Wednesday, August 17, 2005

the naming of the tenth planet

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So there might be a tenth planet. I'd already heard about it, and forgotten it. To be quite honest I thought they had already discovered a tenth planet a while ago, but I guess they hadn't. Right now astronomers are getting together and arguing about just what a "planet" is. Isn't a planet just something big that orbits the sun?

Well, New Scientist put together a poll of their readers to find out what people would name the new planet, if it really is a planet after all. And like all polls of the general public, the results are embarrassingly funny.

The first choice is pretty good. Persephone. In roman mythology Pluto kidnapped Persephone. So there's... well, there's sort of a connection.

Second choice: Peace. (or Pax, which means peace). Since, you know, peace is good.

Three: Galileo. He had something to do with space, right?

Four (my personal favorite): Xena. Hahaha. As in the warrior princess. "What?- It's got an X in it, right? That's spacy." Apparently this was the name Mike Brown and his team originally gave the planet upon first discovering it, as a joke - and it's starting to stick.

Five: Rupert. This one is good. In Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the fourth planet was officially called "Persephone," but was widely nicknamed Rupert after "some astronomer's parrot - there was some tediously heart-warming story attached to this - and that was all very wonderful and lovely.”

Six: Bob. Since astronomers could have something to laugh about.

Seven: Titan. A popular choice, even though it's already a giant moon around Saturn.

Eight: Nibiru. Has something to do with ancient babylonian or sumerian tablets or something referring to a tenth planet. Some people think the writings have finally come true.

Nine: Cerberus. Mythological, kind of tough.

Ten: Loki. More mythology.

Also, the editor's favorite was a six year old who wrote in recommending the name R2D2.

where will you be when the world is over?
global warming in the siberian peat bogs

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I'm just kidding around about the title. Sort of. Well, just don't have kids anyway. Unless, you want them to breath in the 700 million tons of extra methane released every year for the next hundred years from the Siberian peat bogs melting. Now, what are the Siberian peat bogs, you ask? Well, to start off, they're the size of Germany and France combined. And them being frozen is what keeps all of the methane gas in. But... scientists just found out that they have actually been thawing over the past 3 or 4 years, due to other global warming. It seems that this was one of those "off-chance" scenarios, one of those things that wasn't really in some predictions of how we'd affect global warming, since a lot of estimates only took into account the gas leaks that were already known and accounted for, not contingencies and "tipping points" we'd reach, things that were less predictable.

So, methane - who cares? It can't be that bad. Humans make it and cows make it, right?

Well, It's 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide. If the peat bogs melt, then the amount of methane in the atmosphere over the next 100 years or so will double because of this. Greenhouse scientists let out a collective "oh sh*t" about this, and global warming predictions will now have to be ramped up from former predictions because of this. The extra methane is expected to raise the amount of global warming by 10-25%, according to climate scientists at the
Met Office's Hadley Centre.

"It is a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points" - delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a dramatic change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global temperatures."
full article at the guardian

Thursday, August 11, 2005

how to control people by remote-control

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Yes, it's true. You can finally control the world (or make your friends look like fools) by remote control.

"By remotely stimulating a person's vestibular system - the fluid-filled tubes in the inner ear that guide their sense of balance - with electrodes placed on the skin just below the ear, researchers at NTT's research laboratories in Kanagawa have found a way to turn humans into oversized radio controlled vehicles."
Demonstrated at this year's Siggraph Cyber Fashion Show, participants would suddenly veer to the right or the left, depending on which direction the controller wanted to unbalance them. Japanese researchers hope to harness the technology, called "galvanic vestibular stimulation" (GVS for short) for computer gaming. Imagine sitting in the car seat of the newest Japanese racing game, and feeling your sense of gravity shift directions right along with the gameplay as you hug the turns of the race track.

source article from New Scientist

algae love: sex and stress in the algae world

People who spend all of their time researching the sex lives of various types of algae remind me a bit of morticians. Whenever I meet aspiring forensics scientists, what I'm usually taken by is their lack of weirdness. It's almost as if they simply wanted a profession where they could finally get a little bit of peace and quiet.

Working in the dark heart of an algae laboratory at the University of New Brunswick sits Aurora Nedelcu, a scientist who has just uncovered a little known curiosity of the world. Aurora discovered that the two types of algae she studied both seemed to have sex in response to stresses in their environment. Volvox carteri got worked up over oxidative stress or heat stress, while for Chlamydomonas reinhardtii it was nitrogen stress that did it in. Why this is important to us (i.m.o.) is that it uncovers for us an interesting evolutionary strategy of the world. When an organism's survival is threatened in some way, that's when they need to reproduce. For humans, perhaps, when we're facing insecure times that might be when we need someone the most.

source article at newscientist

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

too much coffee

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"S. Korean man dies after 50 hours of computer games"

"A South Korean man who played computer games for 50 hours almost non-stop died of heart failure minutes after finishing his mammoth session in an Internet cafe, authorities said Tuesday."
The games were reportedly online battle simulation games, which the man had recently quit his job to allow more time for.

full article at business
idea via relevant history

the adventures of art lad

"A lot of people liked this picture a lot when my Dad put it up. Do you know what it is?"
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"I'll tell you. It's a T-rex coming down to bite you up! See the teeth?"

