Oct 10, 2010

This Door Is Supposed To Save Lives During Earthquakes

When an Earthquake hits, what do you do? Typical Earthquake 101 tells you to run to the nearest doorway to protect yourself under the "strongest frame in the house". This bendable door is supposed to improve on that thinking.

However! Recent theories suggest that standing underneath a typical doorway is no better than being any where else during an earthquake. They now teach people to drop to the ground, go underneath a table and hold on. This concept door from student Younghwa Lee kind of mimics being underneath a table while being underneath a doorframe, which in a way, sorta blends the two Earthquake schools of thought together.

If you haven't been in an Earthquake before, well damn, you're lucky. Get some practice before 2012.

NASA caught Photoshopping an image of Saturn's moons. What were they trying to hide?

A conspiracy theorist noticed that an image in NASA's Astronomy Picture Of The Day had noticeable Photoshop brushstrokes in it, when you turned up the contrast. Is there a mysterious object hiding near Saturn's moons?

As quoted by Fox News, DominatorPS3 said: "More solid proof of NASA/ government cover-ups. And this is recent. You can do this yourself!!"

Dominator PS3's tell-all YouTube video has been taken down, allegedly because he received death threats. NASA's Emily Lakdawalla, who was responsible for the photoshopping, explained it over at

What do you think? Did NASA really try to hide evidence of extraterrestrial life by photoshopping a picture — and then making that picture is Astronomy Picture Of The Day, just to confuse us further? It's so crazy, it might just be true!

Today Is 101010: The Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question

Today is October 10, 2010. 10/10/10. In binary, that's 42. And 42 is The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. Or at least, that's what Douglas Adams says.

Many people wonder what Adams exactly meant by 42, the answer given by the supercomputer Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Why did Adams pick that number? Is there a connection to something the world doesn't know about? Is the CIA and the MI6 involved in all this? Real aliens, perhaps?

On November 3, 1993, he gave an answer on

The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought '42 will do'. I typed it out. End of story.

Later, talking to BBC Radio 4 Iain Johnstone, he explained that the number was chosen by none other than John Cleese as the punch line for one of his skits. The famed Python thought it was a funny number, and Adams borrowed it for his book, turning it into a recurring integer through all his work.

But that comment wasn't the end of the mystery. Stephen Fry—a friend of Adams—also jumped into the debate, claiming that the latter explained to him why it was 42. Fry will not reveal the secret, but he says it is "fascinating, extraordinary and, when you think hard about it, completely obvious."
Whatever it is, it sure has had a deep impact in geeklore. One example: The Allen Telescope Array—the radio telescopes system erected by Microsoft's Paul Allen for the SETI program—has 42 dishes in honor of Adams. And in Lost, 42 is the last number in the sequence that has to be entered on The Swan's computer, which is also the sequence picked by Hurley for his winning lottery ticket, and Kwon's number in the cave. In a Lostpedia interview, one of the show's producers confirmed that this was indeed a homage to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Oct 9, 2010

Google Is Road Testing Cars That Drive Themselves

This is not a Google Street View truck. It's actually a self-driving car. The car is part of a new research initiative that Google's been road resting: Artificially intelligent cars that drive themselves.

Self-driving cars are admittedly a lofty, almost far-fetched prospect. Even the most optimistic people behind the Google team say it's at least eight years away from reaching consumers. But the promise it holds! With self driving cars on the road, researchers say road capacity can double since robots will drive at closer distances from one another. Plus, robot cars can theoretically react faster than humans and with the right sensors, can see the road from a 360-degree perspective. Not to mention they never get drunk, sleepy or text while driving either.

Google's been working on these self driving cars in secret but are actually testing them right now, right out in the open. The NY Times saw one of these cars in action:

A Prius equipped with a variety of sensors and following a route programmed into the GPS navigation system nimbly accelerated in the entrance lane and merged into fast-moving traffic on Highway 101, the freeway through Silicon Valley.

It drove at the speed limit, which it knew because the limit for every road is included in its database, and left the freeway several exits later. The device atop the car produced a detailed map of the environment.

