Tuesday, July 31, 2007

MIT Peeps Are Smart

MIT grad students are designing a system to convert the mechanical energy of people movingh around a building into electricity. Designed for a railways system, Tad Jusczyk and James Graham's "Crowd Farm" would consist of sub-floor that moves slightly as people walk across it. That motion would then be converted by a dynamo into current. From the MIT News Office:
The electric current generated by the Crowd Farm could then be used for educational purposes, such as lighting up a sign about energy. "We want people to understand the direct relationship between their movement and the energy produced," says Juscyzk.

The Crowd Farm is not intended for home use. According to Graham and Jusczy, a single human step can only power two 60W light bulbs for one flickering second. But get a crowd in motion, multiply that single step by 28,527 steps, for example, and the result is enough energy to power a moving train for one second.

And while the farm is an urban vision, the dynamo-floor principle can also be applied to capturing energy at places like rock concerts, too. "Greater movement of people could make the music louder," suggests Jurcyzk.

(via Boing Boing)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Culture-full Evolution

In this year of living dangerously (translation: unemployed) I haven't done very much, or have I? While spending hours agonizing over things to do with dollars and sense, contemplating aforementioned addictions to education, and indulging in the beauty that is tv on dvd - my in between times have been spent here on the internet.

For this reason (the proliferation of some semblance of cultural literacy, in case you were wondering) I'd like to say thanks to the folks at Google for coming up with that nifty little feed sucker: Google Reader.

I now have a whole new way to surf the...ohh...130+ rss feeds currently on the subscription list.

But wait. Didn't Ed post some rambling some months ago with regard to the importance of thinking about things read? Yes. So don't mistake my big fat reading list for something I peruse with no intention of fully digesting. Nay. I don't think there's ever a day where I read every single feed - it's more a question of what I'm in the mood to absorb that day: news, notes about the economic state of the EU, questionable celebrity photos, or a friend's flickr stream.

So, um, I guess now I have even more, or less, to do with my continuing year of living dangerously...more or less. Unless any of y'all want to hire me, 'cause I'm available.

See you in the funny papers...

Monday, July 23, 2007

I'm Not Immune

It's a mixture of elation that regret that fills me this rainy New England afternoon. Because I did it.

It arrived on Saturday, around one o'clock in the afternoon. I sat down around two and began to read. Yesterday, after a marathon effort, my glasses were back on, the iPod was back off, and I was in the know about what happened at the end of it all. 

It's been a tumultuous number of years. He first crept his way onto my bookshelf back when I was working at the toy store. I walked by him countless times before I finally decided to pick up his story and begin something I wouldn't understand until quite a few years later, but I was totally hooked.

As time went on, I became more and more restless. I trolled the internet for "spoilers". I visited websites that had countdowns to movie premier dates running. I even looked for bootleg copies, before the pages were supposed to be on the shelves. That was reckless.

While restlessly turning the last pages over this past weekend, a calm came over me. This was it. No more of him. No more of his funny-named friends, or his often overly angsty situational dioramas. No more pages to turn.

So there's the mixture. Elation in the knowing. Regret in that there would be no new words to read - and that I read these last few so quickly. But elation wins out, because I adored every minute of it, and I wouldn't have done it any other way.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Iranians Arrest 14 Squirrels For Spying

While putting up the previous post I came across this morsel. Please lol in your respective cube shaped domicile:

"Islamic Republic's intelligence agents allege rodents were carrying advanced Western spy gear

Iranian intelligence operatives recently detained over a dozen squirrels found within the nation's borders, claiming the rodents were serving as spies for Western powers determined to undermine the Islamic Republic.

"In recent weeks, intelligence operatives have arrested 14 squirrels within Iran's borders," state-sponsored news agency IRNA reported. "The squirrels were carrying spy gear of foreign agencies, and were stopped before they could act, thanks to the alertness of our intelligence services."

Iranian police commander Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moqadam confirmed the report, saying that a number of squirrels had been caught bearing foreign spy gear within Iran's borders.

"I heard of this but I have no specific knowledge on the subject," he said. He refused to give further details.