The above artwork and excerpt is from "The Adventures of Art Lad" which is seriously the coolest blog by a 6-year old ever. His Dad helps him with it, his name is Thomas, and he loves dinosaurs.

idea via eyebeam reblog

Monday, August 08, 2005

the art of creating a frankenjacket, or: a new vegetarian ethics

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When I was a vegan, I spent a lot of time thinking about what was okay for me, as a caring member of the vegan society, to eat. For instance - shrimp. They don't really have brains, do they? And some vegans don't eat honey, because you have to agitate all those bees. But even if you care about bees, they make too much of the stuff
anyway, and none of them get hurt, right? Well, now what if the animals we eat were never hurt by us eating their meat? It all makes my head hurt.

Here is the vegetarian dilemma of the 21st century - is it okay to wear leather or eat meat if it was created by taking a small pinch of cells from the animal and regrowing them in a lab over polymers unattached to the animal?

Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr at the Tissue Culture and Art Project are attempting to grow a semi-living jacket out of living mouse skin cells and human bone cells in preliminary experiments to create a victim-free leather. The jacket is being grown in a specially designed bioreactor that acts as a kind of surrogate body for the cells. Since the tissues are given a proper nutritional environment, they keep growing, just as if they were still on their host bodies. While the zombie jacket is currently only a creepy 2 inches high and 1.4 inches wide, designs for larger jackets are already underway.

The new victim-free jacket is part of the group's hopes to eventually live in a "victim-free utopia," a world where our clothing and food no longer has to come about by harming the animals that we eat and use, a world where meat is grown detached from anything that can think or feel pain. Despite being creepy on a whole nother level from traditional meat, how can we really argue with the ethics of such an idea when animals live in such horrible conditions?

Source article from Wired news

Sunday, August 07, 2005

graham crackers for your walls

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If you want your walls to stand out this fall, try Promise Design's Phytoslim modular wall panel system that allows plant enthusiasts to literally bring their walls to life. The frame is composed of a plastic endoskeleton combined with coconut fibers, allowing bonzai-flavored plants to dig their roots in and really grow on your walls.
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Also from the promise design website is the "Slice of Heaven" vase (20x20x20cm) allowing all those sweet butchered flowers your hubby gave you to look like they really are still alive, growing in real time on your table top.

idea via josh rubin's cool huntin

the siggraph cyber fashion show

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When we create visions of the future, we delineate potentials that seem interesting in the present while appearing possible in the future. How these visions play out in history is a different matter, and when we look back now on the visions of how-the-world-would-be after the year 2000, we are either surprised by how commonplace the technologies have become in our lives, or laugh at how strange these ideas once were.

One of this year's playgrounds for futuristic ideas was at the fourth annual Siggraph Cyber Fashion Show. Included in the highlights of this year's show was Sara Diamond, Di Mainstone and the Am-I-Able design team's "Company Keeper," (photo above) a garment that senses the body wearer's mood by recognized movement patterns and the types of noise in their surrounding environment, and responds by playing appropriate soundscapes to sooth the user's mood. This could eventually turn into a kind of "smart shuffle" that doesn't choose song's randomly, but quasi-randomly based on what the user might enjoy based on their current emotions.
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Other highlights that caught my eye include design group WIN's Report-the-World trench coat, which includes 10 embedded cameras for a clandestine 360-degree view of the surroundings, a head mounted pirate patch-like view screen to see what is happening around them, and a dial to rotate the eye patch between the different cameras. Wait, isn't this from a William Gibson novel?

source articles at wired (includes a nice gallery and more extensive reporting) and we-make-money-not-art (the company keeper entry and report-the-world entry)

Saturday, August 06, 2005

cocaine traces in italian river suggest vast cocaine usage

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Scientists in Italy have applied an inventive way to test cocaine use in the regions washing into Italy's large Po River. The river serves as the waste basin for 5 million people, allowing the drugs to trickle through the bloodstream, out the user's urine, and into the labs of scientists. What is interesting about the study is that it suggests that cocaine use in the region is actually 80 times higher than the officially released estimate of drug use collected through surveys, medical records and crime statistics. If this is true in Italy, perhaps the world has a much larger drug problem than statisticians suspect.

source article from new scientist

a new friend

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i have a new friend named hp. he's my new laptop. hp stands for hit points, cos he's tough. he's going to help me blog after a month of absence, as the demise of my late last computer has left me inter-crippled.
also, an impromptu poll : who would like the site's name changed to hypergloss and redesigned? or, should i stick with lemons and space and redesign anyway? leave comments!