ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS FOR NOVEMBER 2013
-It’s a beautiful day in the park in England and then something like an animated jungle gym goes rolling by. William Bondin is the creator of MORPHS, Mobile Reconfigurable Polyhedra and he plans on setting loose his solar powered creations in open park spaces. The MORPHs are programmed to avoid places that are not open and sunny, interact with humans and have a bluetooth link so they can be tracked.
-Is the smart trench coat the next step in mobile computing? The coat created by Motif and called “M” has a 4g link via Sprint as well as a charger for your phone. Slip the phone in the front pocket into the cradle and you can charge is three times before needing to recharge the whole coat. In more practical terms the M is also water proof and available soon.
-In football there’s been a great deal of focus on the potential for concussions and now using smart foam installed in helmets made by Riddell it maybe possible for the coach to know if his player has sustained an injury. Already in testing in certain high school teams, the helmet connects wirelessly to a tablet or phone and sends an alert when the force and speed of an impact indicates the potential for a concussion.
-If you’re a fan, the real estate in the web will be opening up for you in early 2014. With the intense amount of use of the internet and the limited amount of potential domains, there has been pressure to increase the number of generic top level domains or gLTDs, such as .com, .net, .org. So in the beginning of next year it will be possible to get a domain ending in .fan. So would your current website be better served as a .fan?
-After 8 years of deliberation the judge in the Author’s Guild versus Google lawsuit dismissed the allegations that Google scanned complete libraries worth of books without the permission of the authors of the work. The important point here is the copyright issue which brought about the class action suit. Once the issue was brought up Google informed the authors their works could be removed from the Googlebooks system it was starting up but they would have to contact Google within a limited amount of time. This is a complete reversal of the typical fair use process. Not only did the Federal judge find in favor of Google, he praised their system for its ability to protect the works from further use, the concept of preserving the texts and the ability to search the information available. Paul Aiken, President of the Authors Guild will appeal citing the mass scanning as exploitation.
-If you’re a fan of clam chowder you could be eating some of nature’s longest lived animals. An Ocean Quahog clam was recently dated at 507 years old. Scientists say the clams have developed a natural defense against the deterioration associated with aging and are continuing their studies.
-Google could be sticking your face where you don’t want it...Nowadays it’s hard to log in to check your Gmail or visit Facebook without seeing an ad that may reflect a past search or purchase. The art of tailoring the ads to you the consumer is growing. In the past Facebook reserved the right to post things that you liked on other people’s pages. Google’s taking a slightly different tact and reserving the right to use your picture to promote certain things you’ve given a plus one to as an ad. So be careful what you agree to or you could be pushing some strange stuff without even realizing it…
-It’s fact that Snapple facts may not necessarily true. Recent reviews of the “facts” printed on the lids of Snapple bottles show that some of the information is not up to date, unclear, potentially misleading and even wrong. The magazine the Atlantic looked over Snapple’s compendium of truths and found them wanting.
-Higgs wins in the Nobel running. It’s one of the biggest discoveries in quite some time and a long time coming, so it’s no surprise that two of the theoreticians who pioneered the research that started the hunt for the elusive particle were recently honored for their achievements. Robert Brout and Francois Englert penned the first paper that initially described the phenomenon and were followed shortly by Peter Higgs who pointed the way toward the elusive particle named after him. With Brout no longer alive, Englert and Higgs were both given the Nobel Prize in Physics.
-Conductive paint allows makers to create musical instruments with paper. This unique project uses a Sparkfun MPR121 controller and an Arduino Duemilanove board and allows one to connect up to twelve electrodes to painted patches. The patches act like capacitive sensors responding like a smart phone to swipes and taps. The kit was introduced at Maker Faire Rome.
-Peanut butter may be the key to early detection of Alzheimers. The first cranial nerve, associated with smell, is often one of the first to be affected by the disease. Researchers have found that Alzheimers patients are effected by a reduction of sensitivity in their left nostril. Peanut butter causes a purely olfactory response and can help us gauge the sensitivity of patients. So now instead of neurological and mental exams a simple test of smell could determine if the disease is present.
