io9 Bringing The Science Today

Just a quick note, but two fun and interesting science links from io9.  First, a look into why koalas have human (or human-like) fingerprints.  A good bit of info for the layman about convergent evolution.  Second is a look at dogs and other animals shaking water off themselves, and why they are so good at it.  With fun high-speed video!  io9 has quickly become my go-to site for sci-fi and comic book movie stuff as they have my preferred balance of spoiler to non-spoiler content.  I hope you enjoy these!

Gadgets Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Diamond Weevils, Firefly and the Commodore 64

The holiday lull is over, I’ve actually got a few posts to put in here, woohoo!

And now, the links:

The Diamond Weevil (doesn’t THAT sound like a really lame Clan in the MechWarrior universe) looks really cool, for, you know, a weevil.

Circuits that can self-heal when cracked with liquid metal.  We truly live in the future.

The Commodore 64 turns 30, I loved this machine and spent so many of my young life hacking at programming, playing early Microprose games, and it’s been a system I’ve revisited via emulation ever since.

The BBC’s list of 100 things we didn’t know last year.  Somewhat lame this year, but there are a few good ones.  My highlights:

2. Bald people grow the wrong type of hair – so fine it’s invisible to the naked eye.
More details

Riiiight, Dad, just keep telling yourself that.

29. Dogs watch hownice people are to others to work out whom to approach to beg for food.  More details (Daily Mail)

Cats, of course, simply smother that person in their sleep and take the food.

43. The odds ofscoring two hole-in-ones in the same round of golf are 67 million-to-one.  More details

The odds of a hack golfer claiming to have done it (or seen it done) are two to one.

97. Alcohol tastes sweeter when loud music is playing.
More details (Daily Mail)

Maybe that’s why I don’t like most booze, the music isn’t loud enough.

This is really cool – a ‘Lost World’ discovered under an Antarctic shelf.

And finally, the dead Firefly video game could see new life.  They have the code, but they need permisstion to play in the ‘verse.

Wait, one more thing: is my Jedi Knight II server.  Had to patch it up to 1.04 due to crashes on Vista.  BRING IT.

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.


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.


Nanosolar 'Prints' First Flexible Solar Panels

I first saw this tech at PopSci, and now Nanosolar has announced that they met their deadline and are shipping the first batch of the flexible, copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) based cells. It really seems like these guys are the real deal, and not one of the many ‘look at this cool tech!’ companies who gather interest (and investors) and disappear to the vaporware wastes with Duke Nukem 4ever and flying cars.


Wave Power

Pacific Gas & Electric with Finavera Renewables for 2 megawatts of power, provided by wave-powered turbines. Here’s a snippet on how the tech works:

Finavera makes a device called the Aquabuoy, a buoy connected to a long underwater piston. As the buoy bobs up and down on the waves, it pushes the piston, which pressurizes a chamber filled with seawater. The pressure cranks a turbine and electricity is made.

It sounds like they have some obstacles yet to hurdle (the force behind waves and tides are pretty massive, it’s been hard design equipment to stand up to the stresses) but if successful it looks like technology that could provide a good amount of power at a lower environmental impact than fossil fuels.