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Archive for June, 2008

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.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Hey, sorry I haven’t had time to post. I’m off to check out yet another car. Just thought I’d take a second to link you with to this little gem.

Lady spins on an escalator.

I can’t believe it never occurred to me to do that.

Universal Theory of Humor

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

It seems like I’m always seeing claims that someone has invented a car that runs on water. The problem is, you can break water into hydrogen and oxygen but it takes as much energy to do it as you would get burning the hydrogen. On the other hand, we are about to buy a gas burning car and I joke right after we do, someone will invent one that runs on urine.

Check out these pictures of astronauts working in space.

There are more than 750 cancer therapies currently in development. This article is about cancer stem cells and a possible cure.

Speaking of stem cells, researchers are on the verge of making old muscle young again.

Want to live in million dollar houses for free? Here is how to do it.

I really prefer it if these pictures were just presented in a cross-view format. Here are some old pictures presented in 3D using the wiggle vision approach.

This is pretty strange. Extreme ironing is people ironing in unusual places.

It’s not an easy read but; Is the Universe Actually Made of Math?

This article about the first universal theory of humor isn’t very funny. It is interesting though.

Amusing childish games such as peek-a-boo and clap hands all exhibit the precise mechanism of humour as it appears in any adult form. Peek-a-boo can elicit a humorous response in infants as young as four months, and is, effectively, a simple process of surprise repetition, forming a clear, basic pattern.

For some reason it made me think of that silly Monty Python skit; The funniest Joke in the world.

There is a full moon tonight. For years I thought the moon looked larger when it rises because of some atmospheric distortion. It’s actually all an illusion.

And finally, here is a cute story of a cat and bear who are best friends.

Future Carpet

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Wouldn’t it be cool to have self-cleaning carpet? You spill something on it and it just grows a little, so you have to trim it. You just would have to be careful not to pass out on it. Here are some pictures of all the nasty critters that live in carpeting.

Firefox 3 is to be released tomorrow. They are hoping to set a new Guinness World Record for the most software downloaded on a single day. From what I have read, it sounds like it will have a very useful zoom feature.

Pretty much everyone has seen the reaction between Mentos and Diet Coke resulting in a gushing fountain. This article explains the science behind it.

I guess I figured they would eventually be able to somehow bring woolly mammoths back to life because they died out relatively recently. I didn’t think they would ever be able to bring back dinosaurs. After reading this article I think a Jurassic park is probably going to happen even if it’s just mutant chickens.

I got a laugh out of this sign.

I often wonder if the people living on Easter Island saw their fate coming. It seems like it must have been obvious. In this ABC documentary scientists discuss whether this will be the last century for humans on the earth.

It seems like there are a zillion ways to make oil. Here is yet another one which is carbon neutral.

How about new gas that gives you better mileage, less emissions, and it’s cheap!

Nvidea’s latest offering has 240 cores. Absolutely realistic real-time rendering can’t be far away.

I used to drink a lot of coffee. Now I just drink it in the morning. Who’d of guessed I may not be drinking enough to get all the health benefits?

I thought this photo sequence of a geyser erupting was pretty cool.

Check out this plane with folding wings.

And finally, here is another cute photo of puppies.

Are You Wearing A Bluetooth Or Are You Just Nuts?

Friday, June 13th, 2008

It turns out a company who makes Bluetooth headsets is responsible for the corn popping videos. I hate those things. In the old days if someone was walking around talking to themselves you knew …

they were one brick short of a full load.

the lights were on but no one was home.

they weren’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

they weren’t the brightest bulb on the string.

the elevator didn’t go to the top floor.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Even before Bluetooth, I remember one night years ago, I was crossing a small bridge that led from a parking lot to a local bar. There was a woman sitting on the bridge talking to herself. She had long hair and I remember thinking I hope she has a cell phone in her hand as I walked by.

Wednesday evening I decided to go to out for some decent food and went to a restaurant which has an outdoor patio on a lake. I chose to sit at the bar as I was by myself. There was some background noise, making it slightly difficult to hear. A guy at the bar starting talking loudly and gesturing and I started to wonder who he was talking to. After a few minutes he turned far enough I could see his headset. A few minutes later a guy sat down in a seat to my right. We talked for a minute about how slow the service was and how nice the view was. I could see he had some sort of electronic device in his hand but he had long hair. After a while he started talking to himself.

Before you accuse me of being paranoid, I just think there is a natural instinct to avoid strangers who seem crazy. After all, although Hollywood has brought us images of the like of Hannibal Lecter and one of my favorites Garland “The Marietta Mangler” Greene played by Steve Buscemi in Con Air, real life has its share of kooks. Take this guy for instance.

