Author Archives: Stephen Gordon

Top Ten Tweets: October 1, 2010

…where Stephen takes the top ten recent subjects in his tweet stream and writes further. Enjoy.

  1. Cool tech: The Livescribe Smartpen records audio, tagging notes to points within the audio stream. Allows “pencasts.”

    According to the article it completely changes the art of note taking. You tend to hit key words rather than full outlines. Then, when reviewing later, you can touch the pen to your outline and replay that portion of the lecture.

    “Pencasting” is where the instructor uses the pen and writes out notes or a math problem while he’s explaining it. The resulting Kahn-like movie clips can then be shared.

  2. cellresearch
    ‘Major’ stem cell development announced – Washington Times

    An easy way of turning adult stem cells into embryonic stem cells is a Holy Grail of biology – think of all the political battles that could be avoided.

  3. singulr
    ’100 percent’ chance for life on newly found planet? – Gliese 581g may be the new Earth.

    That headline is just a little misleading. They are 100% sure that there is a chance of life on this planet, not 100% sure there is life. Cute, huh?

    Since this planet is tidally locked – meaning one side of the planet is always boiling in the sun, the other side is freezing – the habitable zone of the planet would be rather narrow. We are not even sure life could develop under such circumstances.

    Other links to this story: sciam
    most popular on the site now: “Planet Hunters Discover a World That Could Harbor Life”

    Reuters_Science: Just-right planet that can support life detected.

  4. Brian Wang explains how we could get to Gliese 581g: metamaterial-based model of the Alcubierre warp drive to go up to 25% of the speed of light.

    Since the planet is 20 light years away, it would take 80 years (with no time for speeding up or slowing down) to get there with this first-gen warp drive.

  5. emilmgeorge tweets:

    O+P+T+I+M+U+S = 15+16+20+9+13+21+19 = 113

    113 is a Prime number;

    Optimus = Prime.

    Your mind = Blown Again.

  6. Two completely different developments in solar cells – either could make solar cells the cheapest way to produce electricity:

    io9: New technology that captures “exciton” particles could replace today’s solar cells

    Stanford: Solar cells thinner than light wavelengths hold huge power potential. 12-fold increase in light absorption.

  7. DIY is the future.

    sciam Tinker Joys: DIYers Turn Inspiration into Everything from Bamboo Bikes to Urban Rooftop Cosmic-Ray Detectors


    A dream makers’ and fabbers’ pad

  8. miketreder:
    “New York City is more populous than all but 11 states; but granted statehood, it would rank 51st in per-capita energy use.” – David Owen

    No doubt about it. Urban living is more energy efficient, and is easier on the planet.

  9. bluepinegrove tweets: Multiple ebook readers present problems for libraries. Will standards emerge?

    Multiple ebook standards favor nondedicated devices like the iPad. Dedicated ebook readers will go the way of dedicated word processors. An example is this tweet from Sydell: The New Yorker has released its iPad App. It’s wonderful. Yes, it is bitter sweet. That stack near my bed is going to disappear.

  10. newscientist
    Evolutionary biologists rumble in Amsterdam: Sparks fly over origin of altruism

    I love this mental picture. Scientist “A” argues that altruism developed as a byproduct of language, Scientist “B” argues that it preceded language acquisition by millions of years. “A” picks up a rock, “B” picks up a thigh bone, and the rumble is on.

    Short Attention Span Blogging

    …where science, futurism, and anything else Stephen finds interesting are

    thrown together in an informational stew for your consumption.


    Follow Stephen on Twitter: @stephentgo

    • Personalized Life Extension Conference, October 9-10 #future

    • Skype Killer? Google had one million Gmail calls on first day

      Here’s my take on Google’s new gmail phone service.

    • George Dvorsky: Optimize your health with The Zone and Paleo diets [life extension]
    • Engadget: Commodore USA announces the PC64, an Atom-powered PC in a replica Commodore case
    • Engadget
      Nike files patent for auto-lacing sneakers, Marty McFly doth protest
      Thu Aug 26 2010 00:04:50 (Central Daylight Time)

    • Tech Review’s best Young Innovators
    • Space-based detector could find anti-universe – A huge particle detector to be mounted on the International…
    • Engadget: Sony’s Netbox streams Netflix, YouTube and other internet stuff for $130
    • Searchinvaders
      Report: iTunes to rent TV shows for 99 cents

    • ALA_TechSource: “Conflict over ebook rights and royalties is one of the most outstanding irritants in the transition to digital publishing.”
    • Neiltyson asks: “Why do aliens always disembark via ramp? Do they have problems with stairs? Or are flying saucers just handicap-accessible?”

      I’m sure the guy in the E.T. suit appreciated the ramp.

    • Kaplan Publishing experiments with free e-books

      Kaplan primarily does test prep guides: SAT, ACT, GRE, etc.

    • digg_sciences
      “New microbe discovered eating oil spill in Gulf ” –

      Well, new to us…

    • Engadget: Sharp’s e-reader ready to ‘rival the iPad’ by year’s end, may have a 3D future

      Rivaling Apple – that’s the trick isn’t it? Those guys stay a generation ahead.

      Not that they should get cocky…

      (Mildly NSFW)

    • The evolution of Pixar.
    • From the Department of Useless Trivia: Dr. Suess coined the word, “nerd”.
    • A TEDx talk from Shimon Schocken at TEDx TelAviv on mountain biking with incarcerated youth:

    • Jerry Bruckheimer: “Great dinner with Cuba Gooding Jr at La Esquina NYC this weekend. He heard that I had dinner with Cruise last week… he reminded me Tom’s not really his agent.”
    • Jeremy Piven: “Not how hard you hit, it’s how hard u can get hit that makes the difference in your life….”

      Love that speech from “Rocky Balboa.”

