Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nuclear Showdown

According to this article straight off the AP wire, "the U.S. Air Force says it has successfully launched an unarmed Minuteman 3 ICBM, or intercontinental ballistic missiles, from a California base; firing it to targets in the Pacific Ocean." The Kwajalein Atol, a giant coral deposit within the Marshall Islands, has long been used as a nuclear testing site by the U.S. for decades ever since the end of World War II. It gets interesting when you figure how close the Marshall Islands are to... North Korea. The distance from California to the Marshall Islands is 4200 miles and the firing range of a Minuteman 3 ICBM is 8100 miles. Furthermore, look at my map, edited in Paintbrush, of the Pacific Ocean; North Korea is circled in red and the Marshall Islands in black. Essentially, this missile test was not a purposeless, routine check up. It was a response to North Korea's threat to wipe us off the map and their prolonged missile testing that started earlier this year.

Just because the U.S. has 10,000 nukes, as absurd as it may be, does not make us any safer in a nuclear war. I'm sure your history teachers have probably reinforced to you the principle of mutually assured destruction, which basically states that in a full scale nuclear war, both the attacker and the defender will both be completely annihilated. The only humor in this situation is in imagining the Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting, which decided the testing location to be the Kwajalein Atol. It must have been like the Man Law conference from those old Miller Lite commercials- the underlying message being, "let's remind North Korea that we still have the biggest dick in the world." It really makes me a proud American.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, June 29, 2009

What Lies Beneath?

New York's waterfront is one of the busiest harbors in the world and, until recently, there was limited knowledge of what is resting below the surface. Old fashioned depth sounding techniques like the lead and sinker have been replaced with state-of-the-art sonar; compliments of a research team from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The team has methodically swept the Lower Hudson and has, after stitching together their data, produced a color keyed map of the second, underwater world.

Here are some of the highlights: a 350- foot steamship, a freight train, 1600 bars of silver (unrecovered since 1903), a fleet of Good Humor ice cream trucks that are now reefs for aquatic life, and so many junked cars near the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges that divers use them as navigation points. The least surprising find, without a doubt, was the score of homicides and suicides. Unfortunately for the police, they end up in the river during winter and often stay underwater until April, when decomposition speeds up and bloats them with gases. Shortly after, they bob up and currents have been known to drive them to nooks near the Seaport and Manhattan Bridge. It's an interesting project and if you want to read about all the other weird shit that was found read THIS ARTICLE.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cool iPhone App

iPhones are so sweet. If you're a skier or snowboarder, the new Hangtimer application for the iPhone can quantify how big you went at the terrain park. Using its internal tri-axial accelerometer, the iPhone can detect when your feet leave and touch the ground. It displays your flight time and plots your average height and speed throughout the day. The application is offered by Dropzone Corporation; a company familiar with accelerometer technology. Interestingly enough, Dropzone Corp released its own sports-watch gadget, with its own accelerometer, last year for $75. But, with the iPhone explosion, their engineers realized that their algorithims could work just as well with the iPhone's internals so they decided to sell Hangtimer for an absurdly cheap $10.

The algorithm itself, though, is remarkable. Detecting an acceleration impulse on liftoff and touchdown seems simple enough, but think about a snowboarder on a halfpipe. The system can detect, down to 10-millisecond accuracy, the difference between moving up the half-pipe and actually lifting off of it. There are also plans to add a wipeout indicator using the accelerometer to determine just how hard you hit. So, assuming your iPhone survives the crash, you can quantify your yard sale.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Poincaré Conjecture (Rabbits are Spheres)

In 2003, a reclusive, Russian mathematician named Grigory Perelman announced that he had solved the famous, intractable Poincaré Conjecture, which concerns the nature of space. Depending on who is talking, Poincaré’s conjecture can sound either daunting or deceptively simple. It asserts that if any loop in a certain kind of three-dimensional space can be shrunk to a point without ripping or tearing either the loop or the space, the space is equivalent to a sphere. Essentially, any object without a hole, according to Perelman's proof, is a sphere. So, human beings, animals, even the most intricately shaped objects that don't have holes are, in fact, spheres.

The conjecture is fundamental to topology, the branch of math that deals with shapes, sometimes described as geometry without the details. To a topologist, a sphere, a cigar and a rabbit’s head are all the same because they can be deformed into one another. Likewise, a coffee mug and a doughnut are also the same because each has one hole, but they are not equivalent to a sphere.