The car then drove in city traffic through Mountain View, stopping for lights and stop signs, as well as making announcements like "approaching a crosswalk" (to warn the human at the wheel) or "turn ahead" in a pleasant female voice.

Ideally, there's a driver sitting at the steering wheel, ready to take over whenever anything goes awry. Once you hit a red button, move the steering wheel or tap the brake, the car is back under your control. I was never a big fan of driving so I'm hoping these self-driving cars become reality in my lifetime.

Designing Herman Miller's Golden Gate Bridge-Inspired Sayl Chair

The aim of the Herman Miller Sayl Chair, designed by Yves Béhar, is to maximize comfort while minimizing materials. For inspiration, Béhar looked to the suspension bridges of San Francisco.

It took Béhar and Herman Miller two and a half years to perfect the chair, which employs a novel "3D Intelligent Suspension Back" instead of a traditional frame. A special new type of urethane is used for the frameless back, which is injection molded with different degrees of tension for the various areas of the back and is held in place by a new Y-Tower suspension tower.
The novel suspended structure not only allows for a comfortable, ergonomic sitting experience but also greatly reduces the materials needed to produce the chair, in turn lessening its overall environmental impact. 93% of the Sayl's materials are recyclable. If you're interested in introducing your butt to a host of new innovations in chair engineering, the Sayl is available in a variety of colors and finishes over at Herman Miller.

Oct 8, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 won't be in 3-D after all

Imagine that — a studio realizes that a movie will look poopy in 3-D, so they decide not to do it. Warner Bros. decided the first half of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be 2-D only.

Said Warners in a statement:

Warner Bros Pictures has made the decision to release "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1" in 2D, in both conventional and IMAX theaters, as we will not have a completed 3D version of the film within our release date window. Despite everyone's best efforts, we were unable to convert the film in its entirety and meet the highest standards of quality. We do not want to disappoint fans who have long-anticipated the conclusion of this extraordinary journey, and to that end, we are releasing our film day-and-date on November 19, 2010 as planned. We, in alignment with our filmmakers, believe this is the best course to take in order to ensure that our audiences enjoy the consummate "Harry Potter" experience.

We knew Harry Potter had amazing powers, but the ability to vanquish the trend towards last-minute, eye-bleeding 3-D conversions? That's incredible.

What Happens When You Smash Nitroglycerin With a Hammer in 600x Slow Motion?

Nitroglycerin, first discovered in 1846, is the explosive essence of dynamite. Even slowed down 600x, the reaction—detonation—is so violent, so fast, it still happens in less than the blink of an eye.

The 3DS' Battery Won't Last As Long As The DS'

While Nintendo is yet to release concrete figures on the battery usage of the 3DS - not that you can ever trust official figures - company president Satoru Iwata has hinted that it won't last as long as the DS.

"As for the battery, it is inevitable that Nintendo 3DS will be a device which requires more frequent recharging than Nintendo DS" Iwata said during a recent Q&A session with investors. "This is why we are going to include the cradle, which is a dedicated battery charger. Perhaps we may need to dispatch to our consumers a message, something like, 'Please place your Nintendo 3DS on the cradle as soon as you return home with it'."

That first sentence is the key: it means you won't get the same battery mileage from the 3DS you do from a DS. It's not a surprise, of course; extra horsepower and 3D capabilities will drain a battery faster than a DS game would, and packing one in that could withstand a lot of 3D play would have driven the cost of the handheld to a point Nintendo normally doesn't sell hardware.

Still, it's interesting to see Nintendo take a backwards step on battery life, since it's normally been such a concern for the company's handhelds.

Oct 7, 2010

Is the Verizon iPhone Really Happening in Early 2011?

The Wall Street Journal is claiming that the Verizon iPhone is imminent. Again. They say that Apple will start mass production of a CDMA iPhone by the end of 2010, starting sales in early 2011. However, there's something weird here.

Originally, the Wall Street Journal vaguely reported this story early in the morning, but they have just updated the article explicitly stating that the Verizon iPhone is happening. However, they haven't changed a couple of points that raise a red flag.