      Sylvester Stallone reminded us why the first “Rocky” won best picture.

    • News: Download an up-and-coming science fiction magazine for a quarter [Deals]
    • Mike Anissimov: Here’s a good quote from the current Halcyon website: “Sequence data will spark the greatest medical revolution since hygiene.”
    • Are ants the key to Artificial Intelligence?

      Start small.

    • Sally J Morem: “Cassini’s been a very, very busy little space probe, check out the pix:”

    • Apple patent filed back in January discloses research into layering iOS (iPhone’s OS) functionality atop Mac OS X.
    • digg_sciences
      “Urine Could Be a Source of Renewable Energy?” –

      A fuel cell powered by urine? This might actually be useful in remote areas. I’m less sure it would catch on here in the city.

      A less messy solution? Recharging cell phones from radio waves.

    • New Compound Has ‘Superhero-Like’ Powers
    • It’s not all about Ray: There’s more to Singularity studies than Kurzweil #future

      Not all but some:

      PBS Gives Exposure to Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity, and Bio-ethics #future

    • GristC Mark Twain’s autobiography to finally be published 100 years after his death

    • This puts a whole new light on things – how Greek statues originally looked – in full color
    • mims
      Using Einstein to Speed Up Supercomputer Simulations 10,000%

    • TEDx: Here’s a stunning new #TED talk on data visualization by design genius David McCandless
    • Syfy
      What do u think r the most memorable, iconic, or best single episodes of sci-fi TV?

      Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Inner Light.”

    • Engadget: Stamp $50 Android tablet prototype raises eyebrows in India and beyond (video)
    • Bad Astronomer: Penn and Teller’s awesome vaccine demo is now on YouTube! NSFW. Duh.
    • Mike Treder: Nanotechnology, For Better or For Worse #future
    • News: Fingerprint check-in tried at 24 Hour Fitness – San Francisco Chronicle
    • Neurosecurity: The mind has no firewall
    • Underground Wonders of the World: Labyrinths, Crypts and More – Creepy strange places of death.
    • TEDxB
      #TEDxBerkeley video release! The amazing @tedprize winner Dr. Jill Tarter, @SETIInstitute Director #TED #TEDx #space

    • digg_sciences
      “A Machine That Turns Plastic Back Into Oil” –

    Short Attention Span Blogging; Monday, August 23, 2010

    …where science, futurism, and anything else Stephen finds interesting are

    thrown together in an informational stew for your consumption.


    Follow Stephen on Twitter: @stephentgo

    • George Dvorsky: Scientists successfully use human stem cells to treat Parkinson’s in rodents.

      Researchers have successfully used human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to treat rodents afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). The research, conducted at the Buck Institute for Age Research, validates a scalable protocol that the same group had previously developed. It may eventually be used to manufacture the type of neurons needed to treat the disease and paves the way for the use of iPSC’s in various biomedical applications.

    • The Moral Turing Test?

      Are the decisions made by an AI at least as moral as an average person? One way of determining this would be with a blind Turing-type test.

    • Engadget: Flobi robot head realistic enough to convey emotions, not realistic enough to give children nightmares (hopefully).

      Why cross the uncanny valley when you can go around it?

    • Claytronics. An early implementation of utility fog?

    • Wired Science: Awesome timelapse of Milky Way and last week’s Perseid meteor shower at Joshua Tree:
    • Looking for love in Alderaan places? Sci-fi-themed speed dating.
    • Brian Wang: Start up hopes to Reduce Cost of Batteries for Electric Cars by 85% by 2015
    • North Korea sends first tweet.

      My guess: “get me outta here!”

    • Infrared laser shown to quicken heart rate, gives hope for ultra-small pacemakers
    • Offers iPhone App to Find Cheap Textbooks On The Go

      There is a huge need for this. Peer-to-peer selling of textbooks would have eliminated a particularly greedy set of middlemen during my education.

    • Robert Sloss predicted the iPhone …in 1910.

      He predicted the device would:

      • Serves as a telephone, the whole world over.

      • Either ring or vibrate in your pocket.
      • Transmit any musical recording or performance with perfect clarity.
      • Allow people to send each other photographs, across the entire world.
      • Allow people to see the images of paintings, museums, etc. in distant locales.
    • Movie critic Roger Ebert is a big fan of paper books:

      Every home I’ve ever lived in has had a Library. When I lived in one room, I put my bed in the Library.

      And he looks with a somewhat jaundiced eye at ebooks. He had a series of tweets mocking their incorporeal character:

      I’ve read my e-book of Shakespeare so many times since graduating college in 1964 that look how lovingly the pages are thumbed.

      Here’s my old e-book “10,000 Jokes, Toasts and Stories,” and written inside “To my boy Roger from Daddy.

      I don’t disagree with Ebert’s point. A physical book can be a special thing. I wouldn’t throw out a signed copy of “The Stand” if I were given the ebook.

      But what avid reader doesn’t love having a library in his pocket at all times? (see also: “5 Ways That eBooks Are Better Than Paper Books“)

      When “Fellowship of the Ring” was released there was zero chance that I was going to wait to see it on DVD. That movie needed the big screen. And while I loved “Dodgeball,” it is just as funny at home as the theater. It loses little in the transition to the smaller screen.

      Likewise, some books seem to cry out for paper. Imagine a dark and stormy night. You decide to read “The Raven.” Do you reach for a dusty tome… or your laptop? Easy choice. But does a tree really need to die so that I can read the latest Patterson thriller? Probably not.

      And if your e-Reader doesn’t feel real enough, you can always give it a vintage book cover.

    • Lungs Grown on Scaffolds Breathe After Transplantation in Rats
    • Article asks “is consumerism robbing our creativity?” The author suggests that too much choice is a bad thing.

