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April 18, 2010

April 17, 2010

Weird Science - Towel Folding Robot

Judging by the huge response to what I thought was a fairly large and obscure post about a tiny coincidence, the Hitchhiker's Guide and cutting-edge science is obviously a winning combination.

So here is a super special Douglas Adams bonus, a robot folding towels! Okay so that's a bit of a stretch, but it is still quite cool.

Note that this video has been speeded up 50x, in real time it took the robot over an hour and a half to complete this one task. Perhaps it was feeling a little depressed?
Posted By: Dumbfounded | Date: Sat Apr 17, 2010 | Comments (25)
Category: Boredom, Futurism, Inventions, Robots, Science, Experiments, Technology

Bizarro Guidebooks



These two books might perhaps be of interest to any WU-vie planning a West Coast visit.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Sat Apr 17, 2010 | Comments (6)
Category: Regionalism, Books

April 16, 2010

These Are the Droids You’re Looking For

Everybody who's anybody knows that one of the best motion pictures of all time is the original Star Wars. So what is the best way to pay tribute to such a cinematic masterpiece? That's right, by breaking the film into 472 fifteen second clips and having fans reenact it. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Star Wars Uncut:

Star Wars: Uncut Trailer from Casey Pugh on Vimeo.



As confusing as it should be to change actors, style, and even plot details four times per minute, somehow this actually works. There are some completed segments and you can see most of the individual clips on their site. I only wish I had found out about this sooner, so I could take part.

I seriously can't wait until this comes out.
Posted By: Salamander Sam | Date: Fri Apr 16, 2010 | Comments (2)
Category: Entertainment, Movies, Pop Culture, Video, Science Fiction, Roleplayers and Re-enactors, Parody

Weird Science - Douglas Adams For The Win!

When Isaac Newton first published his laws of motion, he ushered in a new era in science where - in principle - every event could be exactly predicted if you knew the forces at work in the system accurately enough. in Newton's "clockwork universe" true randomness did not exist, since the unpredictability of an event was just a statement of your ignorance, with careful enough measurement everything from the roll of a die to the spin of a roulette wheel could be known to any degree of accuracy. Even relativity only refined, rather that displaced, Newton's deterministic new world.

That prevailing view of the universe was thrown, literally, into chaos with the advent of quantum physics, where counter-intuitive results were commonplace, effects could appear to happen before causes (or even without causes) and true randomness abounded. In an effort to return to the saner world of "classical mechanics" many physicists sought to again ascribe the apparent randomness of quantum systems to ignorance, they declared that "hidden variables" currently unknown to science had secretly determined the results. Even Einstein, whose 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect had helped found the new physics was moved to say categorically that "God does not play dice!"

But who was right? In an effort to determine this, in 1964 the physicist John Bell performed a thought experiment whereby pairs of entangled particles (ones where a particular property of the pair is known but each particle's individual contribution is not) are measured simultaneously while a great distance apart from each other. In the classical view either the results would have been determined well in advance of the measurements, in which case they should correlate perfectly, or they are separately determined by the act of measurement, in which case they should not correlate at all. Bell showed with mathematical rigour that in one particular experiment any hidden variable theory should produce a correlation of < 0.5. This became known as the Bell Inequality. At the time there was no practical way to test Bell's hypothesis, and the earliest attempts in 1972 were inconclusive, but by the 1980s the technology had matured to the point that physicists could be very confident that Bell's Inequality had been violated, at its core the quantum universe really was truly and utterly random.

But how random? Consider the quantum equivalent of a coin-toss, one that is completely fair and - as we have discovered - completely random; clearly it is equally likely to end up in only one of two states, the quantum equivalent of "heads" or "tails". We could represent each result with either a 1 or a 0, so the amount of randomness of our quantum coin is said to be "1 bit". But quantum systems are not bound to act like coins, perhaps they are more like dice or roulette wheels, perhaps a quantum system is a random as a lottery draw with literally millions of possible outcomes. It was to answer this question that a team led by S. Pironio of the Laboratoire d’Information Quantique in Brussels set up and ran their own "Bell experiment" and measured with 99% confidence just how random quantum systems are.

So how many bits of outright randomness are created by each quantum interaction? If the title didn't give it away, the answer is...



More in extended >>
Posted By: Dumbfounded | Date: Fri Apr 16, 2010 | Comments (10)
Category: Ambiguity, Uncertainty and Deliberate Obscurity, Philosophy, Science, Experiments

Follies of the Mad Men #98

Nooka race from ilovedust on Vimeo.



I guess you have to be cool and hip enough to know what this product is before viewing the ad, because you certainly do not learn during the commercial.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Fri Apr 16, 2010 | Comments (5)
Category: Ambiguity, Uncertainty and Deliberate Obscurity, Business, Advertising, Products

April 15, 2010

Water or Fire?

Here's a great illusion -- made with high-speed photography?

image

Here's the link to more water/flame pictures!!

http://www.moillusions.com/2006/10/water-flames-illusion.html

Don't burn yourself!!
Posted By: gdanea | Date: Thu Apr 15, 2010 | Comments (2)
Category: Photography and Photographers

Professor Music’s Weird Link (Singular)

I . . . . .can't . . .. . . stop . . . . .laughing
Posted By: Professor Music | Date: Thu Apr 15, 2010 | Comments (6)
Category:

Roasted Camel Hump

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Would you eat camel's hump? Well this woman would--and did. Visit the link for horrifying pictures.




image
For myself, I'd rather have a Camel Hump Cocktail.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Thu Apr 15, 2010 | Comments (5)
Category: Animals, Food, Regionalism, Middle East

April 14, 2010

Mascot Costumes

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Where do furries unable to sew their own costumes purchase their gear? Maybe at this store.

I'll confess: if I ever felt tempted to become a furry, I'd be a bad-ass one like either of these to the right.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Wed Apr 14, 2010 | Comments (5)
Category: Costumes and Masks
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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.