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Archive for the 'Advanced Materials' Category

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.

This Is Your Brain On The Internet

Friday, October 17th, 2008

A UCLA study has concluded searching the internet increases brain function. Don’t you feel smarter now?

HacknMod is a site devoted to building or altering your equipment. Who doesn’t want a giant pedal powered tank?

Speaking of mods here’s how to build a Wifi antenna using a vegetable strainer.

This article about the IRS using a hack-able computer system makes me feel oh-so-comfortable with the information they have.

Is it about zombies or not? A student was arrested on terrorism charges after his grandparents found a story he’d written. I have often thought Steven King would never make it though school these days.

Even so, police say the nature of the story makes it a felony. “Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it’s a felony in the state of Kentucky,” said Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill.

Give me a break! These people are afraid of zombies? Don’t expect any classic horror writers to come out of Kentucky in the future. Do you think the number of horror films involving proms will decrease after this? If they prosecute this kid for writing a zombie story, the terrorists have truly won.

The tune “Stayin Alive” has the ideal beat for giving CPR. Can you imagine waking up to someone pounding your chest while singing disco music? Great, now that song is stuck in my head.

Besides bringing you back to life, music has other amazing powers.

This site gives you the ability to generate you own soft drink can. Now I’m just not sure why I would want to. Actually, it is a pretty well designed site.

I’ve often thought some of the coolest things we will have in the future aren’t really predictable because they will be possible due to breakthroughs in material technology like this metal foam

Here’s a collection of award winning microscope photos.

Check out this nice collection of photos of frozen waterfalls.

Here is a site devoted to pictures of upside down dogs.

If that wasn’t silly enough for you, this lady has taught her cat to eat with a fork.

And finally, I really like this picture but frogs may not be cute enough for my ending picture so try this one.

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.

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.

Paint Ball Ink Jet Printer

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Years ago it occurred to me you could make an ink jet printer out of a paint ball gun. Sure, the pixels would be big but if you had a large enough canvas, say the side of a barn, it would work. Well it was just one of those ideas I never got around to pursuing because well, it’s not very practical. What would you do with it? Thank goodness the guys at Mythbusters don’t need a practical reason to do something. They built a printer that not only makes a picture using paint balls, but fires all the balls off at the same time. Check out the video. The really cool stuff starts about half way through.

Speaking of the impractical, even if I’d thought of this one, I never would suspect enough people would buy it to make a successful product. It’s an aquarium toilet. I think you might hesitate to flush if you saw this.

This is one of those things you read and just wonder about the government. They point out in the article, most beef in the U.S. is too young to test for Mad Cow disease but what is the harm in testing?

Refrigeration is a very old and not-too-efficient technology. This article is about a plastic that could cool things using an electric field. They mention computer electronics and refrigeration but can you imagine if you could make clothing or a tent out the stuff?

The sun has been acting kind of strange lately. Last month it was spotless. According to this article, it was the first time in either 50 or 100 years. When it has happened in the past, it was followed by a period of global cooling. I’ve mentioned before in this blog whether you believe in global warming or not, pumping large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has all kinds of repercussions including acidifying the oceans. If we are about to enter a cold phase, maybe it will give us some time to get our act together. On the other hand, it really doesn’t look like we are cooling off. For the first time in human history it is now possible to sail all the way around the Arctic. Also look at this data for the temperature of the last decade.

Speaking of the sun, check out these pictures of a nice sun dog, and a break in the clouds.

And finally, I have a couple of funny animal pictures for you. I got a chuckle out of this one, but this one is even better.

No Comment

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

I’ve changed the settings on this blog so you have to log in to post a comment. Sorry, I’ve been overrun by spammers lately and I’m tired of dealing with it. You people aren’t real talkative anyway. Maybe I’ll figure out another way to deal with it, but in the meantime, the comments are disabled.

The other day I mentioned Shapeways where you can get 3D models printed into real plastic objects. I spent some time looking over their site recently trying to figure out how it works and coming up with ideas on things to make. There is a gallery of models people have submitted. They are also coming up with simple objects you can modify through their interface and have made but 3D modeling is somewhat complex so I imagine this is difficult for them. Right now the objects you can make that way are pretty limited.

This article at Wired pointed out the plastic isn’t for kids. I hadn’t thought about that. While reading through the forums I ran across this link where a guy made a mold for chocolate monkey heads. He was working in a lab that had a 3D printer and didn’t use Shapeways, but the process would be about the same. I just recently bought one of those FoodSaver systems to preserve the heaping loads of vegetables we are getting and it had occurred to me the vacuum system might come in handy for molding something. He uses it to remove the bubbles from the silicone prior to pouring the mold.

