Author Archive

Lo! The Ancient One Cthulhu Walks Among Us!

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Researchers have found the tentacled god Cthulhu at last he shall walk the earth and consume us all. By earth we mean the gut of termites and by consume we mean engage in a symbiotic relationship. Oh, and this Cthulhu as described in the PLOS ONE paper is actually a microorganism. But he does have tentacles and is as scary as the deep dark hell from which he most certainly came from.

Researchers Invoke Cthulhu In Naming Two New Microorganisms : World : Latinos Post.

Double Complete Yeti Sighting

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

What’s better than Yeti tracks in the snow? Video of a Yeti. What’s better than a Yeti? Two Yetis! What’s better than that???? A mama yeti and her child filmed by some 12 year old Russian kid. To top it all off, a Russian scientist has even declared the footage is legit, because it’s not like you could fake something like this. Next you’ll have us believing it really was a meteor that slammed into Russia a few months back. Seriously. Science. Yetis.

Siberian Times
HuffingtonPost.co.uk

Vatican to Place Medieval Fake Holy Relic on TV for Easter

Friday, March 29th, 2013

As one of his last acts as pope, retired Pope Benedict decreed that Italians should be given a special look into the Turin Cathedral and the Shroud it’s known for. Sealed inside it’s climate controlled case, viewers will get a glimpse of this controversial artifact that some say was the shroud used to bury Jesus. Through some kind of divine Polaroid intervention, his image was supposedly fused into the shroud.

While the scientific evidence says it dates from the medieval times and researchers have shown how easily the shroud could have been made, it’s still a source of inspiration and fascination for millions.

Rare TV appearance for Turin Shroud, Christianity’s famous relic – CNN.com.

NASA Budgets for Asteroid Rendition

Friday, March 29th, 2013

NASA plans to put a line for $100 million in an upcoming budget for an asteroid snatching mission with a total expected cost of $2.6 billion. The goal is to grab an asteroid and move it into a lunar orbit so we can get a closer look.

What do you think? At a starting cost of $2.6 billion (and that’s the floor) would we be better off with an X-Prize style initiative? Given the success of NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, is there something to the idea of getting commercial enterprise to offset the costs?

via Bold asteroid-snatching plans to appear in NASA 2014 budget | Ars Technica.

Is this Green Meteorite from Mercury?

Friday, March 29th, 2013

It’s green and came from outer space. While scientists haven’t completely ruled out a Kryptonian origin, they think this rock may in fact be the first piece of the planet Mercury ever found on earth. Sheared away in a collision billions of years ago, further tests will be required to tell us if it came from the first planet, but right now prospects look good.

Green Meteorite May Be from Mercury | Space.com.

Is Elon Musk Planning the First Controlled Re-Entry of a Rocket this Summer?

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

The folks at NextBigFuture via Rocketeers.co.uk are reporting the rumor mill has SpaceX planning to send their reusable Grasshopper test rocket to a height of 300,000 feet in the near future with an eye towards trying a controlled re-entry of the primary stage sometime this year.

The first high-altitude test flight would see the first stage going to the edge of space (the actual edge, not the make-believe-one whenever the media sees a photo from a high altitude balloon) and returning to the launch pad (ideally) at White Sands Missile Range.

If that proves successful, they plan to bring a first stage back down to earth via a rocket controlled descent into the ocean.

Either mission would be a huge, groundbreaking (only figuratively, hopefully) event in space travel. A successful return of a first stage takes us dramatically closer to the dream of a rocket as reusable as a commercial airplane. This would bring the cost of putting things into orbit low enough to create a boom in aerospace development.

SpaceX’s Johnny Cash Hover Slam Test a Success (no slam!)

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Yesterday at the SXSW keynote, SpaceX’s Elon Musk showed the first footage of their most recent test of their reusable rocket system. In what has to be a new record of some kind, the Grasshopper, a rocket 10 stories tall, flew 268 feet in the air and then landed back down on the pad without incident.

