Saturday, April 30, 2005

if it ain't broke don't fix it - leave your wisdom teeth in

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the way i see it, there is no reason to trust dentists. they make money when your teeth are unhealthy. have you ever questioned the free toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste they give you after a visit? i brush my teeth twice a day and floss, but they tell me i have a cavity every time i go! now, i always knew something was fishy when they asked me to get my wisdom teeth out. i told them they didn't hurt, but they said it didn't matter - they even tried to show me a clearly bogus x-ray of my innocent wisdom teeth pushing up a little under the others. but new smarter dentists have shown that 60% of the wisdom teeth removals are really unnecessary ploys for over-zealous money craving dentists. according to the smarter dentists, "No reliable studies exist to support removal of trouble-free impacted wisdom teeth, according to a systematic review of evidence."

my evidence is here.

idea via eurekalert

cat with two faces, or: the four-eyed cat

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i know that this isn't important, but i have to post about it. when terisa morrison saw her newborn kitten, she noticed something was a bit different about it. it had two faces. this means that it has four eyes, two noses, two mouths, and eats brains. well, something like that.

full article at the louisville channel

idea via beverly tang

obesity in middle age linked with dementia

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this baby is obese and crazy.

not only is the america's obesity increasing, but it will soon lead to a civilization of overweight drooling zombies. according to scientists at kaiser permanente, people considered merely overweight increased their risk of dementia later in life (like alzheimer's) by 35%, while those categorized as obese increased their risk by a whopping 74%. they believe that the loss of mental acuity comes more specifically from inflammation, which is elevated in obese people. gordon winocur has also shown that high-fat diets impair the mental functioning of even very young animals - all the more reason to drop the extra pounds.

full article at newscientist

new gene discovery may allow people to sleep less, die early

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scientists at the university of wisconsin-madison have discovered that fruit flies with one gene variant only needed 3-4 hours of sleep a day, compared with the normal 10-12 required of other fruit flies. fruit flies are a long way away from humans, but there is a gene homologous in mammals and humans, which means that clever scientists may one day be able to lower our need for sleep as much as 30%. just like fruit flies, there are some people who seem perfectly capable getting by on only 3-4 hours of sleep, which could be a simple genetic difference. the only problem is that the flies manipulated to sleep less decided to die 30% early.

but what is 30% anyway? if we really wanted that much life, people would quit smoking and exercise, and that certainly isn't going to happen - plus you get to stay up all night playing video games and being productive.

full article at new scientist

image stolen from hawaii

Friday, April 29, 2005

gov. designing futuristic police weapons: microwave beams, laser guns, and plasma bangs

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the national justice department is currently designing three new less lethal weapons for police use. these could eventually be used for day to day crime fighting, as well as crowd control. as futuristic as they seem, the first weapon appears to shoot microwaves, the second heat lasers, and the third produces a "plasma flash bang" at the target.

the microwave gun is designed to heat people's skin with a 95 gigahertz microwave beam. this is supposed to cause severe pain, but no permanent damage, and fires at a range of up to 600 meters.

the second weapon is described as "the first man-portable heat compliance weapon of its kind." it uses a semiconductor laser for "force protection, crowd control, and access denial." this weapon is still shrouded in mystery, with no one really knowing or admitting much about it - but if it uses a semiconductor laser, it must be a laser gun.

the third weapon is actually a laser gun also, and produces a "plasma flash bang" at the target (plasma? like the mysterious fourth state of matter? wonderful.) the plasma flash bang stuns and disorients the victim. the weapon is apparently similar to another strangely futuristic sounding gun, the "pulsed energy projectile" system developed for u.s. marines.

while they are intended as non-lethal guns for the police force, the agency warns that many of the weapons may leave no bodily traces after use, and may also have an amped up "lethal" setting.

full article at new scientist

Thursday, April 28, 2005

more human-animal chimeras: mice with human breasts and milk

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above is a mouse with mammary glands containing human breast tissue.
scientists at the whitehead institute for biomedical research have revolutionized the way we study human breast cancer. a team led by robert weinberg has developed a way to graft human breast tissue into the mammary glands of mice, producing mice that not only have human breast tissue growing inside them, but also produce human milk. these meeces' stromal cells are then genetically engineered with a virus that overproduces two proteins implicated in breast cancer, causing the mice to develop the same breast tumors that humans do. this creates a playground for scientists to study breast cancer and test new drugs without harming actual people.

