Robot Porn: The Old Robots Web Site
12.23.2009
10:22 pm

Topics:
History
Science/Tech

Tags:
Toys
Robots
The Old Robots Web Site

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Total robot dedication here. From The Old Robots Web Site:

“THIS IS A ROBOT HOBBYIST WEB SITE I/WE DO NOT BUY AND/OR SELL ANYTHING ON THIS SITE.”

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The Old Robots Web Site

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Take a walk on the blind side: Lou Reed has his own iPhone app
12.23.2009
03:31 pm

Topics:
Music
Science/Tech

Tags:
Lou Reed
iPhone

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You have to hand it to Lou Reed. For five decades, the guy’s been on the cutting edge of the cutting edge, from the avant-garde rock of the Velvet Underground to ... developing his own iPhone app?

Yup. Reed, perhaps rock’s most decadent artist of all, has just released his Lou Zoom app and it’s available at the iTunes store and his website. What does it do, you ask? Well, it’s not really for rock and roll animals; it’s more an app for old people. The Lou Zoom basically zooms in on your iPhone contacts list, turning it into the high-tech equivalent of one of those large-number telephones your grandma has. The price: $1.99.
 
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Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Kill Yr Televsion (Before It Kills You)!

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When it comes to watching television, maybe vigorous exercise isn’t quite enough to ward off the dangers associated with a largely sedentary lifestyle.  Based on an October phone survey of 10,000 Americans of various weights, an expected pattern emerged: people who engaged in lots of physical activity weighed less than those who didn’t.  But when the researches factored in the amount of time spent watching television and movies, a far different pattern emerged:

No matter how much TV they watched, if they didn?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Discussion
Racist Face Tracking Software ?
12.20.2009
08:05 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Science/Tech

Tags:
Face Tracking

(Thanks Brian Morishita)

Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
Meat Tube: America’s #1 Pet And Dinner
12.18.2009
08:58 am

Topics:
Amusing
Environment
Science/Tech

Tags:
Meat
Monsanto
GMO

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Top 5 lies told about Meat Tube:

Meat Tube is full of cardboard.
TRUTH: Meat Tube?Ǭ

Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
Lost city of Atlantis discovered?
12.17.2009
08:06 pm

Topics:
Belief
Science/Tech

Tags:
Atlantis

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File this one under: Maybe. First off, it strikes me as just a little suspicious that the “scientists” refuse to identify themselves. Most in the scientific field would be calling a press conference and looking for Hollywood agents, so take this news with a grain of salt. Didn’t stop the Daily Mail from publishing it as news, though and maybe it is, time will tell (or else we’ll never hear of it again…):

A group of ‘undersea archaeologists’ have become the latest to claim they have uncovered the lost city of Atlantis. The scientists - who have refused to identify themselves - have released a series of images taken beneath the Caribbean.

They insist the snaps show what appear to be the ruins of a city that could pre-date Egypt’s pyramids, which appeared after 2600BC. They even told a French newspaper that one of the structures appears to be a pyramid.

Now the anonymous group wants to raise funds to explore the secret location where the images were taken.They would not reveal the exact location, however, saying only that it was somewhere in the Caribbean Sea.

The claims have raised eyebrows on the internet, though skeptics refrained from debunking them entirely - just in case.

The legend of Atlantis, a city of astonishing wealth, knowledge and power that sank beneath the ocean waves, has fascinated millions. Time and time again hopes have been raised that the lost city has been found - only for those hopes to be dashed against the evidence (or lack thereof).

Its location—or at least the source of the legend—remained a tantalising mystery. In 1997, Russian scientists claimed to have found Atlantis 100 miles off Land’s End. In 2000 a ruined town was found under 300ft of water off the north coast of Turkey in the Black Sea. The area is thought to have been swamped by a great flood around 5000BC, possibly the floods referred to in the Old Testament.

In 2004 an American architect used sonar to reveal man-made walls a mile deep in the Mediterranean between Cyprus and Syria. In 2007 Swedish researchers claimed the city lay on the Dogger Bank in the North Sea, which was submerged in the Bronze Age. And as recently as February of this year, what appeared to be grid-like lines that resembled city streets were spotted on Google Earth - in the ocean off the coast of Africa.

Sadly Google itself quickly debunked the suggestion, explaining that the lines were left by a boat as it collected data for the application. ‘Bathymetric (sea-floor) data is often collected from boats using sonar to take measurements of the sea-floor,’ a spokesman said. ‘The lines reflect the path of the boat as it gathers the data.’

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
What’s happening to us? Data deluge will reboot our brains
12.17.2009
06:02 pm

Topics:
Science/Tech

Tags:
data glut

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I once had the good fortune to meet Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, the creator of the Rat Fink character and “low brow” artist/custom car god, at a hot rod show in Englishtown, NJ. It was in the early 90s and over dinner Roth told my colleague and me that his grandchildren had no interest in books or reading, all they cared about were their video games (keep in mind that owning a home computer was not all that commonplace of a thing then). My work associate shook her head in dismay and said “That’s just sad. That really depresses me” to which Roth just laughed and replied “That’s how people felt when hieroglyphics went out of style. Then the next thing came and it was good, too. There will always be new things. That’s just the way it is. “

As you might imagine, I’ve pulled that anecdote out more than a couple of times since…

Is the ‘new thing’ though, always necessarily going to be good? The invention of the printing press, as important as it certainly was, took a long, long time to have a profound effect on society. The Internet and smart phones took over almost instantaneously, in comparison. From the Times of London:

The speed of modern life is 2.3 words per second, or about 100,000 words a day. That is the verbiage bombarding the average person in the 12 hours they are typically awake and ?