      But bad for who? I don’t see paralyzed shoppers at the mall and supermarket. I see people making choices. Choice is good. Competition is good. Consumerism supports creativity.

      There’s a much more interesting way of looking at this question. In his recent TED talk, Larry Lessig states that we have just gone through a period of read-only culture – consumers just listening to the radio, not singing and making their own music as they had throughout history. The means of music production and distribution were centralized.

      But, Lessig argued, read-write culture is battling back. Every kid with a lap-top possesses a recording studio and a distribution system.

    • One square meter of sunlight is equivalent to about one horsepower.

      Matt Ridley – no huge fan of solar power in its current subsidized form – said in his book “The Rational Optimist,” that…

      …once solar panels can be mass-produced at $200 per square metre and with an efficiency of 12 per cent, they could generate the equivalent of a barrel of oil for about $30. Then, instead of drilling for $40 oil, everybody will be rushing to cover their roofs, and large part of Algeria and Arizona with cheap solar panels… it would take about one-third of Arizona to supply Americans with all their energy.

    • Closing in on the Solar Singularity: Arthur Nozik, a researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and professor at the University of Colorado told “There is a theoretical possibility based on thermodynamic calculations of increasing the efficiency of present day solar cells by a very significant amount of 50-100%. In addition, quantum dots could lower the capital cost of solar cell production in terms of cost per unit area.”

      Increasig the efficiency of solar cells while bringing down their costs will make the cost effective in more and more places and in new applications.

    • Ben Goertzel’s new H+ Magazine article on AGI, long-lived flies, antagonistic pleiotropy and immortality.
    • Canadian librarian leads worldwide digital revolt for free knowledge (64 flags)

      It began when an academic database proposed increasing the fee it charges the University of Prince Edward Island by 120 per cent.

      Mark Leggott snapped.

      “The world’s knowledge is increasingly being held to ransom and available only to those who can pay the fees,” Leggott told the Star on Tuesday.

      He announced in a campus-wide letter that as chief librarian he had cancelled UPEI’s subscription to Web of Science and was launching “an effort to create a free and open index to the world’s scholarly literature called ‘Knowledge For All’.”

      Then he contacted librarians in Canada and around the world.

    • Google’s MapReduce algorithm turns smart phones into a self-contained cloud computing environment.

      The point of this exercise is to create a system that allows the MapReduce magic of distributed processing of large amounts of data to happen closer to the data itself. By eliminating the need to first transmit the data over a relatively slow wireless network, it can, in some situations, be processed even faster than if it were first uploaded, in total, to a remote server. This, despite the fact that the remote server would be much faster than the processor on any one phone.

    • You Have Reached My Mind, Please Leave a Message.”

      Our current state of wireless communication is, already, high friction telepathy.

      It seems a safe bet that we will work to reduce this friction in every way possible.

    • Book “Power to Save the World” – how the author morphed from nuke-fearing into proponent who believes we need nuclear power.
    • Via Brian Wang’s “Next Big Future:” Scientists from the University of Cambridge are talking about a “Nuclear Renaissance.”

      They suggest:

      • develop new ‘fast reactors’ could be developed that could use uranium approximately 15 times more efficiently

      • develop reactors with replaceable parts so that they can last in excess of 70 years instead of 40-50 years
      • Flexible nuclear technologies could be an option for countries that do not have an established nuclear industry, suggest the scientists. One idea involves ship-borne civil power plants that could be moored offshore, generating electricity for nearby towns and cities. This could reduce the need for countries to build large electricity grid infrastructures, making it more cost effective for governments to introduce a nuclear industry from scratch.
      • build small, modular reactors that never require refuelling. These could be delivered to countries as sealed units, generating power for approximately 40 years. At the end of its life, the reactor would be returned to the manufacturer for decommissioning and disposal.
      • Thorium is mentioned as having potential to become an important nuclear fuel.
      • Accelerator-Driven Sub-critical Reactors are mentioned as an option
      • Nuclear fusion is mentioned. Fusion-fission hybrids and fusion-driven fission fuel breeders are a route to early commercialization of fusion energy.
    • Oh, the Places You’ll Go!: Neptune’s ‘dead zones’ hold more rocks than asteroid belt.

    Short Attention Span Blogging; Thursday, August 12, 2010

    …where science, futurism, and anything else Stephen finds interesting are

    thrown together in an informational stew for your consumption.


    Follow Stephen on Twitter: @stephentgo

    • mallmaintenance_f291.jpg

    • Michael Annisimov points us to two essential Nick Bostrom essays: “When Machines Outsmart Humans” and “Taking Intelligent Machines Seriously.”

      Artificial intelligence is a possibility that should not be ignored in any serious thinking about the future, and it raises many profound issues for ethics and public policy that philosophers ought to start thinking about. This article outlines the case for thinking that human-level machine intelligence might well appear within the next half century. It then explains four immediate consequences of such a development, and argues that machine intelligence would have a revolutionary impact on a wide range of the social, political, economic, commercial, technological, scientific and environmental issues that humanity will face over the coming decades.

    • New Scientist: Swallowing its pride, NASA says it wants to learn from commercial missions to the Moon.

      There’s a growing consensus that the Cold War Space Age was a false dawn – a brute force project necessitated by our conflict with the Soviet Union, and made possible by unsustainable spending.

      Now, we may finally be entering a true, sustainable, Space Age. This time we go to space to earn a living. NASA’s relationship to these entrepreneurs should be analogous to that of the FAA to Delta Airlines.

      As this transition happens, NASA can take a role encouraging others to make the necessary advances:

    • New Push Prize: Got a plan to get us back to the Moon? NASA’s got $30 million worth of motivation!
    • Negroponte thinks that the e-book will kill the physical book within five years.