Mathematicians have been waiting for this result for more than 100 years, ever since the French polymath Henri Poincaré posed the problem in 1904. And they acknowledge that it may be another 100 years before its full implications for math and physics are understood. For now, they say, it is just beautiful, like art or a challenging new opera. Personally, I am excited for our world's top minds to realize the potential of such a breakthrough; the possibilities seem to be endless.

Read more about it HERE

Bookmark and Share

Dark Matter

It is staggering how much we, as human beings, do not know about our world; let alone our universe. We know it's limitless and ever-expanding and the Big Bang Theory, respectfully still a theory, is our most plausible conception as to "how it all started." But one of many things that still remains a mystery is dark matter. Scientists believe it was instrumental in helping to form the universe, but its physical properties and other characteristics are unknown. So, on Tuesday the 23rd, scientists at Case Western Reserve University, Brown University, and several other collaborators are building an underground science lab where, in a 300-kilogram tank filled with liquid xenon, they hope to find dark matter.

In general, the experiment hopes to detect the particles, which are not themselves directly perceptible, by measuring their gravitational effects on other particles. The liquid xenon, in as few words as possible, is a medium for detecting weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPS, such as dark matter. If the xenon nucleus collides with dark matter, it would create a unique burst of energy, which would distinguish it from similar events like cosmic rays. Even more importantly, though, it would constrain dark matter's properties and provide scientists more information about its structure and capabilities. The universities are looking to Congress to fund the project, which will cost about $550 million. The underground lab is located in Lead, South Dakota, in the former site of the Homestake Gold Mine. The deeper labs will be built starting in 2012 and finished by 2016.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Leaked Lupe Fiasco Track

Here's a leaked track titled, "Shining Down," off Lupe's upcoming album, Lasers. Lupe stated, "I DONT LEAK MY OWN RECORDS!!! I’M NOT A FAN OF LEAKING RECORDS OR OF DOWNLOADING!!!" which makes sense because his entire debut album, Food & Liquor, was leaked and almost cost him his platinum sales. Nevertheless, "Shining Down" is fire and I cannot wait for Lasers, or We Are Lasers, or The Great American Rap Album- whatever he decides to finally name it.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, June 22, 2009

American Heros-- David Traver

At the biennial World Beard and Mustache Championships in May in Anchorage, Alaska, four local heros "defeated" the usually dominant German contingent in the 18-category pageant, including overall champ David Traver, pictured above, who is from Girdwood, Alaska. Traver said, of the Germans, "They were humble, and you have to respect that." However, though, Traver acknowledged that no money was at stake (only money and bragging rights), but added that there are "a lot of ladies" who fawn over men's facial hair. "Seriously, they exist."

HERE is more information and photos of this year's championships

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"One club, One Swing, Eight Shots"

Golf is a very difficult sport that I have never been good at. Though my swing is not as heinous as Charles Barkley's, it's fundamentally very unsound. Moreover, making single-degree adjustments to my swing in hopes of intentionally creating a slight fade or draw is near impossible. But thanks to the new, $550 Nike STR8T-FIT, technology can now make such minute adjustments for me. Basically, the club allows golfers to adjust their club head to one of eight different positions by varying the face angle (2° closed to 2° open), lie angle (58° to 62°) and effective loft (8.5° to 12.5°) by using a fancy torque-limiting wrench to adjust the head/shaft interface. Furthermore, all the golfer has to worry about is repeating the same swing each time; hence Nike's witty, marketing slogan, "one club, one swing, eight shots." Here's a video of the club in action:

Read more about it HERE

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New Digital Girl Remix with DRAKE

Same hook but new verse from Drizzy.

Bookmark and Share

Dear Black People, Sorry!

On Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution yesterday apologizing for slavery, making way for a joint congressional resolution and the latest attempt by the federal government to take responsibility for 2 1/2 centuries of slavery. Now, while I'm happy that the vote was unanimous as a collective apology is appropriate for a collective injustice, this really should have been done at least 100 years ago. Our federal government has always been very presumptuous in their attempts to vindicate themselves of past wrongdoings. Offering an apology in a legislative document is much like granting Native Americans the right to build casinos after centuries of rape and pillage; a perfunctory effort at best. What's more? The legislation explicitly states that it cannot be used in reparations cases, so no cashing out black people!

Read more about it HERE

Bookmark and Share

People Are So Stupid

Despite the government's $2 billion, 6 month ad campaign about the analog to digital TV broadcast switch, 700,000 people called the FCC hot line last week confused as to why their analog service was not working. About 317,450 people called the help line, 1-888-CALL-FCC, on Friday alone. With 4,000 FCC staffers manning the phones Friday, the average wait time per call was 4.6 minutes. Long story short- people are fucking stupid.

