Sunday, December 21, 2003

Word is made flesh as God reveals himself... as a fish
An obscure Jewish sect in New York has been gripped in awe by what it believes to be a mystical visitation by a 20lb carp that was heard shouting in Hebrew, in what many Jews worldwide are hailing as a modern miracle.
You have, at most, thirty seconds to make whoever opens the door like you. You find the one thing they love most (the car, the lawn, the dog) and compliment it. You smile big. Maybe you ask what the score of the game is, because there's always a game. Maybe you ask about the print on the wall. Maybe you turn your hat around backwards and put on an accent. It's different for every door.
Flying Saucer May Yet Take Flight
It looks like something out of a sci-fi TV show from the 1950s, but this pita-bread-shaped, unmanned drone is for real. The project, started decades ago by Soviet engineers, is gaining new life thanks to a U.S. congressman. By Noah Shachtman.
Introducing...FeedDemon 1.0!
Final release of FeedDemon 1.0. download.
Google delivers parcel search
A new feature on the search site lets people type in their package tracking numbers to turn up shipping information directly from FedEx or UPS Web pages.
MasterCard checks out 'contactless' payments
The company plans to introduce a new RFID-based payment technology across the United States next year that could simplify debit and credit card transactions for consumers.
Towards 10 Gigabits Per Second: Lehigh Group Reports Best Threshold Values For Near-infrared Range Lasers
High-performance, vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) produced with vapor deposition and capable of operating with a 13000-nm wavelength have moved a step closer to reality thanks to research at Lehigh University.
Researchers Develop Nanoscale Fibers That Are Thinner Than The Wavelengths Of Light They Carry
Researchers have developed a process to create wires only 50 nanometers (billionths of a meter) thick. Made from silica, the same mineral found in quartz, the wires carry light in an unusual way.
Beagle, We Have Separation
After traveling 250 million miles to Mars, the European lander Beagle has received its signal to separate from its orbiter. In preparation for the Christmas landing, the separation begins a process of stabilizing the lander for its final descent.
Guts of Comet Encounter
If University of Washington's Don Brownlee has a New Year's resolution, it is likely to have something to do with meeting a comet. On January 2, for a little more than ten minutes, a spacecraft called Stardust will fly through the tail of a comet at bullet-speed. Its task is to collect clues about the comet's composition and achieve the first sample return since Apollo.
Nano-transistor self-assembles using biology
A functional electronic nano-device has been manufactured using biological self-assembly for the first time.

Israeli scientists harnessed the construction capabilities of DNA and the electronic properties of carbon nanotubes to create the self-assembling nano-transistor. The work has been greeted as "outstanding" and "spectacular" by nanotechnology experts.
CDs 'could be history in five years'
Compact discs could be history within five years, superseded by a new generation of fingertip-sized memory tabs with no moving parts.

Scientists say each paper-thin device could store more than a gigabyte of information - equivalent to 1,000 high quality images - in one cubic centimetre of space.
Paired molecules store data
As computer storage devices cram more information into ever tinier spaces, researchers working to keep ahead of the curve are looking at the storage possibilities of single molecules.
Langa Letter: Time To Check Your CDRs
Fred Langa explains how to ensure that your recordable CDs remain archived for a decade or longer.
Understanding CD-R & CD-RW
An easier-to-understand explanation of CD details than the "Orange Book," which is the technical data-CD bible.
In both HTML and PDF formats, this 53 page easy-to-read text will seriously raise your "CD consciousness" by providing explanations, and the all-important contextual background needed to understand how and why contemporary CDs, in their various formats, work.
The Lifter-Project
The Lifter is an asymmetrical capacitor which uses High Voltage ( > 20KV ) to produce a thrust.
The Quest For Overunity
JLN Labs web site dedicated to the search of Free-Energy solutions and new generation of space-propulsion systems.
The Antigravity Underground
The fantastic floating device called a lifter has no moving parts, no onboard fuel, and no shortage of wide-eyed admirers. Even inside NASA.
"Lifters," Continued

