Friday, November 2, 2007

Shock-proof jacket ensures a tasering to the face

With non-lethal weapon manufacturers such as TASER International constantly finding new and insidious ways to incapacitate "non-compliant individuals," it's only natural that those folks who have frequent encounters with stun gun-toting authorities would want protection from their piercing, electrifying barbs. Well a gentleman from Arizona named Gregory Russell Schultz apparently empathizes with this demographic, and has filed a patent for an "energy weapon protection device" -- essentially a jacket embedded with alternating layers of conductive and non-conductive panels that complete an electrical circuit and leave the wearer impervious to the shocks of what would likely be a very surprised officer of the law. If they can retrofit our Members Only jacket in this manner, we're sold.

[Via Danger Room]

Rogue vehicle leaves motorists stranded in car park

We've definitely heard of cellphones causing certain keys to not work properly, but this story just takes the proverbial cake. For reasons unknown, a small family car left in a UK car park was found to be intermittently sending out signals which blocked over a dozen other key fobs from functioning. Reportedly, the vehicle's owner was "unaware of the problems his car had been causing," but the malicious whip had been setting off alarms and leaving motorists without a way to unlock and / or crank up their own rides. Interestingly, there's no mention as to what exactly was wreaking all that havoc, but the owner of the ill-willed motorcar has reportedly promised to fix the issue (or call off the prank).

[Via TheRegister]

A interesting conspericy theory on the lotto.


You may have heard that you are more likely to be hit on the head by a meteorite than to win the lottery. This is certainly so. Assuming that the game is honest, the odds are roughly one in several hundred million. Even with these odds, lottery commissions are not satisfied. The lottery is rigged.

The giant multi-state and individual state lotteries are more fixed than pro wrestling. The jackpots go up and up, with no winners. People get lottery fever. Millions nationwide are willing to wait in a line just like the ones for bread in the former Soviet Union for the pipe dream of striking it rich. The rigging works like this: super computers keep track of each combination sold, and then the ping-pong balls are weighted to assure that a losing combination comes up. On rare occasions, all possible combinations are sold, and they must let someone win. Only then is the game honest.

Why? The lottery, which is a state-run version of the Mafia's numbers racket, is a great money grab scam, as long as it brings in more than it pays out. In the past, lotteries were abolished because they lost money.

The worst part of this is whom it hurts. The poor and desperate are the most common victims of lottery fever. Children go hungry and senior citizens go without their medication because of it. People prone to gambling addiction also blow huge sums.

We spoke with an employee at a state lottery agency. We can not reveal his name or even which state, as some of the same gangsters who ran the numbers racket now run the lottery, and they would kill him.

“Yes, I personally am involved in it. Lottery ping-pong balls have a small valve, like a basketball or soccer ball, only it’s very tiny, and nearly invisible. We use a hypodermic needle to inject heavier-than-air gasses such as radon into the balls we don’t want to come up. At first, we tried helium in the ones we did want to rise, but they jumped up so quickly that it was obvious. Lotteries are raking in much more than if the games were honest, and people don’t know they have literally no chance!”

“If you think about it logically, you certainly don’t play anyway. You are betting that you can predict which six of 45 or more balls are going to come out of the hopper. In some games, the order even matters! It’s a sucker’s bet, and that’s when it’s honest! Most drawings are rigged, making the odds zero in infinity! The lottery is not only a tax on people who don’t understand math; it is an unfair and unjust tax. Didn’t we have the American Revolution over taxes like that?”

You read it here first.

MIT developing carbon-free, stackable rental cars

Sure, we know you love actually owning a car, but let's be honest -- in large cities with condensed layouts, your H3 doesn't make a lot of sense. A group of researchers at MIT have been hard at work developing a solution that's kind on the planet and your scrawny legs. A team called Smart Cities have designed a small, two-seat, electric vehicle -- which they call the City Car -- that can be "stacked" in convenient locations (say, just outside a subway stop), and then taken on short trips around urban areas. The cars -- which are based around an omnidirectional "robot wheel" that encases an electric motor, suspension, and steering -- can be "folded" and attached to a group of other cars for charging. The lineups of rentable vehicles would be accessible from various points around a city, with six or eight cars occupying just a single "regular" car space. Of course, you'll have to forgo your 24-inch rims... but that's life.