Like it or not, now we have to assume people have one of those headsets when they are talking to themselves. The headsets are just going to get smaller and probably eventually implantable so you really won’t be able to tell. If they don’t have a headset, well you just have to hope they are the harmless kind. After all if Elwood P. Dowd played by James Stewart had worn one of those things. No one would have thought he was eccentric.

What’s that? Oh, I was just chatting with my friend Harvey.

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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Whoops!

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

I started writing a post and then my wife called. She is out of town on business and happened to view my site using Internet Explorer. I normally use Firefox. I knew Explorer did not render my page exactly as I intended but when I had checked it, the differences were marginal. Now I find the links do not look any different than the regular text unless you mouse over them. My apologies to the readers who use that browser. I was about to post but I spent the day in the garden and I’m starving from the exercise.

I’m off to find some food and hopefully will get the problem fixed and write a post later on.

You can download Firefox for free by clicking HERE.

Water

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Yesterday I included a link to some video of people popping popcorn using cell phones. I didn’t think it was real and apparently it is not. It’s interesting how marketing has really picked up on the viral video idea. I suppose you can’t get much cheaper exposure than that.

Here is another article about EEStor and Zenn motors a car maker who is supposed to make cars built based on the device EEStor is producing. I’ve been following this for some time because if it is real, it is an amazing breakthrough, not only for cars but for storing solar and wind power. This is supposedly EEStor’s patent.

Here is a series of pictures of water including, among other things, one of China’s quake lakes and also some images from the recent flooding in my home state.

Speaking of water, here is a way to desalinate water using an anesthetically pleasing building.

This is a washing machine that can wash a load of clothes using only one cup of water.

I was going to try using cornmeal to get rid of ants this season but they haven’t showed up, at least for now. I think they all moved into our strawberry tower which is bursting with ripe strawberries.

This is one really huge snail.

This is supposed to be the perfect male voice but I don’t know, I’m not sure what the perfect male voice would be.

BMW’s new concept car can shape-shift. I’d like one that is a sports car on the road but can shape-shift into a camper.

Here is another nice collection of photographs.

And finally, check out this silly picture of baby ferrets in a cup.

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Rain and More Rain

Monday, June 9th, 2008

We didn’t get the 10+ inches of rain they did just south of here this weekend but we got a lot. Friday night I was out closing up the garage when we had a really large gust out ahead of the storm. Debris started pelting me from the trees and I had the thought it was crazy being out there. I also heard a strange sound like metal moving over pavement. On Saturday, after a lot of rain had fallen, I crossed the neighbor’s yard to check the creek. It was about as full as I have seen it, and their yard was covered in mushrooms.

I dropped off my wife at the airport this afternoon. Before her plane took off, another big line of storms blew up. She did finally call me to say they were taking off after being delayed.

It’s amazing to see the destructive power of all the rain. They are having mudslides in Morgan County and interstates are being closed from erosion. I have the news on and they are showing video from helicopters with water as far as the eye can see. You can see flood pictures and video here and here.

This is one of those things you wonder if it’s real or fake. It’s a video where they take four cell phones and put popcorn in the middle and it starts popping.

Here is a nice picture of Niagara Falls at night.

This is kind of interesting. They make a belt out of a chemical which reacts to light and then make a motor out of it. UV light makes it contract and visible light makes it expand.

The military built a computer capable of processing more than 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second out of video game components.

Here are some amazing pictures taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

Here is a very cool but very expensive Green house.

Is oil made by decaying organic matter or does the earth just spew it out?

I thought this was a interesting approach to car alarms; herds of cars watching over each other.

I’ve thrown sodium in water and I’ve thrown Potassium in water, but I’ve never messed with Rubidium or Cesium. After watching this video I’m thinking that’s a good thing.

Check out these nice pictures of the ocean.

And finally, here is a very cute kitten.

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More Storms

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Sorry this post is so short but we have another big storm coming and I need to run some errands. Here are just a handful of links.

Speaking of storms, here are some storm photos shot in Nebraska.

Scroll down a bit to see two subjects on this blog dealing with printing buildings. According to them it would be five times cheaper. With all the fancy things they can do with concrete these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if they could make them look like traditional houses for not much more.

One time I built a 3D scanner using a video camera, an aquarium, and some food coloring. We also experimented with moving lights around an object and averaging the pictures together. This is much cooler! By sending light though grids and doing a lot of processing, scientists have managed to build a microscope which can get around the limitation of light microscopy. The fact that you can’t resolve objects smaller than the wavelength of the light you are using. Check out the video.

O.K. this is just silly fun. Cornstarch is strange stuff. Mixed with the right amount of water it’s a non-Newtonian fluid. You can roll it into a ball in your hand and when you stop applying pressure it melts. Here someone decided to make a video where they pour it into a speaker and vibrate it at different frequencies.

And finally, in Japan they decided watermelons would fit in the fridge better if they were square.