      “Kill” may be a strong word. But Phil and I have a little wager going. We both think that by February 25, 2019, most reading will be done on electronic devices. The difference: I think the market for paper books will be diminished as a result of this competition. Phil thinks that the print market will be bigger than ever.

    • Richard MacManus asks: “What are your favorite eBook features? I like highlighting a word for its definition. Your faves & the eReader you use?”

      I bought a Kindle that I rarely use now. I read my Kindle books on the device I always have with me – my iPhone. An ebook feature I want: public note sharing. I want to be able to read what other readers think. And add my own thoughts.

    • Moderate exercise is good for longevity; “excessively strenuous” not so much.
    • Wil Wheaton: “DRM-Free Game Suffers 90% Piracy, Offers $5 Amnesty sale. Come on, Gamers, do the right thing.”

      Developers will probably see this as a failure of the DRM-free experiment. Perhaps there’s an alternative way to look at this – why not drop the price? The iPhone app market has shown that huge amounts of money can be made charging small prices to many people. Price it at $5 or less and it starts to become an impulse buy – something that’s purchased for just the chance that it may be useful or fun.

      Having a $5 amnesty sale is a smart response. With the price that low the incentive to pirate falls too.

    • Quite an exit: Flight attendant curses out passengers on the PA, grabs two beers, deploys emergency chute, and slides away…

      Funny from a distance. It was probably less funny for some of the passengers.

    • DIY bio-tech! This is the Lava Amp – a cheap and portable thermal cycler for performing rapid polymerase chain reaction in 30 minutes or less. Its powered by USB or AC. Coming soon to a garage near you


      But remember Eliezer Yudkowsky’s “Moore’s Law for Mad Scientists” – every 18 months, the IQ required to destroy the world drops one point.

    • Scientific American: Seniors face lower risk of getting dangerous prescriptions with computerized hospital Rx system

      Prescription foul-ups occur alarmingly often in busy hospitals. Taking the possibility of human error out of the system is a step in the right direction.

    • Bill Gates: In Five Years The Best Education Will Come From The Web.

      There’s a parallel to solar power. It makes sense for Arizona to adopt solar faster than Maine. The solar environments are different. The speed at which your community embraces online education will probably depend on your school district. The weaker the neighborhood school (or the more overpriced colleges become), the faster parents and students will embrace alternatives.

    • Mike Anissimov pointed us to the Jaron Lanier NYT op-ed, “The First Church of Robotics.”

      …and then commented on the article.

    • Filming starts again on my favorite show:

      bigbangtheory welcome.jpg

    • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells May Replace Embryonic Stem Cells – TechCombo (blog)

      Related: human embryonic stem cells and reprogrammed cells virtually identical – EurekAlert

    • Engadget: Cut-rate, webcam-based 3D scanner coming soon to a MakerBot store near you.

      3D printers will follow the same adoption path as home computers. The first 3D printers have been built for large industrial applications. Then high-priced units with limited functionality will be offered to hobbyists. The practical uses for these machines will grow as the price drops. Eventually we’ll all have one… or more.

    • Drudge Report: Physicist Stephen Hawking: Abandon the Earth!

      Actually, that headline is an overstatement. Hawking thinks we should disperse: some staying on Earth, but others moving on elsewhere. The more we move into space, the less chance that all of humanity would be wiped out in a common disaster.

    • Neanderthal bedroom:

      The late Pleistocene room, found in the Esquilleu Cave, included a hearth and grass beds that seems to have once been covered with animal fur.
      According to the report published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, Neanderthals used the room between 53,000 to 39,000 years ago.

      Scientists say the residents changed the bedding material very often and used the old ones in the hearth.

    • Solar Roadways: Crackpot Idea or Ingenious Concept?

      According to the article, one mile of highway, if converted to solar cells, could provide enough power to run 428 homes – with just four hours of sunlight per day.

    • IGN: Favorite Video Games of 2010 (So Far)
    • “I haz Toxoplasma gondii!”

      Researchers explore link between schizophrenia, cat parasite.

    • Thoughtware.TV – Foldit: Biology for gamers – by Nature Video:

    • Scientific American: Harvesting Waste Heat Could Boost Photovoltaic Power

      Stanford University scientists may have developed a way to double the efficiency of solar power collectors by using heat as well as the light.

    • Engadget: Solar Motorcycle. Leave it in the sun while you’re working and its fully charged at the end of the day.

    • Check out the new site for Acceleration – a Singularity-themed documentary in production.
    • Mike Anissimov: Check out the Singularity Summit Facebook page, and click “like it” if you do.

      If you are attending Singularity Summit, get VIP treatment! For an extra $100 you can meet & mingle w/ our speakers.

    • TEDtalk: Stewart Brand – Why We Should All Think Like Engineers

    • Dish Network to offer live TV streaming on its free mobile apps next month
    • A very interesting new TED talk by Lawrence Lessig:

    • World War II photos overlaid on modern pictures.

      sergey small.JPG

    Short Attention Span Blogging; Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    …where science, futurism, and anything else Stephen finds interesting are

    thrown together in an informational stew for your consumption.


    Follow Stephen on Twitter: @stephentgo

    • Incredible 1930s motorcycle that could have inspired Tron’s light cycles.


    • An interview with Aubrey de Grey: “We don’t have to get sick as we get older”
    • Favorite makers at Maker Faire Detroit:


      Alix Stuart, age 19, was homeschooled. She’s about to attend college as a music major, but also likes to build robots like this spherical critter designed to run away from a “chaser bot” built by her friend.

    • Brain Wang talks Flying Cars.

      Here’s a man driving this car from Florida to Airventure Oshkosh:

    • NPR – Food For Thought: Meat-Based Diet Made Us Smarter.
    • “Shrimp of the land?”

      In order to allow us to continue to get enough animal protein, some argue that Humanity needs to start farming bugs for food:

      In a new policy paper being considered by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Belgian entomologist Arnold van Huis [recommends] that the western world eat more insects.