[Via Technology Review]

Over-50s Invade the Social Networking Scene

Posted by CowboyNeal on Friday November 02, @08:47AM
from the old-folks-have-friends-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Telegraph newspaper reports that over-50s are invading sites like Facebook and MySpace in massive numbers. A recent study showed that nearly one third of Facebook users are aged between 35 and 54, and that this group also made up 41 percent of MySpace users. "Because the mind of an over-50 is likely superior to that of a drink-addled undergrad, at first there was uncertainty about whether older users would find the Facebook-led social-networking phenomena attractive." Looks like dad just turned up to the party."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Patterns in Lottery Numbers

Posted by Zonk on Thursday November 01, @03:12PM
from the you're-still-advised-against-playing dept.
markmcb writes "Most everyone is familiar with the concept of the lottery, i.e., random numbers are selected and people guess what they will be for a cash prize. But how random are the numbers? Matt Vea has conducted a pattern analysis of the MegaMillions lottery, which recently offered a sum of $370M (USD) to the winner. Matt shows that the lottery isn't as random as it may seem and that there are 'better' choices than others to be made when selecting numbers. From the article, 'A single dollar in MegaMillions purchases a 1 in 175,711,536 chance of landing the jackpot ... a player stands a mildly better chance of winning a partial prize through the selection of weighted numbers.'" Includes some excellent charts of his analysis.

Masi Oka of Heroes signs up as OLPC ambassador

What's better being the nerdy guy on a nerdy hit TV show? Being a nerd in real life, of course. Masi Oka -- you probably know him as Hiro from NBC's Heroes -- has it all going on, and has now signed up to be OLPC's "ambassador" to really flesh out his resume. The guy majored in Math and Comp Sci at Brown University, and did odd acting gigs while working at ILM programming special effects, so he's no pretender to this nerd throne. Masi's role as global ambassador pretty much means he'll be doing some TV spots to "promote the importance of empowering children with learning tools and Internet connectivity," but we're sure he can put some of those time-bending powers to good use to erase all that "$100 dollar laptop" nonsense of yesteryear.

Building a "Reference" Home Theater

Posted by kdawson on Thursday November 01, @11:55AM
from the must-have-citizen-kane-in-1080p24 dept.
An anonymous reader writes "FiringSquad has recently written a 14-page article on building a 'reference' home theater. They go through step-by-step and define all of the issues you need to think about when going with a new home theater setup. Exceptionally detailed but also easy to read."

Australian Army Invests in Electrical Shirts

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday November 01, @04:57AM
from the shocking-sleeves dept.
Stony Stevenson writes "The Australian Defence Department has injected $4.4 million worth of funding to further Australia's national science agency's (the CSIRO) research into designing clothing which can be used as a self-recharging electrical source on the battlefield. The Defence Department is hoping the technology can be used to replace cumbersome disposable batteries that soldiers must carry on the battlefield. The Flexible Integrated Energy Device (FIED) will be used to store and provide energy over a continuous period of time. It can be charged by either vibration energy harvesting or through plugging into an electrical power point."

Brains Hard-Wired for Math

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday November 01, @01:21AM
from the easy-as-1-2-3 dept.
Math Science
mcgrew writes "New Scientist is reporting that "non-human primates really can understand the meaning of numerals." The small study of two rhesus monkeys reveals that cells in their brains respond selectively to specific number values — regardless of whether the amount is represented by dots on a screen or an Arabic numeral. For example, a given brain cell in the monkey will respond to the number three, but not the number one. The results suggest that individual cells in human brains might also have a fine-tuned preference for specific numerical values." The report itself is online at PLoS Biology, Semantic Associations between Signs and Numerical Categories in the Prefrontal Cortex."
[+] math, science, sixtynine (tagging beta)

Fast Car Video From Brad S.