-Google and NASA are very pleased with their new Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab but to the average Joe that big long title doesn’t mean a lot, so they’ve decided to show them. At the Imagine Films Science Festival their new film gives an inside look at some never before seen portions of the institution, including the D-Wave second generation quantum computer. There is a version of the film on YouTube. One if the interesting things is that while the computer itself is very small it requires a very large area to operate because it must be kept at temperatures close to absolute zero.
-Singing Machine Home isn’t just a just a wireless speaker but also a karaoke machine. With a wireless mic you can sing along to 8k videos available through the cloud. All you have to do is plug in the Home via HDMI cable to your TV.
-Pink Ray Gun website has what you need to make your pumpkin unique. From the website you can pick up the template to carve the S.H.I.E.L. D. emblem on your very own jack-o-lantern.-Christopher Eccleston will not be joining the cast of the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who special and it’s not because of any hard feelings. Stephen Moffat finally opened up about the issue saying that they had discussions but Eccleston simply felt he was done with the character. If you are missing the 9th iteration of the Doctor, soon you’ll be seeing him on the big screen in Thor : The Dark World.
ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS FOR AUGUST 2013
-Advertising could be changing sooner than we imagined. Minority Report predicted advertising keyed to the passerby but “pay-per-gaze” could be the new payment paradigm. With google glass on the horizon and other devices which may have the ability to measure the direction of one’s gaze, payment for the advertising maybe based upon if we look at something and for how long. Google has just applied for a patent to measure this, so the largest search engine company is already planning on cashing in on this concept.
-Dream Chaser, the latest of the commercial spacecraft just completed some tow tests on the same landing field where the shuttles were tested. The product of Sierra Nevada corp, the Dream Chaser was tested for steering, the nature of the flight surfaces and functionality of the flight computer by towing it from ten to sixty miles an hour down the runway at the Dryden Flight Research Center. The spacecraft, which bears a striking resemblance to the Farscape module, is another hopeful addition to the group of ships which may allow the US to once again begin manned flights to the ISS. The landing tests will begin later this year.
-Carbyne is the new king but how long will it remain the strongest material in the world? Graphene has held the title for sometime and like carbyne is also a single atom thick. Carbyne was found in meteors and interstellar dust and yet also was very difficult for scientists to create. Recently, success has come in small amounts—such as a carbyne chain 44 atoms long. Researchers into nanotech are looking at this material with great interest.
-It took 35 years but the Western hemisphere recently said hello to its first new mammal, the olinguito. While the remains of the olinguito were actually in a Chicago museum’s storage, it took Kristofer Helgen, zoologist to look at them a second time and wonder. Weighing in at just 2 pounds and measuring 14 inches long, the olinguito is considered the smallest member of the racoon branch of mammals.
-If you are a puffer fish and you are intent on meeting a fine lady pufferfish, it will probably take making a cropcircle on the ocean floor. These strange circles were first noticed in 1995 offshore of Japan. But it wasn’t until 2011 before some one finally caught a pufferfish in the act. They aren’t merely circles either but rather works art that express the abilities of each fish.
-We tend to associate planets with suns and most of our search for extraterrestrial bodies focuses on solar systems even though some free rogues have been discovered. New evidence suggests that planets could actually form without a sun in interstellar space. Solid objects in the universe are the result of the collapse of gases and astronomers have found small round dark clouds that could signal the creation of rogue planets. Called globulettes, the clouds were discovered when astronomers were looking at the Rosette Nebula.
-In a strangely appropriate twist of fate, Trek in the Park, Atomic Arts live theater production comes to a close after its fifth year. Cathedral Park in Portland, OR has hosted the show which is the result of Adam and Amy Rosko’s desire to do live theater that they could truly enjoy. Over the past years they’ve done—”Amok Time”, “Space Seed”, “Mirror, Mirror”, “Journey to Babel” and are finishing with “The Trouble with Tribbles”. The city’s mayor even was prompted to declare Star Trek month in July.
-Nobody’s getting out any time soon apparently because those stuck Under the Dome are now confirmed for a second season. Stephen King has even committed to write the first episode of the second season. The new season will be aired in the summer of 2014.
