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Archive for May, 2008

Will it Blend?

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Blendtec is a company which has a viral marketing campaign where they produce videos in which they throw things in a blender. By things, I mean things you would not normally put in there. Think iphones, golf balls, and bic lighters. Will it blend?

Here is a strange list of home remedies for various ailments. I’m not sure any of them sound worth trying.

When I first saw this article about monkeys using a robot arm to feed themselves, I figured it was monkey torture. However, after reading it, it sounds like the monkeys enjoy it. What happens when they figure out how to use it on their keepers?

I used to think if we don’t figure out how to harness fusion, we are all doomed. Lately though, I’m thinking solar is going to save us. That sun is a big fusion reactor and the energy density is actually quite high. Then again, it looks like fusion might be doable after all. Here is a system which could generate power for as little as 0.2 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s about 1/45th what I’m paying.

Here are some pictures of the world’s deepest swimming pool. It’s used for dive training and yeah, it’s pretty deep.

O.K. this is a little silly. It’s a pot with an LED display that lets you know how your plants are feeling.

It’s hard to believe there are still people out there who have had no contact with civilization. Here are some pictures and a story about one such tribe.

And finally, check out this really strange story, with pictures and video, of a possum that came out of a man’s toilet.

The Walkway of Death

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

It’s a Bus. It’s a Train. It’s Both! That article describes a bus/train but I’ve often thought it would be great if you had the same thing for cars. Truly self driving cars are a ways off, but the technology to control them on a track is feasible today. You could drive your small electric vehicle to a track and then kick back and enjoy the trip. The car could get it’s power from the track so there would be no need to carry the fuel with you.

Speaking of electric cars, here is another one based on a conversion of a Saturn Sky. That $50K price tag is a little steep. Let’s see, if you drove a car 200,000 miles and it got 25mpg that’s 8000 gallons of gas, or 32,000 dollars at $4 per gallon. Then you aren’t getting the electricity for free either. Of course, who knows what gas will cost in the future.

Here is a list of gadgets used in Bond movies that kind of exist now. I can think of another use for the voice changer. If you are making a low budget animation, you could do your own voices.

One of the scary things about global warming is there is no reason to believe things would change gradually. In a lot of chemical systems there are points where an equilibrium will be stable but when you push it too far, it will suddenly switch to another state. When it comes to climate, we know it can happen because it has happened before. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. If we warm things up to the point where the methane is released, then you could have a runaway effect.

I thought of Wolverine from the X-men too when I read about this frog which can pop claws out from its skin.

Here is another one of those nuclear generators you can just bury in the ground and needs no maintenance. I hope they are right about it not overheating.

I once killed a blueberry plant trying to use vinegar to bring the pH of the soil down. I don’t know why I didn’t think to use vinegar as weed killer. I’m going to try that on poison ivy this year.

Perhaps it’s best to just accept the effects aging has on ones appearance. On the other hand, here are wrinkle treatments that work. I think the cream sounds the least painful.

When I was a kid we used to walk across a sewage pipe to cross a stream. It was scary but not really difficult. I did fall off once, but just sank deep in the mud. Check out this video of the walkway of death. When I saw all the holes and the parts where you had to just cross on the metal I thought I don’t think so!

Can you spot the Chameleon? I think I eventually did.

And finally, someone go.


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.

More 3D

Monday, May 26th, 2008

For those of you who can see 3D images using the cross-view technique here is a site that has some nice ones. I thought the light painting one was interesting. I’ve always wanted to shoot a 3D lightning picture, but it would be challenging (not to mention dangerous). If you want to learn to cross view, there is also a tutorial link there or you can read mine.

I’ve been writing about exoskeletons lately, here’s an exoskeleton motorcycle.

Years back Pons and Fleischmann announced they had achieved fusion at room temperature. The trouble was they hadn’t. There are few technologies which could have such an enormous impact on the world. Now a Japanese researcher has made the same claim. We’ll see.

The Forkinswift is an electric car built from used forklift parts (electric motor, etc.), used golf cart batteries (and a golf cart PWM motor controller) and a pair of near-dead “host” cars.

Turns out one of the things killing coral around the world is sunscreen. I watched Man vs Wild on Friday and ironically he used goo from a coral as sunscreen.

120 square feet of living space for $1500? I don’t really consider a bathroom and kitchen optional, but I suppose you could join a bunch of them together.

Speaking of bathrooms, check out the view from this one.

Here are tips for Green lawn care. As i get older I’m thinking the just get rid of the grass option is maybe the best. I keep wondering why I grow the stuff. I can’t eat it and it’s a pain to take care of.

