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These stackable coasters create a 3-D brain on your coffee table
04.22.2015
10:39 am

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Science/Tech

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I’m digging the hell out of this ten-piece set of glass brain coasters that create a 3D brain if stacked in the proper order. Apparently the Brain Specimen Coasters are easy to stack in order as each coaster is labeled. The price for these ain’t too shabby either, the entire set is a mere $19.99 plus shipping. I think that’s very reasonable for a 3D glass brain! 

The coasters have rubber feet as not to scratch any surfaces and they’re hand wash only (not safe for dishwashers).


 
via Bored Panda

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Finally, the Tesla/Thomas Edison AC/DC mashup shirt we’ve all been waiting for
04.20.2015
11:02 am

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Pop Culture
Science/Tech

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Someone on reddit recently spotted this fantastic shirt in Seattle—you can get it here on eBay for $23.99 plus shipping.

It’s an open question how many AC/DC fans know that “AC” stands for “alternating current” and “DC” stands for “direct current”—but for those looking to catch up, Tesla invented AC, and Edison backed DC. Tesla had previously worked for Edison. Tesla was a genius and died alone in a hotel room in New York; Edison was also a genius and died as rich as Croesus. Edison killed an elephant named Topsy to demonstrate the supposed dangers of alternating current, as depicted in a 2013 episode of Bob’s Burgers called “Topsy.” Tesla was a man made for our underdog-rooting and nerdy age. David Bowie played Tesla in Christopher Nolan’s terrific 2006 movie The Prestige.

On the flipside, science nerds, AC/DC is an Australian rock band. If you don’t already know that, you probably don’t really want this shirt too bad, do you?

Here’s “greedy Thomas Edison” killing Topsy:
 

 
via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Elvis Costello and Terry Gilliam shill for Philip K. Dick
04.20.2015
08:48 am

Topics:
Books
Science/Tech
Television

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In the days just before the dawn of the World Wide Web, those wanting to prove the relevance of Philip K. Dick’s visionary books were likely to point to the prevalence of advertising everywhere and CNN’s coverage of the first Gulf War. More than twenty years later, in a world in which drones annihilate enemies of the American state, smartphones can decode spoken instructions, Netflix can accurately predict the next movie you want to watch, and so on, it would be folly to argue that Dick’s prescience has been any less than astounding.

In A Day in the Afterlife, a 1994 hour-long documentary made for the BBC series Arena on that great fucked-up writer, director Nicola Roberts employed a clever metaphor of a fictional product called “PKD,” complete with lightning-bolt corporate logo, to help illustrate the strongly artificial, alienating, and commercialized landscape of Dick’s works. The logo pops up at unpredictable intervals throughout the movie, and there are also cheeky “commercials” featuring Elvis Costello and Terry Gilliam as well as British novelist Fay Weldon.
 

Elvis Costello: “Featuring such classics as ‘Lies, Inc.,’ ‘The Man in the High Castle,’ ‘Ubik’.....”
 
I couldn’t find much evidence that Costello is a Dick-head (aside from his appearance in this very movie), but Gilliam’s enthusiasm for Dick’s books is well documented. (Unlike Costello, Gilliam consented to contribute a few more typical talking-heads bits.) In this 2008 interview with HitFix, Gilliam discussed his high regard for Dick’s work and his plans, never realized, to adapt Dick’s little-known 1956 novel The World Jones Made (Gilliam has the title slightly wrong):
 

Terry Gilliam: I mean, like, “Brazil”... I was even more determined it had to end that way because of “Blade Runner” having betrayed me at the ending.  I felt betrayed because I loved that until the end of the film.  Now all of a sudden, the android’s going to live forever?  What the fuck are you talking about, man?  You create a world that’s very solid, and then you… that’s why Philip K. Dick is always been one of my favorite writers.  He doesn’t go where that road takes you.

HitFix: I am convinced that someone will eventually make “The Man in the High Castle.”  There is such…

Gilliam: I’m actually meeting his daughter tomorrow.

HitFix: Are you?  Are you?  That is just a phenomenal book and so ripe in terms of the way it talks about how we process reality and the way we tell ourselves stories about history.  I think now is a great time to remind people of some of the things Phillip had to say.