      And here’s Marcel Dicke at TEDxAmsterdam advocating the same thing:

      Add a garlic butter sauce and I’ll give it a try.

    • Michael Shermer: Free excerpt from Richard Milner’s “Darwin’s Universe (A-Z encyclopedia).” (pdf link)

      The entry we get at that link is about Barnum Brown – an Indiana-Jones-like dinosaur bone collector. Great story.

    • Thomas Frey’s blog post, “When the Smart Grid Meets the Smart Home”

      Electric power is the same stagnant business it was a hundred years ago. We’re still connected by copper wires to the same lackluster grid our grandparents knew.

      With homeowner’s growing dissatisfaction, and an eye on the possibilities stemming from a vibrant online computer industry, a similar scenario awaits the power industry. Despite its leader’s disinclination to change the “status quo,” innovation will be driven from the bottom up, where the digital world meets the physical world. And, innovation will be driven by the creation of a better interface.

    • Plants and Animals School Us in Energy Efficiency

      …it all comes down to the fact that we’ve yet to figure out how to effectively store electricity. Plants can do it. Bears can do it. Human civilization, however, is still developing and refining the technology. But until we can effectively store energy on a large scale, we’ll have to use (or waste) electricity the moment we generate it.

    • Singularity primer: “The Intelligent Universe” by Abou Farman
    • DNA Wrapping and Replication Video

      H/T Michael Anissimov

    • Stanford University scientists are developing a process to make solar power production greater than 2 times as efficient – up to 60% efficient. The process actually works better as heat rises.
    • Graphene gets weirder and more remarkable the more its studied. Scientists were able to create magnetic fields greater than 300 tesla by simply straining graphene. Fields greater than 85 were once thought impossible.
    • Michael Anissimov: “Futurist Ray Kurzweil and magician-skeptic James Randi will be speaking in San Francisco this August 14-15!!!”
    • News: The whimsical inner city airports that never came to pass

      past future airport.JPG

      What could go wrong?

    • Popular Mechanics: Behind the Scenes of the Race to Sky Dive from 120,000 Feet

      This account includes the story of how Joe Kittinger set the 50-year-old sky diving record when he piloted the Excelsior III up to 102,800 feet… and then jumped.

    • Stan Lee: Some have asked the meaning of “Excelsior.” Pride wells within me as I reply–”Upward and onward to greater glory!”
    • 106 awesome, sexy and weird costumes from Comic-Con 2010


    • Faster please: Protein found in the human body appears to be able – when paired with nanoparticles – to find & kill certain cancer cells.
    • Interested in designing the next “Farmville?” Check out this article: “The New Games People Play: How Game Mechanics Have Changed In The Age Of Social.”

      (Video at link)

    • Plugless Power soon to arrive for electric and hybrid vehicles.

    • A very strong review for the new Batman animated movie “Under the Red Hood.”
    • Crowd-Tracking Noise and Air Pollution with GPS enabled personal monitors.
    • 70 billion pixels. The largest photo ever taken. Budapest. Zoom in and out, click on the boxes for specific landmarks. Click the picture to get started.


    Short Attention Span Blogging; Sunday, August 1, 2010

    …where science, futurism, and anything else Stephen finds interesting are

    thrown together in an informational stew for your consumption.


    Follow Stephen on Twitter: @stephentgo

    • Music to read by. The “Tron: Legacy” score!

      Daft Punk – Tron Soundtrack (Sampler) by Some Kind of Awesome

    • Thomas Hoover’s 1992 novel “Project Cyclops” now available for free download at
    • Thanks a lot: The Fengyun satellite that China blew up in 2007 is the number one source of space debris.

      space debris.JPG

    • John Scalzi: “Just watched the new Clash of the Titan… what a terrible film.”

      First rule of remakes – make it better… or don’t bother.

    • The plot of Inception as an infographic.

      Spoilers there… of course.

    • Michael Anissimov comments on his FastForward Radio interview.

      In response to a question about ethics, I replied that many of the speakers will touch on ethics, some talks can be interpreted as primarily about ethics/philosophy (like Eliezer’s talk), and that to say something coherent on ethics, people need to know about the technology first.

      Here’s the FastForward Radio show.

    • TED: David Keith talks about Geo-engineering to slow global warming.

      Bottom line: we can fix global warming, and relatively cheaply, when we decide to do so.

    • In the Future, We’ll All Wear Clothes Made by 3D Printers.

      Experimental 3D printed clothes are already a reality. My prediction: you’ll start seeing them in your closet in 10 years. In 15 years your kids will be printing their own custom designs.

    • News: Blog – Porsche to Make a Plug-in Hybrid

      All good news here: plug-ins are powered by environmentally friendly lithium ion batteries, electricity is far cheaper per mile than gas, and hybrids are a manageable first step to EV’s.

    • Incredible pic of Martian crater… and an origin mystery:


      A coincidental double impact? The author has a better theory.

    • BoingBoing reports that the activities on the Wii are half as effective at burning calories as the real activities they’re modeled on.

      Good news actually. Who expected Wii Tennis to be as good as the real thing? Nobody. And playing the Wii is still better than sitting on the couch.

    • First molten-salt solar thermal power plant just opened in Sicily, capable of generating enough to power 5,000 homes.

      Two innovations: this plant uses both photovoltaic and heat energy from the sun, so its more efficient. And, using that energy to melt salt allows continued power production after the sun goes down.

      One of the biggest technical difficulties is the fact that salt is corrosive.

    • Digitize your handwriting.

    Short Attention Span Blogging; Thursday, July 29, 2010

    …where science, futurism, and anything else Stephen finds interesting are

    thrown together in an informational stew for your consumption.


    Follow Stephen on Twitter: @stephentgo

    • “Live in the moment, but take the long view.”

