Saturday, May 28, 2011

NYSE lawyers are dumb

The New York Stock Exchange has threatened a website for posting a picture of the floor of the stock exchange in a story about business. They claim that they own the trademark of the stock exchange, and thus any copyright of any image of their place of business.

Because I think this is dumb, I'm reposting the picture in question. And another one I found of the same stock exchange. While I suppose the NYSE is technically private property, they conduct business that is significant enough to the rest of society that the same rules should apply to them as to a public figure. If a photographer was legally allowed to be present to take a photo, the location in the photo does not have authority over where the photo is published. The photographer does. The photograph below is public domain, and anyone should be allowed to publish it. The only person with the right to tell me to take down the photo above is the photographer and his/her agents.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Missing universe mass found!

A student has discovered where some of the mass missing from the universe is! There are thin filaments of matter sticking out from the galaxies, wisps and tendrils of stardust that are skinny and hard to see, but apparently very heavy.

I knew we'd find it somewhere. Just harder to find missing stuff when there's no couch cushions to look under.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Best Optical Illusions

There's a contest for the best optical illusions of the year.

Below is first place. Second place (on the page linked above) is also awesome.

The dots keep changing color continuously, but when they move you focus on movement and not color change. It's unlikely that a lion trying to eat you is going to change color, so it's good we evolved this way, but interesting nonetheless.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

12:01 pm

I just learned about an Oscar-nominated short film, which sure seems to be the inspiration for Groundhog Day - 12:01 pm. The producers of Groundhog Day never admitted to knowing about this film, but the concept is identical. Except instead of repeating a whole day, this guy is trapped in a single hour. And the Dad from That 70's Show does a great job.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Geographic information density

Some guy analyzed all the GPS coordinates for all the articles in Wikipedia, and figured out what areas have the most cultural density.

Florence, Italy has the most articles in a 1 km radius, while London tops the list for 10 km and 100 km radii.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fingerprint scanner works from 2m away

An inventor has developed a system that can scan fingerprints from 2 meters away.

It uses 2 digital cameras and polarized light somehow to be able to pick up the ridges on your finger. The prototype takes 4 second per finger, but I'm sure in a year you can wave hello to a door and have it open.

Now, does the software make sure your hand is attached to your body? I doubt it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NEA says video games can be art

Not that they've declared existing commercial video games are art, but in their latest grant proposal solicitation, the National Endowment for the Arts has included "interactive games" in their list of possible media.

If Roger Ebert were dead, he'd turn over in his grave. His narrow-minded, lack of historical perspective, grave.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Machine of Death

I just finished a book called The Machine of Death, and it's awesome.

It's about a future where someone invents a machine that can tell you how you're going to die. With around 30 different short stories exploring that concept. Some of those stories are still haunting me. And some of them are hilarious and even adorable.

The machine had been invented a few years ago: a machine that could tell, from just a sample of your blood, how you were going to die. It didn’t give you the date and it didn’t give you specifics. It just spat out a sliver of paper upon which were printed, in careful block letters, the words DROWNED or CANCER or OLD AGE or CHOKED ON A HANDFUL OF POPCORN. It let people know how they were going to die.

The problem with the machine is that nobody really knew how it worked, which wouldn’t actually have been that much of a problem if the machine worked as well as we wished it would. But the machine was frustratingly vague in its predictions: dark, and seemingly delighting in the ambiguities of language. OLD AGE, it had already turned out, could mean either dying of natural causes, or shot by a bedridden man in a botched home invasion. The machine captured that old-world sense of irony in death — you can know how it’s going to happen, but you’ll still be surprised when it does.

You can get a PDF of the book for free off the website, and even listen to a podcast of people reading the stories. My personal favorite is probably DESPAIR, although NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING is also awesome, as is NOTHING.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ikea manuals of awesome

I really like the parody Ikea manuals for sci-fi devices.

I wish I had more to say. They're hilarious.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Super nerdy starcraft video

This video is all about Starcraft 2. And a parody of Justin Bieber.

I'd like it better if it weren't stuck in my head. Stupid Canadian Bieber.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Robots Evolve Altruism

Yes, robots can learn to share.

Some scientists set up a robot arena where robots compete for "food". The programs of the robots evolve, mimicking natural evolution. Whichever robots get the most food have the most copies of them made; lather, rinse, repeat. After a few generations, some robots started sharing food with other robots. Ones that are "related" to them, having similar programming.

Exactly as predicted by the theory of evolution. Awesome.