Even Elon Musk was publicly unsure of the success of the test, suggesting on Twitter this might leave a ‘crater’. The name, “Johnny Cash Hover Slam”, doesn’t inspire confidence in a happy landing. Watch the video accompanied by Cash’s Ring of Fire and remind yourself of the scale of what you’re watching. 268 feet is tall enough to clear the crown of the Statue of Liberty. It’s also probably the heaviest object in the world to ever VTOL.

What’s next for the Grasshopper program and their goal of rapidly reusable rockets? At SXSW, Musk said they’d like to go hypersonic before the end of the year. Any song suggestions for that one?

Awesome 1970′s NASA Film on Space Colonization

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Dream big kids as you check out this retrotastic video from NASA on building colonies in space. Besides the awesome music, my favorite part is NASA’s recommendation for getting a better growing season from your crops on the space station – just increase the amount of CO2. Oh, the 70′s!

Support Weird Things, Take Dredd Home with You in this Awesome Amazon Deal

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

We told you to check this film out in theaters. We pleaded on the Weird Things podcast, we begged you on Twitter. We even asked you all to take the Dredd Pledge.

Some of you did. For those of you who didn’t, or those of you who love, love this movie and want to take this gem of a film home, now here’s your chance.

Amazon is running a promo on Dredd (over 50% off!) where you can get the Blu-ray, the 3D Blu-ray version, the UltraViolet version nobody will use AND a digital copy you can save to your iTunes account you can watch on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad and AppleTV. It’s basically future-proof, so when we’re all living in the irradiated wasteland of America in Mega City One, we can stay safely behind barred windows and watch this awesome little flick over and over again.

Dredd isn’t for everyone. But for those of you into the idea of a High Noon meets Die Hard meets Mad Max in one glorious riot of ultraviolence, we think you’ll dig this. Plus it stars Karl “New Bones” Urban and Lena Headey of Game of Thrones and Sara Conner Chronicles fame.

Get it now while it lasts for just $19.99

Archaeologists Find Bilbo Baggins’ House and Hobbiton

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Okay, maybe not quite – at least it looks like Bilbo’s house from the photo of the archeological site. What scientists do think they’ve found is the oldest town in Europe, dating back to somewhere around 4500 BC; 1,500 years before the start of Greek civilization.

Located in modern day Bulgaria, the town may have centered around the trade of salt bricks used to preserve meat.

40 years prior, the oldest hoard of gold was found in a cemetary 21 mile away, indicating this area was rife with commerce nearly 7,000 years ago.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20156681

Help Brian Brushwood Launch Scam Stuff and Get Some Awesome Stuff!!!

Monday, October 22nd, 2012


Go to IndieGoGo and support this project

Here’s Brian’s explanation of what it’s all about:

What’s This All About Anyway?

Hey all, Brian Brushwood here, host of Scam School on the Revision3 network.

For the past four years, the Scam School audience has been asking for a place to go to pick up all of the odd and fun stuff they see on the show. So I want to launch ScamStuff.com, a sort of “Con Man’s woot.com” for fans to go to get all the hard-to-find stuff I recommend on the show, from bump keys to flat-edged toothpicks, to the unusual shirts I wear on the show.

**Note: The above is a mockup of ScamStuff.com

The problem is I’m constantly touring with my live stage show to audiences across the globe. Starting Scam Stuff would require me to stop touring for a couple of months to focus on making this project possible.

What We Need

The first product we want to make available on ScamStuff.com is the “Scam Pack.”

The Scam Pack contains everything you need to pull off over 115 of the best Scam School tricks, including 17 unusual or hard-to-find items and (most importantly) Theory 11′s premium Rebel deck of cards. Everything will come packed in the first-ever official Brian Brushwood pint glass.

The thing is, we need $10,000 in total presales to launch everything smoothly. The funds will go directly toward purchasing the intial stock for hundreds of Scam Packs and other goodies we plan to sell on ScamStuff.com.

Additionally, this fund will make it possible to stop touring for some time to move my main focus to building ScamStuff.com, while keeping my family fed and happy, including the newest member who is due on December 24th!