Thanks Brad

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How things would be different on Earth without the Moon

Bernard Foing wrote an article for Astrobiology Magazine about how our Earth, its weather, and its life forms would be different without the influence of the Moon.
200710301144The eyesight of many mammals is sensitive to moonlight. The level of adaptation of night vision would be very different without the Moon. Many of these species have evolved in such a way that their night vision could work in even partial lunar illumination, because that’s when they are most active. But they can be more subjected to predators, too, so there is a balance between your ability to see and your ability not to be seen. The Moon has completely changed evolution in that aspect.

Human vision is so sensitive that we are almost able to work by the light of the Milky Way. The full Moon has more light than we need to see at night. For most of our history, we were hunting and fishing or doing agriculture, and we organized our lives by using the Moon. It determined the time for hunting, or the time where we could harvest. That’s why most of our calendars are based on the Moon.

Link (Via Daily Grail)

Zombie thought to really be dead

After attending a Halloween party in Hamburg, Germany, a 26-year-old drunken man dressed as a zombie passed out on the train home. Passengers thought he was dead and called police. Apparently, Halloween costumes aren't a common sight in the town he was passing thorough. From Reuters:
A first aid team called to the scene soon cleared up the confusion. Police told the man to remove his make-up after which he was allowed to continue his journey.
Link (via Fortean Times)

Samurai costume made from Rubbermaid trash-cans

Flickr user Kudzutech's bad-ass samurai costume (build detailed at the link below) is made from 32 gallon Rubbermaid garbage cans! Link (Thanks, Rob!)

Bamboo microscopes made in India for $4

Mason says:
200710311436 Bamboo microscopes that cost just $4 are being made in India by a group called Jodo Gyan. They're hoping to supply kids with more hands-on learning, and get away from rote memorization.

Nature has an article about this, with photos of the microscope and of a woman making them.


WiFi-detecting t-shirt -- Boing Boing Gadgets

Over on Boing Boing Gadgets, our Joel has found a battery-powered, WiFi-detecting t-shirt from ThinkGeek that lights up when you're near a live network. Like Joel, I want a t-shirt that can distinguish between closed and open nets. Link, Discuss this on Boing Boing Gadgets

Awsome beat box video!

NEC develops Wideband Wearable Antenna

Posted Oct 31st 2007 6:54AM by Thomas RickerFiled under: Wearables

TV's important right? Sure, now ask yourself: Is it important enough to turn your meat sack into a wideband antenna? NEC thinks so and just announced (officially, that is) its wideband wearable antenna which turns a small, flexible print substrate into a high-performance mobile antenna. The prototype is said to work equally well in open space or when operated up against the juicy impedance of the human body. NEC will be testing the first prototypes for reception of digital terrestrial broadcasts in the 470-770MHz band -- perfect for that upcoming FCC auction eh, cowboy?[Via Akihabara News]

Everex's $199 green PC: attention ignorant Wal-Mart shoppers

Posted Oct 31st 2007 10:16AM by Thomas RickerFiled under: Desktops

Make no mistake, Everex can build 'em some kind of ugly. Still, they have learned to spin their gear as green, not underpowered, which counts for something. The TC2502 gPC (that's "g" as in "green," not crap) is out cluttering Wal-Mart shelves with a low, low $199 price tag. Inside, you'll find a 1.5GHz VIA C7 CPU sitting daintily on a Mini-ITX motherboard. A Linux OS, 512MB of memory and an 80GB of disk are tossed in just for kicks. So why that huge-ass case? That's the best part. Research indicates that Wal-Mart shoppers equate the size of the system to its capability. As such, Everex swaddled all that nothingness in a 2-foot by 2-foot monument to plastic. Now go ahead, Greenpeace, we beg you, rip it apart and let us know just how much non-recyclable polymer and dangerous PVC and BFR this pup really contains.
[Via Gadget Lab, thanks Rob G.]

Google getting cozy with Verizon and Sprint for the Gphone?

