Tuesday, October 25, 2011

FW: Nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System on Nov 9th.

On Nov 9th Homeland Security and the FCC will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), A.K.A. Emergency Broadcast System. This will be the first time the entire system has been tested at one time.

When the alert is activated a disclaimer is supposed to announce that this is a test, on the radio and electronic message boards this will should not be an issue. However on TV some of the older equipment will not display video announcing that this is a test. Lastly the test will last about 3 minutes which is longer than normal.

Halloween Humor



Air Force’s ‘Not Science Fiction’ Commercial Totally Is

from Wired.com

If you're like me, you watched in disbelief as the lowly Carolina Panthers trounced the Washington Redskins on Sunday, but you were even more bewildered by an Air Force commercial during a gamebreak. In that ad, Air Force C-17 cargo planes do a number of impossible things — like stuff out of a Michael Bay movie — while the onscreen text promises, "It's not science fiction. It's what we do every day."

For the uninitiated, in the ad — which you can view above — the C-17s swoop over a breaking bridge to evacuate some poor souls in the middle of an emergency. So far, so good. But then the C-17 engines rotate into a vertical position. (Nope.) The behemoth of a plane — which is
174 feet long and can weigh up to 585,000 lbs. — lands on the bridge without collapsing it further. (Would never happen.) And when the C-17's aircrew loads up the wounded and flies off the bridge, the plane physically transforms into a different aircraft. (Um, what?)

I called up the Air Force Recruiting Service to find out how this could
possibly not be science fiction. If there's a squadron out there flying Autobot C-17s, then I must embed with it. Noah Shachtman would fire me if I somehow missed that story.

"This one was definitely more cinematic in the beginning," concedes Christa D'Andrea, public affairs chief for the Air Force recruitment arm. "It's a very cinematic, sci-fi sort of campaign."

OK, it's not exactly a Pulitzer-level scoop that commercials exaggerate the truth. But shouldn't an ad promising not to be science fiction contain, y'know, less science fiction?

full @ http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/10/air-force-sci-fi

Friday, October 21, 2011

9 Essential Geek Books You Must Read Right Now

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

details on the "Wasabi Alarm"

Popular Mechanics was so intrigued by the Ig Nobel-winning wasabi fire alarm, it wrote about it.
Here's more from the magazine's Oct. 5 article:
As anyone who's ever put too much of the pungent green paste on a sushi roll knows, wasabi is hard to ignore. A taste of the stinging stuff sets off alarm bells on your tongue. And a Japanese team has now taken advantage of that fact for their real but really crazy-sounding invention: the wasabi fire alarm.

The research team was trying to come up with a solution to the fact that most people who are killed in building fires are asleep or elderly—either way, they don't hear the alarm. But it's hard to ignore the eye-watering burn of wasabi, so the researchers tried to use that to their advantage. First, they isolated the compound in wasabi responsible for the characteristic stinging sensation, allyl isothiocyanate. This chemical isn't an odor, it's a "somatosensation." The nervous system perceives it as a painful, stinging feeling. "In contrast to olfactory processing, somatosensory processing persists during sleep," team member Makoto Imai tells PM. "That's why subjects can wake up after inhalation of air-diluted wasabi." Their invention is now registered under a patent called "Odor Generation Alarm and Method for Informing Unusual Situation."

For their tests, Imai and colleagues filled canisters of the compound, waited until their test subjects were deeply asleep, and then filled the room with wasabi gas. Of the 14 test subjects—including four who were deaf—13 woke within 2 minutes. (It turned out that the fourteenth person had a blocked nose). The team actually tested about 100 odors, including rotten eggs. Wasabi stood alone as the premier waker-upper.

Last week, their innovation earned them an Ig Nobel prize, an award handed out by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research, which every year spoofs the Nobel Prizes awarded a week later. "At first, we wondered what happened," Imai says of the odd honor. "But then, we were very delighted with this prize."

Seems, Inc., a Tokyo-based company, used the team's research to develop the alarm, which has been available since April 2009 for about $600. The company is working to create a less expensive model.


Here are the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize winners.

Here are the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize winners.

