasn’t sure I was going to write about this article. As I’m trying to write and my wife is trying to nap, there is a lawn mower out there somewhere nearby. My closest neighbors have two Harleys. I’m reminded of the time I was doing contract work for a game company. I was really sick, really tired, and I had gone in on a Saturday to try and get caught up. They had a sound booth there which wasn’t nearly as sound proof as the one in that article. Some sound engineers had come in to work too and they were recording a woman screaming over and over and over…

I just need to relax, sit back and watch the Dalek relaxation tape.

I mentioned I bought a graphics tablet recently. I got to thinking how cool it would be to control music with it. It occurred to me someone probably has done that. After a short search I found a couple programs to do it. One of then I couldn’t get to work and the other one I can’t seem to pipe through anything other than the default synthesizer. My tablet senses gestures and has some other control features that Wmidi (the software) doesn’t take advantage of but it’s fun to play with. If you have a tablet, you can find the free software here.

I was laughing when I read this Wired article about the Navy making a real life laser cannon wondering what it actually sounds like. Because if you are going to spend a fortune on a laser cannon, it absolutely must sound cool.

This is another one of those ‘free energy‘  things that make you think if it were true it would completely change the world. There is a lot of discussion about whether it would violate the laws of thermodynamics in the comments. It’s kind of like these people. I’m pretty skeptical but it doesn’t mean I’m not rooting for somebody out there to make some sort of breakthrough. On the other hand, solar power in its various forms keeps advancing. You wouldn’t think about it, but making a better salt could make concentrated solar more affordable.

There seems to be a lot of nostalgia going on at kickstarter. I guess bringing back Leisure Suit Larry was to be expected.

When I think of Iran, I think of something desert like. I guess I’m not that well-informed. It’s a pretty big country. These pictures are absolutely beautiful and amazing.

And finally, something to make you say awww…

 

It’s stuff like this that makes me feel like I’m living in the future

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

All those smart phones are definitely cool, but once in a while, you see something that makes you go wow we live in amazing times! Check out the videos at the bottom of this page about a coating that repels liquids.

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.

The Creative Commons

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

I imagine most of you have heard of  Flickr a popular photo sharing site. I have been learning Flash lately and although I have a couple of games in mind which are essentially re-writes of some small games I’ve written in the past, I keep thinking about writing a graphical point and click adventure. I suppose I was somewhat inspired by some of the ones I’ve played lately. Last week I spent a fair amount of time exploring the Creative Commons area of Flickr. The Creative Commons license specifies you can use an image or a derivative work and you only have to give credit to the submitter. I was very impressed by what I found there.

Actually what got me thinking about it was this article on ways to advance your photography skills. I think the article was well written and presented some interesting ideas. However, the other thing that struck me was the awesome images accompanying the article. I mean it’s a lot easier to take a nice picture when you are standing outside the back of the Taj Mahal during a summer sunset or near an ancient Hindu temple at sunset in the jungles of Indonesia. My travel plans are somewhat limited in accordance with my budget. I suppose it’s a lame excuse but I used to live in a very scenic area and now not-so-much and though I often look at my limited view of a nice sunset off to the west there is really nothing but laziness that prevents me from getting in the car and driving somewhere I can get a clear shot.

Also if you follow the link in the article to the more interesting photos from the last seven days (again at Flickr) and keep hitting the reload button. You will see tons of interesting stuff, some of which you likely may have been able to shoot in your local environment.

Getting back to the idea of writing a game though, most of those impressive graphical adventures involve really nice art which either has to be rendered in a 3D graphics program, drawn, or photographed. It occurred to me if I wanted a shot of an animal from say Borneo and they didn’t have one at the local zoo, I could search the Creative Commons and get one at no expense other than crediting the photographer in the game. There are some terrific exotic settings available there as well.

I get a lot of hits on my blog from search engines on Megan Fox because I mentioned her originally in some post about robotics and Transformers. Just for kicks, I typed “Megan Fox” into the Creative  Commons search at Flickr. I got this poster from a sequel to the original Transformers movie. I also found this photo and this one where she is covered but it may be a little too sexy if you are at work. It all reminded me of an old, slightly naughty, joke. I wish I could remember the comedian but he was comparing National Geographic with Playboy magazine and said they both were full of picture of exotic places he’d never get to go.

Ahhh, this is comfortable.

I got a laugh out of this.

I also got a chuckle out of this anti-theft lunch bag.

Who wouldn’t want a water-powered jetpack? Ouch, look at the price!

Apparently aerogel a super insulator, works well to clean up oil spills. They didn’t point it out but the aerogel is that fuzzy thing below the brick in the picture.

Heavy science warning; string theory may be experimentally testable after all. Even if the subject is over your head there is a cute picture there.

If you read that last one, you will probably find Is Time an Illusion interesting.

This next one is sciency (a term a friend of mine once used to describe my blog) but not real complicated. I first heard of the Lagrangian points when I was writing a paper in college on space colonization. They are places in space where the gravitational tug of the bodies of the solar system cancel out. So if you wanted to build a really big space station they would be a good place to put it. I guess it never occurred to me; there may be a bunch of stuff there already.

When I saw this photo I wondered if someone really shot it or it’s like the one I made in my 2D gallery of the woman dancing on the seat of the motorcycle jumping a cliff.

An electric company in Florida made a mistake and appliances exploded and sparks shot out of the walls of people’s homes.

Now that is a big rat!

This is a pretty cool machine which makes 3D images out of levitated ball bearings. Unfortunately the video is poor quality, at first especially; it’s difficult to see what is going on.

Modern Cave Painting.

A cat / lizard meeting.