Posted Oct 31st 2007 12:46PM by Nilay PatelFiled under: Cellphones
The Gphone rumors have been heating up lately, and things seems like they're about to come to a boil. The Wall Street Journal, not generally known for wild rumor-mongering, is reporting that Google is in "advanced talks" with Verizon and Sprint and has made "significant progress" with T-Mobile, with an announcement of some kind due within two weeks. The news sent Google stock past $700 today, although it's still not clear if Google is simply developing its own software or going all out and doing an entire handset. Either way, it looks like Google's getting ready to make a move sometime soon, and with the amount of chatter we're hearing, it's going to be a big one.
Email this
Comments [52]

Crealev builds a levitating lamp

Posted Oct 31st 2007 4:09PM by Nilay PatelFiled under: Misc. Gadgets
We haven't heard of Dutch design outfit Crealev before, but the company says it's developed a "new levitation concept which is able to produce a very high levitation height combined with a low power dissipation and excellent stability" -- and apparently the best way to show that off is this series of levitating lamps. Unveiled at last week's Dutch Design Week event, the lamps are the product of designer Angela Jansen. We're assuming they're magnetic in some way, but Crealev's website is pretty cagey with the details, only saying that it's a "proprietary technology." Either way, we want one.Read -- Crealev webisteRead -- Video of the lamps in action

The thought-controlled robotic arm

Thought-controlled arm Posted Feb 18th 2005 10:35AM by Ryan BlockFiled under: Robots

We were aware of otherwise primitive systems that had been interfaced with the human nervous system, but a freaking thought-controlled robot arm? Apparently researchers at the U of Pittsburgh were able to create a full shoulder-elbow-gripper type arm that can be jacked into a system of neural probes—the machine filters out all but the most important arm-movement neural signaling, and uses that to approximate mechanical motion with what they call a "population vector." So basically a monkey with its limbs restrained was able to pick up, hold food, and feed itself when its brain started firing arm movement commands. This is some seriously unbelievable freaky awesome advanced stuff, man.

Researchers show off robot hand neural interface

Posted Jul 26th 2007 8:14AM by Donald MelansonFiled under: Misc. Gadgets, Robots
It looks like robot hands have taken yet another step into human-like territory, with a team of researchers at John's Hopkins University recently demonstrating a new neural interface that allows an artificial hand to be used to play the piano. But that's not all! In true mad scientist fashion, to actually control the hand, the researchers relied on neural activity recorded from a monkey's brain. According to MIT's Technology Review, that resulted in the fingers on the hand performing their intended movement about 95 percent of the time. While the system doesn't currently work in real time, the researchers are reportedly planning a live demonstration with a monkey within the next six months. Apparently foreseeing a potential monkey-machine rampage, however, the researchers have wisely decided to only let the monkey control a virtual version of a prosthetic arm.
Tags: monkey, robot hand, RobotHand, robotic hand, RoboticHand

Monkeys use brain power to move robotic arm

Posted May 12th 2005 4:30AM by Donald MelansonFiled under: Misc. Gadgets, Robots

Medical researchers at Duke University said Tuesday that their recent research revealed that the brain cells of monkeys adapt when moving robotic arms as if they were their own. This follows a 2003 study that showed monkeys were capable of controlling robotic arms using only their brain, although at the time it wasn't evident that the monkeys' brain cells had actually changed. The study, which is published in the Journal of Neuroscience (some of our favourite bedtime reading), concludes that the primate brain is extraordinarily adaptable and could lead the way towards brain-operated devices for handicapped people.

Games: Today's Gamers, Tomorrow's Leaders?

Posted by CmdrTaco on Wednesday October 31, @08:48AMfrom the something-to-think-about dept.

slash-sa writes "Video games have become problem-solving exercises wrapped in the veneer of an exotic adventure. In today's fast and rapidly-changing business environment, the strategic skills they teach are more important than ever. From realistic battlefield simulations to the building of great nations, from fantastic voyages through worlds of mythology to conquering space, "Generation G" could well offer the answer to unlocking great 21st century strategists and leaders."
[+] games, cheetos, wishfulthinking, ender, dreaming (tagging beta)
200 of 229 comments

IT: One-Third of Employees Violate Company IT Policies

Posted by Zonk on Wednesday October 31, @04:39PMfrom the yeah-but-they-were-all-bad dept.

