Thursday, February 28, 2008
Check this out!
Here is something that will make you go out of your way to find curvy roads: the Carver One! You steer it like a car, but when cornering it banks like a motorcycle while you feel like you are flying a jetfighter. The thrill of this tilting capability combined with the handling of a sports car makes for an exhilarating driving experience unlike any other!
Thanks to Alex
From Dan Phiffer:
Left: All the water in the world (1.4087 billion cubic kilometres of it) including sea water, ice, lakes, rivers, ground water, clouds, etc. Right: All the air in the atmosphere (5140 trillion tonnes of it) gathered into a ball at sea-level density. Shown on the same scale as the Earth.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while.
Concept illustrations of Gravia depict an acrylic column a little over four feet high. The entire column glows when activated. The electricity is generated by the slow fall of a mass that spins a rotor. The resulting energy powers 10 high-output LEDs that fire into the acrylic lens, creating a diffuse light. The operation is silent and the housing is elegant and cord free – completely independent of electrical infrastructure.
The light output will be 600-800 lumens – roughly equal to a 40 watt incandescent bulb over a period of four hours.
To "turn on" the lamp, the user moves weights from the bottom to the top of the lamp. An hour-glass like mechanism is turned over and the weights are placed in the mass sled near the top of the lamp. The sled begins its gently glide back down and, within a few seconds, the LEDs come on and light the lamp, Moulton said. “It’s more complicated than flipping a switch but can be an acceptable, even enjoyable routine, like winding a beautiful clock or making good coffee,” he said.
I must admit that I was more than a little blown away by the facilities at Figueira Rubaiyat in Sao Paulo. The entire restaurant is built around a 100-year-old (maybe older) fig tree that is nothing less than colossal in size.
Brazil has a lot of big trees, but you wouldn’t expect to find one in the middle of a city this size. The restaurant incorporated the great tree into its architecture putting about a quarter of the tree inside the restaurant with the rest outside. The tree appears to be meticulously maintained by experts.
I want to go there next time I'm in Sao Paulo. More.
Friday, February 15, 2008
In a 2002 paper, Laser Elevator: Momentum Transfer Using an Optical Resonator (available at your local school/library, possibly electronically — J. of Spacecraft and Rockets 2002), Thomas R. Meyer et. al. talk about a neat way to get a lot more speed out of light reflection than with a regular solar sail. The basic physics are pretty simple, and it’s a fun subject to think about.
This is why solar sails are so slow. It’s not that light doesn’t have that much energy, it’s that it has so little momentum. If you set a squirrel on a solar sail and shone a laser on the underside, do you know how much power would be required to lift the squirrel? About 1.21 gigawatts.
This is awful. If we were lifting the squirrel with a motor, railgun, or electric catapult, with 1.21 gigawatts we could send it screaming upward at ridiculous speeds.
This is where Meyer and friends come in. They’ve point out a novel way to extract momentum from the photon: bounce it back and forth between the sail and a large mirror (on a planet or moon, perhaps).
I was thinking maybe you could carry your own bouncing surface behind a solar sail ship and that way multiply the energy... but you'd probably gain momentum the opposite way when bouncing, right? Is there a way around it?
Inferno is a "sonic barrier," a long metallic speakerbar that generates a sound made of four frequencies between 2 and 5 kilohertz. The sound itself is 125dB, which is the typical sound made by an alarm, but according to Danger Room's Sharon Weinberger, it's "the most unbearable, gut-wrenching noise I've ever heard in my life." It was a very quick exposure but Sharon says that it was a lot worse than the Pentagon pain ray. We talked with Dr. Maurice Goldman, managing director for the company in the US, about the uses and cost of these devices.
"Being a guinea pig for a sonic ray was truly a whole lot worse than being a guinea pig for the pain ray. I would happily volunteer again to be hit by the Pentagon's pain ray. It was fun, like being Bugs Bunny dancing around when Elmer Fudd tries to shoot him. I never, ever again want to be hit by the Inferno" says Sharon, but while the sensation was unbearable, she actually didn't experiment the extreme reactions that this sound will cause if you are exposed to it for a longer time: vertigo, nausea, and pain in the chest.
