Friday Finds – Nancy Wake and Meteor Showers

Posts of the week:

And here are links for your reading pleasure:

Evil squirrels wreck the internet.  No, not with a cute video meme, just by chewing.

The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks tonight.

On this day in 1981, the first IBM PC was introduced.  4.77mhz!  Up to 256kb of memory!  Optional COLOR GRAPHICS!

And finally, Nancy Wake, the ‘White Mouse’ of the Maquis in WWII, died earlier this week.  If you saw Captain America and liked Agent Carter, then this lady’s story is for you.

As her involvement in the war deepened, Ms. Wake was trained by the British to kill with her bare hands (she delivered a fatal karate chop to a sentry at an arms factory), parachute into enemy-held territory and work a machine gun.

With her highly motivated force, Ms. Wake planned and executed a successful raid on a Gestapo garrison and an arms factory in central France in 1944.

It’s an incredible tale that had yet (to her mind) been told properly on TV or in film.  Rest in Peace, Ms. Wake.

Gadgets Media Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Buffalo Cash Mob

First, the week in posts:

And the links I found:

A VERY stupid man was caught trying to create a nuclear reactor at home.  This genius caused a ‘small meltdown’ on his stove, and sent a letter to Sweden’s ‘Radiation Authority’, who tipped off the cops.  You thought a meth lab made a bad neighbor.

There is a rat (an ENORMOUS rat) in Africa that chews on a poisonous tree, and then puts the poison on a strip of hair.  Predators that bit them foam at the mouth and die.  These must be the rats that kill you when you are just starting out in an MMO game.

ArsTechnica (via FCC data) has a chart that shows how the major high-speed internet providers stack up as far as providing the bandwidth they claim you should get.  Here in Buffalo we do OK (Time Warner) is right there at 90+% with very little drop at peak times, and Verizon FiOS actually gives you a bit more than advertised.  I feel really bad for Cablevision customers, though.

To end things, a couple of things that might appeal to Buffalonians.  First is a story of how Cleveland is leveraging empty lots as gardens, and just how far it could take a city.  Second is the Buffalo Cash Mob, an idea for a flashmob that has a good purpose – to patronize a locally owned business.  This afternoon/evening, it’s City Wine Merchant.  It’s a great choice, which you can read about at this link.  If you can check ’em out tonight, tell ’em the #BuffCashMob sent you.

News Review Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Jumping the Shark

Solid week, things are easy at the office.  Here are the week’s posts:

Other links worth your time:

Do Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Story Markets have gender bias?  From the ever so awesome Geekachicas multi-blog.

I don’t do any tabletop gaming, but these maps look badass.

The first transatlantic communications cable took years to successfully install…and three weeks to get destroyed.  This dude may not have been the sole cause of the cable failure, but maybe you should think through tripling the voltage on something like that.

The M101 ‘Pinwheel’ galaxy is awesome to photograph with any camera.

Stop.  Hammertime.  Obligatory xkcd link.

And finally, I give you the story of a man jumping a shark.  Literally jumping ON it.  The money quote:

“We circled around it a couple times, realized it was a basking shark, got comfortable, came up next to it and thought, ‘You know? I need to feel this fish,'” Jacobs said. “I need to swim with him and be part of this.”

Oh man.  Great way to lead up to Shark Week.

Featured Gadgets Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Liquid Breathing and Sand Tiger Sharks

Hope everybody had a great week.  I came home from Virginia Beach, and the weather followed me (in the 90s here in sunny Buffalo).  Of course, it’ll be in the 70s in a few days…anyway, here are last week’s posts:

Other things that caught my eye:

Bake your video card to fix it, which sounds really strange but it CAN work.

The Navy is testing a remotely controlled watercraft to patrol bases and harbors.  No weapons…YET.

A fascinating look at language, word sounds and the way the brain works.