BaCa writes with a link indicating that a survey of white collar US workers shows that something like a third of all employees break IT policies. Of those, almost a sixth actually used P2P technologies from their work PCs. Overall, the survey indicates workers aren't overly concerned about any kind of security: "The telephone survey found that 65% of white-collar professionals are either not very concerned or not concerned at all about their privacy when using a workplace computer. A surprising 63% are not very concerned or are not concerned at all about the security of their information while at work. Additionally, most employees have the misconception that these behaviors pose little to no risk to their companies."
[+] it, security, spam, shocking, duh (tagging beta)
114 of 132 comments

For Bigfoot fans

This article talks about a bigfoot sighting in the same county some of my family lives.

Capsaicin Tested On Surgical Wounds

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday October 30, @11:48PM
from the that-smarts dept.
Ponca City, We Love You writes "Bite a hot pepper, and after the burn your tongue goes numb. The Baltimore Sun reports that Capsaicin, the chemical that gives chili peppers their fire, is being dripped directly into open wounds during highly painful operations, bathing surgically exposed nerves in a high enough dose to numb them for weeks. As a result patients suffer less pain and require fewer narcotic painkillers as they heal. 'We wanted to exploit this numbness,' says Dr. Eske Aasvang, a pain specialist who is testing the substance. Capsaicin works by binding to C fibers called TRPV1, the nerve endings responsible for long-lasting aching and throbbing pain. Experiments are under way involving several hundred patients undergoing various surgeries, including knee and hip replacements using an ultra-purified version of Capsaicin to avoid infection. Volunteers are under anesthesia so they don't feel the initial burn."

The Real Mother of All Bombs, 46 Years Ago

Posted by kdawson on Wednesday October 31, @02:30AM
from the things-that-go-boom dept.
vaporland writes "Tsar Bomba is the Western name for the RDS-220, the largest, most powerful weapon ever detonated. The bomb was tested on October 30, 1961, in an archipelago in the Arctic Sea. Developed by the Soviet Union, the bomb had a yield of about 50 megatons. Its detonation released energy equivalent to approximately 1% of the power output of the Sun for 39 nanoseconds of its detonation. The device was scaled down from its original design of 100 megatons to reduce the resulting nuclear fallout. The Tsar Bomba qualifies as the single most powerful device ever utilized throughout the history of humanity."

First Fossil Evidence That Velociraptors Hunted in Packs

Posted by Zonk on Tuesday October 30, @01:32PM
from the clever-girl dept.
Ponca City, We Love You writes "The New Scientist reports that palaeontologists have excavated a fossil trackway in Shandong Province in China 100 to 120 million years old that contains footprints left by six Dromeosaurs, the more formal name for raptors, showing evidence of group behavior. Up until now, the popular stereotype from Jurassic Park of raptors hunting in packs has had no fossil evidence to back it up. The paths of the six 90 kilo raptors do not overlap where the animals walked alongside a river or stream. '"The odds of these tracks being made by different individuals that just happen to be moving in the same direction, without their tracks stepping on one another, are small," said Jerry D. Harris, director of paleontology at Dixie State College. "Groups that do that usually have relatively sophisticated behavior, and they're relatively intelligent," Harris added. "By moving together in groups, it's entirely possible that they hunted in groups."'"

British Army looks to make tanks, troops invisible

While not the first bunch to try and mesh invisibility with military equipment, the British Army is reportedly staying busy by "testing technology it claims makes tanks and troops invisible." Apparently, the (previously) uber-secret trials were conducted by the Royal Engineers and scientists from QinetiQ, and if eyewitness reports are to be believed, they were able to "make a vehicle seem to completely disappear." The illusion (read: we're no closer to actual invisibility cloaks) was reportedly created by utilizing "cameras and projectors to beam images captured from the surrounding landscape onto a specially-adapted tank coated with silicon to maximize their reflective qualities," and if things go as planned, these elusive machines could make their way onto the battlefield "within five years." 'Course, it's not like anyone will have visual proof of that, but we suppose that's just the nature of the beast.

