Hey, folks. My blogging has lightened up because I'm a freelance and half of the last 3-4 weeks were all-nighters. I've just been exhausted.
Logic-Cool will live on.
Imprisoned in an insane asylum after witnessing the murder of her sister by her evil stepfather, a young woman attempts to battle her way to freedom through her imagination.
Let's get right to it. I was a bit disappointed in this movie. This is the kind of film that a cynic makes in order to spread a message about optimism. If I say anything more specific than that, it becomes a spoiler. As most of you already know, SUCKER PUNCH tells the story of a girl, nicknamed Babydoll, trapped in an insane asylum who tries to battle her way to freedom through her imagination.
Zack Snyder's latest movie *seems* to draw most of its inspiration from a little cult film named DANCER IN THE DARK starring Bjork. Indeed, Bjork's music colors the soundtrack regularly in SUCKER PUNCH. In fact, calling SUCKER PUNCH a high-tech ...read more
Smartphone apps seem to be dominating headlines lately. A new app for the iPhone and Android, called Color, allows for the automatic sharing of videos and photos to other smartphones positioned within 100 yards of you.
Picture it: It’s spring in Central Park and you snap some photos of yourself sunbathing in Sheep’s Meadow. A lad near the fountain catches a glimpse and comments. You can see his photo stream of him rowing on the lake. You comment back. Sure, everyone else within a 100 yards can see the love affair unfolding, but love is in the air!
A team at Microsoft has developed a smartphone app that allows users to create 3D images in a virtual space. The user simply takes several photographs of an object at different viewpoints. Then, the photos are sent to a cloud server for processing. Afterwards, the app downloads a photo-realistic model of the object, which can then be viewed from any angle 360 degrees around.
For example, creating a 3D car requires the user to take 40 car photographs. The team also created a web browser plug-in that enables viewing on the Internet.
"You could be selling an item online, taking a picture of a friend for fun, or recording something for insurance purposes...These 3-D scans take up less bandwidth than a video because they are based on only a few images, and are also interactive."
Scientists gathering at a meeting of the American Physical Society in Dallas, Texas are exploring a quantum physics theory of explaining how smell works. Current theories of human smell hold that molecules have certain shapes. When they enter our noses, they fit like a "key in a lock" with certain receptors in our sinus cavities.
However, new research from Dr. Luca Turin of MIT has suggested instead that the "vibrational" state of the molecule might have a bearing on smell. In experiments, flies were able to distinguish between similar molecules that had differing frequencies.
The BBC article above is very general, but if you'd like to read more specifically how quantum physics might intersect with smell, you can check out this paper in the Journal of Applied Physics by Dr. Andrew Horsfield of Imperial College London. Access will require a subscription.
Japanese researchers have succeeded in creating sperm from mice tissue samples. Takehiko Ogawa then used the sperm to fertilize eggs using IVF techniques, which produced 12 pups who went on to have mice families of their own.
The research promises to open up the possibility of fatherhood for infertile men. In particular, when pre-pubescent men are treated for cancer (radiation or chemotherapy), they often lose the ability to have children when they grow up. Older men don't suffer this problem because they can freeze their sperm for later use.
Dr. Ogawa stresses that his research is still in its early stages:
"[He] cautioned that the research is still at an early stage – and while it is clear the baby mice produced from the test-tube sperm were fertile, it is unclear if they were healthy in other ways."
In the first ever crowd-sourcing competition using social media to design a combat vehicle, DARPA has awarded Victor Garcia 1st place for his Flypmode design. Logic-Cool had covered this topic previously here. The winning model will actually be built as a concept model later this June. I consider the idea of this competition more exciting than any of the vehicles themselves, in essence allowing everyday people and enthusiasts to pool their knowledge and design assets far quicker than the normal bureaucratic process.