Bill Hees
"About a year ago I built a lifter according to instructions on Tim Ventura's "antigravity" web page. Then I did a little research as to how it worked. Lifters are not as special as the name implies. It seems the asymmetrical capacitance effect is capable of moving small amounts of air relative to the device, which amounts to being able to push a very lightweight device through the air. A conventional motorized propeller or fan blade does a much better job of this but nobody calls them "antigravity devices"! No so-called lifter has even gotten close to lifting itself completely off the ground. While a lifter's 2 ounces of thrust may overcome its 1.9 ounces of aluminum foil and balsa wood, you can't ignore the 20 pound power supply it's tethered to.

A lifter engine is still potentially useful in that it pushes air using no moving parts. If made a couple orders of magnitude more powerful it might make a nice bathroom fan."

Luke and a partner spent a semester of their USC days explicitly studying lifters with some scientific rigor. The result is an interesting and easy to read report at which would seem to clearly support their final conclusion:

Luke Uribarri
"This paper's firm denial of antigravity's existence (in the lifter) and of the usefulness of the lifter for practical applications refutes the more misguided of the claims given by the researchers on the Internet. While the lifter can continue to be a fun (albeit dangerous) novelty item, it can now be approached as such and not as [a] revolutionary technology..."
American Antigravity
These are extremely lightweight balsa and tin foil frames that (apparently) happily lift their own weight and a bit more, when energized by a high voltage, microamp power supply.
Anti-gravity propulsion comes ‘out of the closet’
Boeing, the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer, has admitted it is working on experimental anti-gravity projects that could overturn a century of conventional aerospace propulsion technology if the science underpinning them can be engineered into hardware.
R&D Scorecard

For many of the world’s top 150 technology companies, spending on research and development continues to take a beating. A quick scan of the R&D Corporate Scorecard reveals an abundance of negative numbers, especially in electronics and telecommunications: Ericsson, Lucent, and Nortel Networks have cut budgets more than a third, while Cisco Systems is down by a quarter. The semiconductor sector is also unsteady, with Intel’s and Texas Instruments’ expenditures flat.

Update 2007:
DTI R&D Scoreboard

Thursday, December 18, 2003

the text you type, the date, and a random number
I've gone off to college. My roommate talks at great lengths about his friends, telling stories and what not. I feel I need to tell stories about my friends, too. Except I have no friends, and I never will.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Chirac Seeks Law Banning Head Scarves
PARIS - French President Jacques Chirac asked parliament on Wednesday for a law banning Islamic head scarves and other religious insignia in public schools, a move that aims at shoring up the nation's secular tradition, despite cries that it will stigmatize France's 5 million Muslims.
GM Trial Destroyed
Earth Liberation Front managed to disable one of the last midlands GM farm scale trials of Genetically Modified crops.
Critics: Convicted felons worked for electronic voting companies
SAN FRANCISCO - A manufacturer of electronic voting machines has employed at least five convicted felons as managers, according to critics demanding more stringent background checks for people responsible for voting machine software.
Take No Prisoners
Another proud moment in U.S. Military History.
U.S. Marines execute an Iraqi to the cheers of fellow marines
An Anarchist's Reaction to Saddam's Capture
Am I happy to see Saddam captured? It does not please me, nor does it particularly displease me. In his current state, stripped of his power, Saddam was revealed to be what is at the heart of every politician: a pathetic, pitiable creature with no real power. Saddam was not the problem with Iraqi government. The problem with Iraqi government was the same problem with all governments everywhere: people believe in them. As long as there are people willing to use force on their fellow man and others to recognize such force as legitimate, it does not much matter who the exact people at the top are. There will always be Bushes and Saddams. And always they will be working in the name of justice.
How I Said No to the Automatic Social Security Number
This is the story of how I successfully refused to accept a Social Security Number for my child.

I simply said “no.”