First, the introduction date is weird. Apple always introduces their new iPhones in the middle of the year. It seems unlikely that Apple will break that yearly cycle trend, although you never know. Perhaps this new phone will be an exception.

Then, the WSJ claims that it will be a CDMA iPhone, even while Verizon's CEO Ivan Seidenberg specifically categorically told the WSJ that there will not be a CDMA iPhone in 2009. In fact, Seidenberg told the WSJ that, if the Verizon iPhone happens, it will be for theirnew 4G LTE network. Last month, Seidenberg said that the iPhone will not come in the near future.

But maybe Apple changed his mind and he just doesn't want to spoil the surprise. Perhaps the fabled Verizon iPhone will appear once and for all (hopefully, with a fixed antenna design). Perhaps the Wall Street Journal is right this time, but they really meant that the new iPhone will run on Verizon's newly deployed LTE network. Whatever it is, we will know in a few months.

Rumor: Sony Pulling Plug On PSP Dev Kits

According to a report on French site PSPGen, Sony has informed those in the relevant communities that come November 15, they won't be able to order development kits for the handheld any more. Wonder why that would be?

The news reportedly comes via a message Sony Computer Entertainment sent to PSP developers, part of which read:

SCEE will no longer be selling the PSP Development Tool (DTP-T2000A) or Testing Tool (DTP-H2500A) past November 15th. Please order in advance if you require these development units.

We will advise you when a new model becomes available.

Now, if this is correct, it could just mean that new models of the current PSP's development kits are on the way. That's one scenario. The other, of course, is that dev kits for the existing models of the PSP won't be needed when Sony begins sending out those for a new PSP.

Concept Phone Made From Copper Charges in Pockets Using a Thermogenerator

What would you sacrifice for a phone that charges by inducting heat from your body? An OS? A brand-name you can be proud of? A touchscreen? That's the question I pose to you, after spotting this concept Nokia phone.

It's been dreamed up by English designer Patrick Hyland, who envisions the phone to be made from copper and capable of drawing heat from your body (or something like an overheating laptop), converting it to energy. That's by way of a thermogenerator that's been placed in the copper E-Cu phone ("E" for environment, and "Cu" for copper, naturally).

I'm not so sure the increasing prices (and demand) for copper will ever make this phone a reality, but in the meantime it's nice to see someone use the Nokia name for good. Unlike, err, Nokia.

Oct 6, 2010

Intel's Leaked 25nm SSD: 600GB Storage With Four Times the Lifespan

Expected sometime either late this year or early next, Intel's third generation, 25nm process SSD should provide twice the capacity of the current model at the same price. In addition, you can expect sequential performance read/write speeds of up to 250MB/s and 170MB/s, respectively, and a total lifespan of up to 60TB. If you're still not sure why all this is exciting for a 2.5-inch SSD

LEGO Leica Camera Works, But Won't Fool Anybody

Save yourself $5k by making a Leica M8 out of LEGO for $50. It's a good way to dodge those red-dot taxes, but I'll warn you: the 3MP camera will hardly hold up to your phone, let alone a Leica.

MOCPages user Schfio Factory used a $50 LEGO camera as a base for the camera, sticking black LEGO bricks all over it until it resembled one of the most recognizable cameras in the world today. It'd make a great gift for a child who is always wanting to use Daddy's Leica, but I have a feeling that for most Daddies, this LEGO camera is more in their price-range than the real thing.

Motorola Droid Pro: It's Like a BlackBerry Impregnated by Android

The Motorola Droid Pro on Verizon isn't what we expected: It's a like a Motorola Droid, but with a BlackBerry keyboard bolted on the bottom. Or like aBlackBerry Torch that's permanently stuck open, running Android. Take your pick. Weird.

The Droid Pro's runningAndroid 2.2, and it's a world phone, so it's definitely aimed at the dissatisfied BlackBerry user looking to make a switch. More on it as we get it.

Official specs from Verizon: 3.1-inch screen, 1GHz processor, 4GB memory, 5MP camera (but only "DVD quality" video, 3G hotspot powers, DLNA compatibility. For the suits, it's got QuickOffice pre-loaded for Office docs, remote wipe and AuthenTec IPSec multi-headed VPN integration, with device and SD card encryption coming early next year.