Gilliam: One of the things that is… there’s another one that people don’t know called “The World According to Jones.” Do you know that one?

HitFix: Mm-hmm.

Gilliam: That really fascinates me… where we’re in a world where basically everything is relative.  It can’t be black and white because there’s a more religious fundamentalism that we’re talking about.  So now everything is relative.  And then the idea that a guy comes along that can see the future, and it is not relative… that intrigues me, and I don’t know exactly how to do it.  His other books… Ubik is always fun.  But again, so much of his stuff has been stolen already and used…

 
Obviously, the HitFix interviewer, one “Drew McWeeny,” was entirely correct that The Man in the High Castle would be adapted into a movie—earlier this year Amazon Prime dropped the pilot for a forthcoming miniseries based on the book. (As an aside, it’s wonderful that Dick’s greatness has been embraced by the Library of America, which in 2009 added Dick to its slate of great American authors like Whitman, Hawthorne, and Melville.)

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ covered by hard disks and other internal computer doodads
04.09.2015
10:29 am

Topics:
Music
Science/Tech

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We’ve seen this a few times before, most notably with the cover of “Rock Lobster” by the “Bit52s” a couple years back. Here we have a case full of hard drives and other unidentified computer components playing what is arguably the song of the 1990s, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.

It should be said that the “Rock Lobster” cover works a bit better, but at least this experiment establishes conclusively that robots cannot reproduce the ass-kicking righteousness of Dave Grohl’s skull-shattering drum fills.
 

 
via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Fun with electricity (or why you should never play with a taser)
04.07.2015
03:48 am

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Amusing
Science/Tech

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A young man from New York learned a painful lesson in electrical conductivity when he “tazzed” himself with a stun gun. The certainly intrepid, but perhaps not too bright D’angelo Conner was showing off the effects of a taser on a can of Coke, when he decided to repeat his experiment while holding a metal bracelet… and you know what is going to happen next.

Stunning! (and what’s with the couple in the background, anyway?!?)
 

 
H/T Metro.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
New carnivorous plant named for H.R. Giger is beautiful (in a vagina dentata kind of way)
04.06.2015
10:04 am

Topics:
Art
Science/Tech

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Rarely do we here at Dangerous Minds get a chance to report on the fast-paced (?) world of botany, but rarely is a gorgeous new cultivar of carnivorous plant named for H.R. Giger! This beautiful (if a little monstrously vaginal) specimen of Nepenthes—or “pitcher plant”—was only recently registered with the International Carnivorous Plant Society by photographer and horticulturist, Matthew M Kaelin, who explains the plant’s name in his submission:

I named this plant Nepenthes ‘H.R. Giger’ in October 2014 in memory of the recently passed Surrealist Artist from Switzerland who is perhaps best-known for creating the Alien creature for director Ridley Scott’s 1979 film “Alien”, which earned him an Academy Award for the Best Achievement in Visual Effects for his designs of the film’s title character, the stages of its lifecycle, and the film’s extraterrestrial environments. As the innovator of the nightmarish “Biomechanical” style, he had a long and well-respected career as a globally influential fine artist in the disciplines of painting, sculpture, industrial design, and interior design. When viewed extremely close and at an angle, the intersection of the peristome teeth and the lid spikes of the cultivar create a frightening alien landscape akin to those imagined by the late H.R. Giger (Fig. 6). This, and because the plant is darkly colored and has such a nightmarish appearance, I feel that it would be a fitting tribute to name the cultivar for the late visionary genius Hans Ruedi Giger.

For your scientific edification: pitcher plants are vines, and tend to climb up trees or sprawl close to the ground—the H.R. Giger cultivar has grown over six feet long, but could grow up to 30. Pitcher plants normally eat insects, but can also consume small vertebrates. Kaelin also notes that the flowers smell “like a pile of dirty sweatsocks”—charming!

And a fitting dedication to a master of body horror brilliance!
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Is that the Hadron Collider in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
04.06.2015
08:29 am

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Amusing
Media
Science/Tech

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Now, this little cock-up is why we should always check our spelling…

It would appear someone at the BBC was a tad over-excited by the news the Hadron Collider was back online after a two-year refit.

It’s not the first time the Hadron has been called a “Hardon”—two years ago the Daily Telegraph reported “Large Hardon Collider breaks energy record.”