Really. That’s how easy it was. I just said no, again, and again.
Arizona Deep-Fried State Fair
State fairs are an excellent way to "take stock" in what a particular region has to offer in the way of its people, its commerce, its agriculture, and OHMIGOD IT'S FUNNEL CAKE!!!! State fairs are also an excellent place to ingest combinatorial fat, salt, and sugar objects and then excitedly hurl them to the ground an hour later while riding The Wilde Maus or even a thrill ride spelled correctly. You'll never gain a pound at the State fair.
Watching the Net's background radiation
When the city sleeps, it's never completely silent. But when the Internet sleeps, what kind of static does it make? What does it sound like? Like the weird warbles astronomers claim to hear from outer space?
Windows-style security hell stalks Mac OS X? Yeah, you wish...
Trustworthy computing must be more than a catchy marketing phrase. Ironically, despite a few hiccups along the way, it's becoming clear that Mac OS, not Windows, epitomizes Microsoft's new mantra of "secure by design, default, and deployment."

Monday, December 15, 2003

Scientists freeze beam of light
The researchers stopped the light for a fraction of a second
Physicists say they have brought light to a complete halt for a fraction of a second and then sent it on its way.
The Blind Watchmaker
Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design
Earth-Like Planets Common, Computer Simulation Suggests
A new computer model designed to explore the range of possibilities for planet formation around other stars had no trouble coming up with worlds similar to Earth.
Timing Of IQ Test Can Be A Life Or Death Matter
The year in which IQ is tested can make the difference between life and death for a death row inmate. It also can determine the eligibility of children for special services, adults' Social Security benefits and recruits' suitability for certain military careers, according to a new study by Cornell University researchers.
Of Friendsters and Foes

Much is being made lately of the FBI's phone call to the Whitney Museum in the immediate aftermath of the 9-11 attacks requesting access to Mark Lombardi's drawing BCCI, ICIC & FAB (1996-2000). This piece, the last work the artist made before he was found dead in his studio in March 2000, an apparent suicide at age 49, represents the tangled web of power and influence that comprised the largest banking scandal in history—in which an impenetrable network of holding companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, and banks-within-banks laundered billions of dollars while supporting terrorism, arms and drug trafficking, and prostitution. The names of Saddam Hussein and George H.W. Bush, among many other high- and low-profile world figures, are connected by a network of delicate, yet potently insinuating, pencil lines. The FBI agent who called was informed that the work was on view in the museum's galleries, where he was welcome to see it during it during regular museum hours. A visit to the current Mark Lombardi exhibition at the Drawing Center (35 Wooster Street, through December 18) by an affiliate of the Homeland Security Agency has also raised eyebrows in the art world.
Gateway Rolls Out Stereo-Rack-Mountable Media PC
The Windows XP Media Center PCs continue to debut in an increasingly wide variety of form factors. Gateway's latest sits flat, like a stereo receiver or DVD player. And check out BravoBrava's MiHome software that is designed to turn any device, from Tablet PC, to cell phone or PDA, into a unified remote-control device.
Mobile charges 'could fall again'
Mobile charges are to come under attack with a year-long review by the communications watchdog, it is reported.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Spontaneous Human Invisibility
Incredible accounts of people who suddenly become completely invisible
Hunting Planets Along the Milky Way
Is Earth a lonely island where human beings cling tenaciously to life, or is the Universe teeming with planets where myriad forms of life have been nurtured?
Vegetal and mineral memory: The future of books
The city of Alexandria played host on 1 November to the renowned Italian novelist and scholar Umberto Eco, who gave a lecture in English, on varieties of literary and geographic memory, at the newly opened Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Al-Ahram Weekly publishes the complete text of the lecture
How British charity was silenced on Iraq
One of Britain's most high-profile charities was ordered to end criticism of military action in Iraq by its powerful US wing to avoid jeopardising financial support from Washington and corporate donors, a Guardian investigation has discovered.