I was reading about all the new lakes created from landslides as a result of the Chinese earthquake. Here is a series of satellite images showing one forming.

Here are some funny pictures made from food. I like the watermelon one the best.

Optimus Prime from the Transformers movie sculpted out of junk sounded kind of lame but after I clicked on it, I was impressed.

And finally, you know I always finish with a cute animal shot.

Seeing from London to New York

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Anyone for nano football? There would only be one good seat for watching robots smaller than a grain of salt face off in competition, in front of the microscope.

Speaking of robots, I found some video of the hopping robot I mentioned the other day.

This is really strange. An artist created a “Telectroscope” between London and New York. People can look through it and see people on the other side. I can think of a number of ways it could be done, but a tunnel isn’t one of them.

Here are six ‘uniquely’ human traits now found in animals. I thought the morality one was interesting.

I have said before I’m surprised there aren’t any beneficial viruses because it would make sense for a virus to protect the host therefore protecting itself. Now Asian researchers have created a self assembling artificial virus they intend to use for good causes.

I wrote about one of these before, but here is a list of color changing products.

My guess is aliens wouldn’t use radio to communicate for a lot of reasons. Here is an article suggesting they might use neutrinos.

This article points out the acid currents upwelling on the Pacific coast are from excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from fifty years ago. It’s only going to get worse.

Here are 13 of the best places to see the Northern Lights.

Check out these elaborate pieces of art created using eggs.

The surrealistic artwork of Jim Warren.

And finally, I got a chuckle out of this image of modest cats sunbathing.

More Illusions

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Arthur Shapiro has a web site devoted to optical illusions I’ve linked to before. This week he has an interesting one, but he also has this link on his page which takes you to the winners of the best illusions of the year.

You may already have read this AP article about a lost parrot. The parrot refused to talk to the police but later gave his owner’s name and address to a vet. Perhaps it was on advice from his attorney.

I thought this piece about a student who isolated the microorganisms that degrades plastic bags was interesting. When you read about his technique, which sounded pretty straight forward, you wonder why someone didn’t try it before.

I got a chuckle out of this link a friend sent me for a “handy free utility“.

Here are 15 Living Walls, Vertical Gardens & Sky Farms. I thought the best stuff was on the last page.

This false cucumber is both clever and creepy at the same time.

Jupiter has a new red spot.

I like these strange rope people sculptures.

Apparently you can control jet lag by changing when you eat.

Here is a robot which walks like a human. Check out the futuristic stylish head they put on it.

Here is a list of strange animals. I guess I knew the Mayfly didn’t live long but I didn’t know the adult has no mouth and can’t eat.

And finally, here are more cute puppy photos.

Going Way Too Fast

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Jet-Powered Bicycle Makes 50 MPH Feel Waaaaay Too Fast

When I was 15 I rode my bicycle from Ohio to Maine. It was with an organized group. We had a truck carrying our personal gear and cooking our meals. We rode about 100 miles a day. I remember feeling like I just couldn’t eat enough. Outside of Battleborough Vermont, we spent most of a morning working our way up a mountain. When we reached the top, we went down in pairs. I think terminal velocity on a bicycle is somewhere in the upper 50 mph range. By going down in pairs though, you can get in the slipstream of your partner. By leap-frogging each other you can get near 60 mph. It was about 9 miles as I recall and I remember passing cars. I also remember getting the feeling I was on a fragile machine that probably wasn’t designed to go that fast. It was quite a thrill!

Here is an interview with a blind skateboarder.

I almost didn’t check out this link because I thought I had already seen it, but this is a different climbing robot. Amazingly enough, this one clings to the wall using electrostatic force.

Here is a grasshopper sized hopping robot.

This is a story about a guy who built his own electric car which costs him $7 dollars for every 300 miles he drives.

I’m always finding those really useful bits of information for my readers. Here are 9 ways to open a beer bottle without an opener.

Here is the best picture of a dandelion I have ever seen.

These pictures of Mars are so stunning; some of them look computer generated.

I never realized one of the reasons there is no cure for the common cold was because there was no animal model to test drugs on. It turns out a smallpox drug might do the trick.

I’m not sure if this is the same process I wrote about before or it’s a new cheap way to capture carbon emissions from smokestacks. Solar energy technology is advancing rapidly but in the meantime, China is building a new coal fired plant every week.

Next time you tell a bad joke at the office, finish it with this instant rimshot.

Here is a list of 30 web-based image editing applications.

And finally, check out this cute video of a whistling puppy.

The Chinese Earthquake

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Here are some wedding photos taken during that Chinese earthquake. I thought the one of the church with the large cracks in it was especially striking. Here is a 360 degree view of earthquake damage. Click and drag your mouse to look around. They are probably not related to the earthquake but here is a video of strange rainbow clouds taken 30 minutes before the quake.