The process for creating the XC2V vehicle itself serves as a proof of concept. If it works, DARPA will refine the process of crowd-sourcing and start a series of prize challenges that will result in a true infantry fighting vehicle…It takes us 10 or 20 years to develop a complex military system like a jet or a ship or a tank. We want to reduce that by ...read more
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have proposed a novel treatment for people infected with the AIDS virus. Rather than attempt to destroy the virus itself, they've instead suggested patients be injected with a stripped-down, harmless version of HIV. By placing HIV in competition with another virus for the same resources, they hope to slow the onset of AIDS by another 5-10 years.
The treatment isn't without risks, as it ultimately relies upon a rapidly evolving virus to fight another rapidly evolving virus. Animal trials will have to follow.
“The concept and computational model are intriguing, but I’d like to see a clear demonstration of this in animal models,” said computational biologist Allen Rodrigo of Duke University, who wasn’t involved in the study. “So far, it has been almost impossible to design a strategy that HIV can’t escape from.”
I'm agnostic on UFO conspiracy stuff, but that won't stop me from at least looking at it. Sammy Hagar recently published a book called "Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock" where he talks about a dream he suffered regarding aliens. Not knowing any better, the interviewer at MTVHive.com asked for clarification and got back a completely unexpected answer.
Yeah, yeah, I’ve got the page right here. “I saw a ship and two creatures inside of this ship… And they were connected to me, tapped into my mind through some kind of mysterious wireless connection.” You’re telling me that wasn’t a dream?
That’s right. It was real. [Aliens] were plugged into me. It was a download situation. This was long before computers or any kind of wireless. There weren’t even wireless telephones. Looking back now, it was like, “F**k, they downloaded something ...read more
Japanese rocket engineers hope to outfit their launchers with an artificial intelligence capable of controlling its own body and launch. Current modern rockets are automated, but don't feature many decision-making algorithms.
Modern rockets have some degree of automation, as well as onboard sensors that inform engineers on the ground about trajectory, malfunctions and so on. But the setup is rather like a "check engine" light in a car that alerts the driver to an unspecified problem and neither offers nor implements a solution.
While the recent earthquake and tsunami might delay implementation, the new AI rockets, dubbed Epsilon, are slated for a 2013 maiden launch.
An AI-controlled rocket contains many obvious benefits, notably efficiency and cost. Once launched, modern rockets are usually controlled by a Mission Control Room staffed by dozens of people. If anything unusual happens, there's often a delay in the decision making process, and then ...read more
An unsuccessful writer takes a drug that unlocks his brain's potential and suddenly becomes a financial success overnight, but this attracts the attention of criminals who also want the drug.
I don't like long reviews so I'll keep this short and sweet. LIMITLESS is a pretty smart film. Think of it as WALL STREET with a Sci-Fi veneer. Bradley Cooper does an excellent job here. Based on the novel "The Dark Fields" by Alan Glynn. Cooper begins as an unsuccessful writer on the verge of homelessness. However, a chance encounter with a dangerous neuro drug gives him a 4-digit IQ, turning him into the ideal version of himself.
The movie's ending is different from that of the novel's, but I feel this is one of those exceptional cases where the movie's version of the story is better...even if it does ...read more
Ex-members of the hacktivist group Anonymous plan to reveal the group's identities to the public. Readers who follow tech news have probably already heard of Anonymous a few times.They're hackers that began as online pranksters, but have in recent years decided to take sides in political conflicts, being responsible for attacks on Scientology, Paypal, the Pentagon, Sarah Palin among other targets. According to the Forbes article, the ex-members don't believe the group should act as judge, jury and executioner.
A hacker named "Hubris" writes:
“They say they fight for free speech, but then they use fear and intimidation, like Scientology or Fox News,” he says. “That’s not freedom of speech, and we won’t put up with that crap.”
As their opening barrage, the split-off group has released a torrent titled "insurance" to various file-sharing sites and will soon release keys to unlock it. This ...read more
Charleston County in South Carolina will be the first local government in the U.S. to replace all its paperwork with the iPad 2. The county expects a total savings of 50% off its normal paper and personnel costs of $27,000 each year.