[Via DailyMail]

Monday, October 29, 2007

Vista Sales Rate Fell Last Quarter

Journal written by twitter (104583) and posted by kdawson on Sunday October 28, @12:58PM
from the peaked-too-early dept.
Windows Microsoft
Microsoft is not directly mentioning Vista demand while they brag about how much money they made last quarter, because sales fell. "[Microsoft] shipped approximately 28 million copies of Vista in the latest quarter ended September, or 9.3 million copies per month. Though the Windows developer pointed to 27 percent growth in business licenses and noted that many home users were buying the more lucrative Vista Home Premium or Ultimate editions, the rate represents a decline from the 10 million per month reported early in summer."
[+] vista, windows, haha, microsoft, twitter (tagging beta)

Lunar Lander Challenge Ends in Fire, Disappoinment

Posted by CmdrTaco on Monday October 29, @11:30AM
from the fire-go-boom-boom dept.
mikesd81 writes "The rocketeers at Armadillo Aerospace, thwarted by engine problems and other mechanical failures, left this year's X Prize Cup empty-handed after their spacecraft burst into flames on liftoff Sunday. An attempt on Sunday to hop from launch and landing pads ended with the MOD craft bursting in flames shortly after engine ignition. This is the team's second attempt at the challenge in New Mexico, they were the only entrant in last year's event, which they also lost. Brett Alexander, Executive Director of Space Prizes and the X Prize Cup relayed a comment from John Carmack, leader of the Armadillo team: "Today is officially a bad day when it comes to our vehicle." he last attempt to win the $350,000 Level 1 prize on Sunday ended when the MOD vehicle had an engine fire, with pieces coming off, including disconnected cabling. Clearly, there was a fire on the pad that burned for a while — but then went out. The Armadillo team called a safety emergency, requesting fire truck assistance, Alexander said."
[+] nasa, nasaftw, xprize, boom, space (tagging beta)

Wikipedia Begets Veropedia

Posted by CmdrTaco on Monday October 29, @10:11AM
from the and--veropedia-begat-a-ham-sandwich dept.
Ponca City, We Love You writes "October saw the launch of Veropedia, a collaborative effort to collect the best of Wikipedia's content, clean it up, vet it, and save it in a quality stable version that cannot be edited. To qualify for inclusion in Veropedia, a Wikipedia article must contain no cleanup tags, no "citation needed" tags, no disambiguation links, no dead external links, and no fair use images after which candidates for inclusion are reviewed by recognized academics and experts. One big difference with Wikipedia is that Veropedia is registered as a for profit corporation and earns money from advertising on the site. Veropedia is supposed to help improve the quality of Wikipedia because contributors must improve an article on Wikipedia, fixing up all the flaws, until a quality version can be imported to Veropedia. To date Veropedia contains about 3,800 articles."

Human Race to split int to pretties and Uglies?
This article seems to say that we would split into two different races.

Cat Video that is too funny

Next-gen credit cards to feature miniature displays and keypads

As if there wasn't enough temptation to get into debt, credit card manufacturers are now looking to stick fancy displays and keypads directly onto cards. The "Credit Card Embedded Authentication Device" was put together by Innovative Card Technologies and eMue Technologies, and uses the screen and keypad to provide security for online and mobile based banking transfers: the user enters their pin into the card, which gives back a one-time use code to authorize online transactions. The card will get its "consumer debut" -- whatever that means -- in Paris this November, at the Cartes & IDentification event.

[Via Bsams]

In Some Places, Local Search Beating Google

Posted by kdawson on Monday October 29, @03:03AM
from the think-globally-search-locally dept.
babooo404 points out Newsweek coverage of Google focusing on areas in which the search giant may be vulnerable. In some countries outside the US, local competition is handing Google its head. In South Korea a company called Naver dominates. And in Russia, portal site Yandex leads in both search and advertising. In the Cyrillic language market Google is a distant third in search, and Yandex is trouncing Google in the advertising arena by 70% to 2%.