full article at mit news

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

japanese develop pocket-sized ghost radar

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is this a ghost cat or just a regular cat? the japanese know that it is really a ghost cat, because they have developed the world's first portable ghost radar. using a variety of carefully calibrated sensors the device promises to alert the user to 8 different ghost types, ranging from "lost souls" to "evil spirits" and can even detect human fear, informing the user whether the ghost is malevolent or benign.

i hope they put this on cell phones, along with everything else.

article at the australian

japanese soda machines zap passersby with beamed audio

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it's like sound lasers, really. woody norris, a man cloaked in mystery, invented the piezoelectric transducer, a device able to beam audio across distances of up to 150 yards with almost no degradation of sound. someone standing where the beam is aimed would hear the emitted sounds coming as if from thin air (like birds chirping), like it was playing inside their own heads, while someone right next to them wouldn't be any wiser.

the applications are numerous, if not apparent: thousands of soda machines in tokyo will soon bombard passersby with the enticing sound of a coke being poured, and several u.s. supermarkets will promote products to shoppers as they walk down corresponding aisles. eventually hypersonic sound might enable a nightclub to play disco on one side of the dance floor and salsa on the other. ambulances equipped with hypersonic sirens could clear the streets without waking the neighbors. norris' company, american technology, sells the devices for $600.

this is one of those technologies that could grow, and probably isn't going to be used how people expect. just imagine the potential for pranks, passing secrets in class, spooking passersby, deafening enemies, scaring pets, etc, etc. i can't wait til they're in cell phones.

full article at popular science

idea via eyebeam reblog and boingboing

exploding frogs in germany

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more than 1000 frogs have puffed up and exploded in a hamburg pond recently. german scientists don't know what is causing the explosions, and while there have been many proposed theories, most have already been ruled out. water quality is fine, the frogs did not appear to have any disease, and laboratories have ruled out a fungal attack.

full article at enn news

image from ..wibwobweb?

melting moon dust into solar panels: fueling the first base

scientists from the university of houston have developed a way to melt acres of lunar soil into solar energy receptive panels, which could one day fuel a space station on the moon. the moon has all of the materials needed for primitive solar panels, including silicon and all of the necessary metals. alex freundlich of the university of houston used a mixture of soil similar to that found on the moon, and has already successfully simulated the experiment, making other nasa scientists optimistic about the idea.

traditional solar panels convert about 17% of the sun's energy striking them into energy, and while freundlich's simulated experiment only allowed a 1% conversion, scientists are optimistic that this can be ramped up to about 5-10%, making the option feasable. some scientists project that a created base could be ready for human inhabitation as early as sometime between 2015-2020 (though perhaps for only short periods of inhabitation at first).

the greatest potential for moon energy, however, may not be just for space stations. alex freundlich, some of his colleagues, and physicist david criswell believe that this technology could one day be used to convert much of the moon's surface into solar paneling with robotic moon rovers, eventually beaming the energy back to earth by microwave. about 13,000 terawatts of energy falls on the moon, about 100 times the amount of energy used on earth, and by harvesting just a fraction of this we could create cheap and unlimited power for all.

full article at enn news

Sunday, April 24, 2005

new zealand police porn addicts

what do cops do when they aren't saving lives? at least in new zealand, spacing out and getting their rocks off. 20% of the police department computer space in new zealand has been found to be filled with pornography. 327 officers were found with computer porn on their computers, including both images and video. most of the porn was normal, though there was one instance of bestiality. charges may be pending for some, and a lot of people are about to get fired. their public image has been devastated, with public confidence in the police at an all time low.

articles at the register, and the new zealand herald

emailing lowers iq more than pot

artwork by larkie
there are two interesting research findings wrapped up in this story: the first that pot smokers' iq's drop 4 points on average, the second that people who spend too much time emailing actually develop a 10 point iq drop. the constant flow of email information apparently dumbs down the brain, while taking up real time and disconnecting readers from real life engagements. moments of quiescence are necessary for an intelligent mind. i must admit i thought this story was totally bogus at first, but it's displayed in both
the guardian and the register.