Recently, Iran has increased its efforts in combating espionage by the West. The use of rodents has not been documented in the past."

articles here, here, and here (among countless other places)

See you in the funny papers...

Man Patents Thinking / Skin Tight Spacesuit

First up, on freshpatents.com, an application has popped up from a man trying to patent his "Thinking System":

"A thinking system and method is provided by the present invention. In the present invention, the “thinking” system is capable of accepting information from outside environment, analyzing the information, requesting additional information, and then resulting the problem. More particularly, the system can make new rules according to the information within the system and the new information received and requested. The rule making process is not controlled by outside command, but by an internal controlling mechanism that can be modified by the outside commands. Further, the system comprises a knowledge structure that can be used by the system for analyzing the inputted information, making request for additional information, making new rules, and solving problems, wherein the knowledge structure comprises element files include direct link information of the elements with other elements of the element files in the knowledge structure"

Next, those crazy MIT cats are working to revolutionize space-fashion with the design of a new skin tight spacesuit.

"...a sleek, advanced suit designed to allow superior mobility when humans eventually reach Mars or return to the moon. [The] spandex and nylon BioSuit is not your grandfather's spacesuit--think more Spiderman, less John Glenn"

Spidey in space. Full story here.

Monday, July 16, 2007

MIT Cures Fear

Well here it is. Now I can leave the lights off...

"MIT biochemists have identified a molecular mechanism behind fear, and successfully cured it in mice, according to an article in the journal Nature Neuroscience. They did this by inhibiting a kinase, an enzyme that change proteins, called Cdk5, which facilitates the extinction of fear learned in a particular context."

full text here

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How You Know You're Hooked

One of my favorite columns in one of my very favorite periodicals is Stephen King's "Pop Of King" column, that appears every other week on the second to last page of Entertainment Weekly. Recently, Stephen commented on my personal drug of choice: "pop-dope" (as he puts it - it's what you gotta have). For example:

The Sopranos
Harry Potter (either medium)

...you get the idea?

So when you're hooked on the pop-dope, how you do know it? Does getting midnight tickets to the new Harry Potter movie at your local IMAX theatre make you an addict? Does waiting until the recording of the season finale of your favorite show has been significantly delayed so you can watch it on your DVR while it's still airing but still fast forward through the commercials, mean you're hooked? Maybe. I thought I'd try to characterize some ways in which you can determine how bad you gotta have it.

1. You think DVR is the single greatest thing since the internet.
2. You think Nicole Scherzinger is wasting her time and really needs to do a solo jazz album.
3. You honestly believe that Megan Fox is (currently) the most beautiful woman on earth.
4. 20 hours of 24 is something you might be interested in.
4a: You get both parts of #4.
5. To you, Google is a verb.
6. Every gadget that has a lowercase "i" in front of its name is on your "must have" list.
7. If you can't go to the midnight showing on opening night, you're going to wait for the DVD.
8. Your favorite websites include popoholic, lostpedia, google news, imdb and somewhere in the area of fifty-three other blogs that only YOU read. (but whose items you tell your friends about, without citing as sources - this makes you "hip")
9. You'd like to have a roundtable discussion with Chuck Klosterman, Rachael Ray, Damon Lindelof, and maybe David Chase. There will be alcohol involved. Think about it.
10. You quote movies, almost verbatim, after you've seen them only once. After the second time, you start telling people what the commentary tracks said about specific scenes.

So there they are. Certainly not the only ten ways to know you're hooked, but these are the ones that came to mind this morning.

If you can think of more, comment it up suckas.

See you in the funny pages...

PS: Read the column I'm talking about here

Monday, July 09, 2007

Angelina's For The A+

I'm just going to go ahead and cut/paste this one. So delicious...

"A Bulgarian professor has promised students A grades if they write about Angelina Jolie's boobs and buy a copy of his new book.

Professor Stefan Karastoyanov, of the Geology and Geography Department of Sofia University, made the promise as a protest after he was not paid for three months because of cash problems.

He said: "If they write about Angelina Jolie's boobs and buy my book they'll get an A."

So far 80 of the 120 students sitting his classes have ordered his book."

See you in the funny pages...