Borneo is home to a lot of things that fly or glide. I had heard of most of these, I think, but not the flying frogs.

I wrote about anti-bacterial soap the other day. This article points out the chemicals they use cause problems in the environment, and they stick around forever.

“The irony is that these compounds have no measurable benefit over the use of regular soap and water for hand washing; the contact time simply is too short.” Unfortunately this cannot be said for the bottom-dwelling organisms in the sampling locations on the East Coast. “Here,” Halden concludes, “the affected organisms are experiencing multi-generational, life-time exposures to our chemical follies.”

Speaking of bacteria, did you know you could make a computer out of them?

Your last flu shot? Walter Fiers attempts to create a universal vaccine against the flu.

Here is a video of a table which gets larger or smaller in a completely novel way.

In this TED Talks video Microsoft shows off SeaDragon which is software that allows you to view immense amount of visual information. Then they talk about Photosynth which can knit together a bunch of shots taken at different angles and spatially arrange them into a 3D object.

And finally, check out this funny photo of a smiling cat.

Smart Animals

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Years back when I used to go to SIGGRAPH, there were always innovative user interfaces in the exhibits. I was reminded of that when I watched this video of a drum sequencer controlled by placing gum balls in holes on a board.

This artist combines insects and antique watch parts for some strange art pieces.

I have never seen a commercial encouraging people to learn chemistry until now and this one is pretty strange.

DARPA has created some pretty cool things over the years and tried some pretty silly ones. Here is a summary of some of them.

A while back I wrote about free market government where we’d all live in spaceships and park over the country that offers you the best deal on your tax dollars. These people seem serious about making floating ocean colonies with the idea of creating a government from scratch.

One of my cats used to sneak up on another one of my cats when she was sleeping, smack her in the head and then run away. Besides feeling it was mean, I often thought about how much planning was required. Also, she obviously knew that she could get away with it because the other cat was asleep. Here is a round-up of the ten smartest animals.

This is pretty cool. It’s a machine that can sort garbage for recycling and not only power itself, but produce excess energy too.

This video involves flesh cutting so you may not want to watch it, but it’s a plasma scalpel in action.

Here is another nice collection of ‘stopped time’ photos.

Here is a picture of a giant couch made of sand.

Who would have guessed, some people would make rock balancing an art?

For you gadget lovers, here is a remote control car where you can wear goggles and see as though you were inside it.

And finally, check out this silly video of a puppy playing with chicks.


Thursday, May 15th, 2008

One of my cats brought a rabbit into the house and let it go today. I think it is in a room we use for storage which means it’s full of stuff, and the rabbit could be anywhere. If any of my readers has a suggestion on how to catch it, I’d love to hear it. I might run out and buy one of those cage traps later.

There is a berry called Miracle fruit. For about 30 minutes after you eat it, it makes sour things taste sweet.

This article says the music you listen to can effect the taste of wine.

This is a pretty cool video about an optical illusion where it appears as though an image is animated as you move a sheet with vertical lines over it.

This is interesting. According to this article, the reason we see optical illusions is because our visual system is predicting future events.

Diatoms are tiny unicellular algae that have shells made of silicon dioxide. It’s possible in the future; Microbes Could Build ‘Iron Man’ Circuits.

I’ve been seeing a lot of news on the chemical Bisphenol A lately. In this article it’s linked to obesity. Even though the FDA won’t tell parents to avoid it, you wonder how they can sell this stuff anymore. How many parents would take the chance?

85% of Americans Want a Presidential Debate on Science. It’s nice to see members of both political parties agree on something.

Having less power makes you dumber.

By randomly assigning individuals to high and low-power conditions, they demonstrate that simply lacking power can automatically lead to performance that reinforces one’s low standing, sending the powerless towards a destiny of dispossession.

After reading; Report: Government’s Cyber Security Plan Is Riddled With New Spying Programs, I had the thought we could all save a lot of money and gain a lot of privacy if those of us who are not terrorists could get certified as such. No matter how many civil liberties we give up or how much we spend there will always be gaps in our protection.

If you don’t know what a trebuchet is, it’s one of those large wooden contraptions people used to use to hurl things at castles. In this video they hurl people into a net. I don’t think I’d try that.

Want more trebuchet videos? This guy hurls cars and flaming pianos.

A German street performer appears to be hanging in space with one hand against the wall. If you look closely at the last picture on the second page, you will see how it’s done. His left arm isn’t real and it is attached to a harness.

And finally, I’ll leave you with three nice photos; this striking city at night, this African setting, and whatever this cute thing is.