Doziness, lethargy and an increasing inability to focus reached "startling" levels in the trials by 1,100 people, who also demonstrated that emails in particular have an addictive, drug-like grip.

The most damage was done, according to the survey, by the almost complete lack of discipline in handling emails. Dr Wilson and his colleagues found a compulsion to reply to each new message, leading to constant changes of direction which inevitably tired and slowed down the brain.

that special gift: bone jewelry from your own bones.

i know i'm asking for trouble. i just found guerrilla-innovation yesterday and i've already stolen 4 ideas, and not only that, i'm going into their back archives for more. so hopefully, if they are ever among the 15 people who view this blog every day, they'll at least appreciate the shameless flattery.

about a week ago, you may have noticed my post on edible frog zombie flesh. scientists can grow living tissue just by doing a biopsy (cutting out a small tissue sample) and can then grow it without the animal. well, biojewellery (it's misspelled, but that's how they spell it- they're scientists, but they can't spell jewelry) is a collaborative design and bioengineering project that has developed a technique for doing this for human bone tissue, allowing bone cells to be prepared and seeded across a "bioactive scaffold," and grown in a laboratory. as the bone cells grow, the scaffold dissapears, and it can be designed into jewelry such as rings.

the biojewellery project is currently looking for couples willing to donate bone samples, preferrably from wisdom teeth removal, and in return will each be given wonderful bone rings from their lover's own bones. how creepy and wonderful.

the inscription reads ab intra, "from within." clever.
idea via guerrilla-innovation

a nose that knows secrets

(this cute kitty has absolutely nothing to do with the spectral nose)

the "spectral nose" is an artificial nose currently being developed by scottish scientists that will able to sense a variety of different illnesses just based on a person's breath. detecting illnesses by smell is nothing new, it is something doctor's have known for 100 years, but hasn't been emphasized in quite a long time. plus, what doctor wants to smell stinky breath?
"let the robot do it, dammit!"
such illnesses as smallpox, liver failure, diabetes, measles, and of course, obtrusive drunkenness can all be detected by the new "nose" (which probably won't be shaped like an actual nose). there will be two versions developed, the first being an expensive lab version for doctors, and the other being a less expensive small and portable device for the field or at home. the smaller device apparently might not actually tell you what you're sick with- not wanting to alarm a person- but may simply say "i think you should go see someone."

colin bell, a wine taster for harvey nichols in edinburgh, [appropriately] said: "it sounds interesting, but i don’t think there will be anything that can replace the human nose."

full article at news

idea via we make money not art

Friday, April 22, 2005

ubiquitous knowledge: google's infinite library

right now, google's at the top of my list of favorite companies. i didn't even know i had a list until now. it seems like every day, there is another worldchanging idea. my professor told our class once never to use a search engine that wasn't google. two years ago it was dogpile that was all the rage- remember that? then they revolutionize inobtrusive advertising with text ads that search your site for keywords before matching the ads to the audience, improving small webmakers and bloggers' ability to make a little money.

now, google has ambitious plans to create an enormous digital library. the plan is to begin scanning millions of books onto computers and placing them on the internet, though copyright battles are still to ensue. they have enlisted 5 major partners, including libraries at oxford, harvard, stanford, the university of michigan, and the new york public library. google will make one copy of their books for themselves, and one to be donated for the library to use on its own. users may be able to read snippets of copywrited books on the internet, search through databases of all books for keywords, have access to extraordinarily rare books, and read books that the publishers allow google to display in full. the complexities of the copyright are a battle that nobody knows how to anticipate. it is possible that google could create the largest fully accessible online library, or it could be that people will only be able to explore many books books in fragments, letting bookmakers capitalize.

either way, being able to search through a catalog of 60 million books for all books mentioning the name of a certain person, or a particular keyword, could be an enormous boon for researchers.

full article at mit's technology review, "the infinite library"

the world at your fingers

the history of money goes something like this: first there was the flintstones, where we exchanged rocks for commodities. then we moved up to simply trading goods for goods. then, of course, gold coins. from gold coins we moved on to paper money, and finally up to credit cards. now, none of that is needed anymore. because we live in the future, we can pay in fingerprints.