The prizes were awarded at the 21st First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, on September 29, at Harvard University. See ceremony details — and video of the ceremony — at <http://improbable.com/ig/2011/>

: Anna Wilkinson (of the UK), Natalie Sebanz (of THE NETHERLANDS, HUNGARY, and AUSTRIA), Isabella Mandl (of AUSTRIA) and Ludwig Huber (of AUSTRIA) for their study "No Evidence of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise."

CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Makoto Imai, Naoki Urushihata, Hideki Tanemura, Yukinobu Tajima, Hideaki Goto, Koichiro Mizoguchi and Junichi Murakami of JAPAN, for determining the ideal density of airborne wasabi (pungent horseradish) to awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency, and for applying this knowledge to invent the wasabi alarm.

MEDICINE PRIZE: Mirjam Tuk (of THE NETHERLANDS and the UK), Debra Trampe (of THE NETHERLANDS) and Luk Warlop (of BELGIUM). and jointly to Matthew Lewis, Peter Snyder and Robert Feldman (of the USA), Robert Pietrzak, David Darby, and Paul Maruff (of AUSTRALIA) for demonstrating that people make better decisions about some kinds of things — but worse decisions about other kinds of things‚ when they have a strong urge to urinate.

PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE: Karl Halvor Teigen of the University of Oslo, NORWAY, for trying to understand why, in everyday life, people sigh.

LITERATURE PRIZE: John Perry of Stanford University, USA, for his Theory of Structured Procrastination, which says: To be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that's even more important.

BIOLOGY PRIZE: Darryl Gwynne (of CANADA and AUSTRALIA and the UK and the USA) and David Rentz (of AUSTRALIA and the USA) for discovering that a certain kind of beetle mates with a certain kind of Australian beer bottle.

PHYSICS PRIZE: Philippe Perrin, Cyril Perrot, Dominique Deviterne and Bruno Ragaru (of FRANCE), and Herman Kingma (of THE NETHERLANDS), for determining why discus throwers become dizzy, and why hammer throwers don't.

MATHEMATICS PRIZE: Dorothy Martin of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1954), Pat Robertson of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1982), Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1990), Lee Jang Rim of KOREA (who predicted the world would end in 1992), Credonia Mwerinde of UGANDA (who predicted the world would end in 1999), and Harold Camping of the USA (who predicted the world would end on September 6, 1994 and later predicted that the world will end on October 21, 2011), for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations. [NOTE: See next section, below, for further details.]

PEACE PRIZE: Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, LITHUANIA, for demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armored tank. [NOTE: be sure to see the video.]

PUBLIC SAFETY PRIZE: John Senders of the University of Toronto, CANADA, for conducting a series of safety experiments in which a person drives an automobile on a major highway while a visor repeatedly flaps down over his face, blinding him. [NOTE: be very sure to see the video.]

Details, with citations and links: <http://www.improbable.com/ig/winners/#ig2011>


Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Perfect Costume

A bald man with a wooden leg gets invited to a Halloween Party. He doesn't know what costume to wear to hide his head and his leg, So he writes to a costume company to explain his problem.

A few days later he received a parcel with the following note:

Dear Sir,
Please find enclosed a pirate's outfit. The spotted handkerchief will cover your bald head and with your wooden leg, you will be just right as a pirate.

Very truly yours,
Acme Costume Co.

The man thinks this is terrible because they have emphasized his wooden leg, so he writes a letter of complaint. A week goes by and he receives another parcel and a note, which says:

Dear Sir,
Please find enclosed a monk's costume. The long robe will cover your wooden leg and with your bald head, you should really look the part.

Very truly yours,
Acme Costume Co.

Now the man is really upset since they have gone from emphasizing his wooden leg to emphasizing his bald head, so again he writes the Company another nasty letter of complaint.

The next day he gets a small parcel and a note, which reads:

Dear Sir,
We have TRIED our very BEST.
Please find enclosed a bottle of molasses and a bag of crushed nuts.

Pour the molasses over your bald head, sprinkle on the crushed nuts, stick your wooden leg up your ass and go as a Caramel Apple.

Very truly yours,
Acme Costume Co.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Science can be FUN !

from Wired:

I didn't know this two weeks ago, but it turns out the problem with science is that there aren't enough theories involving prehistoric narcissistic psychopathic art mollusks.