-After 9 seasons on video, the x-files will return as a comic from IDW. Even more surprising is the return of the lone gunmen. The story will be set in real time and could even contain another figure believed to be dead—the cigarette smoking man.
-If you were planning on joining the astronaut program, you’d better brush up on your writing skills. Apparently science is the only requirement as astronaut wannabes were required to create a haiku, limerick or Twitter post as part of their application. So if you’re going into space, you’d better be able to come up with something along the lines of “One small step…”
-In the past, the last thing an astronaut wanted to admit was seeing a UFO. NASA’s Chris Cassidy happened to notice something odd outside the International Space Station and fortunately for him his UFO was caught on video. He called in the unusual object to control, who were able to identify it as an antenna cover from a Russian service module. Mystery solved.
ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS FOR JULY 2013
-The Middleman is back! While there won’t be a TV show and not exactly more comics, what’s actually coming is a graphic novel that will link the comics to the TV show. Crowdfunding for the project will start in the fourth quarter of 2013 with a release date in time for San Diego Comicon 2014. Les McClaine will be drawing the novel and as a funding level premium the original cast of the TV show has agreed to a live reading of the script.
-You really want to live in Chicago and you want to have a library card—because you could be 3-D printing right now. The Harold Washington Library has three Makerbot 3-D printers in their Maker Lab, a laser cutter and a milling machine making it the first public space that provides access to this kind of maker technology.
Obviously printed guns are out and Librarians have final say in what gets made. The staff is getting a feel for the process making printed chess sets and key chain fobs. The project is being run for six months as a test and use of the printer is—get this—free!
-It took an atomic bomb to prove that we actually grow new neurons. Now those two things don’t seem to go together at all but one thing that atomic explosions produce is radioactive carbon. Carbon 14 is used to date archeological and paleological finds because it decays at a certain rate, meaning that the amount of C14 found is related to how old the item is. When atomic testing was being done, larger than normal amounts of C14 were placed into the atmosphere all around the globe and humans ended up with it inside us, even in our brains. The fascinating part is that comparing brain matter after the explosions provided us with evidence that cells had grown proven by their C14 ages. Now of course anyone in the far future doing archeology is going to hate the atomic testing era because it artificially added all this C14 which will screw up the dating information which is based on naturally occurring C14.
-Astronomers are revising their estimates once again about the number of habitable planets in our galaxy and the number is skyrocketing. Considering that addition of red dwarf stars into the accounting, prior research suggested that there maybe as many as one habitable world per system. There are two new variables that add to the number which swelled to 60 billion potential habitable worlds—an expansion of the habitable zone and the possibility of cloud cover ameliorating fatal effects on tidally locked worlds.
-Cadillac is planning on making your cruise control “super”. Super cruise will use cameras on the car, GPS and radar to keep your vehicle in the center of the lane. Expected to arrive in 2016, Super Cruise not only controls braking and speed to maintain the distance with car ahead of yours, it also controls steering to center the car. To take it even further, the system watches you drive to make determinations about what is a comfortable following distance for the driver. Cameras watch for lane markers and three levels of radar scan for other traffic while the GPS system allows the vehicle to anticipate turns. Finally if the system feels that it’s time for you to resume control it will vibrate your seat as a gentle reminder.
-Also in remote control, the X-47B, a large experimental drone made an unassisted landing on the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier. The history making part is a self-guided machine continually adjusting its exceptional speed to that of a moving aircraft carrier and a very small landing area. Prior to this the X-47B was only able to touch and go.
-Adventure Time Swords—Think Geek has not only Finn’s notched yellow sword but also Jake’s purple blade with an eye set into the crossguard. $19.99
-Twinkind lets you be just like Howard from Big Bang Theory and create your own photorealistic figurines. Sizes range from 6-13 inches. You don’t need to buy the 3D printer, but you will have to visit their studio in Hamburg. There are seven prices ranging from 225 Euros ($295) to 1290 Euros ($1690) depending on the size of your figurine.