 Thanks to a mention of it at Dinosaur Comics, here’s a link to perfluorohexane, a molecule that can let you breathe liquid by adding oxygen to it.  The fact that it feels like you are drowning is a minor bump in the road.  In all seriousness, there are some great uses for it, including breathing help for premies, and treating the lungs of burn victims.  If you’ve seen the move The Abyss, you saw a real rat really doing this.

Speaking of Dinosaur Comics…sand tiger shark babies might be nature’s ultimate baby badasses.

Via Gizmodo, from NASA,  an image of the Shuttle’s last landing, taken from the ISS:

Gadgets Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Coronal Mass Ejection!

First, here are my posts from this week:

And a few new things you might find interesting:

Wired’s GeekDad column tells parents what they need to know about Cars 2.  Sounds better than what I’m expecting to be honest, and I’m from a place that worships at the altar of NASCAR.

Also at Wired, the Sun has sent a Coronal Mass Ejection towards Earth.  The phrase ‘Coronal Mass Ejection’ just sounds awesome to me.

Netflix is now on a few select Android devices, with more to come.

Lifehacker has a whole series of Night School posts – they take a subject and give a layman the basics to improve themselves at it.  The current series is about photography, including how best to use the automated and manual settings on a camera, helping to understand ISO and aperture settings, and the like.  They’ve also covered video editing.

New trend in movie posters – Diagonal!

Finally, looking back on old posts here I found this:  the Ultra-fast, Ultra-intense Laser.  The applications they are looking at for this tech are awesome, whether it’s bonding replacement joints to bone, killing cancer cells, or, you know, creating Wolverine.

Media News Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Free RPG Day and more

It’s Free RPG Day tomorrow, similar to free comic book day where you can go to your favorite local RPG game store (the board game, pen and paper kind) and pick up a free game.  Most of what is available is the basic stuff, a good way to introduce your kids if you think they might be into it.  This link can find a store near to you that is participating (none here, drat).

Leviathan Wakes is out in stores now, if you are the sort that likes to go and pick up actual paper copies of books.

Speaking of Friday, Rebecca Black’s Friday is gone from YouTube.  We so excited.

Redbox users can now get videogames, $2/day.  Maybe YOU will enjoy Duke Nukem Forever.

Black hole eats a star.  Choice quote:

A huge “belch” of radiation from a supermassive black hole indicates that the cosmic monster recently devoured a star, scientists say.

As my nephew says at every meal (quote Garfield), and that’s the sign that the tank is full.

Speaking of Duke Nuken, I referenced the hilariously delayed game in an early post on this very site – in 2007.


Simulating Mars

There is a simulation going on in Russia right now, with a team of  ‘astronauts’ living in a series of modules designed to resemble a ship flying to Mars.  They are stuck together in there for 520 days, about how long it would take to fly to Mars, to test whether 6 random scientists could stay level-headed and relaxed after all that time.  This line, though, kills me:

“Well aware of this hazard, crew members equipped themselves accordingly. For instance, French participant Romain Charles said he was bringing along a guitar so he could entertain the other team members.”

I’m SURE that’s what I’d want if I was locked in a spaceship with a bunch of other dudes for a year and a half, and one of them is a French guy with a guitar.  I sure hope the rest of them have some noise isolating headphones.


Beware The Other Head Of Science, Arthur, It Bites!

Okay, so, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore ‘National Ignition Facility’ will be attempting to create a ‘tiny man-made star’ inside their laboratory. This concerns me on multiple levels. First, that is an awesome name for a place of employment. They have that going for them, at least.

However, take a look at the first picture of the four in that article. Some friends of mine were reminded of the test chamber in Half-Life, and you know how that turns out. I don’t own a shotgun, and I am not looking forward to defending myself from headcrabs with a crowbar. The scientists are ‘impatient’, but I would like to ask them to check their numbers 2 or 3 times, just to be safe.

The result should be an explosion in the 32ft-wide reaction chamber which will produce at least 10 times the amount of energy used to create it.

Jeff Wisoff, a former astronaut who is deputy principal associate director of science at the NIF, said: “Everyone is keen to get started, but we have to get the targeting right, otherwise it won€™t work.”