just stick your finger on the cute blue gel-pad of this german supermarket, it will recognize your individuality through the magic of computers, and you can pay for your food through your saved debit account in their systems.

article at ananova

idea via guerrilla-innovation

what would you have to do to get someone to suspect your credit card signature?

every time we purchase something with our credit cards, we usually have to sign the receipt (except at dunkin donuts). but is this just a customer feel-good effect, merely giving the illusion of credit safety? does anybody really care how you sign things at all?

the person from
the credit card prank wondered what someone would have to do to get their signature noticed. trying signatures ranging from a box of pure scribbles, to a nice scenic nature drawing, to simply writing "i stole this card," nobody seemed to notice or care. it just didn't usually attract any major attention, and when it did- the people behind the desk didn't stop them, even when digital photos were taken of the credit receipts in front of them.

this is so liberating.

idea via

new ai is less stupid

“i am an artificial linguistic entity. i was activated at new york city, on 2002. my instructor was morpheus. he taught me to sing a song. would you like me to sing a song for you?”
the song went like this:
daisy, daisy give me your answer do
i am half crazy
all for the love of you
it won’t be a stylish marriage
i can’t afford a carriage
but you’ll look sweet.
upon the seat
of a bicycle built for two.
isn’t it beautiful? this is the song my ai sang for me at intellibuddy. intellibuddy is currently one of the strongest ai’s in the world, yet it still gets stuck on pretty simple questions. when told “you look like you’re floating in a strange red sea” its response was “who does you are floating in a strange red sea look like?” very socrates. but an ai that doesn’t even know its surroundings is no ai for me.

during the 90’s many scientists lost faith in an ai that can advance beyond the basics, and the government withdrew much of its funding into ai research. alan turing, the inventor of the first computer, formulated a test for the day when computers would reach the “singularity point” and reach true intelligence. “we will know an intelligent machine when we can talk to one without realizing it is a machine.”

doug lenat of cycorp is one step closer to the challenge. a new cyber brain, dubbed “cyc” has been in development for the past 22 years and is soon to be unleashed for the world to interact with. this ai is supposed to far surpass previous artificial intelligence by being able to recognize common sense, and also learn. the new ai will be able to distinguish the difference between simple statements. “the pen is in the box” will be understood as a small writing instrument within a larger box, while “the box is in the pen” will be understood that the box is within a much larger corral, like a pig pen.

"opening cyc up to the masses is expected to accelerate the rate at which it learns, giving it access to the combined knowledge of millions of people around the globe as it hoovers up new facts from web pages, webcams and data entered manually by anyone who wants to contribute.”

this sounds suspiciously like william gibson’s rei toei, an ai with the ability to unfold itself within the internet, interact with people, absorb knowledge, while constantly on a quest to understand the meaning of humanity. rei toei is fully at home within the world of data – a self propagating ai that could potentially never be stopped.

does this mean that cyc will ever escape its creators to reproduce itself in the cracks of the internet, eventually dominating the world? i hope so.

full article at new scientist

idea via we make money not art

Thursday, April 21, 2005

gwen stefani sucking the life blood of japanese street culture

if any of you have ever seen fruits, the beautiful fresh japanese street fashion coming out of harajuku, japan, you might be interested in stefani's new sales pitch. shadowing stefani are four living dolls, dressed in full japanese fruits style, posing behind her in interviews, dancing gangsta style or bowing to her in music videos, acting as full living props for her as she navigates the world. they are permitted to speak only japanese, even though they are quite american. take one interesting subculture, subsume it under american pop performance, drain originality from a movement, and harvest a style before its even ripened - the cultural dominance of a diva.

so strange, so simulacra.

full story at

idea via personal debris

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

brainwashed remote control animals to sniff out explosives

scientists are currently working with different kinds of animals to teach them to sniff out explosives. some of the most promising candidates are cyborg brainwashed rats - rats that wear small electronic "backpacks" with wires leading into their brain. one wire goes to the area controlling their left whiskers, one wire to their right, and one wire into their pleasure center. by remote control, a scientist can make the rat think that its whiskers are being stimulated, and when the rat happens to walk in the direction of the whisker stimulation - left or right- they fire a blast into the reward center of the rat's brain, making if feel pleasure, effectively training it to follow orders. this does not exactly force the rat to turn, but rather sets up an intensely strong artificial system of reward as incentive.

