Category: Physics

Camouflage sweaters knitted by the artist Nina Dodd

Hand-knit sweater camouflage. This is big: NASA discovers there’s a lot of easy-to-access ice on Mars. A computer language where you code in Filipino. A twitterbot that tweets whenever the New York Times uses a word for the first time. An analog split-flap display that I want sooooo bad. Why UV-sensing tech might encourage us to get more sun, not less. A superb thread on Trump’s “s**thole” comment, and its deep historical context. How to make an anonymous, collaborative Google spreadsheet. How to fold a circle into an ellipse. A flower that never blooms. And … my latest Boing Boing posts: i) The secret physics behind the ultrablack feathers of “birds of paradise”; ii) Frankenstein considered as a novel about climate catastrophe; iii) a study finds that ocean waves can hurl ashore boulders 2.5X the weight of the Statue of Liberty.

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A Randall Munroe XKCD strip entitled "New Sports Created from Random Emoji"

After seeing this awesome XKCD strip, Julia Slige created a little script to generate “new sports from random emoji”. Behold Darkwire, a web site that generates on-the-fly encrypted chat-rooms. How people who are actually smart think, and talk, about themselves. Using a metaphor of waiters and wine to understand the huge new chip insecurity. Mining cryptocurrency in the dorm room. The Center for the Study of Existential Risk releases a video-game mod that simulates the rise of killer AI. It turns out that humans might be immune to the protein that allows for CRISPR genome editing. Cool: Listly.io is a tool that scrapes web sites and puts their content into a spreadsheet. More ridiculously great news about the plunging cost of renewable energy. Why it’s so hard to predict the size of a dump of snowfall. And my latest Boing Boing posts: i) How the American healthcare resembles a post-apocalyptic landscape, ii) an eight-year-old boy discovers data suggesting that wild pigs mourn their dead, and iii) how to preserve a snowflake for decades.

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Photo of a Hagelin CD-57 pocket cipher machine

Man, I’d love to get this pocket cipher machine at the upcoming Sotheby’s “History of Science and Technology” auction. (It’s $3,500, though.) Using an algorithm to co-write a sci-fi short story. How Linneas invented the index card (and thus, ultimately, the database). A book on the science of jellyfish (which, under global warming, may wind up ruling the planet). They may have found the bones of the original Saint Nicholas. LED traffic lights are so energy-efficient they don’t emit enough heat to melt the snow that gathers on them. Wow, when Time picked the computer as “Machine of the Year” in 1983, the cover illustration was creepy. Some proof that lightning creates antimatter.

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"Desert necklace", a 1995 sculpture

“Desert Necklace” is a lovely and haunting 1995 work by the Dutch artist Peter Hoogeboom. A smartphone-shaped fidget gadget. NYC has genetically distinct “uptown” and “downtown” rats. Is life inevitable, as dictated by the laws of physics? Behold The California Review of Images and Mark Zuckerberg. Why social media traps in the eternal present: My latest essay for THIS magazine. Why analog circuits could make for faster, better neural nets. A Greenland Shark that may be over 500 years old. I dig Write.as, a new, stripped-down blogging engine. Amazon parody reviewers strike again! On War Primer, Bertolt Brecht’s multimedia book of antifascist poetry. On the cognitive impact of spreadsheets. Flash-photography powder, invented in Germany in 1887, was originally dubbed “Blitzlichtpulver”, or “lightning light powder”. NASA’s 1981 history of ball bearings.

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Bremen Drop Tower

Enjoy 9 seconds of microgravity via Bremen Drop Tower. An in-the-weeds autopsy of why “Gangnam Style” broke Youtube’s counter. How different programming languages change what’s possible to make. A subreddit devoted to highly compressed code. (I learned of it via @Beschizza’s posting about a 218-byte spreadsheet, written in a single, convoluted line of Javascript.) A path to “quantum supremacy.” How a petticoat led to the first “man-lifting balloon” in 1783. VR goggles for the Commodore 64, via @gnat.

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