Simulated Curiosity

I am loving this video simulating the new Mars rover’s abilities. They are going for a way more sophisticated landing technique than the airbag approach of Spirit and Opportunity, which will be exciting to see if it works – it also looks like there is more that could go wrong, just from the complexity. Curiosity is a way more anthropomoric-ible rover, which is adorable. I did laugh when they show Curiosity finally on the surface of Mars and then the voiceover says, “the descent stage cuts the rover loose and flies away”, while the descent stage zooms off over some … Continue reading Simulated Curiosity

Streaming Urthe

I am awed by the magnitude of the video streaming task UrtheCast is taking on in intending to stream live HD video from cameras on the ISS. Even though it creeps me out a bit (1.1 meter resolution is pretty good!) I’ll be keeping my eye on this project and how it proceeds. I’m curious if there will be pressure to not show live footage of every region or if governments will press to have some regions blocked from public view. I can’t tell if they intend to make a profit on this project or not – I don’t see … Continue reading Streaming Urthe

Maybe Google could do this for you too…..

I find myself with a number of colleagues looking at ecological monitoring, so this article about using web crawling for ecological monitoring caught my eye. You might remember the trends tool at Google that got a lot of attention last fall that mined the queries people typed into Google, correlated them with known cases of the flu, and then watched new queries as they came in to try to spot new locations where the flu had cropped up as it was starting. The idea here is the same – take the data that has already been maintained by Google or … Continue reading Maybe Google could do this for you too…..

Barbara Liskov Rules!

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, wherein we are encouraged to weblog about the work done by women in the sciences! If you don’t know much about Ada Lovelace, this video, albeit for kids, about Ada’s life and accomplishments is a decent short biography. Or, you know, try Wikipedia ;) Why do people still care? Because the Bayer Facts of Science Education survey out this month of women and underrepresented minorities in the sciences (particularly chemistry fields) says that 66% felt that stereotypes that women and/or minorities do not do math and science contribute to their underrepresentation. School science classes was … Continue reading Barbara Liskov Rules!

Don’t let them swab you

In a similar vein to yesterday’s post on data, I just noticed this NYTimes story reporting that DNA evidence can be fabricated in a lab to match a target, given a sample of their DNA, or their DNA profile from an earlier sample. Even if it seems expensive and cumbersome to start fabricating DNA evidence to frame people, there are some very interesting legal implications here just from this process being known. While the article says that they were able to fabricate blood that a testing lab processed as if it were from the target rather than the actual source, … Continue reading Don’t let them swab you

ISS Sightings

I somehow hadn’t realized that the International Space Station was visible from Earth, but it is, particularly if you are at an angle to catch the sun’s reflection of its solar panels. NASA has a tool to help you figure out when the ISS or the shuttle will be overhead wherever you are – use the “Sighting Opportunities” pull-down menu on the left-hand side to select exactly the town you are in for a list of times and how long it will be visible over the next couple of weeks.

Robots will kill them all!

Science fiction sometimes seems to simply pick between whether it is the robots or the aliens who are going to kill us all, so it is refreshing to see a headline warning us that the robots are killing the aliens. It is actually not a particularly fear-mongering story though. Instead, it is a nice article talking about how the fact that there is has been a complete lack of any organic found on Mars is in fact odd given the likelihood of transfer by asteroids or comets. This had let scientists to speculate that the perchlorates on Mars, when heated, … Continue reading Robots will kill them all!

Bored at work?

Make yourself hallucinate, chemical free! I just have two questions? Who was laying around taping half ping pong balls over their eyes while listening to static? And, on the more science-y side, I wonder if, even if these are chemical-free ways too mess with your brain, there could be lasting side effects of doing these types of things repeatedly? How often would you have to rub a friend’s nose before you permanently felt like your own nose was super long?

I think, therefore it moves

I haven’t watched 60 Minutes in years now, but Lifehacker has a link to the story below from last week on controlling computers with thought and I was blown away. I’ve known there was research going on in this direction, but some of what they show here is amazing. Using just surface-level sensors one device can sense the brain pattern of “recognition”, allowing people to type or select words based as they are flashed onto a computer screen. The interface for that is pretty cool – I expected from the description a series of letters shown one at a time … Continue reading I think, therefore it moves

Star Trek fans might also like the tachyon

If you liked Giant Microbes but are really more of a physicist (or a bit of a hypochondriac) you will love Particle Zoo’s subatomic particle plush toys. These cuddly interpretations of the basic components of matter are filled with different materials to reflect the differences in weight between, say, a top quark and a muon. The proton/neutron pairing is pretty cute, as are the quarks. I like that they have prefab gift packs of the various meaningful sets of particles that you might want to buy together. The “whole zoo” of 33 particles (quick quiz: can you name 33 subatomic … Continue reading Star Trek fans might also like the tachyon