The mind boggles…
 

 
Via the Independent

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Listen to early Soviet synthesizer music, hand drawn on film and made from cut paper
04.02.2015
09:42 am

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History
Music
Science/Tech
Unorthodox

Tags:

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Sometime in the early 1920s the Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy suggested that a new form of “music writing” could be created from the grooves in phonographic records. He believed experimenting with the groves would enable composers, musicians and artists to produce music without recording any instruments. Long before scratching, Moholy-Nagy also believed the phonograph could become “an overall instrument… which supersedes all instruments used so far.”

With the arrival of synchronized sound in movies, as seen and heard in the first talkie The Jazz Singer in 1927, Moholy-Nagy refined his idea believing a whole new world of abstract sound could be created from experimentation with the optical film sound track. He hoped such experimentation would “enrich the sphere of our aural experience,” by producing sounds that were “entirely unknown.”

In 1929, the Russians produced their first talkie, the snappily titled The Five Year Plan for Great Works. The possibility of synchronized sound inspired a trio of pioneers, composer Arseny Avraamov, animator Mikhail Tsihanovsky and engineer Evgeny Sholpo who were fascinated by the curved loops, arcs and waveforms on the optical soundtrack. The patterns made them wonder if synthetic music could be created by drawing directly onto the sound track. Of course, this they did, at first testing out vase-shapes and ellipses then Egyptian hieroglyphs—all with startling results.

In 1930, Avraamov produced (possibly) the first short film with a hand-drawn synthetic soundtrack.
 

An example of Avraamov’s early experimentation in ‘ornamental sound.’
 
Meanwhile back at the lab, Evgeny Sholpo was collaborating with composer Rimsky-Korsakov on building what was basically an “optical synthesiser” or Variophone that used an oscilloscope to cut waveforms on small paper discs to produce synthetic music (“ornamental sound”) that was synced to 35mm film, before being photographed onto the same film to create a continuous soundtrack. Kinda laborious, but neat, the end product sounding that sounded like the music to a 8-bit game cartridge.
 
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Diagram of a Variophone
 
More Soviet ‘artificial music’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Man has 100 maggots in his nose
03.26.2015
09:59 am

Topics:
Animals
Science/Tech

Tags:

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A 65-year-old Sao Paulo man visited his doctor complaining of sinus pain, swelling around his nose and worms coming out of his nose. That last should have been a big clue, for when doctors investigated further, by inserting a camera up the man’s nose, they discovered over 100 flesh-eating maggots chowing down on the poor man’s nasal cavity.

The maggots were burrowing, squelching, pulping up the man’s interior and doing that kinda gross maggotty thing maggots do. Doctors had to remove the maggots one by one being guided by the camera and using a saline solution.

The maggots were identified as Cochliomyia hominivorax (or the New World Screwworm) which is prevalent in Central and South America and in certain Caribbean Islands. Female adult flies lay batches of 200-400 eggs, in rows around a fresh wound on warm-blooded animals. The larvae then feast on the flesh. This 65-year-old was lucky, as the maggots could have eaten his face away from the inside.
 

 
Via Daily Mail.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Meet Bina48, the robot who can tell jokes, recall memories and mimic humans
03.24.2015
01:28 pm

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Science/Tech

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Maybe you guys are already familiar with Bina48, one of the most sophisticated robots ever built. She’s modeled after a very real woman named Bina Aspen, wife of Dr.Martine Rothblatt. Rothblatt is the CEO of biotech outfit United Therapeutics.

More than just a robot, Bina48 is a “mind clone.” Bina Aspen spent more than 20 hours recalling her childhood experiences, life experiences and thoughts. The information was “then transcribed and uploaded to an artificial intelligence database.”

Bina48 cost over $125,000 to make over a course of three years and was built by robot designer David Hanson.

Bina48 recently was on a panel at SXSW which you can watch here. It’s really weird. Bina48 begins expressing how nervous she is in front of a large crowd and then tells a joke to calm everyone’s nerves. WAT?!

But here’s where shit gets real strange. A video of Bina48 having a conversation with Bina Aspen. Prepare yourself for a total head trip…

Part 1 of the video, below:

 
Part 2 after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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