This kind of quote always scares me…‘at least 10 times’…so, they could get a small flash, a blast that fills the 32 foot room, or we could end up with crater a mile wide. To reference Professor Chromedome, “Bah! Warm fuzzy nice-nice! What good is science if no one gets hurt?”.


Rubber That Conducts Electricity

Japanese scientist have discovered a way of embedding carbon nanotubes in a rubbery material, which can then be stretched but still retain it’s conductivity. Here’s what they have to say about it:

The elastic conductor would allow electronic circuits to be mounted in places that would have been impossible up to now, including “arbitrary curved surfaces and movable parts, such as the joints of a robot’s arm,” Sekitani and colleagues wrote.

The eyes have it?
The eyes have it?

Of course the Japanese would first look to use it in a robot. Not to be outdone, a US team mentioned in that same article has developed an elastic mesh which “allowed them to use standard electronics materials to build an electronic eye camera based on the shape and layout of the human eye.” So Geordi Laforge’s eye implants from the ST movies may be possible in the future. Pretty cool.

News Sci/Tech

Cuil Search Not Ready For Primetime

Cuil search engine needs work:

We didn€™t find any results for €œbuffalo sabres€
Some reasons might be…

a typo. Please check your spelling.
your search includes a term that is very rare. Try to find a more common substitute.
too many search terms. Please try fewer terms.
Finally, try to think of different words to describe your search.

Versus this from Google:

Results 1 – 10 of about 3,610,000 for buffalo sabres with Safesearch on.

Safesearch was on for both. Cuil is the latest challenger to Googlefor search supremacy, and they claim to index more pages than the Goog. I’ll wait a while to see if that actually pans out, but it would help if they could actually find something I’m searching for…

edit: okay, I’m getting results now. Guess they are getting hit pretty hard.


Civilian Tilt-Rotor Aircraft – YES PLEASE

Throw a little hot-rod red in there.
Throw a little hot-rod red in there.

I admit, ever since I saw the V-22 Osprey, I loved it. It just LOOKS cool, and I’m a military geek. That tech (they fixed it finally, honest!) is now making it’s way to the civilian airspace with the Bell 609.

Looking and flying like a smaller cousin of the military V22 Osprey, also a Bell vehicle, the 609 will undoubtedly please millionaire business people since it can perform all the rooftop-landing duties of a normal helicopter, but flies twice as fast and can fly 9 passengers up to 25,000 feet altitude.

Just so you know, all of the copious (*sigh*) ad revenue I generate is going in a fund to buy one of these (along with the money to pay the pilot). After I buy Sabres tickets for this year, of course.


Graphene – Strongest Material Ever Tested

Technology Review has posted an article about Graphene, which has been thought to be the strongest material known since it was first isolated. Scientists were finally able to test it and confirm that it is.

Jeffrey Kysar and James Hone, mechanical-engineering professors at Columbia University, tested graphene’s strength at the atomic level by measuring the force that it took to break it. They carved one-micrometer-wide holes into a silicon wafer, placed a perfect sample of graphene over each hole, and then indented the graphene with a sharp probe made of diamond.

Now, before you tremble in fear at the thought of the next generation of battle robots covered in this stuff, as they noted that “Only a tiny sample can be perfect and superstrong”. What they ARE interested in using this for is as a replacement for silicon in transistors.

“The main liability concerning the microprocessing industry is strain,” says Julia Greer, a materials scientist at Caltech. Not only must the materials used to make transistors have good electrical properties, but they must also be able to survive the stresses of manufacturing processes and the heat generated by repeated operations. The processes used to pattern metal electrical connections onto microprocessors, for example, exert stresses that can cause chips to fail. And, says Greer, the main obstacle to making faster microprocessors is that “the heat is too much for materials to take.” Based on measurements of its strength, graphene transistors could take the heat.

That means they could stay in the kitchen, as well. Very nice. H/T to Gizmodo for the link to a neat article.