More via Gizmodo.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Does anyone have any idea what these Islands are? Google maps doesn't label them! I can't find a resource that will tell me what's on a certain Latitude and Longitude. I don't have any Atlas here...
Thanks to BG
UPDATE: My friends Tsiemi and Bjarne got it for me. It's the Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha. Nothing like having sailor friends.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Charles 'The Ponz' Ponzi is, quite simply, one of the greatest swindlers in American history. The originator and copyright holder of the pièce de résistance of his career, the "Ponzi Scheme," Ponzi also boasted old-timey movie star looks and a smirk that could charm the pants off of the Pope.
Much like Vito Corleone, Ponzi came to America as an impoverished Italian immigrant. Also like Vito Corleone, Ponzi decided early in the game that his many talents should not be squandered working in a opium pipe-making factory, or wherever they sent the Italians to work back then. Keep in mind that the man had already served time in Canada, hiding it from his family by telling them he had gotten a job there. Once he was out and in the states, he created his own little plan for living the good life.
The deal was, back then you could get these coupons that could be redeemed for stamps in other countries. Ponzi noticed that back in Italy these coupons cost way less than the stamps in America. So, he figured it was still 1918 and there were a lot of retarded people around, and that he could buy like a billion of those coupons in Italy and then redeem them for the stamps here. He made 400 percent profit on each transaction, and didn't produce a damned thing.
Ponzi thought, well, sh17, why isn't everybody doing this? So this smooth operator convinced thousands of people to invest in his totally legit business, the Securities Exchange Company, and by 1920 was making $250,000 a day.
Remember those coupons Ponzi was supposed to be buying with all this investor money? Yeah, he wasn't. There wasn't even a thousandth as many of the coupons in existence as the investors had given him the money to buy. He was basically just taking the investor's money, piling it up and swimming around in it like Scrooge McDuck. It was estimated that millions of dollars had passed through his hands and he had nothing to show for them but his awesome mustache.
Benny Hinn - Walking may have been good enough for Jesus Christ, but it's not good enough for Benny Hinn. Somebody, please, buy this man a Dove One. Better yet, go ahead and purchase him a yacht, a subway line, the Orient Express, some rickshaws and a few of those elephants domesticated for human transportation. ANYTHING to get his egregious face-slapping ministry to the people.
The Fox Sisters
Gregor MacGregor - most still couldn't believe MacGregor had lied to them, standing up for him in the papers and basically blaming the island for not being there. They simply could not comprehend that any one man could have balls that huge. They were wrong.
Frank Abagnale - Once Abagnale was imprisoned, he convinced his guards that he was actually an undercover prison inspector and that he needed the privilege of having an unsupervised meeting with his FBI agent contact. Yeah, they bought it.
Views of an automobile (top) and of a human brain (bottom)
from the updatable 3D holographic display developed at The University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences in collaboration with Nitto Denko Technical Corp., Oceanside, Calif. The 3D images were recorded on a 4-inch by 4-inch photorefractive polymer device. (Credit: University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences/Nitto Denko Technical Corp.)
University of Arizona optical scientists have broken a technological barrier by making three-dimensional holographic displays that can be erased and rewritten in a matter of minutes.
The holographic displays – which are viewed without special eyewear – are the first updatable three-dimensional displays with memory ever to be developed, making them ideal tools for medical, industrial and military applications that require "situational awareness."
"This is a new type of device, nothing like the tiny hologram of a dove on your credit card," UA optical sciences professor Nasser Peyghambarian said. "The hologram on your credit card is printed permanently. You cannot erase the image and replace it with an entirely new three-dimensional picture."
Dynamic hologram displays could be made into devices that help surgeons track progress during lengthy and complex brain surgeries, show airline or fighter pilots any hazards within their entire surrounding airspace, or give emergency response teams nearly real-time views of fast-changing flood situations or traffic problems, for example.
Their device basically consists of a special plastic film sandwiched between two pieces of glass, each coated with a transparent electrode. The images are "written" into the light-sensitive plastic, called a photorefractive polymer, using laser beams and an externally applied electric field. The scientists take pictures of an object or scene from many two-dimensional perspectives as they scan their object, and the holographic display assembles the two-dimensional perspectives into a three-dimensional picture.