Here's the background: A paleontologist recently gave a presentation in which he posited that there once existed a type of
giant sea squid that preyed on ichthyosaurs. Ichthyosaurs, by way of explanation, are ancient aquatic reptiles that look like a cross between a dolphin and a prison shiv.

The paleontologist's theory was that this killer calamari would capture its prey, drag it down and eat it. So far so good — standard giant death squid behavior. Where it gets weird is that this beastie then carefully arranged the bones of the deceased ichthyosaur on the ocean floor. Where it gets weird and eerie is that it arranged the bones to resemble its own tentacle suckers. (By the way, I took a moment to look up the proper scientific term for tentacle suckers. Turns out it's "tentacle suckers." Ten points to House Nomenclature!)

Now, I understand that we can't necessarily apply our modern sensibilities and morality to the culture of million-year-old purely theoretical invertebrates, but at the same time, that's some serious serial killer activity right there.

Imagine a child, playing with chicken bones after the family meal, absorbed in his task. The pattern made by the neatly laid-out bones looks a bit familiar, but you can't place it. So you ask, "What's that you're making there?"

The child looks at you and says, in a calm, quiet voice, "It's me."

Speaking for myself, at that point I go online and check to see if Amazon delivers exorcisms.

continues @ http://www.wired.com/underwire/2011/10/alt-text-ichthyosaurs/

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sobering thoughts

A friend of mine saw Roger Daltrey in concert singing the entire "Tommy" album & hits of The Who.

Some of his interesting observations;

1.    95% of the crowd was over 50.

2.    For those in the audience who saw Daltrey when The Who was in its hey-day (30+ years ago) & took drugs, the drugs they took were to get high or "expand one's consciousness" . Today, I'd venture to say that the majority of the crowd was on drugs to just keep themselves alive (heart meds, blood pressure meds, meds to prevent depression or anxiety... you know, keep the "mood" even).

3.    When he sang "My Generation" you realize that the song has a different meaning now that he -- and the majority of the audience -- are pensioners (or nearly there).

4.    Pete Townshend is "nearly deaf' & has to wear hearing aids (talk about sobering mortality).

5.    The beverage of choice for the band on stage was bottled water (of course it could have been alcohol, but I doubt it)..

6.    The drummer now sits behind a plexiglass screen from the rest of the band, incl. Daltrey, who stands right in front of the drum kit – hearing protection?

7.    The keyboards could accurately mimic the orchestral parts of the Tommy album (esp. the overture).


The U.S. Air Force revealed new details Wednesday about the virus that's been infecting the remote cockpits of its drone fleet — and insisted, despite reports from their own personnel, that the infection was properly and easily contained.

In a statement — the military's first official, on-the-record acknowledgment of the virus — the Air Force insisted that the malware was "more of a nuisance than an operational threat.

The ability of drone pilots to remotely fly the aircraft from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada "remained secure throughout the incident."


 Reports that SkyNet-operated computers were heard laughing in the background remain unconfirmed, as nobody in the control room is answering the phones...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"No beer is needed here" - Agent Rogersz in "Repo Man"

Alabama town's dry Oktoberfest finally goes wet

CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) - With German roots and Bible Belt values, the north Alabama town of Cullman marked Oktoberfest for decades with oompah music, lederhosen and bratwurst, but no beer. Now the party long billed as the world's only dry Oktoberfest is finally going wet.

Organizers tapped a keg for the first time Monday at Cullman's Oktoberfest, ending an autumn prohibition in a town of 14,000 that had banned alcohol sales outright until church leaders lost that fight last fall.

Hundreds of people sipped beer and cheered at a stein-hoisting contest Monday night. A blocked-off downtown street was full of people enjoying $4 drafts; a few men wore traditional German pants and socks; couples washed down brats and spicy pretzels with brew.

In a compromise aimed partly at helping ease the concerns of townspeople who worried about adding booze to the party, there was still an alcohol-free side to the celebration located about 50 yards away under a big, open shed. There, children did "The Chicken Dance" and cans of Pepsi sat on mostly empty tables; the crowd on the dry side was less than half as large as the crowd on the wet side.