The FoodSaver thing is kind of cool but a little more difficult to operate than I expected. I liked some of the unusual suggestions people had for using it. One was to seal your paint brush instead of cleaning it if you were going to continue painting the same color anyway. They also give you a covered dish which you can use to marinate meat using the vacuum. That didn’t occur to me either.

I was reading about the water cube at the Olympics and how it’s made of this amazing material called ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene). This article talks about how strong, lightweight, and transparent it is. It sounds really great and then at the end they say it’s unlikely to be used in residential projects because the engineering is too sophisticated. It sounds like the perfect material for a home greenhouse. How bad can the engineering be?

I liked this article about building things by shaping trees. I wish I had more room in my yard to try something like it. Plants are really remarkable in their ability to self assemble into useful things. With all the genetic engineering going on you wonder how extreme it could get. I mean you could possibly encode the genes for these things to shape themselves without human guidance.

Imagine two dollar a gallon carbon neutral gasoline produced from garbage and non-food biomass. Given the military is the largest consumer of fuel in the U.S. and the security gains from being able to produce it domestically, I would think they would be highly interested in seeing this technology pushed forward as quickly as possible.

Type a command and this dog will do tricks. Besides the basic stuff I couldn’t think of much to make it do. Be sure to try “kiss”.

And finally, yes another silly cat picture.

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.

The Singularity

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

This video is more of a slide show of facts. It’s one of those things that really makes you sense the world is changing fast. One of the predictions is someone will build a computer smarter than a human by 2013. I personally think that is a little early but I still think it will happen and it isn’t far off. I wonder whether it will be a computer smarter than a human or human integrated with a computer. The economic repercussions would be phenomenal and happen over a very short time.

Think it will never happen? This list of quotes of people saying something will never happen reminded me of a discussion (argument) I had with a former business partner who believed regular people will never get on the internet.

When machines become smarter than people it will become futile to try to get the machine to try to explain why something should be done a certain way and we will just have to accept the results. On the other hand i wonder what it would be like if we merged with them. We will actually have an understanding of the computer side of our brain? Will it just seem like two voices in our heads? Here researchers develop neural implants that learn with the brain.

I thought this was cool; creating an artificial tornado to generate electricity. I thought the quote he was confident he could control it was interesting. I can imagine the consequences if one got away.

Although it is only currently a mathematical model, scientists have designed a “cloak of silence“. In an increasingly noisy world, they can’t develop one of these fast enough in my opinion.

An apple that tastes like a berry?

In a follow up on a piece I wrote about here. The photos of that “lost” tribe were staged.

Here are some very nice bubble photos, and a behind the scenes look at how they were done.

Feel like everyone is out to get you? Read this on the economics of nice folks.

British police chase a UFO in a helicopter.

And finally, check out these funny pet shots.

Browser Issues

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

I still haven’t figured out why the color of my links are not showing properly in IE7, but I have managed to make them underlined. About 90% of people view this site using some version of Firefox or MS Internet Explorer. The rest, in order, are Unknown, Opera, Safari, Konqueror, Mozilla, Netscape, and LibWWW. If you can’t see the links, drop me a note or comment, and let me know what you are using.

It looks like storms are still hammering Wisconsin. This is a story about a lake they lost up there when it burst it banks. It would be sad to lose the lake, but I would of run out there and grabbed as many fish as I could while they were still alive.

Check out these cool underwater sculptures by Jason Taylor. Being underwater certainly enhances the lighting.

Here is another strange photo. It’s tree trunks covered in silk from a spinning moth.

Although the idea of a doomsday seed vault is kind of depressing, the vault itself is interesting to see in this clip from 60 Minutes. With all the species going extinct, it would be nice if someone was doing this with DNA. Maybe we could get some of the biodiversity back someday.

I thought this was interesting, people can echo locate like bats. Next time I’m trying to move around in the dark, I’m going to make some noise and see if it helps.

Antimatter is so hard to work with; physicists don’t really know much about it. This article poses the question; does antimatter fall up?

I can see a lot of uses for really strong paper, but I’m not looking forward to dealing with yet another form of nearly impossible to open packaging. I remember my grandmother asking me to open things for her and that was before wrap rage. I can’t imagine trying to open modern plastic packaging with arthritis. I think one of the worst examples is vacuum fluorescent light bulbs because you are trying to release a highly fragile bulb from extremely tough plastic. I read somewhere a huge number of people injure themselves from the stuff but I can’t seem to find the statistic right now.

The transmission on a car wastes 10 to 20 percent of the motor’s energy. Volvo is trying to build a car with electric motors in each wheel to avoid that loss.

This sequence of pictures tells a dramatic story of a salvage operation gone terribly wrong.

Here is an amazing shot of a blackbird hitching a ride on the back of a hawk.

And finally, I guess these are foxes?

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