      - overheard by Tobias Buckell

    • Army’s HULC Exoskeleton To Test at End of 2010, Hints at Industrial/Medical Uses

      Based on this I’d say it’s likely we’ll see some real-world version of Iron Man before we see a biologically enhanced Captain America.

    • Nanoblasts from Laser-Activated Nanoparticles Move Molecules, Proteins and DNA Into Cells.

      This method is allowing these scientists to get stuff into living cells that they’ve never been able to do before. This could be a big, revolutionary change in medicine.

    • Molecular Cellular Automata Achieves 700 bits of Parallel Processing

      Such massive parallelism could solve problems that conventional computers would work on forever.

    • “Free” is getting better and better: Excellent tabletop RPG – “Warrior, Rogue & Mage” – available free at RPGNow.
    • Speeding Up Diagnosis of Infectious Disease through DNA sequencing. What used to take several days can be done in 24hours

      This might be the first way DNA sequencing technology enters your doctor’s office. Not to sequence you. Rather, to sequence enough of a disease’s DNA to make a good diagnosis.

    • Rise of the Helpful Machines.

      There is a huge need for these elder-care bots in demographically-challenged places like Japan.

    • A young William Adama is getting his own online series, Blood and Chrome.

      As we learned from Kelly Parks in the latest FastForward Radio show, online series have a way of becoming more – full television series and movies.

    • The statistical result is in: The galaxy is rich in Earth-like rocky planets.

      Now, how do we get out there?

    • In answer to author Tobias Buckell: yes, movies can sometimes be better than the book. The Princess Bride, Forrest Gump, Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather, Jaws, and High Fidelity are all good examples.

      Of course there are plenty of counter-examples.

    • Huxley v. Orwell

      Competing dystopias – Orwell thought Big Brother will destroy our lives by taking away our freedom, Huxley thought that freedom will destroy our lives.

      Perhaps we can dodge both bullets. Increased technology can decentralize power to avoid Orwell’s vision. And, if we concentrate on using technology to build greater connections with other people, perhaps we can avoid disappearing into the hedonistic traps Huxley warned against.

    • Examples of science fiction preceeding science fact.

      Even if a technology proves to be forever out of reach – like, perhaps, faster-than-light travel – it wouldn’t mean that Star Trek was a big waste of time. Beyond its entertainment value, many times these stories have inspired us to look a little into the “impossible,” and turn dreams into reality.

    • DIY to DIWO [Do It w/ Others]: biohackers, synthetic biologists, & FBI to dialogue at Open Science Summit
    • “CO2 Could be Decreased To Pre-Industrial Levels in 10 Years.”

      This new solar carbon capture process simultaneously uses the visible and thermal solar components to power a cabon-capture facility. The carbon that is captured from the atmosphere could then be converted to carbon monoxide for fuel.

    • Hugo Weaving is playing the villianous Red Skull in next summer’s Captain America movie.

      Here’s the The Council Of Elrond scene from “Fellowship of the Ring.” Weaving is playing Elrond.

    • Prequel to Inception is a graphic novel, available online.
    • China Surpasses U.S. in Energy Use?

      Why is this important? Energy use is a great way to measure a civilization’s technological development. See the Kardashev scale.

    • “If you would be known, and not know, vegetate in a village; If you would know, and not be known, live in a city.” – Charles Caleb Colton

      Geographical location means less than it used to. It is increasingly possible to live in a village physically while simultaneously existing, virtually, in a city.

      And vice-versa.

    • Cory Doctorow: Why can’t I right-click on a building to find out when it was built?
    • One of the strangest invention stories of all time. The origin of the Curta mechanical calculator.

      It was perfected by a prisoner in a German concentration camp.

    • MythBusters’ Jamie: this is how the show works- we’re just curious about stuff and figure out how they work
    • Maker Faire is in Detroit this week.
    • MIT 3D Food Printer, Virtuoso Mixer and Robotic Chef

      Can I get mine in harvest gold?

    • Speaking of harvest gold, check out this1981 TV news clip about online news and the future of newspapers.

    Short Attention Span Blogging; Saturday, July 24, 2010

    …where science, futurism, and anything else Stephen finds interesting are

    thrown together in an informational stew for your consumption.


    Follow Stephen on Twitter: @stephentgo

    • Check out “This Week in the Future, July 19-23, 2010″

      They’re pointing to stories on:

      • Fighting Drugs With Drugs: An Obscure
        Hallucinogen Gains Legitimacy as a Solution for Addictions

      • Quantum Time Machine Lets You Travel to the Past Without Fear of Grandfather Paradox
      • Bionic Dick Cheney Technically Has No Pulse
      • Divers Use Bar Codes on Tablet Computers to Visually Control Underwater Bots
    • I wish I was at Comic-Con! Check out the Bare Naked Ladies surprise performance of “The Big Bang Theory” theme song.

    • “‘Hyperfast Star‘ Was Booted from Milky Way”

      SciFi story idea: Imagine you were an intelligent race marooned in that system. How important would it be to leave that star before it left the Milky Way? How hard would it be to leave?

    • After 14 days, the solar powered plane lands.
    • Discussion topic: “@MJSL2050: Why are some people so interested in human-like AI? I am glad that my computer is not like me…”

      Brent Kearney responded that it was “not just to build new friends. Same reason the computer was invented in the first place: to solve problems faster.”

      I see both sides of this one. My computer doesn’t have to be sentient to be an effective tool. And I’d really like to avoid the slave-owner stigma when I buy a robotic butler in a few years.

      Still, it seems pretty obvious that AGI could be useful – the whole Singularity thing. I’m glad its being worked on.

    • Top 10 countries by robot density.


    • New Zealand’s Robot Legs Let Paraplegics Walk for $150,000!

