Will Marshall: Tiny satellites that photograph the entire planet, every day

November 19th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

As private industry moves into low earth orbit we are starting to see some really innovative ideas being executed that are outside the wheelhouse of large government organization like NASA and the ESA.

Of course there is still a lot of space exploration to be done that private industry is not ready to handle. It’s going to be an incredibly interesting couple of decades for those looking beyond spaceship earth.

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Graphene-Based Supercapacitors Could Lead To Battery-Free Electric Cars Within 5 Years

November 13th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

While the timetable seems a little unrealistic I wouldn’t be surprised if some sort of supercapacitor is going to kill the battery. Not only does it charge and release energy in almost no time at all, but this particular supercapacitor is far more environmentally friendly than Li-Ion batteries.

Because the supercapacitors are made out of graphene, a layer of carbon only one atom thick, the film is a more ecological choice. Additionally, because carbon can be sourced more easily than the lithium found in conventional batteries, it could end up being fairly economical as time goes on and production becomes more widespread.

“The price of Li-Ion batteries cannot decrease a lot because the price of Lithium remains high. This technique does not rely on metals and other toxic materials either, so it is environmentally friendly if it needs to be disposed of,” explained lead researcher Nunzio Motta.

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All Dressed Up For Mars and Nowhere to Go

November 11th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

By taking a hard look at the Mars One project as well as the many challenges involved in sending humans to Mars, Elmo Keep leaves the 3 man project with a very large plausibility hill to climb. Mars One is not only wildly optimistic about the cost in sending 4 people to mars ($6 billion) but their model of using a reality TV show to pay for the project leaves one to wonder how they will be able to raise the money before any rockets leave the ground.

Even setting the funding issues aside we quickly run into technological, scientific and even moral issues with attempting to carry out this mission within a decade. I’m a huge supporter of manned space exploration but I worry that whether this project succeeds or not it may poison the well of public option on the subject.

Eventually the four Mars One colonists will arrive on an inhospitable alien world, with only themselves for company for two years, until another flight with four colonists is hoped to arrive if they, too, survive the perilous trip through the vacuum of space. They will never speak to anyone but one another in real time ever again; the delay in relaying communications between Mars and Earth is 20 minutes, minimum.
They would be the most isolated human beings in history.

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A bowling ball and feather fall in world’s biggest vacuum chamber

November 5th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

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The 10 greatest changes of the past 1,000 years

October 31st, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The Guardian’s list of the 10 greatest changes of the past 1,000 years has an interesting, if European centric, set of advancements. From castles to The Plague they make some very compelling arguments. The one that really hit home for me, however, was the invention of the future.

There can be no doubt that technology hugely changed the ways in which we lived and died in the 20th century. However, it also masks changes that are arguably even more profound. In 1900 few people seriously considered the future. William Morris and a few socialists wrote utopian visions of the world they wanted to see, but there was little serious consideration of where we were going as a society.

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The man behind the smallest V-12 engine in the world

September 22nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

30 Hours on the Cam Shaft alone.

(via Kickstarter Newsletter … weird right? but they have some good links)

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Oculus Rift + Roller Coaster

September 4th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

As with all Virtual Reality demos it’s impossible to get the full effect without actually being in a, you know, virtual world but the idea seems pretty cool. Head over to Vimeo for the HD version.

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Dwarf Fortress: A video game on display at MOMA

August 13th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

Dwarf Fortress looks like a color version of ASCII art. Needless to say it is not on display at MOMA because of it’s aesthetics. Yet it is indeed a work of art. When you start the game it first takes a few minutes to generate the world. When I say world I don’t simply mean the physical landscape but the entire world. Set in a Tolkien like middle earth it generates a couple hundred years of lore and it doesn’t stop at large scale conflicts between Orcs and Dwarves. The game dives deep into it by creating individuals that have their own history that begin and end before you even start playing. The detail is so deep that the mod community has created tools that allow you to dig through the lore of your randomly generated world. It’s like your own personal Wikipedia. If you were to gamifiy The Silmarillion I expect it would looks something like this.

For more watch this screencast as some folks from Polygon stride into war atop a cave dragon in Dwarf Fortress.

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David Simon | Robin Williams: A brief encounter

August 13th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

My favorite screenwriter David Simon talks about his brief encounter with Robin Williams.

This is a grievous thing to say aloud, much less think, but I wish that the suicide of Robin Williams made less sense to me than it somehow does. I say that with very little real knowledge of the man, his inner being, or the whole of his life. I encountered him only once, twenty years ago, but the memory is distinct. I found Mr. Williams good-hearted, hilarious, talented, and remarkably, indescribably sad.

He goes on to talk about Mr. William’s involvement in an episode of Homicide: Life on the Streets saved the show that allowed Mr. Simon to move from a career in journalism to creating the best show ever made, The Wire1.

After you read the article check out this clip from the episode of Homicide where Mr. Williams grapples with the murder his wife.

  1. don’t even try to debate this []
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First-person Hyperlapse Videos

August 11th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Developed by Microsoft Labs Hyperlapse Videos use clever video editing to speed up and smooth out first person videos.

We present a method for converting first-person videos, for example, captured with a helmet camera during activities such as rock climbing or bicycling, into hyper-lapse videos, i.e., time-lapse videos with a smoothly moving camera.

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