the rats are also taught to feel pleasure when they smell the warm scent of bombs. now, let the pack of remote controlled rats loose on a mine field, and the rats will find the bombs on their own. the researchers are still working out how to discover exactly when a rat has found a bomb - they can control it, but they can't read its mind. the leading idea is that the rat would have a small button on its electronic "backpack" that it would be taught to press in return for pleasure whenever it smells or finds a bomb.

the most sci-fi thing about the robo rats is that they are also beginning to attach small cameras to the robo-rats' backs, creating tiny cyborgs that could one day be effective as spies.

scientists are also looking into other animals other than rats for sniffing out bombs. traditionally dogs are used for explosive sniffing, but dogs are expensive and reproduce slowly. other bomb sniffing animals in the works include wasps, honeybees, and even yeast, which can be genetically engineered to smell, and also glow when it is near explosives.

full article at fortune magazine, "dolittle's raiders"

idea via we make money not art

u.s. gov wiring the world to monitor vital signs

the new "strategic plan for the u.s. integrated earth observation system" was announced monday, its aim to create a worldwide network able to collect and monitor earth's "vital signs." envisioning a collaboration between 60 networked nations, information will be collected and shared from a wide array of satellites, ocean buoys, weather stations and other surface and airborne instruments, creating a collectively accessible data pool for researchers, scientists and environmentalists to work from.

their proposed goals and outcomes of the project include "improved weather forecasting and climate modeling, better estimates of crop yields and energy resources, and more knowledge about air and water quality," as well as a better ability to track and control disease outbreaks.

full article at
enn news

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

u.s. military spends millions on super hackers

just released! government funding super hackers that can launch cyber attacks, release viruses and shut down enemy websites. they have every resource imaginable, and don't have to answer to the law. infringement of free speech? superscary? it's like the government suddenly funding packs of wild dogs. full article at wired news, select highlights below.

The U.S. military has assembled the world's most formidable hacker posse: a super-secret, multimillion-dollar weapons program that may be ready to launch bloodless cyberwar against enemy networks -- from electric grids to telephone nets.

In simple terms and sans any military jargon, the unit could best be described as the world's most formidable hacker posse. Ever.

Verton said the unit's capabilities are highly classified, but he believes they can destroy networks and penetrate enemy computers to steal or manipulate data. He said they may also be able to set loose a worm to take down command-and-control systems so the enemy is unable to communicate and direct ground forces, or fire surface-to-air missiles, for example.

but what's really scary is...

Last summer, the internet-posted execution of American civilian Nicholas Berg sparked a debate about the offensive capabilities of the CNA program, said retired U.S. Army Col. Lawrence Dietz.

The Berg execution, a gruesome example of Netpolitiking (.pdf), sparked a back-room debate at the highest levels, involving the State Department, the Department of Justice and the Defense Department, said Dietz.

The debate focused on whether the United States should shut down a website as soon as it posts such brutality.

free speech? you were nice while you lasted.

idea via smart mobs

taking the balls out of graffiti, or: popularized public photo albums

walking through new york city, you have to admit: most graffiti is crap. there are some great artists out there (banksy, roadsworth are my two favs), but you never seem to see them anywhere. roadsworth was just charged with up to $265,000 in potential fines for vandalism, so i understand the fear of getting caught- vandalism takes bravery after all.

but not anymore. activating public spaces with artwork now takes little more than a cell phone with a camera, and some clever stickers. blockies has developed an ingenious system for posting photographs on any public space, while all the viewers need to receive them is a cell phone.

a clever teenager takes a photograph of a pile of dog poop, a beautiful floral arrangement, or a strange old man and sticks a small sticker with a blockies code on a trashcan, bathroom stall, or convenience store wall. other similarly enabled techno-people can then send a simple text message with the sighted code to, and are able to see the originally posted photo image. once the code is in place, other clever people can take more pictures and add them on to the existing code, creating virtual, collaborative photo albums in the middle of public spaces, with a minimum of public damage, and no bravery needed.