      More video here.

      And, yes, it costs $150,000 now. It will go down.

    • “Pentagon Pushes for Near-Perfect Regenerative Medicine

      The Office of the Secretary of Defense is soliciting small business proposals for two new projects to transform the regeneration of damaged tissue and cartilage, which afflict 85 percent of injured troops in Iraq and Afghanistan…

      The solicitation anticipates some combination of “biomaterials, tissue engineering, [and] cell therapy.

    • TEDtalks: Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Stone says the future of joint replacement is “biologic, not bionic.”

    • World’s cheapest “laptop” has touch-screen computing, Internet browsing, and video conferencing for $35.

      Drudge Report: India unveils $35 computer, wants to see price drop to $10.

      A few years ago one of my kids received a toy cash register in a happy meal. Almost as an afterthought, the cash register had a working calculator built into it. A device that had cost $2,200 in 1963 was being given away to kids that would probably never use it for calculation.

      Prediction: one day we will see computers as capable as OLPC given away in Happy Meals.

    • JPBarlow: Global Internet traffic is roughly tracking Moore’s Law, doubling every 18 months. Expect 21 petabytes per day by 2012.


      Cisco released a report earlier this week suggesting that global Internet traffic is growing exponentially.

      …prediction that the Web will nearly quadruple in size over the next four years. Cisco claims that, by 2013, what amounts to 10 billion DVDs will cross the Internet each month… The findings point to “consumer hyperactivity”

      …With the Cisco-created “PC Pulse,” you can clearly determine how much bandwidth you use and for what types of traffic. Not a bad way to become aware of the way we surf.

      “Consumer hyperactivity?” “Footprint tracking?” Internet traffic is a good thing. All those little kids with the OLPC computers – and the rest of us – are changing the world for the better.

    • “Once the rise in the position of the lower classes gathers speed, catering to the rich ceases to be the main source of great gain and gives place to efforts directed towards the needs of the masses. Those forces which at first make inequality self-accentuating thus later tend to diminish it.”

      - Friedrich von Hayek as quoted by Matt Ridley in The Rational Optimist

    • New Tron Legacy Trailer:

    • Bob Richards: Cool to find Singularity University offices buzzing with energized students when I returned at midnight. The Singularity is Here!
    • NASA is crowdsourcing: aspiring undergrads given a chance to propose, design and fabricate a reduced gravity experiment.
    • DIY: Steampunk Electric Monopoly


    • Roger Ebert: “Inception” has entered into the category of a film people think they must see so they can participate in dinner conversations.
    • George Dvorsky: Just what Ontario’s campgrounds need: Wireless Internet

      I’ve enjoyed 21st Century camping lately. Getting outside without having to leave part of my brain behind is a great way to “rough it.”

    • More than 100 Earth-like planets found in just past few weeks.

    • Irradiating the brain’s stem cell cache improves survivability in brain cancer patients.
    • Prosperity in spite of climate change? GreenTV presents four scenarios for 2030. (video)
    • Before inventing the safety razor, Gillette was a futurist. In 1894, he planned a hexagonal city with transparent sidewalks. It was to be built atop Niagra falls for hydroelectric power.


    • TED: headset that reads your brainwaves.

    • Computer deciphers a forgotten written language within hours.
    • Language and abstract symbols is a massive intellectual prosthesis. Human thought is a combination of our evolved neural architecture AND the language prosthesis. Computer networking is just the latest gloss on a prosthesis that’s already given us greater than human intelligence.
    • Facebook Credits: The World’s First Global Currency?

    Short Attention Span Blogging; Wednesday, July 20, 2010

    …where science, futurism, and anything else Stephen finds interesting are thrown together in an informational stew for your consumption.


    Follow Stephen on Twitter: @stephentgo

    • “The most important question we must ask ourselves is, ‘Are we being good ancestors?’”

      - Jonas Salk

    • A US DOE Roadmap for Nuclear Energy and Uranium Through 2100.

      Through 2100? Um, farsigted is great, but this seems a little unrealistic.

    • Marvel releases glorious concept art posters for upcoming Captain America and Thor movies.


    • Kindles, iPads, and Other eBook Readers Available for Loan from Public & Academic Libraries

      We’ll see a lot more of this as the price of these devices continues to drop.

    • Popular Mechanics: This is the inside story of the Chevy Volt.
    • Virginia Postrel: Four authors explain why they feel $1.99 is ideal eBook price.

      EBooks eliminate the cost of printing, transporting, storage, and middlemen, so why not? And Apple has found that this is the right price point for Aps. Its cheap enough that people will more readily purchase on the mere chance that they may get something out of it.

    • Roger Ebert: movies “everyone” loves? “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “A Christmas Story,” “Bride of Frankenstein,” “Fargo,” “Notorious,” “Princess Bride,” “Duck Soup,” “Pinocchio,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Hard Day’s Night,” “Jaws.”

      I’d add “Star Wars: A New Hope.”

    • A convincing argument for adding random strangers to your twitter feed.

      The idea is to challenge yourself with different thinking. Better than going random would be purposefully following people with different beliefs or backgrounds.

    • Robot can power itself with producing Artificial Gut.

      If a full sized robot can power itself in a way similar to a human body, could medical devices one day be powered by the same energy system that the biological body uses?

      Favorite quote: “Diarrhoea-bot would be more appropriate,” Melhuish admits. “It’s not exactly knocking out rabbit pellets.”

    • TEDx: “Can Nanotechnology Help Feed the World?”

      Here is the simplest way nanotech might help:

      carbon nanotube growth.JPG

      But the speaker was more excited about the possibility of developing “smart fertilizers.”

    • Makerbot joining RepRap in the ranks of devices that can (partially) self-copy. Coming soon: a self-replicating 3D printer revolution!