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Waterworld Discovered
12.17.2009
05:01 pm

Topics:
Science/Tech

Tags:
Space

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We’ve just discovered Planet GJ 1214b, a watery, Earth-like planet in the constellation Ophiucius. I plan to leave for there as soon as Branson lowers his space flight prices. Sarah Palin can stay on Earth. Or maybe we should just ship her there. Or into the sun.

A giant waterworld that is wet to its core has been spotted in orbit around a dim but not too distant star, improving the odds that habitable planets may exist in our cosmic neighbourhood.

The planet is nearly three times as large as Earth and made almost entirely of water, forming a global ocean more than 15,000km deep.

Astronomers detected the alien world as it passed in front of its sun, a red dwarf star 40 light years away in a constellation called Ophiuchus, after the Greek for “snake holder”.

The discovery, made with a network of amateur telescopes, is being hailed as a major step forward in the search for planets beyond our solar system that are hospitable to life as we know it.

(Guardian: Waterworld planet is more Earth-like than any discovered before)

Posted by Jason Louv | Discussion
How We Discovered the Cosmos
12.17.2009
04:56 pm

Topics:
Science/Tech

Tags:
Space

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A. C. Grayling at the Barnes and Noble Review contributes an essay about Paul Murdin’s new book Secrets of the Universe: How We Discovered the Cosmos. Great capture of the spirit of pre-Enlightenment science and astronomy.

Jeremiah Horrocks and his friend William Crabtree were ecstatic when they observed the transit of Venus on 24 November 1639. Horrocks had predicted the date of the transit by carefully applying Kepler’s Rudolphine Tables of planetary motion, published twelve years before. The two amateur astronomers watched the black dot of Venus inch its way across the burning image of the sun projected onto a card in Crabtree’s attic. Horrocks described his friend as standing ‘rapt in contemplation’ for a long time, unable to move, ‘scarcely trusting his senses, through excess of joy.’ The emotion he and Crabtree felt is one well known to science: the exhilaration of securing empirical proof of theory.

The anecdote is recounted in the first chapter of Paul Murdin’s richly illustrated and even more richly fascinating history of astronomy, Secrets of the Universe: How We Discovered the Cosmos. Entitled ‘Discoveries before the telescope,’ the chapter describes the origins of astronomical observation in early mankind’s admiration for the stars and the heavenly ‘wanderers’ (the Greek name gives us our word ‘planets’) which then numbered seven—sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The earliest evidence for systematic astronomy is the 25,000 year old Ishango bone found at the source of the Nile, incised with markings corresponding to the phases of the moon. By the time of Babylon 22,000 years later, star charts were copiously detailed, recording the efforts of many centuries of sky-gazing and careful annotation. The Mesopotamian charts were detailed because they formed the basis of astrological divination, but when Thales and, half a millennium after him, Ptolemy used the information thus acquired, it was for purposes of nascently genuine science, not prophecy.

(The Thinking Read: Secrets of the Universe)

(Secrets of the Universe: How We Discovered the Cosmos)

Posted by Jason Louv | Discussion
Appropedia: Wikipedia Makes Me Proud to Be Human
12.17.2009
04:53 pm

Topics:
Science/Tech

Tags:
Wikipedia
Appropedia

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Great essay from Curt Beckmann at the Appropedia Blog. (Appropedia is a wiki based on appropriate technology and sustainability. Great, important resource.)

It’s true.  For all our faults, we humans have done something amazing at Wikipedia.  Sure, the folks on staff there deserve a bit of credit, but it’s the millions contributors like you and me that built that phenomenal resource.  And fast.  And it ain’t exactly done yet.  I just took a look at the English Wikipedia statistics page again.  Eleven million registered users.  Not bad.  Three million articles.  A whopping 350M page edits.  If the average edit takes a minute (gee, that seems short to me) then that’s at least 6M hours of work!  All done free for the rest of us to make use of.  And of course that’s just in English; I figure we oughta multiply by ten for all the other languages (and yeah, that seems low also). Equally amazing to me is that even the organizing structures and policies were all built organically by volunteers.  The approach has been “let’s try to find policies that will work.”  And, one way or another, 11M registered users (plus a bunch of anonymous users and some bots) managed to figure out how to work together, for free, to build something functional and useful.

So, yes, I marvel at the remarkable edifice that is Wikipedia, and I think it says something about what humans are capable of.  And yet, I’ve only made a few small edits there.  Instead, Wikipedia’s success motivated me to create my own wiki around how we humans can work together in practical ways to make lives better.  ( “WinWinWiki” got as big as 14 pages before I joined Chris and Lonny here at Appropedia, which had more pages,  maybe even 100.)   Appropedia’s hard problem is that much of the information we value often resides nonverbally in people’s heads and not on some web page.  Find the words to describe how to select the best local dirt for your earthen blocks takes some cleverness.  Consider something as “simple” as rainwater harvesting.  Wikipedia has a nice overview page on the topic, but they don’t provide enough information to build your own system.  Appropedia has a portal focused on rainwater harvesting, with lots of links to practical articles on actually doing some rainwater harvesting.  No doubt there are still unanswered questions, or regional variations that could be added.  Some of that info is hiding on the web somewhere, but some might be in your head.  Or in someone’s head who (gasp!) doesn’t spend much time on the internet, or perhaps doesn’‘t have regular access (at least for a couple of years).

(Appropedia: Wikipedia Makes Me Proud to Be Human)

Posted by Jason Louv | Discussion
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