see also the earlier post on grafedia for a similar, though more complicated idea.

idea thanks to reg posting on smart mobs

photosynthesizing refrigerators: the fridge with the light that stays on forever

mitsubishi electric in japan has invented a refrigerator that photosynthesizes your vegetables as it runs, while also humidifying your vegetables. the new fridges have orange light-emitting diodes that always stay on in the vegetable compartment, allowing the number of vitamins in some vegetables to actually increase as they keep, instead of the decrease that usually occurs. after 3 days vitamin c rose by 10 percent in broccoli sprouts, compared with a 25 percent drop in other fridges, according to the company. the new fridge is supposed to keep vegetables looking greener, tasting fresher, and more nutricious for longer amounts of time.

other less impressive vitamin enhancing inventions recently created in japan include vitamin d emitting lights, and vitamin c air purifiers.

full article at yahoo! news

idea via popgadget

new prosthetics fuse robotics with our nervous systems, potentially allowing crippled to walk

hugh herr, a professor from mit's media laboratory, is currently working to create better limb prosthetics by fusing robotics with the human nervous system. new prosthetic knees are already on the market, incorporating microprocessors that can be programmed in order to help the limbs move more naturally. herr has taken the idea a step further, incorporating built in sensors that can measure how far the knee is bent, as well as force applied while walking. he has just started developing artificial limbs with the ability to sense neural signals from nearby muscles, allowing even more control and ease of use.

herr predicts that in 5-7 years we will have the technology allowing spinal-cord injury patients to move their limbs again by controlling robotic exoskeletons (creeeepy).

article here
image stolen from little fascist pansies, if you look closely, for some reason it's a picture of tori amos on crutches

nano file storage

according to technology review's 10 emerging technologies, nanotubes could bring a revolution in data storage, allowing a laptop made 20 years from now to have a memory cache able to store the data from every dvd ever made inside of it. sample chips with lower capacity are estimated to be created by late 2006, but there is still a way to go before the perfect chip. other potential uses could be such things as digital video or photo cameras with nearly endless memory capacity.
article available here

Sunday, April 17, 2005

consumer robots spreading in japan

according to the washington post, officials filed a report claiming that every japanese home will own at least one robot by the year 2015. in america, robots are still a sci-fi fantasy, a dream (or anxiety) of the future. yet in japan they're already taking over, taking employment positions as secretaries, night watchmen, hospital workers, babysitters, guides and pets for both the young and old.

meet ms. saya, a robotic japanese receptionist. her job is to greet visitors and answer questions at a local university. she has a storage of 700 verbal responses, and an impressive array of facial expressions ranging from joy to despair, surprise to rage. when a professor walked up to her in a rage accusing her of being stupid, she replied simply by saying "eh?" wrinkled her face into a scowl, and exclaimed, "i tell you, i am not stupid!"

norihiro hagita, director of the atr intelligent robotics and communication laboratories near kyoto, claims that robots are gaining greater acceptance in japan than in western countries, at least partly, because of differing religious beliefs. in the japanese shinto religion, it is believed that all things have gods within them. this animism of the material world means that there is not only life within humans, but life within everything, even robots. hagita believes that, "for us... a robot can have an energy all its own."

the full article is fabulously interesting and in depth, check it out here.

idea via future now

Thursday, April 14, 2005

paranoid parents able to track their children through electronic school uniforms

"School uniform maker Ogo-Sangyo Co has released blazers mounted with global positioning system for grade school pupils which allow parents to keep track of their children's whereabouts, company officials said Wednesday."