Oct 5, 2010

Would These Concept Power Cables Make Your Life Easier?

Despite making almost everything we use every day of our lives work, power cables are despised, and we haven't innovated our way out of them yet. This nesting concept cable, however, aims to tame the jungle. But would it work?

The Line Block cables click and seal together like a Ziploc bag—the idea being that you can lock a whole cluster of them together into one electricity snake, rather than the rat's nest of wiring I have behind my TV right now. It looks good on paper—as many concepts do—but some are skeptical, worrying that power bricks and outlets would split up the linked wiring. Hard to say based on nothing more than a rendered image, but we salute any attempts to maintain order.

Skype Lands on Android Phones Running Eclair or Higher

It seems unfathomable that Skype didn't have an app for Android until now*, but it's true. Phones running Android 2.1 or 2.2 can download the free app now, for free Skype-to-Skype calls, IM and more.

Just like with the iPhone version, you can call over Wi-Fi or the network (3G is included), both of which work well judging by the brief play I've had with it today. It's worth noting though that Skype only works over Wi-Fi in the US.

You can instant message Skype contacts—even a whole group of 'em—and synchronize contacts with your phone book too. It's a 14.23MB download, and worth doing if you have even one contact using Skype.

The 3D Sound System With 62 Channels is the Death Star of Audio

This isn't a Death Star model to go with your AT-AT. What's lurking behind it is a clue. Have you got it? It's a sound system, only with a twist—it has 62 channels for 3D sound.

It's from the Japanese National Institute of Information and Communications Technology(NICT), a research firm which is responsible for looking after Japan's frequencies and time standards, and also tests marine radar and maritime safety systems. Amongst doing all those important deeds, they've obviously found the time to jump upon the 3D wagon, with this sound system that is the first of its kind in the world today.

With 62 channels, the sound is meant to be a full replica of the original audio, so you genuinely feel that the singer is right there in the room with you. In 3D. It's being shown off at CEATEC this week, and while it's unlikely to go on sale (especially outside of Japan) it's fascinating to see what technology is capable of. Don't stop at 62 next time, NICT.

Oct 4, 2010

This Is Russia's Next Space Station for Tourists

Looks like the space tourism industry is heating up. RSC Energia—the designer and manufacturer of the Russian ISS modules—is creating a new space station for tourists, scientists, and evil genius wannabes. Construction could start as soon as 2012.
No price for the tickets yet, but the station will be prepared to accept spacecraft from any manufacturer.

Sharp's New Japanese Android Phone Has a Retina Display Equivalent

Sharp's new IS03 Android handset has a 960 x 640, 3.5" screen, putting it toe to toe with the iPhone 4's super crisp Retina Display. Oh, and then there's the 9.6MP camera and the TV tuner.

The IS03 employs an Advanced Super View display in lieu of IPS for keeping things visible from all angles, and its 9.6MP camera has autofocus and image stabilization. The 1seg TV tuner and Osaifu-Keitai contactless payment system are just the icing on the cake. It'll be available on Japan's KDDI network soon, but hopefully the rest of the world will be able to feast their retinas on the display sometime in the future.

Zoom Q3HD Handy Video Recorder Shoots 1080p and Has Stereo Mics to Match

While pocket cams video quality has improved incrementally from "good enough" to really actually pretty damn good, audio quality has largely been ignored. The new Zoom Q3HD combines 1080p, 30fps video with stereo mics for the full pocket cam package.

Zoom is known for their audio recorders, and the Q3HD is a nicer-looking refresh of their Q3pocket cam. It shoots 1080p video in 30fps or 720p in 30fps or 60fps, has an HDMI port, and runs on two AA batteries.

But what sets it apart are its built-in stereo condenser mics, capturing 24-bit/96kHz audio that can hold up even if you're at a concert hoisting the thing above a mosh pit. Audio meters let you check your levels while you're recording, and gain can be switched between high and low settings or left on auto. The Q3HD will be available this fall for $299.