The 4-inch-by-4-inch prototype display that Peyghambarian, Tay and their colleagues created now comes only in red, but the researchers believe much larger displays in full color could be developed. They next will make 1-foot-by-1-foot displays, then 3-foot-by-3-foot displays.
"We use highly efficient, low-cost recording materials capable of very large sizes, which is very important for life-size, realistic 3-D displays," Peyghambarian said. "We can record complete scenes or objects within three minutes and can store them for three hours."
I never got the whole Guitar Hero, Rock Band and their fake guitars playing thingie, which require so much practice to master that you may as well use a real guitar to become as good as Satriani. That's why I love the idea of Guitar Rising, which can use any real electric guitar, from a Fender Telecaster to a Gibson Les Paul. The software teaches you how to play actual songs, tracking your accuracy much like Guitar Hero would do, as their demo video shows.
Rather than learn fake guitar, kids, play something that teaches you real guitar!
Now this sounds strange... yet space has a definite smell. Being creatures of an atmosphere, we can only smell space indirectly. Sort of like the way a pit viper smells by waving its tongue in the air and then pressing it to the roof of its mouth where sensors process the molecules that have been adsorbed onto the waggling appendage. I had the pleasure of operating the airlock for two of my crewmates while they went on several space walks. Each time, when I repressed the airlock, opened the hatch and welcomed two tired workers inside, a peculiar odor tickled my olfactory senses. At first I couldn't quite place it. It must have come from the air ducts that re-pressed the compartment. Then I noticed that this smell was on their suit, helmet, gloves, and tools. It was more pronounced on fabrics than on metal or plastic surfaces. It is hard to describe this smell; it is definitely not the olfactory equivalent to describing the palette sensations of some new food as "tastes like chicken." The best description I can come up with is metallic; a rather pleasant sweet metallic sensation. It reminded me of my college summers where I labored for many hours with an arc welding torch repairing heavy equipment for a small logging outfit. It reminded me of pleasant sweet smelling welding fumes. That is the smell of space.
Interesting... More by Don Pettit (photo).
Wool socks, skirts and silk ties may soon clean themselves of smells and stains in the sunshine, researchers in Australia and China suggest.
The secret is a nano particle coating, one already used to keep windows clear, that could lead to "self-cleaning" versions of wool and silk fabrics.
Wool and silk, which are composed of natural proteins called keratins, are among the most prized and widely used fabrics in the clothing industry. However, they are difficult to keep clean and are easily damaged by conventional cleaning agents.
"The self-cleaning technology in our work uses titanium dioxide photocatalyst that when triggered by light, it decomposes dirt, stains, harmful microorganisms and so on," says Dr Daoud.
At just 2ft 9in, Indian muscleman Aditya 'Romeo' Dev is the world's smallest bodybuilder.
Pint-sized Romeo is well-known in his hometown of Phagwara, India - for his ability to lift 1.5kg dumbbells - despite his overall 9kg body weight.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
It may look insane, but the guy at the picture is not a Photoshoped silhouette placed over a fake landscape. He's swimming at the Devil’s Pool, a natural rock pool at the very top of the Victoria Falls, at Zimbabwe, with a height of about 100 metres.
The Victoria Falls is a waterfall situated in southern Africa between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. From September to December, due to low water levels, it is possible to swim at the edge of the falls in a naturally formed safe pool, accessed via Livingstone Island.
More pics and vids.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru to the Beatles who introduced the West to transcendental meditation, died Tuesday at his home in the Dutch town of Vlodrop, a spokesman said. He was thought to be 91 years old.
"He died peacefully at about 7 p.m.," said Bob Roth, a spokesman for the Transcendental Meditation movement that Maharishi founded. He said his death appeared to be due to "natural causes, his age."
Once dismissed as hippie mysticism, the Hindu practice of mind control known as transcendental meditation gradually gained medical respectability.
He began teaching TM in 1955 and brought the technique to the United States in 1959. But the movement really took off after the Beatles attended one of his lectures in 1967.
Maharishi retreated last month into silence at his home on the grounds of a former Franciscan monastery, saying he wanted to dedicate his remaining days to studying the ancient Indian texts that underpin his movement.