Awesome Loot

We have perks of all sizes to fit your giving ability accordingly, from exclusive desktop wallpapers to personal tutoring sessions with me over Skype, and from digital downloads of the Scam School books to flying YOU out to San Fransisco be on the show!

At the $30 level, we’ll hook you up with one of the very first Scam Packs, AND digital copies of Scam School books 1 and 2.

(Important Note for International contributions: We’d appreciate an extra $7 to guarantee quality shipping to your region. Please just add this on top of your chosen perk leve. Thank you!)

For everyone who contributes $75 and above, we’re hooking you up with one of the first 200 copies of the physical Scam School book! (That’s right, I’ve signed my very first real publishing deal, and I couldn’t be more excited!)

Take a look at the specifics of each perk – there’s some seriously awesome, and highly unconventional rewards over there.

-Brian

PS – You are looking very tall and handsome today. I forgot to mention that.

Other Ways You Can Help

Spread the word!

Go to IndieGoGo and support this project

Elon Musk Hints at New Mystery Rocket

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

During interviews on SpaceX’s current and near-future plans for the company, both Elon Musk and SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell have made allusions to a much larger rocket than the Falcon Heavy they plan on launching next year. The Falcon Heavy, basically three Falcon 9’s strapped together with modified Merlin engines will be the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V with a launch to low earth orbit capacity of 53 tons. The new rocket, powered by “MCT” engines would have a capability of up to 200 tons to LEO. That’s enough capacity to put the entire International Space Station up in two trips.

By comparison, NASA’s next rocket system, the Space Launch System is planned to have a cargo capacity of 130 tons to LEO, a third less than the MCT.

The engine cores for the MCT rocket would each be capable of 1.5 millions pounds of thrust. Shotwell says final specs are still being determined. The vehicle itself could have a diameter of 21 feet – making it wider that an Boeing 747 jet.

Elon Musk hasn’t elaborated on what MCT stands for, but that hasn’t stopped people from speculating. Given his stated goal of retiring to the red planet, the “M” could stand for Mars; making this the Mars Cargo/Crew Transport?

SpaceX aims big with massive new rocket

Who Needs DNA to Bring Back the T-Rex?

Friday, October 12th, 2012

New research from scientists presenting in Proceedings of the Royal Society has put a damper on getting viable DNA from samples older than 8.5 million years. In studying fossilized moa bones, they discovered a half-life for DNA of about 521 years, meaning that getting even fragments of DNA older than 8.5 million years would be unlikely. While mother nature has a habit of throwing us curveballs, and that up until recently, the fact that DNA would last this long was considered an impossibility, would-be dinosaur breeders need not despair. There’s no reason a simple thing like lacking DNA should stop us from bringing back giant chomping things with tiny little arms. Recreating a T-Rex was always going to involve some genetic tampering.

We’d never use the original recipe to begin with
Let’s assume for a moment that we did have an intact strand of DNA from a T-Rex and a viable way to get it to replicate inside a cell and make a baby dino. We’d have to tamper with the DNA anyways for a variety of reasons.

1. First is that the world has changed since these giant scavengers roved the plains looking for food. In their era, 65 million years ago, the air had 150% more oxygen. To get your T-Rex in your dino zoo to do anything other than limp around and wheeze, you’d need to change its blood cells and lungs into something that could deal with our much thinner oxygen. This kind of re-engineering would have a dramatic effect on the whole creature from behavior to life-span. A T-Rex in 2012 wouldn’t behave the same way as she would have back in her day. Imagine watching an NBA basketball game played at 20,000 feet altitude. They’d be off their game, so would a T-Rex in our atmosphere. While our modified creature may look like a T-Rex, it’d be a very different animal. We’d have to give her a new designation, T-Rex+.

2. Not all the information is in the DNA. It’s not just our DNA that makes us who we are. Other epigenetic factors outside of DNA also help build organisms. A complete strand of DNA won’t likely have the DNA methylation or histone modifications needed to build an accurate dinosaur. These instructions can be critical. Early attempts at cloning that resulted in over-muscular cattle or sheep that died prematurely were due to missing vital instructions contained outside the DNA. To clone a dinosaur we’d have to make educated guesses about these instructions based on modern birds and reptiles.