I saw this article about politicians should wear the logos of their sponsors like NASCAR drivers before I found this image of what they would look like.

Batteries wrapped in solar cells; as they point out, that was obvious.

First I had floppy disks all over the house. Then it was CDs and now it’s DVDs. If they build a quarter size device which can hold as much as 250 DVDs, I don’t think I would need many.

I wonder where this otter got a video camera.

This is just strange.

You think you are having a tough day at work?

Here is a video on the science of cute.

And finally, also on the subject of cute, there is this and this.

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.

Creative Video

Friday, December 5th, 2008

I spent my first year in college at an engineering school. It was a tough school and we didn’t have a lot of extra time. One of the things I remember was the guys building tennis ball cannons. Of course we eventually soaked the balls in lighter fluid so they would be flaming tennis balls. Here is a video of some guys playing tennis with flaming tennis balls.

I suppose that wasn’t all that dangerous. It would definitely keep you concentrating on the ball. Here’s something really crazy. At least the guy had the sense to put the liquid oxygen on a long pole before he poured it on the grill.

This video of bioluminescence was particularly striking. I have seen pictures of it before but the motion is really very cool.

You have to wait a bit for the next one to load before you see the motion. It is some guys being creative with stop motion video.

This one is from my friend Matt. It’s a silly dog video. This dog goes charging around in snow well over his head. You wonder how he manages to not run into something. I have never seen a dog move through snow like that.

Check out this image of two guys having lunch in a very high spot.

I thought this piece on the 10 most amazing things the sky can do was interesting.

Some of these are better than others. People make themselves invisible by covering or painting themselves the same as the background.

I’ve been thinking I need a new background for my new monitor but I wanted to create something myself. Here are some free high resolution wallpapers.

This close up of a snowflake was not at all what I expected.

Nature has perfected splitting water. I thought this was clever. If you can’t figure out exactly how plants do it then the next best thing is to extract the molecules from the plants and create cyborgs.

These vintage drawings of what the future would be like are pretty funny.

This is a very in-depth piece on fountains with some incredible pictures.

And finally, this is really silly. It’s a collection of Ninja cat pictures.

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.

Follow Up

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Last spring two wild kittens showed up in our driveway. With our neighbor’s help, we found a home for them but not before we got a chance to get them to adapt to humans. I wrote about it in this post and this post. We learned they are growing up strong and happy and I have a picture. They sure have grown!

Jack and Jill look happy

Jack and Jill look happy

I’m not sure I ever posted about this word game where they donate rice for every answer you get right. I may have played it before I started blogging. According to this they have surpassed their billionth grain of rice.

This looks pretty fun but you would need a really large place to fly it. It’s basically like being tied to a small blimp and strapping on wings to direct it for you own personal airship.

This example of using nanotube sheets as speakers is exactly the kind of technological advance which will produce products in the future you can’t imagine. It’s interesting they can use heat instead of motion to make sound.

I thought this ‘fountain of youth‘ drug sounded really promising but I had to laugh at this quote.

“The search for anti-frailty medications has become increasingly important because the average American is expected to live into his or her 80s, and most seniors want to stay strong enough to remain independent as they age.”

Most seniors? What? Did they do a survey? Does anyone want to become fragile?

Speaking of aging, this article about the coming singularity where machines become more intelligent than humans touches on so many points. The internet surpassed the capability of the human brain in 2006? I think Marshall Brain, (is that really his name), has a point about 50 million people being put out of work.

Probably not appropriate if you are at work. Heidi Klum re-enacts a scene from the movie Risky Business in a commercial for the new Guitar Hero game.

Here is an unusual design for a staircase.

Check out this clever theme for a bar.

When my friend Matt sends me pictures of dogs dressed up in costumes he says this is why dogs bite people. Here are a bunch of pictures of dogs dressed up in funny costumes.

These cats aren’t in costumes but they are scary and funny anyway.

And this dog is just too cute.

Finally check out these pictures of a cat and a lynx who are buddies.

Trick Or Treat

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

We used to have over 120 kids come to our door on Halloween. That was years ago. Now I think there are a lot less young kids in town and most of go to the new subdivision. I suppose it’s a lot safer to walk around there. I remember we used to cover a fair amount of ground in the town I grew up in, but we never treated Halloween like this. That’s a business plan!

I saw a picture of a large bottle of soda held up by a tiny piece of tape inspired by gecko feet lately but I didn’t bookmark it and couldn’t find it. People keep mentioning being able to play Spiderman with it but I can just imagine all the practical jokes it might be used for. Here are ten innovations inspired by nature including that one.

This is just funny. It’s so small I’m surprised anyone noticed.

I normally carry a lighter when I’m camping. After watching Bear Grylls use flint and steel on Man vs Wild though it looks remarkably effective. It’s difficult enough to get far enough into the wilderness in Indiana to not be within walking distance of a restaurant. I suppose if I was in a survival situation somewhere where I didn’t know a lot of the plants I would take this guys advice. Around here there are numerous edibles in the wild. There are few I would choose to eat though. Spring beauty and sumac lemonade are quite tasty, as are the morel mushrooms that grow around here.

I’ve heard golden orb weaver spiders are big but I didn’t realize they ate birds. Also speaking of spiders, I’m glad humans  don’t eat their mates.

One of these days carbon dioxide may be considered too valuable to throw away.

Strangely enough, if you use scotch tape in a vacuum it emits X-rays.

For some reason I don’t think this picture of a lion and a zebra is as ‘touching’ as it seems.

Don’t panic but in 1.1 million years we are all going to die, unless we move.

Check out the world’s most relaxing room.

And finally, what is cuter than zoo babies?