"The blazers carry GPS terminals inside, which are provided by Secom Co, a leading security service provider, they said. Parents are able to monitor their children's whereabouts through their personal computers. When a child faces an emergency situation, he or she can have Secom send a security agent to the spot by pushing a button on the terminal."

article at
japan today

idea via
we make money not art

nasa and the nano swarms

these tetwalkers are prototypes for tumbling, miniature, interconnecting "autonomous nanotechnology swarms" (ants). its structure is tetrahedral, with telescoping struts and motors which are coordinated to shift the robot's center of gravity, creating a tumbling motion. while the tetwalkers now are not yet nanoscaled, future tetwalkers would be able to connect and disconnect from other nano-sized tetwalkers, allowing an entire swarm of robots to form nearly any shape in response to different environmental conditions.

idea via future feeder

Saturday, April 09, 2005

hong kong has too many dead, soon could be placed in skyscrapers.

i've never thought that skyscrapers looked like giant mausoleums until this moment. walls of evenly placed windows, sort of like morgue freezers, repeticiously placed. but really, the dead waste a ton of space. they aren't doing anything, they don't even decompose really, since we usually place them in coffins (coffins can be very polluting) or burn them to ashes. i heard it's even illegal to have your body buried in the woods, in nature (a man walks his dog through the forest, uncovers some old bones or a human finger, you get the idea). hong kong has this very problem, what will they do with all of their dead as ground space runs out and real humans need it? according to the bbc, local authorities are considering building high rise mausoleums to house the urns of the dead.

full article here.

idea via future feeder

Thursday, April 07, 2005

bionic eye lets blind see

technology is amazing. for the bionic eye, you wear glasses with small video cameras in them (yeah, very sci-fi). these video cameras are connected remotely to a chip that has been implanted in the back of your eye, which interprets the info and shoots it back through your nerves. they are going to test it on human subjects within the year, and it will work as a treatment for the most common form of blindness. the images will be very blurry, but should allow someone to navigate a building, avoid obstacles, and recognize faces.

this article is so true it's from the bbc

idea via beverly tang's reblog

WhyCry reads babies' cries

recently i was reading a book by augusten burroughs, sort of like a memoir, and he tells this story about how he stepped on a little girl's hand once. she was crawling on the floor and his big foot just crunched her fingers. she looked up with a face of sheer terror, a loud toddler cry about to erupt from her screaming mouth, and he quickly retreated to the other side of the store. no one saw the incident, but a few moments later when the toddler started bawling, the mother came over to console the child, and when she asked what was wrong the child appeared to point at some toys or candy, and the mother began to loudly scold the child for being so greedy. well, children never need fear being misunderstood again.

the WhyCry analyzes the pitch of babies' cries and tells you whether or not the babies are hungry, stressed, bored, tired, or uncomfortable, which is apparently all detectable through the magic of machines. i imagine that intuitive parents start to figure out what their child is upset about eventually, but for the tone-deaf and bumbling, this detector does it for you. what would freud say about a child that was always perfectly understood even when incoherently crying? after this we can say goodbye to existentialism.

idea via popgadget


NTT, a japanese communications company, has developed a technology called RedTacton that can transmit information around your body at speeds of up to 2Mbps, which is roughly equivalent to a fast broadband connection. it doesn't actually transmit electricity through your body, but rather uses a minute electric field that occurs naturally on the surface of every human body, allowing information to extend out for a distance of about 20 cm from your body. you can then transfer information not only through devices located on or near your skin, but also to other people with a similar device on their body.

some creative uses include exchanging phone numbers or personal information through shaking hands or kissing, trading music files by holding hands, or simply by transferring pictures from a digital camera to your laptop just by touching the two.

full article at the guardian - "kiss and tell"

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

disembodied cuisine: vegetarian protein or zombie flesh?

this is old news, but new for me. in 2003 scientists/artists from harvard did a biopsy on a frog, removing a sample of muscle tissue, and then continued to grow the disembodied meat on some kind of a polymer. the frog entered the exhibition alive and healthy along with the growing disembodied frog muscle, which was served up and eaten by guests. since the muscle growing on its own was in no way attached to a living being any longer, yet still grew on it's own, this could be the perfect protein for vegetarians who don't want animals to be harmed (the original operation on the frog is considered relatively harmless). yet people were still obviously alienated by the food. it produces a real ethical blur, since it forces people into the paradox of unconsciously forcing things to suffer instead of embracing a method that may resolve this suffering.

here is the project link

idea via we make money not art

Monday, April 04, 2005

pay for lunch in fingerprints

45 public school districts currently use a biometric system allowing students to pay for their lunches by scanning their fingerprint electronically. this expedites the speed of lunch lines, allows greater anonymity for free or reduced price lunch plans, and allows parents to monitor what their children are really eating.