3. A T-Rex isn’t just one animal. A human being isn’t just all the genetic and epigenetic information that make us. If we cloned you but left out all of the bacteria living in your stomach and intestines, you’d probably starve to death in weeks. A human being is a symbiote of about 50 million organisms. We’re the ones that get to call the shots (mostly). A carrion eating creature like a T-Rex is going to need a lot of critters, many long extinct, to help it digest its food. Making our T-Rex+ will mean creating a new pack of digestive bacteria, possibly borrowed from buzzards and komodo dragons. The end result would be a creature that behaves differently than a T-Rex. Did eating a bunch of hadrosaur meat give the T-Rex a tryptophan buzz that sent it into a mating frenzy because that’s when the bacterium like to spread? We may never know. We’d only be able to make an approximation.

How to make a T-Rex+
Now that we’ve accepted the fact that even a cloned T-Rex was never going to be an authentic, original article, we can get on with making a T-Rex that does everything we wanted it to do in the first place; Terrify and eat things.

Right now biologists are assembling genetic tool kits that allow you to custom design organisms. These are computer programs that tell a DNA replicator in what order to place the base sugars of ATGC, that then go onto to form the instruction set place into a cell. We’ve already created single-cell organisms from instructions that were sent via email. A next step is to move onto more complex forms of life. Along the way we’ll be able to add features like kinds of photosynthesis, proteins that perform special functions, instructions to manufacture vaccines, etc. One day you’ll be able to code for a specific kind of mouse or chicken and then make enhancements. If we took the chicken genome and tinkered around a bit, we could probably make something like a dinosaur, but suited for today’s environment. Paleontologist Jack Horner has already begun working with researchers to reverse-engineer ostriches into something like a dinosaur by switching off all of the later-evolved functions that made dinosaurs into birds.

The blueprint for this creature will be everything we know about the T-Rex. We can design bone structure, ligature and a thousand other tiny details we’ve learned from the fossil records. Although we may never find DNA, we have found cells inside T-Rex fossils, resembling the same kind in ovulating birds. Cells, protein and other kinds of information can help us build a replica that’s perhaps 95% accurate. Which really means more from a marketing point of view. A chimpanzee is arguably 96% of a human (or vice versa). We also share 40% of our genes with a carrot…

What is a T-Rex anyway?
To the purists, our T-Rex+ wouldn’t be the same. Even a full clone would still make some compromises that would leave them unhappy. But our T-Rex+ would fulfill our idea of what the creature is supposed to be. And even that’s an evolving concept. If Jurassic Park were filmed today, the animators would probably have to add a lot of feathers to the theropods like T-Rex. T-Rex DNA can only tell us part of the story about these creatures. While intact DNA could tell us a lot, maybe the best thing we can do is to make a bunch of creatures that look like them and set them loose in some place and see how they interact.

The T-Rex’s reign lasted for several million years. The animals that lived at the end of that period were different genetically than the ones at the beginning. Even individual T-Rex’s probably varied in temperament just as much as kittens from the same litter. There is no ideal T-Rex because they were all different.

These T-Rex+’s won’t be the same as what once walked the earth. But placed into a Cretaceous-like environment, we could understand how it filled out its ecological niche. These creatures would undoubtedly surprise us and have just as much to teach us as the animals we based them.

For a final thought, here’s a photograph of two sets of bones. Although they look almost identical, they’re separated by about 100 million years of evolution. The one on the right is a wolf. The one on the left is a Tasmanian Tiger. Sadly, the Tasmanian Tiger is now extinct (hopefully only temporarily).

Although they have 100 million years of evolution between them (we diverged from chimpanzees only about 10 million years ago and share more common relatives with a wolf than the the Tasmanian Tiger does) they evolved to fill very similar niches. Yet, for some reason, man was able to hunt the Tasmanian Tiger to extinction, possibly due to some other environmental factor that made it threatened, while the wolf still thrives.