      There are still major hurdles to be cleared on the path to self-replication, however. Few printers can create more than plastic parts. While we have seen stainless steel printing, most metals are still far from accessible, and the semi-conductors needed for printing electronics seem many years off (though some progress is being made there too). Also, none of these printers come equipped with robotic arms, and until they are you can expect that every ‘self-replicating’ machine is still going to require a lot of human labor to assemble.

      Makerbot and the RepRap have an important similarity: both are open-source projects. Both allow the sort of incremental improvement necessary to move toward self-replication.

    • Open source versus crowdsource. What’s the difference? Is one better than the other?


    • John Scalzi: “Hi, folks! Have a new short story from me. It’s free! BUT ONE DAY I MAY ASK A FAVOR.”

      A very fun short story.

    • Wil Wheaton: “Trying to read a book about Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, but whenever I look for it, it moves.”

      Hey Wil: I’m holding it in my hands, but now I can’t tell what the book is about.

    • Is instant translation in any language now possible?

      Short answer: no, not quite yet. But we’re getting close.

    • Yesterday was the 41st anniversary of the first Moon landing. Bill Whittle has some observations in this video: “One Small Misstep for a Man, One Giant Leap for Private Enterprise.”
    • futureaware: A Lunar Space Elevator is Feasible for Deployment within 7 Years.

      With its lower gravity, lack of atmospheric weather, and reduced chance of accidental collision or purposeful sabotage, the Moon will be much easier place to deploy a space elevator.

    • University of South Florida researchers suggest aging may be “a stem cell disease.”
    • Glenn Reynolds: Taking photos in public places is not a crime.

      A fact that many law enforcement agencies keep forgetting.

    • Secret organization in catacombs under Paris. Fascinating and strange.
    • PopMech: Debunking 10 Energy Myths. #9: Solar will never pay for itself.

      [At the current state of the art...] after a solar array’s initial payback period, you start to reap some serious financial benefits [for a residential installation]. Assuming solar cells have an average life expectancy of 30 years, more than 50 percent of the power solar cells generate ends up being free. “There are maintenance issues,” Zimmerman says, but over time, “solar cells are definitely making you money.”

    • Like “Inception?” Here’s more sleeper cinema: 10 Freaky, Funny, and Fantastical Dream Sequences – from Hitchcock to Bergman.

    Short Attention Span Blogging; Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    …where science, futurism, and anything else Stephen finds interesting are thrown together in an informational stew for your consumption.


    Follow Stephen on Twitter: @stephentgo

    • AMAZON’s E-Books Pull Ahead of Hardcovers…

      Amazon celebrated last Christmas that they sold more eBooks on that day than hard covers. Now, for the last three months, EBook sales are outpacing the sale of hard covers at Amazon.

      Maybe this is not the most fair comparison. You can buy hardcovers anywhere. Kindle books can only be bought from Amazon. Still, this is just another milestone on the road to my winning the Kindle bet.

    • Cell phone charger works off human movement


    • Real life light saber?

      If this is not a complete scam, then its a very dangerous toy. No kids, you’re not getting one.

    • nprnews: NASA Waits For Spirit To Send Signal From Mars

      A mission intended for 90 days will be starting its 7th year.

    • Using a DARPA grant, MIT scientists are harnessing the body’s movements to generate electrical power for bionic devices.

      and “Fast Company” published this article, “Bionic Legs, i-Limbs, and Other Super Human Prostheses You’ll Envy”

      The “You’ll Envy” part is a bit premature. But any reason to play the “Six Million Dollar Man Intro” is fine by me:

    • For more than a week, the Zephyr, a solar-powered drone, has been circling above the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in AZ.

      Earlier this month the “Solar Impulse” became the first solar plane to stay aloft through the night. Another team is showing that it can be done for a week – at least without the weight of a pilot.

    • Undersea robots are heroes of Gulf of Mexico oil spill fight. Capable of going where no man can go…
    • Roger Ebert: films “everyone” likes? Pulp Fiction, Toy Story, The Third Man, Seven Samurai, Jaws, Singin’ in the Rain.

      I’d add “Dances With Wolves.” And not just “Toy Story” – almost everything from Pixar.

    • Debunking 10 Energy Myths. #7: The risk of earthquakes make geothermal energy unrealistic.

      But be careful where you drill…

    • Methane levels up to 1,000,000x higher than normal in some regions near gulf oil spill. May create “dead zones.”
    • How would you use interactivity in ebooks?

      The Kindle already shows you popular highlights. But that’s about as basic as interactivity can get. How about giving readers the option to allow automated updates?

      I’d also like author or author rep moderated reader note sharing / comment threads, links to the internet, video, etc.

      One of the reasons that eBooks will overtake paper is because they you won’t get the full experience reading off a dead tree.

    • newscientist: Seawater + fresh water = electricity: A salty solution for power generation
    • KurzweilAINews: Bye-Bye Batteries: Radio Waves as a Low-Power Source
    • Check out the new “Carnival of Nuclear Energy” over at Brian Wang’s blog Next Big Future.
    • GE announced they have achieved 56 lumens-per-watt efficiency. Now white OLED lighting devices can be made at low cost.
    • Quantum Mechanics Of Time Travel Through Post-Selected Teleportation.

      Can somebody else read this and explain it to me?

    • Universal flu vaccine: experiments with mice able to produce antibodies that attacked a vast array of flu viruses.

      Would we want a truly universal vaccine? Probably, but only if it could distinguish between harmful viruses and the beneficial virome found in and on our bodies.

    • Aubrey de Grey: Scientists Call for a Biomedical Apollo Project to Avert Global Aging Crisis
    • Pulp story “Warrior of the Dawn” now up at

      warrior of the dawn.jpg

    • More large photos of the strange creatures spotted with special deep-sea cameras by the Deep Australia project.

      Here’s an example: