Archive for the ‘Awesome’ Category

Microsoft’s Illumi-Room Is Baby-Step To Holodeck

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

There’s really not much to talk about here with a bunch of words. They’ll just get in the way of you pressing play and smiling like a little kid as your brain sort of automatically speculates on the possibilities of this in peoples’ homes.

We’ve all dreamed of the Holodeck being a part of our secret lair at home. Microsoft’s new IllumiRoom is a lot like watching a baby take its first steps in the direction of Holodecks becoming a standard part of any man-cave.

Sure we’ve seen mapped projections before like at Walt Disney World’s Magic, Memories and You show at the Magic Kingdom…but nothing on a consumer level and nothing with this kind of customization. Using a Kinect, a couple of cameras and some software, this is something that, while in its newborn stage, could lead to some truly innovative projects and ideas…or just mean that we’re going to be leaving our mother’s basements way less than we already do.

[GizMag]

Weird Things Podcast Recording LIVE!

Monday, January 7th, 2013
Watch live video from scamschoolbrian on www.justin.tv

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

Weird Things Podcast Recording 9/17/12

Monday, September 17th, 2012
Watch live video from scamschoolbrian on www.justin.tv

Rare Audio: In 1982 Penn Jillette Locked Himself in a Hotel Room and Listened to Records for a Week

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Ralph Records 10th Anniversary Radio Special feat. Penn Jillette (Day Six) - YouTube.png

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ralph Records, Penn Jillette took part in a very odd tribute. He agreed to be locked into the Bently Motor Inn in San Francisco and do nothing but listen to the entire decade’s worth of Ralph Records discography.

At 8:00 AM on Monday, March 1, Mr. Jillette entered Room 312 of the Bentley Motor Inn at 465 Grove Street (directly across the steet from the, then, Ralph Headquarters) in San Francisco. The door was locked behind him.

Mr. Jillette was to spend the next six days alone in this room. Each day he received a package of records from Ralph. His job was to listen and comment on these recordings.

60 hours of his commentary on the music was whittled down into a radio special which has now partly been uploaded to YouTube.

Here is Day One…

Click AFTER THE JUMP for the rest of the week… (more…)

Flying Dragon Spotted in California!

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Several months ago, people had claimed to see flying humanoid figures in the skies. Most of the viral surge was from various consipiracy groups online. It turned out to be simple, flat, human-shaped RC planes.

We have a feeling that same group is going to be salivating over stories about a flying dragon.

No joke.

A flying dragon has been spotted in California at Minter Field Airport.

Obvious from the image above is that it’s not a real dragon but a weird hybrid of a paraglider’s parachute, a swamp boat and a dragon. It’s like the much bigger, cooler brother of the R/C dragon we reported on a while back.

According to a local newspaper near the airport where the dragon’s been spotted actually spitting fire, Disney Imagineers are the sorcerer’s behind this piece of awesome.

Patents were filed earlier this year for the vehicle showing details but Disney is keeping very hush about whatever project the Imagineers are up to that would involve the need for a flying dragon.

“I can’t really tell you much. So sorry,” Disney spokeswoman Angela Bliss said Thursday, confirming only that what people around the airport saw (she never used the word “dragon”) was a project of Glendale-based Walt Disney Imagineering.

“We’re really always looking for new ways to expand the magic at Disney Parks,” Bliss said. “But we really don’t have any specific comments about what you’re asking me about.”

The Minter Field general manager won’t talk about the dragon based on a confidentiality agreement but that hasn’t stopped people from talking about the fabled creature buzzing the airfield.

Pilot Patrick Wiens says he’d never seen anything like before. Neither had the people who’ve talked to him about it in casual conversation.

Wiens said, “They had never seen anything like it, either.”

[The Bakersfield Californian]

Weird Things Recording 7/2/12

Monday, July 2nd, 2012
Watch live video from scamschoolbrian on www.justin.tv

Military Weaponizes Lightning! Hell Yeah!

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Here’s your ‘Hell Yeah!’ moment of the week!

If you enjoy phrases like “a device that shoots laser bolts” or “50 billion watts of optical power” you may want to continue reading about how the military is weaponizing lightning with a device called the Laser-Induced Plasma Channel, or LIPC.

Picatinny Arsenal scientists and engineers in New Jersey have developed a lightning bolt weapon by sending a ridiculously fast laser pulse that basically rips the air apart causing a narrow, electromagnetic channel. Immediately following this moment of scientific awesomeness, a lightning bolt is sent along that channel straight to the unfortunate target.

George Fischer, lead scientist on the project gave one of our favorite statements about a developing military weapon. Fischer stated, “We never got tired of the lightning bolts zapping our simulated (targets).”

Can’t really argue with that.

[Army.Mil]

Weird Things Podcast recording 6.18.12

Monday, June 18th, 2012
Watch live video from Justin Robert Young on www.justin.tv

Insane, Hand Carved Alien Guitar!

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

With Prometheus landing in practically every cinema this weekend and all the renewed interest in the franchise, it’s not surprising that THIS thing popped up.

Gig Goldstein, the artist behind this piece of work, took up carving about 12 years ago. Recently a friend asked him to create an H.R. Giger-inspired piece based on the Alien films…the photos show the result of the 40-50 hours worth of work it took to create it.

[Walyou]

Robot/Chemical Rehab Teaches Paralyzed Rat to Walk Again

Friday, June 1st, 2012
Video_ After Robot-Assisted Rehab and a Dose of Chemicals, Paralyzed Rats Walk Again | Popular Science.jpg

In an amazing scientific feat, a paralyzed rat was taught to walk again.

First, Courtine and colleagues injected the rats with a chemical cocktail that binds to dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin receptors on the spinal cord’s neurons. This replaced the neurotransmitters that would normally be released in healthy spinal pathways. A few minutes after priming the neurons, the team stimulated the rats’ spinal cords through electrodes implanted into the spinal canal. This sent electrical signals to the roused neurons. Then the rats needed to be trained to use their limbs again. Within a week of their injuries, the rats were on treadmills, forging new neural connections.

Although a human application for this solution is a long way away, clinical trials are on the horizon.

[Pop Sci]

Man Builds Motorcycle from Car, MacGyver-Style

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

If Elon Musk and MacGyver had a love child its name would be Emile LeRay.

Emile had left Morrocco and was going to drive across the Sahara in a specially prepared Citreon. His plans came to a grinding halt when he came across a military outpost that would not allow him to continue on. He was then told that he’d have to take someone (military personel) back to the nearby city of Tam Tam to ensure he followed their orders. LeRay states that a provision in his insurance doesn’t allow for him to have passengers. He turns the Citreon around and speeds off back the way he came as fast as he could get the car to go to avoid being followed by the military.

Determined to cross the Sahara, LeRay, now out of site of the outpost and the military, heads the car in large arc back toward the Sahara and around the outpost. On his way back to the road beyond the outpost, the Citreon encountered some serious terrain. Hours and miles later, the Citreon breaks down in the middle of the Sahara.

Calling upon his inner MacGyver, LeRay formulates a plan and begins breaking apart the Citreon.

Over the course of the next twelve days LeRay transforms the Citreon into a motorcycle straight from an apocalyptic future where salvaging is the new couture.

With only a small amount of water left, LeRay’s ‘Desert Camel’ (what the bike’s been nick named) sputtered to life and, after almost two weeks living in the shelled body of the Citreon, Emile continued on his adventure.

Ironically, Emile was pulled over by the military as he neared civilization.

And not for running a military outpost…

But for driving an illegal vehicle.

[Gizmodo]

Debate Rages Over Man Who Attached a Fricking Laser Beam to a Shark

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
shark laser beam head.jpg

A man named Luke Tipple, marine biologist most recognizably known for his work on the Discovery Channel, attached a laser beam to a shark. It was temporary. The laser was the lowest powered model produced by Wicked Lasers, which promoted the feat. The lemon shark was unharmed.

There was even a bit of scientific value, Tipple experimented with a new kind of clap that could be used in future tracking research.

Awesome right? Not so much, for some critics who found the stunt disrespectful to the animal.

“Is there a point of it? It has to have an objective,” Neil Hammerschlag, an assistant professor with the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, told Wired.

“I would say the attachment process sounds non-invasive,” Hammerschlag said. “I don’t think it’s going to cause any damage to the shark. It’s temporary. In terms of the goal, without knowing the specific scientific or educational application, it’s hard to say. But if this is just to respond to a scene in the Austin Powers movie, I don’t see value. You’re just causing unnecessary stress on the animal. It’s not respectful.”

This is why we can’t have anything nice. Like sharks. With frickin laser beams. On their head.

[Wired]

Blue Origin Ready for Next Step

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
blue origin.jpg

Blue Origin, the space exploration company founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos is ready for it’s close up. Although notoriously secretive in comparison to companies like SpaceX, May is a huge month for Blue and now they’re ready to talk about it.

Not only have wind-tunnel tests come back positive for their Space Vehicle unit, but they are going to begin testing on the rocketry phase of their plan.

Alexander said the resulting spacecraft design “will be officially blessed” at a system requirements review in May. Also during May, Blue Origin expects to begin testing of the thrust chamber assembly for its BE-3 rocket engine at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, Alexander said.

The company, based in Kent, Wash., is receiving $22 million from NASA during the current phase of the space agency’s program to help commercial ventures develop space taxis for the post-shuttle era. The SV isn’t nearly as big as the space shuttle, of course, but it should be capable of transporting up to seven passengers to and from the International Space Station.

The MSNBC post brings up a very interesting issues. Although NASA is currently offering money to four companies Boeing Co., Sierra Nevada Corp., SpaceX and Blue Origin, many believe that list will shrink with the next round of funding. Many in congress would like to see the space agency pick one horse this early in the game.

No matter who NASA sprinkles with coin, the bang for the buck on such an investment could really pay dividends in cheaper, reliable options for ambitious research. Very interesting.

[MSNBC]

Read the Short Story Hunger Games AND Battle Royale Ripped Off

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Prize of peril hunger games battle royale.jpg

Okay, that’s a deliberately provocative headline, I apologize.

But after all I’ve read pushing back on the popularity of the Hunger Games film and book series while citing the 1999 novel and 2000 film Battle Royale as the originator of the reality television kill show concept, it’s worth mentioning that either invented the idea.

Even The Running Man, penned by a scrappy author named Richard Bachman (Stephen King’s pseudonym), published in 1985 comes decades after the grand daddy of them all… Richard Sheckley’s The Prize of Peril, originally written in 1958.

It follows Jim Reader, a poor young truck driver’s assistant who takes on a career as a professional reality show contestant. The shows that pay the most are ones where you risk your life and where you could be forced to take the lives of other contestants.

He finds himself on the biggest of them all, The Prize of Peril.

A quick read, Peril deals with a lot of similar themes to Hunger Games (contestant as public inspiration, help from viewers, game manipulation) and just goes to show that as long as television game shows have existed, we’ve dreamed of killing each other on them.

Link to story at Arthur’s Classic Novels

Seven Awesome Facts Learned in the Planetary Resources Press Conference

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
asteroid planetary resources.jpg

One average asteroid, half the size of the conference room they made their announcement in, can contain enough resources to power every space flight in the history of the NASA space program

When asked during Q and A how many resources can be mined out of one astroid, that was the response from Peter Diamandis. They key is identifying the right ones and developing the right kind of tech to mine them.

Private industry can iterate faster and take bigger risks that are inappropriate for government

One investor made the point that if his neighbor was mortgaging his house to invest in Planetary Resources, it would be inappropriate. Which is why a private company and not a government underwater in trillions of dollars in debt is the right agent to make this kind of progress.

Much was said about the assembly line mentality, where no model or build of a Planetary Resources spacecraft will be revered beyond a necessary step to the right solution, better than the last but inferior to the next.

As we saw with the nostalgia and reverence we have for our public spaceflight tech, that is very rarely the case with NASA projects.

Finding resources like water are key to life support in space and refueling for longer journeys

Water is a tremendously expensive resources to get into space. But if one were to find the elements to create it amongst the stars and create it in orbit, it fundamentally changes the game.

The cost and complication of life support and long distance travel is changed forever, the closer this comes to reality.

The immediate future is identifying asteroids with prospecting spacecraft

The first Arkyd 100 spacecraft should launch sometime within 12 to 24 months. The goal will be to provide intelligent data on Earth bound asteroids and what they might contain.

Mining spacecraft is a priority in the next 10 years

Arkyd 200 and 300 units will focus on making contact with and the mining of the asteroids. Although the panel was loathe to give hard timetables, 10 years was mentioned as point by which they hope to mine and return resources.

Their team will be kept very small and move very fast

One of the few reasons Planetary Resources went public today was because they are currently trying to add engineering talent to their small Bellevue, WA based staff but couldn’t hope to do it quietly. They are very conscious of staff bloat.

Robots, not humans, are the future of asteroid mining for now

Humans are too expensive and not particularly necessary for the kind of prospecting they are looking to do. So any fear that we are getting into an Outland situation can be put on ice for a decade or so.

BONUS: Bad Astronomer Phil Plait spoke with Chief Engineer Chris Lewicki and has a great breakdown of the technical deets.

Also, just because this is the most excited anyone has been about prospecting since the gold rush, here is Will Ferrell’s legendary unaired Gus Chiggins sketch.