Excellent Active Super Amusive Play!
Toys and products you never dreamed of...
Crazy? No, Just One Card Shy of a Full Deck
I had become what every New Yorker secretly longs to be, a harmless, amusing eccentric.
GCHQ officer: I leaked email to save lives
A British intelligence officer charged with leaking a top-secret memo to the press appeared in court today.
Katharine Gun, 29, is charged under Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act.
Borrowed Time: Interview with Michio Kaku
A theoretical physicist contemplates the plausibility of time travel
Orgasmatron inventor seeks female volunteers
Women who cannot have orgasms can now have a device implanted in their spines that will trigger the sensation for them. Clinical trials of the "orgasmatron" have begun in the US, with the approval of the Food and Drug Administration.
Twenty years discovery of the W and Z bosons
"Other expeditions saw the tracks, this one found the skeletons."
-Dr. George Brandenburg of Harvard University, on the CERN discovery of the W and Z bosons.
Upgrading Opera browser prevents two serious vulnerabilities
Users of the Opera browser should upgrade to avoid two serious security vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities allow remote attackers to view files or to place and execute files on a user's computer. Opera download
Colliding Galaxies
Colliding Galaxies is a program which deals with the calculations of interacting galaxies. In this case the visual representation of the galaxies is important. Therefore, the program has not only impressive color shadings but also scientific representations as the Doppler-effect.

In addition with the Shape Creator you receive a tool (ShapeCreator.exe) with which you can construct own galaxy shapes.
Courtalds Institute
The Courtald Institute of Art , via Art and Architecture, has made 40,00 images, and much else besides, available online. One more reason to love the web.
Digital rights management and the breakdown of social norms
by Christopher May
At the centre of the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) is a long history of political bargains struck between private rights to reward and the social benefit of information/knowledge diffusion. The historical dynamic of politics in this policy area has been to expand the rights of owners while circumscribing the public realm of information and knowledge. In recent decades the public domain has become merely a residual, all that is left when all other rights (as constructed by IPRs) have been exercised. The advent of digital rights management (DRM) technologies has disturbed a reasonably legitimate politico-legal settlement over "fair use," challenging the existing balance between the rights of "creators" and the interests of users. The breakdown of the norms underpinning IPRs has prompted renewed debate regarding their legitimacy. Although it is technological change that has enhanced not only the ability to copy but also the potential to control the distribution of content, this paper suggests that this argument will not be won or lost in the realm of technology. Rather, new technologies return the question of the control of knowledge and information (content) to the realm of politics.

[Listening to: Can't Stop - Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way (04:29)]
LEON, the world's first virtual male soul vocalist.
VOCALOID vocal-synthesizing software overcomes the limitations that technology and resources have always placed on composers' ability to freely create recordings incorporating singing. With the enormous popularity of sound samplers it's not surprising that many producers have tried creating music with vocals using samples of human voice snippets, but that method's range of lyrical and vocal expression is very limited and generally produces very poor results.

Yamaha's newly-developed vocal-synthesizing VOCALOID software, together with vocal libraries (or vocal 'fonts') by Zero-G and others, now changes all this.

[Listening to: Nanook Rubs It - Yellow Snow - Frank Zappa - Apostrophe'-Overnite Sensation (02:07)]
Celestia is a free real-time space simulation that lets you experience our universe in three dimensions. Unlike most planetarium software, Celestia doesn't confine you to the surface of the Earth. You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Werner Karl Heisenberg 1901 - 1976
The Building of the Bomb 2 March 1965 BBC
Werner Heisenberg and Baron von Weissåcker talk about the issues Germany faced on whether to make an atomic bomb and seeking Bohr's advice 2 min 10
On This Day 1975: TV presenter Ross McWhirter shot dead
Guinness Book of Records co-founder and editor Ross McWhirter has been shot dead outside his Middlesex home.
Dr Who - Scream of the Shalka
I think I must be the only actor who’s never seen Doctor Who, or read it. I’m completely a virgin to it so I don’t know whether that’s a disadvantage or an advantage - that will be for other people to decide. It’s struck me that it’s Sherlock Holmes in outer space. That’s what it seems to be like. I don’t know whether that’s accurate or inaccurate, but you just follow the script.
Hilltop: A Search Engine based on Expert Documents
In response to a query a search engine returns a ranked list of documents. If the query is broad (i.e., it matches many documents) then the returned list is usually too long to view fully. Studies show that users usually look at only the top 10 to 20 results. In this paper, we propose a novel ranking scheme for broad queries that places the most authoritative pages on the query topic at the top of the ranking. Our algorithm operates on a special index of "expert documents." These are a subset of the pages on the WWW identified as directories of links to non-affiliated sources on specific topics. Results are ranked based on the match between the query and relevant descriptive text for hyperlinks on expert pages pointing to a given result page. We present a prototype search engine that implements our ranking scheme and discuss its performance. With a relatively small (2.5 million page) expert index, our algorithm was able to perform comparably on broad queries with the best of the mainstream search engines.
When Cash Is Only Skin Deep
A Florida company has announced plans to develop a service that would allow consumers to pay for merchandise using microchips implanted under their skin.

File-sharing Goes Social
The RIAA has taken us on a tour of networking strategies in the last
few years, by constantly changing the environment file-sharing systems
operate in. In hostile environments, organisms often adapt to become
less energetic but harder to kill, and so it is now. With the RIAA's
waves of legal attacks driving experimentation with decentralized
file-sharing tools, file-sharing networks have progressively traded
efficiency for resistance to legal attack.

The RIAA has slowly altered the environment so that relatively
efficient systems like Napster were killed, opening up a niche for
more decentralized systems like Gnutella and Kazaa. With their current
campaign against Kazaa in full swing, we are about to see another
shift in network design, one that will have file sharers adopting
tools originally designed for secure collaboration in a corporate
Radio tags spark privacy worries
The use of radio tags on consumer products should be put on hold, say privacy campaigners.
Hologram pioneer remembered
Tributes are paid to the inventor of credit card holograms, Stephen Benton, who died recently.
Blackmailers target e-commerce
Companies trading online are under attack from gangs who blackmail with denial-of-service attacks.
FeedDemon Public Beta

A Pre-release FeedDemon Beta is now available to anyone interested in beta testing this exceptional RSS reader and organizer. Brought to us by Nick Bradbury the person who gave us HomeSite and my favourite CSS and XHTML Editor, TopStyle Pro. For those of you who have not heard the rumblings about FeedDemon, it enables you to quickly explore the world of RSS from your desktop without having to visit hundreds of sites. Claiming to make RSS "as easy to access as your email"
It does have a few words of warning for people that are unfamiliar with Beta software but it shouldn't be too much of a problem. For a more indepth round up of what all the fuss is about see Shirley Kaiser's blog entry.

Update 2007: Version 2.1 now available
Bad Santa shocks Disney bosses
Disney studio bosses are reportedly concerned about a new movie which shows Father Christmas drinking, stealing and chasing girls.
3DNA 3D desktop
3DNA is a 3D desktop enhancer that improves the way you work with Windows and the Web. You can choose from different 3D Add-On Worlds to explore and customize for an immersive and entertaining desktop. 3DNA works by overlaying the wallpaper area and easily lets you toggle between your 3D and 2D desktop with the click of your mouse. The 3D Worlds also have toys to play with and integrated 3D games. You can move around easily, or simply teleport to different areas when you want to launch applications, open folders, speed-surf dozens of Web sites, or play music. Personalize each 3D World by hanging your digital photos on the walls by simply dragging them onto the picture frames.Within each World you have various areas to create links to your folders, files, and programs. 3DNA will even scan your system to create a custom set of links to get you started. Once you have selected the World you like, you can download additional user-created themes and skies or create your own to share. The interface is intuitive, and there's an optional Tutorial World that walks you through the product.
Requires: Intel or AMD 1GHz, 384+MB Ram, 32+MB 3D Graphics Card