Bookmark and Share

Really Cool Military Gadget

While I don't completely agree with our $12 billion per month defense budget, I will say that I am astounded at how innovative and advanced our military's technology is. Take for example, this intelligent arm band that could be standard issue for our army's special forces in the near future. With a five pound battery and radio, it's too much extra weight to add to your gear but the arm band boasts a plethora of impressive features. Its GPS can pinpoint the soldier's squad location and its computer can display blueprints of terrorist compounds or infrared readings of buildings scoped out by robotic surveillance drones. DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Agency, is working on making the arm band more compact, and thus more practical for regular use in combat.

is the full article

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Terrorist Workout Video

A physical fitness video, supposedly made in April by a U.S.-based al-Qaida operative gives workout tips to jihadists, urging that they "train as hard as possible to inflict maximum damage on "the enemies of Allah." The video actually has a narrator that discourages using gym and fitness centers because of the "un-Islamic" music and "semi-naked" women. Even better, though, is another video, released in May from an al-Qaida group in Somalia, which features an English-speaking rapper making a recruitment pitch to U.S. and European youth, including such verses as "Mortar by mortar / Shell by shell / Only going to stop / When I send them to hell. I hope the mixtape drops soon.

Read more about it HERE

Bookmark and Share

Monday, June 8, 2009

Harmonic Fluids

The world certainly isn't simple, and trying to express real-world dynamics in the form of an equation has long been a challenge. Realistic computer-simulated sound has been particularly tough to get right, and some of the hardest dynamics to recreate have been the movements and sound of water. Scientists at Cornell have now announced a system that can look at a 3-D motion rendering of water--waves, drops, anything--and algorithmically create the dribbles, gurgles and plops it would be sounding, were it in fact real. I'll let the researchers describe the technology themselves. I think you'll understand why I'm leaving it to them:

"Sound radiation from harmonic fluid vibrations is modeled using a time-varying linear superposition of bubble oscillators. We weight each oscillator by its bubble-to-ear acoustic transfer function, which is modeled as a discrete Green's function of the Helmholtz equation. To solve potentially millions of 3D Helmholtz problems, we propose a fast dual-domain multipole boundary-integral solver, with cost linear in the complexity of the fluid domain's boundary."

In as many words: complex software that on its own re-creates an element of the natural world. Wow. That's cool.

Read more about it HERE

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


An Iraq war veteran was shot in the face and neck with 50,000 volts of electricity by an Angel Fire Police officer last year. The ex-Marine was hiding under his bed when he was shot and, according to the police report, was too drunk to stand.

According to the police report, the two veterans had been in a yelling match with the landlord over a snowmobile they had accidentally wrecked while trying to get a vehicle unstuck from the snow. The landlord told police that the veterans were armed with high powered assault rifles and were threatening him. One of the veterans, who refused to have his name released for fear of further police violence and legal battles, reported that the only person on the property with any kind of weapon were the police and the landlord who had verbally assaulted the two ex-Marines that were reminiscing over the war and their friends who had died in Iraq.

After incapacitating the two veterans, police searched the yurt only to find empty bottles of alcohol.

Shocking. Considering how caring our federal government is towards our brave war veterans.

Read the full article HERE

Bookmark and Share

Monday, June 1, 2009

Kids + Laughing Gas

Physician Geoffrey Hart, working with a grant from the National Institute of Health, recently developed the Pedi-Sedate headgear to trick waiting-room kids into inhaling nitrous oxide while playing video games, thus knocking themselves out and, according to Hart's company, "dramatically improving the hospital or dental experience for the child, parents, and healthcare providers." The helmet contains sophisticated sensors to monitor the dosages and effects on the child. This is about as good an idea as the V chip from South Park:

I can't wait to see what Marguerite Perrin says about this.

Read more about it HERE

Bookmark and Share

Will Ferrell on Man vs. Wild

Survivorman > Man vs. Wild

Old news- Bear Grylls stayed in hotels.

Finally, I'll leave you with a hilarious Survivorman (Les Stroud) quote:
"A lot of viewers want me to have been raised by wolves. But in 1978 I was stoned, drunk, listening to Styx, and eating peanut butter sandwiches"

Bookmark and Share

Nylon Nikes?!

Read more about them HERE

Bookmark and Share