-Book on Book is a real clever idea for a book weight. The clear acrylic surface looks just like an open book and that’s what makes it work. Just lay it down over top of your book and now the pages stay open as you read through it. It is about $58 dollars and available through tent1000.com
-Squito is a baseball sized camera that you throw which can take stabilized panoramic pictures and video while in flight. Squito has four highspeed cameras and can also be used for thermal imaging. The internal system stitches the images together and can also track specific targets and produce 360 panoramas. Inventor Steve Hollinger is still in the process of developing this currently. Hollinger is looking for backers and collaborators.
ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS FOR JUNE 2013
-He’ll be back—yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger will be part of the next edition of the Terminator franchise set to begin filming in January. Right now it appears the movie will be a co-production between Annapurna Pictures(Zero Dark Thirty) and Skydance Productions(Star Trek:In to Darkness). Megan Ellison from Annapurna bought the rights to the franchise in 2011 and want to start work quickly since if the 5th Terminator film is a success they will only have until 2019 to create others before the rights to the franchise revert to James Cameron. So beginning to film in 2014 implies that the movie could become a 2015 Summer release.
-New York is being proactive and readying legislation against the use and production of 3D printed guns. The initial bill is designed to limit the production to licensed gunsmiths and places a requirement of 72 hours advance notification before producing any gun parts. Another bill is being considered with much stronger language banning the use and sale of any printed guns.
-Naturalists who study birds want you to think twice before using birdcalls as phone ring tones. Well, in reality that’s just one way that we annoy our avian neighbors. The scientists have concerns that we’re keeping our feathered friends from doing what they are supposed to by bombarding them with fake bird song to get them to sit still and take pictures or because you need to know when somebody facebooked you. Since birds are territorial in some cases, they may respond to your fake calls rather than look after their young.
-Google is getting a little loony by planning to cover the world in wifi. Project Loon is the brainchild of the Google X Lab(Google self-driving cars and Google Glass) and would consist of numerous– think hundreds to thousands—of high altitude high pressure balloons which would carry wifi equipment. Google is announcing the project in Christchurch, New Zealand and following that with a trial involving 50 testing locations that will be within 12 miles of the balloons to see if they can log on from the sky.
-NASA mechanical engineer convinces Lego to make a Curiosity set. Stephan Pakbaz submitted his idea to Lego Cuusoo, which allows fans to submit potential sets for consideration to Lego. After several rounds of selection, Pakbaz’s design was chosen a winner. Sets like the upcoming Back to the Future and Minecraft were also winners.
-DC comics is using the digital versions to introduce two new ways to read. DC2 will be a dynamic artwork that will allow the creators to introduce elements that move, sound effects or word bubbles that will come up when the reader taps on the screen instead of paging through the panels. This will begin with Batman 66 and since this particular line is based off of the old TV show expect to see some “BAM” and “POW”. The other method is the DC2 Multiverse which will be a choose-your-own path concept allowing readers to make alterations in the narration through their interaction. The DC2 Multiverse will begin in Batman: Arkham Origins. The idea here is to re-engage the reader by encouraging them to go back and make different choices as well as include a gameplaying aspect.
-You’d think the human body would be one of the best known objects that we’ve studied, but scientists continue to make new discoveries. Professor Harminder Dua recently found an unknown layer in the cornea of the eye, which could explain a disorder called corneal hydrops and improve the chances of
effective corneal transplants and grafts. The layer is a mere 15 microns thick and Dua discovered it using an electron microscope. The layer, now known as Dua’s Layer could explain other conditions that occur at the rear of the cornea.
-Those of us familiar with space opera often hear the term “lidar”(laser ranging used like radar) but what we may not realize is that it’s been around since the 60’s and the right now it’s a tool used in archeology to discover lost cities. With a unit mounted on a helicopter and a GPS tracker, Damien Evans, University of Sydney found a city in Cambodia called Mahendraparvata in Cambodia not far from the well known Ankgor Wat. A city was found buried under the jungles of Honduras using the same technology last year.
-It’s a testament to the strength of Roman concrete that despite the age of the structures large parts still remain standing. There’s something missing from our current recipe that’s stopping our concrete from having that kind of longevity and scientists think they have it figured out. Lime and volcanic rock in specific mixture are the keys to longer lived concrete and the good news is the new recipe is actually greener than the current method which uses Portland cement as a binder. Our current concrete has a typical lifespan of 50 years and now we can increase that.