Alien of Steel

 

When I first saw this, I thought, “Yikes!”  

But it’s the artistic creation of RoboSteel, an Ireland-based firm that creates sculptures from scrap metal (their website is www.robosteel.com, where they also make metal scupltures of Star Wars, Predator, and Terminator characters).   

The large Alien Queen is only 4,500 Euros (what a bargain!)…

Here’s the article from Wired GadgetLab…

Three Cool Things (and Two Bonuses)

I highlighted a really cool article from the latest Wired Magazine on compressive sensing in my previous post.  But there are three other cool items that are worth catching your eyes on:

G. “These go to ____.” (from wired.com)

– If you dig movies (I mean, you doesn’t!?), then this is kinda fun to fill in the blanks on some famous movie lines.  Here’s the article called Bit Parts (my favorites – G and H).

– Google has the corner on the world’s search market by developing the world’s best search engine.  But they’ve won their dominant position by constantly improving their algorithms.  Here’s an exclusive article describing their technology and their key advances over the years…

– What’s the smallest number n such that n and 2n end in the same digit (turns out it’s 14)?  Wired points us to NumberGossip.com for interesting facts about every number from 1 to 9,999 (the website only likes to talk about “positive” things)… 

– Bonus:  Wired has a picture of Harry Hamlin from Clash of the Titans!

The Mandelbrot Set, Developed by Benoit Mandelbrot in 1980 (from bareinboots.com)

– Double Bonus:  I never really heard (nor thought about) what the next advance in fractal geometries would be beyond the Mendelbrot set.  However, in reading through Wired yesterday, I ran across the term “Mendelbulb“, which stands for the 3D representation of the 2D Mendelbrot set.  Here’s a website with amazing 3D pictures (from artist Daniel White) of what the Mendelbulbs look like.  Really cool…

(C) 2009 Daniel White from skytopia.com

Use The Force, Luke

Smirking Yoda -

These are probably some of the coolest things I’ve run across in a while, and they all have to do with using your mind to control things…

Now, most of us already use our mind to control things – like our arms and legs, but they’re of course connected to our brain through nerves and our spinal cord.

But, what about things that are not physically connected?  Well, this is where the cool stuff comes in…

In Rome, a group of European scientists say that they’ve successfully connected a robotic hand to a man who lost his arm.  He uses electrodes that are connected to his nervous system to enable him to move the arm using his brain.  Here’s the link to the Associated Press story…

I saw something like this on 60 Minutes a month or so ago, and they had another cool mindtrick technology that they showed off…

Brown University's BrainGate technology (image from www.boston.com)

Brown University's BrainGate technology (image from www.boston.com)

In that article, they showed off some technology that astrophysicist Stephen Hawking (who has ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) uses to communicate with the world.   A technology by scientists at Brown University called BrainGate lets a paralyzed patient focus their brain on certain letters on a computer screen.  When the letter that they are thinking of lights up, they are instructed to use their mind to say “yes, it’s lit up”.  The computer will recognize the difference in brain wave activity when the patient thinks of the letter and when the patient is not, so the computer would then be able to decide that the patient is thinking of, say, the letter “A”.

Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes was really amazed on the broadcast to see this technology in action – allowing people to use their minds to spell out words and sentences (here’s a video link to that article…)

In fact, I think that it’s so cool and important that I’ve asked my wife Stephanie to make sure that if I’m ever paralyzed that we look into using the technology.  I personally couldn’t imagine having my mind being fully active, but also being unable to communicate with anyone.  This seems like such an enabling and freeing technology that I would totally want to grab it if I could…

Star Wars Force Trainer (image from www.starwars.com)

Star Wars Force Trainer (image from www.starwars.com)

The last cool thing actually more a Christmas-related technology, but cool none the less.  It’s the Star Wars Force Trainer (I mean, how cool is that?!…).  With it, you put on a headset which has dry sensors that you apply to your head.  These sensors measure brain waves, such as alpha, beta, and theta waves – basically, different frequencies of brain wave patterns.  When the sensors measure certain patterns, the headset sends a wireless signal to a remote device that turns on a fan that pushes a ball up a cylinder.  The more you concentrate and give off the right brain wave signals, the higher the ball will go. 

So, you’re using your mind (or maybe it’s the Force) to push the ball up the cylinder (here’s a post on how the technology actually works…)

These technologies really make it seem like we’ll be using the Force soon, huh?  As my Smirking Yoda might say, “The Force a very powerful ally it is, mmm?”

Predicting What Comes Next

There’s a new book out by NYU Professor Bruce Bueno de Mesquita called “The Predictioneer’s Game“.

Bueno de Mesquita combines game theory and computer modeling to make predictions on global events and happenings.  You can read more about his book here.  I’ve read about him before – I think that he’s got a really interesting handle on how people and groups interact with one another…

Just for kicks, here are a few things that he predicts would happen (exerpted from the latest edition of Newsweek magazine):

– If the U.S. doubles its aid to Pakistan this year to $1.5 billion, it would be enough to ensure a civil, secular government that no longer accomodates terrorists.

– By 2012 Iran’s bonyads – charitable trusts that control much of the economy – will wield more political clout than any other faction; a more secular regime will emerge.

– Copenhagen will be a bust, as will its main mission: by 2040 we’ll have given up on regulating carbon emissions.  Global warming will be solved with wind, rain, and solar invention.

– The best path to peace in the Middle East:  make Isreael and the Palestinian Authority share tax revenue from tourism, 60-40, boosting the P.A.’s GDP by 20%.