The plan will involve buying 15 iPad 2's for its council members at a cost of $900 each.
I applaud their innovation, but why exactly are they buying iPad 2's at an 80% mark up? Then again, this fits the government stereotype of somehow always managing to spend more money than necessary.
Australia has long stood as the only developed country without an 18+ rating for video games. That's about to change. The dubious distinction has led Australia to outlaw various games, such as the recent Mortal Kombat, forcing gamers to import copies. The lack of an adult rating has also caused a trend to classify normally adult games under the age 15 rating.
Now, their federal government has issued an ultimatum giving the states and territories till July to negotiate a new 18+ rating, aimed at preserving the integrity of the 15 rating while opening up new markets for adults.
"We're the only country that allows tens and tens of games to be used by minors that are only used by adults overseas," he told ABC Television.
"We're becoming the laughing stock of the developed world."
Collider has a nice rundown of the new Wonder Woman. Unfortunately, I'm not buying the new look. I don't know if it's due to the baby fat around her cheeks or the non-functional Halloween quality costume.
Anycase, looks like we're in for a campy Xena the Warrior Princess style treatment. I think they should've gone with the new updated Wonder Woman uniform in the comics.
Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have discovered that the human body contains two avenues by which it replicates cellular DNA. Just like reaching a fork in the road, one path is considered "elite" where the body slowly and carefully copies crucial DNA during cell division, and the other path is more standard and swift.
The elite path consumes more resources from the body, but these DNA copies tend to govern extremely important functions in the body.
Led by Dr. Robert Bambara, the next step is to figure out how to trigger the elite process for more of the DNA. If successful, this research will not only length the average life span, but also make it more disease-free. Bambara estimates his research will lead to some kind of therapy within 25 years.
Few people are aware that Google allows its engineers to dedicate 1 day a week to any projects that interest them. As it so happens, one of the most crucial tools to come out of that is the new Person Finder.
The natural disaster network was created by a Google engineer named Prem Ramaswami who felt the need to create the tool after the Haiti earthquake in 2010. You may read a full account of how Person Finder came into existence at the CNN article linked above.
Before the New York Times pay wall goes up on March 28th, check out this quirky little game they have on their website. Basically, you're playing Rock-Paper-Scissors against a computer, and as you play the AI tries to statistically "learn" your patterns. So theoretically, the more you play, the worse you'll do...right?
The NY Times offers two levels, Novice and Veteran. In Novice, the computer will only learn from your actions. In Veteran, it uses the knowledge of all players against you.
Check it out and see for yourself. I played several games and it totally kicked my butt.
Engineers at Michigan State University led by Norbert Mueller have unveiled a "Wave Disk Generator" that could eventually replace the internal combustion engine. The new design boasts an up to 90% reduction in auto emissions in addition to being 400% more fuel efficient.
A typical car engine only uses 15% of the gas it consumes to move. In contrast, the new engine will use 60%. The new model contains no pistons, valves, crankshafts or transmission system...making the generator far cheaper to maintain over years. The invention also benefits from potentially being able to use gas alternatives such as hydrogen.
Naturally, this engine technology could revolutionize pretty much the entire world and its logistical systems. Everything would become much cheaper in transportation, requiring drastically less fuel and maintenance. Professor Mueller hopes that his engine model might reach the streets in 3 years.
The EU has issued a warning to Facebook and other social networks that they intend to pass strict privacy laws enabling individuals to withdraw consent for processing their online data. The new legislation is partially intended to prevent people from being able to jeopardize the livelihood of others due to personal information placed on the Internet.
"I want to explicitly clarify that people shall have the right – and not only the possibility – to withdraw their consent to data processing," Reding said. "The burden of proof should be on data controllers – those who process your personal data. They must prove that they need to keep the data, rather than individuals having to prove that collecting their data is not necessary."
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