The T-Rex was a hardy species whose reign was ended by an asteroid impact that shut down the photosynthesis process that fed the plant eaters they preyed upon. Without that cataclysm, who knows how long they could have lasted? Maybe part of their survival mechanism is their innate badassness that causes a monkey species to bring them back 65 million years later.

Dean Kamen and Coca-Cola Team to Solve the Biggest Environmental Problem of Our Time

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Clean water. For first worlders who have it on tap, access may not seem like a big deal. For 1 out of 6 people on the planet, clean water, free of parasites and pollution is an expensive luxury. Diarrhea from tainted water is the second leading cause of death for children under five.

Recognizing this problem, über inventor and potential Tony Stark rival to Elon Musk, Dean Kamen and his Deka engineering group set out to create a water filtration system that was more efficient than anything before. The result is the Slingshot, a system that can take anything from muddy pond water to salty sea water and produce drinkable water. Powered by solar panels in rural locations, the Slingshot is a technological oasis that can help solve the greatest environmental problem facing our planet.

Kamen tackled this problem because more people die every year from bad water than any current or projected environmental crisis. Coca-Cola teamed up with Kamen as part of their long-term vision of minimizing their environmental impact. They plan to roll out 30 by the end of the year and thousands more by 2014 in rural locations where the kiosks could provide the daily water needs of hundreds of people.

The Reuters article

Here’s a video of Dean Kamen demonstrating the Slingshot:

Tesla Gets Supercharged

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

What are the biggest drawbacks of driving an electric car today? Elon Musk has solutions.

In an event Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk described as being just as important as the SpaceX ISS cargo mission this summer, he unveiled his plans to solve practical problems of electric vehicle ownership with a new network of charging stations. He revealed six stations are already in place as of today that let you drive from Lake Tahoe to San Francisco to Los Angeles and then on to Las Vegas opening up a sizable portion of California and Nevada to people wishing to take their Teslas a little further than the corner grocery store.

Within two years Musk says Tesla plans to have installed a network that goes from coast to coast, making a cross country trip in an electric car a practical reality.

The superchargers will give their 85 kWh battery a 150 mile range in 30 minutes. While that’s a bit longer wait than at the gas pump, the charging is free to all Tesla Model S owners. Buying a car that gets free energy for life is a radical, game changing idea – the kind of thing Musk has become known for.

The charging stations will be covered in solar panels (provided by Musk’s other company, Solar City) and put power back into the grid when not charging up the Superchargers.

The revelation of the Superchargers gives us some insight into Musk’s grander vision for Tesla. It’s not just a company that makes electric cars, it’s a transportation system. He could be well on his way to changing the electric car the way Apple did the phone.

http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

Here’s Tesla’s official press release:

***

TESLA MOTORS LAUNCHES REVOLUTIONARY SUPERCHARGER ENABLING CONVENIENT LONG DISTANCE DRIVING
DRIVE THE MODEL S ELECTRIC CAR ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY ON PURE SUNLIGHT FOR FREE

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2012
Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) today unveiled its highly anticipated Supercharger network. Constructed in secret, Tesla revealed the locations of the first six Supercharger stations, which will allow the Model S to travel long distances with ultra fast charging throughout California, parts of Nevada and Arizona.

The technology at the heart of the Supercharger was developed internally and leverages the economies of scale of existing charging technology already used by the Model S, enabling Tesla to create the Supercharger device at minimal cost. The electricity used by the Supercharger comes from a solar carport system provided by SolarCity, which results in almost zero marginal energy cost after installation. Combining these two factors, Tesla is able to provide Model S owners1 free long distance travel indefinitely.

Each solar power system is designed to generate more energy from the sun over the course of a year than is consumed by Tesla vehicles using the Supercharger. This results in a slight net positive transfer of sunlight generated power back to the electricity grid. In addition to lowering the cost of electricity, this addresses a commonly held misunderstanding that charging an electric car simply pushes carbon emissions to the power plant. The Supercharger system will always generate more power from sunlight than Model S customers use for driving. By adding even a small solar system at their home, electric car owners can extend this same principle to local city driving too.