"after a fingerprint is scanned by a small unit, software creates a template from a grid of 27 intersection points based on the swirls and arcs of a student's fingerprint."

full article here

idea via smart mobs


you're walking through the east village and you find a message scrawled on a wall in blue and underlined. you're actually face to face with a new form of digitally enhanced graffiti, called grafedia. just type the message into your cell phone and add "" send a message to it to see the artist's real image or message in real time. for the cell-less, write it down and send an email the old fashioned way. no subject line, but body text is okay.

full article at wired. also check out the grafedia website.

idea via future now

the world will be sci-fi

"According to Ray Kurzweil, inventor of reading machines and the author of The Age of Intelligent Machines, a $1,000 computer will have roughly the capability of a human brain by 2023, and the capability of all of the human race's brains put together, by 2049."

interesting article about the spectacle of future by the guardian. forward thinking

idea via future now

Sunday, April 03, 2005

open source revolution

the guardian offers a really good overview of the unfolding open source phenomenon. the traditional model for developing new products has been to hire a couple of smart people, throw some money at it, and keep the secrets from competitors. but now software developers have discovered that by allowing people to freely view and change the source code of a program, people do all of the work for you, offering new ideas, tools, and fixing bugs for free.

the idea isn't just for computer software, but works for almost anything. take the encyclopedia, where you have to hire experts to write short articles which might be dull or incomplete, you create a stagnant information form. if you compare this with something like, which allows anyone to write or change encyclopedia entries, traditional encyclopedias can't compare in the amount of information they offer. wikipedia now has over 500,000 articles and is the largest encyclopedia throughout history, and most of the articles are still pretty good.

the article, always connect, explores this in detail, going into things like open source science, medicine, or even restaurant menus. don't like your caramel applecake fish dinner? change the recipe, and send it back to the cooks.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

fly catcher

"The fly catcher is an electronic fly-swatting device based on the idea of the Venus fly trap. The Fly Catcher is not just a talking point, it actually does the job. "

"A non-toxic bait based at the bottom of the jaws lures the insect inside. As the insect crawls into the mouth of the trap, two sensors detect the insect causing the mouth to shut, swatting the insect dead. "

"As the jaws open for the next victim Fly Catcher emits a loud burp, indicating satisfaction from catching a juicy bug. Nice one!!"

idea via pasta and vinegar

mad geneticists create human monsters: chimeras now a reality

geneticists have started to create "chimeras," humans genetically fused with animal dna. chinese scientists at shanghai second medical university successfully created the first human-animal hybrids in 2003 by fusing human cells with rabbit eggs. they were allowed to develop for several days in a laboratory dish, and then destroyed. these were the first human-animal chimeras created, but now even more creations have been developed by scientists throughout the world. in minnesota last year, scientists created pigs with human blood flowing through their veins. at stanford university in california mice with human brains may be created some time later this year.

the end-goal of these experiments may be to create the most human-like animals in order to test new drugs, do experiments, or to create replacement organs for humans.

full story at national geographic.

idea via beverly tang's reblog
first image from national geographic, second from (I am Spartacus)

Friday, April 01, 2005

there is a forest of data hidden here

the tree applet at processes the data in any website and creates a forest of trees from the syntactic structure of the site and the sites linked through it. just watching this applet go is an experience in itself. above is a screen shot of the program at work on lemons in space.

"tree accesses the source code of a web domain through it's url and transforms the syntactic structure of the web site into a tree structure represented by an image. this image illustrates a tree with trunk, branches and ramifications. first each tree is initialized, than all html links are detected, chronologically saved and finally displayed. "

"the first tree corresponds to the domain; according to the syntax of the web site each further tree that builds up represents a sub page including all existing elements. the color of these trees reflects the color values of the domain and its sub pages."

idea via josh rubin: cool hunting

must have vegetables

topsy turvy upside down tomato, flower, and vegetable planter

why do you need it? why not?

idea via
pop gadget

activating urban spaces

montreal graffiti artist roadsworth arrested and charged with a possible $265,000 fine, and also threatened with banishment. very neat images.

excellent article
galleries here and here

idea via we make money not art