"He had been saying he had done what he set out to do," Roth said late Tuesday.
With the help of celebrity endorsements, Maharishi — a Hindi-language title for Great Seer — parlayed his interpretations of ancient scripture into a multi-million-dollar global empire. His roster of famous meditators ran from Mike Love of the Beach Boys to Clint Eastwood and Deepak Chopra, a new age preacher.
After 50 years of teaching, Maharishi turned to larger themes, with grand designs to harness the power of group meditation to create world peace and to mobilize his devotees to banish poverty from the earth.
Maharishi was born Mahesh Srivastava in central India, reportedly on Jan. 12, 1917 — though he refused to confirm the date or discuss his early life.
He studied physics at Allahabad University before becoming secretary to a well known Hindu holy man. After the death of his teacher, Maharishi brought his message to the West in a language that mixed the occult and science that became the buzz of college campuses.
Jai Guru Dev
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
When Saad Tawfiq watched Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations on February 5 2003 he shed bitter tears as he realised he had risked his life and those of his loved ones for nothing.
As one of Saddam Hussein's most gifted engineers, Tawfiq knew that the Iraqi dictator had shut down his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes in 1995 -- and he had told his handlers in US intelligence just that.
And yet here was the then US secretary of state -- Tawfiq's television was able to received international news through a link pirated from Saddam's spies next door -- waving a vial of white powder and telling the UN Security Council a story about Iraqi germ labs.
"When I saw Colin Powell I started crying. Immediately. I knew I had tried and lost," Tawfiq told AFP five years later in the Jordanian capital Amman.
Eye-opening read here.
Friday, February 01, 2008
He is "a bipartisan progressive," "a principled hard liberal," "a decent man" -- in the words of liberal newspapers. His fragile new frontrunner status as we go into Super Tuesday is being seen as something to cautiously welcome, a kick to the rotten Republican establishment.
But the truth is that McCain is the candidate we should most fear. Not only is he to the right of Bush on a whole range of subjects, he is also the Republican candidate most likely to dispense with Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.
McCain is third-generation Navy royalty, raised from a young age to be a senior figure in the armed forces, like his father and grandfather before him. He was sent to one of the most elite boarding schools in America, then to a naval academy where he ranked 894th of 899 students in ability. He used nepotism to get ahead: When he was rejected by the National War College, he used his father's contacts with the Secretary of the Navy to make them reconsider. He later married the heiress to a multi-million dollar fortune.
Right up to his twenties, he remained a strikingly violent man, "ready to fight at the drop of a hat," according to his biographer Robert Timberg.
This rage seems to be at the core of his personality: describing his own childhood, McCain has written: "At the smallest provocation I would go off into a mad frenzy, and then suddenly crash to the floor unconscious. When I got angry I held my breath until I blacked out."
But he claims he was transformed by his experiences in Vietnam -- a war he still defends as "noble" and "winnable," if only it had been fought harder.
To give a brief smorgasbord of his views: at a recent rally, he sang "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann." He says North Korea should be threatened with "extinction."
These beliefs drive McCain today. He brags he would be happy for U.S. troops to remain in Iraq for 100 years, and declares: "I'm not at all embarrassed of my friendship with Henry Kissinger; I'm proud of it." His most thorough biographer -- and recent supporter -- Matt Welch concludes: "McCain's program for fighting foreign wars would be the most openly militaristic and interventionist platform in the White House since Teddy Roosevelt...[it] is considerably more hawkish than anything George Bush has ever practiced." With him as president, we could expect much more aggressive destabilization of Venezuela and Bolivia -- and more.
Printing Money to Avoid Immediate Banking Collapse
According to the Federal Reserve Board website, U.S. non-borrowed bank reserves have gone from $37B to $199M (nope, that's not a typo) in the last month. We have been discussing this with Sitka Pacific Capital's Mike 'Mish' Shedlock for the last two weeks. He concludes: "Banks in aggregate have now burnt through all of their capital and are forced to borrow reserves from the Fed in order to keep lending." Simply put, the U.S. banking system has no reserves. In addition, the FDIC has recently begun modernizing large-bank insurance rules. We hope this is a wake-up call to everyone as to the extent of the credit crisis. Bank account balances should be used only for transactions.