The six California locations unveiled today are just the beginning. By next year, we plan to install Superchargers in high traffic corridors across the continental United States, enabling fast, purely electric travel from Vancouver to San Diego, Miami to Montreal and Los Angeles to New York. Tesla will also begin installing Superchargers in Europe and Asia in the second half of 2013.

The Supercharger is substantially more powerful than any charging technology to date, providing almost 100 kilowatts of power to the Model S, with the potential to go as high as 120 kilowatts in the future. This can replenish three hours of driving at 60 mph in about half an hour, which is the convenience inflection point for travelers at a highway rest stop. Most people who begin a road trip at 9am would normally stop by noon to have lunch, refresh and pick up a coffee or soda for the road, all of which takes about 30 minutes.

“Tesla’s Supercharger network is a game changer for electric vehicles, providing long distance travel that has a level of convenience equivalent to gasoline cars for all practical purposes. However, by making electric long distance travel at no cost, an impossibility for gasoline cars, Tesla is demonstrating just how fundamentally better electric transport can be,” said Elon Musk, Tesla Motors co-founder and CEO. “We are giving Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight.”

1. Supercharging hardware is standard on Model S vehicles equipped with an 85 kWh battery and optional on Model S vehicles equipped with a 60 kWh battery.
ABOUT MODEL S

With the most energy-dense battery pack in the industry and best-in-class aerodynamics, Model S has the longest range of any production electric car in the world. Model S comes with three battery options to fit the unique needs of different drivers. The 85 kWh Model S has received a U.S. fuel economy rating of 89MPGe and an EPA rated range of 265 miles.
Model S is the first premium sedan designed from the ground up to take full advantage of electric vehicle architecture. A revolutionary powertrain sits under the floorboard of Model S, creating an ultra-low center of gravity. Paired with an aluminum body engineered for superior handling, Tesla has created a vehicle that raises the bar for performance and efficiency while meeting the highest standards for safety.

Without an internal combustion engine or transmission tunnel, the interior of Model S has more cargo space than any other sedan in its class and includes a second trunk under the hood. Model S seats five adults and two children in optional rear-facing child seats. Model S Performance models accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 4.4 seconds. The interior features a 17″ in-dash touchscreen with internet capabilities, allowing for streaming radio, web browsing and navigation.

Customers can reserve a Model S at one of Tesla’s retail stores or online.

ABOUT TESLA

Tesla’s goal is to accelerate the world’s transition to electric mobility. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs and EV power train components for partners such as Toyota and Daimler. Tesla has delivered more than 2,350 Roadsters to customers worldwide. Model S, the first premium sedan to be built from the ground up as an electric vehicle, began deliveries in June 2012.

HYSTERIA ALERT: Human Blood Still Has More Alcohol than Soda

Thursday, June 28th, 2012


The UK’s Daily Mail is breathlessly reporting that leading soft drinks including Coca-Cola and Pepsi contain trace amounts of alcohol. What ramifications should this have for teetotallers and people who abstain for drinking for religious reasons? Um, none.

While the Daily Mail points out that the soft drinks contain about .001 percent alcohol, they forgot to mention that your body naturally already has about .004 percent alcohol. This is because those wonderful bacteria that live in our gut and help us digest food and live, sometimes like to ferment (Endogenous ethanol production).

The article was taken from a French publication called ‘60 Million Consumers’ so we can’t tell if they missed that important detail either.

So to put it in simple terms, since Coca-Cola has less alcohol than your bloodstream, assuming that it all went to your blood (instead of getting digested, which is what happens) .001 is less than .004 – so drinking cola will actually lower your body’s natural level of alcohol. It makes you less alcoholic.

If you’re looking to get drunk off cola, you’d be better of drinking human blood. Um, forget we said that. Do not drink human blood.

People will likely ignore this. We’ll get more soda hysteria. Orange juice has more sugar and dissolves teeth too (and fangs).

Check out the Straight Dope if this naturally produced alcohol can get you buzzed…