Economists and the theory of politics - "why unions were often well worth any deadweight cost" [more inside]
What do 3D printing, jelly, liver transplants, chainmail, dental fillings, ferrofluids, and the Six Million Dollar man have to tell us about our future? Materials scientist and engineer Mark Miodownik lets us know in this Royal Institution lecture.
As lexicographers revel in the capabilities of online dictionaries, one person notes the death of print encyclopedias.
seaQuest: what if we could learn to live on/underneath the oceans (or in orbit)? [previously(er)] [more inside]
Defense contractor takes break from F-35 JSF, finds a way to eliminate 99% of the energy cost of desalination. Lockheed-Martin has developed a way to craft sheets of carbon a single atom thick, which can filter the salt (and just about anything else) from water with a tiny fraction of the energy required by current processes. "Lockheed officials see other applications for Perforene as well, from dialysis in healthcare to cleaning chemicals from the water used in hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," of oil and gas wells." Previously.
"Berkeley creates the first graphene earphones, and (unsurprisingly) they’re awesome." Since it was isolated by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov at the University of Manchester in 2003, graphene has become something of a scientific darling. So, what to do with the "wonder stuff"? Why not make headphones? Turns out, graphene is great for the job: "Graphene has extremely low mass density and high mechanical strength, key qualities for efficient wide-frequency-response electrostatic audio speaker design."
"My unprovable hypothesis is that obsessive upgrading and chronic stagnation are intimately related, in the same way that erotic fantasies are related to sexual repression. The fetish that surrounds Google Glass or the Dow average grows ever more hysterical as the economic status of the majority of Americans remains flat. When things don’t work in the realm of stuff, people turn to the realm of bits. If the physical world becomes intransigent, you can take refuge in the virtual world..." - George Packer, Upgrade or Die
Cypherpunk rising: WikiLeaks, encryption, and the coming surveillance dystopia by R. U. Sirius. [Via]
The AR-15 is more than a gun. It's a gadget. It's an addiction and the future of firearms manufactures. It's the most wanted gun in America and more than anything it is a symbol of the cycle of fear that drives assault weapon sales.
Valibation: It isn't in you, it is you. NSFW short film in which a man's addiction to his smartphone gets a bit out of hand. [Via]
I used Google Glass - "But what’s it actually like to have Glass on? To use it when you’re walking around? Well, it’s kind of awesome."
As Microsoft prepares to retire its unfashionable Hotmail in favor of Outlook.com this summer, let's remember the viral marketing revolution that Hotmail invented. Journey back seventeen years to Hotmail's origins, the birth of the dot.com millionaire, and the boozy optimism of a pre-crash web industry in full-growth mode (Wired, December 1998) .
Romancing the drone: how America's flying robots are invading pop culture. Both real and unreal, drones are spreading silently through art and culture.
Surely you've heard of the physicist Maxwell, but what about Oliver Heaviside? Oliver Heaviside: A first-rate oddity.
Rebecca Solnit on how Silicon Valley corporations are transforming San Francisco: I weathered the dot-com boom of the late 1990s as an observer, but I sold my apartment to a Google engineer last year and ventured out into both the rental market (for the short term) and home buying market (for the long term) with confidence that my long standing in this city and respectable finances would open a path. That confidence got crushed fast. It turned out that the competition for any apartment in San Francisco was so intense that you had to respond to the listings – all on San Francisco-based Craigslist of course, the classifieds website that whittled away newspaper ad revenue nationally – within a few hours of their posting to receive a reply from the landlord or agency. The listings for both rentals and homes for sale often mentioned their proximity to the Google or Apple bus stops. [more inside]
Digital and genetic techniques increasingly influence life. Our belief in progress through technology stands in the way of a moral debate on this development. ~ by Rinie van Est
Looking to print your own house, jewelry or dessert? Then check out Engadget's Consumer Guide to 3D printers.
After their annual audit showed a large spike in underage workers, Apple made good on its promise to take more responsibility for its suppliers.
"How do we engage technology sustainably and in a way that supports creativity and freedom?... One of the things I try to do... is to somehow interrupt the use of [new and emerging] technologies so that it causes people [an] unexpected and renewed awakening or sensibility of those devices being in our lives." [more inside]
Yesterday at CES, Plastic Logic unveiled PaperTab, a "tablet" that is thin and flexible like paper. Here's a hands-on video with Time Magazine, and here's another demo. The company had a very public failure three years ago with its cancelled Que tablet (previously), but now says it is focusing on licensing the technology to companies that want to make "the paper of the future."
Garmin, the well-known navigation company also makes bike computers. Today they unveiled a GPS-enabled bike computer that adds bluetooth to pair with your phone (and piggyback on your network connection). The resulting product video featuring Garmin's pro team riders is a little Hollywood and a little silly showing riders competing virtually against each other but paints a pretty impressive picture for real-time stats, weather, maps, and data sharing among cyclist friends. More at Wired's Gadget blog and a complete review at the DC rainmaker cycling site.
New research can detect five different emotions with 81 percent accuracy. [Additional project information].
The New York Times is previewing their latest technology in the longform journalism piece Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek (username: avalanche/password: preview). Scroll down slowly to enjoy all the photos, slideshows, and movies that go along with the piece, which looks to be adding new chapters to the story over time.
"agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you."In response, Wired has posted How to Download Your Instagram Photos and Kill Your Account. Previously.
Brian Lam quit Gizmodo after feeling burnt out from a frantic digital existence. “I was tired of doing posts that were obsolete three hours after I wrote them,” Mr. Lam said. “I wanted evergreen content that didn’t have to be updated constantly in order to hunt traffic. I wanted to publish things that were useful.”
The Scanadu Scout (as part of the X-Prize) is aspiring to be a mobile medical device that can help you keep track of your physical stats on a day to day basis, as well as providing urinalysis and influenza testing to your smartphone along with a host of other features. And with an estimated $150 price-tag, it could be put into the hands of nearly everyone. [video with developer]. [via][previously]
Alan Cooper and the Goal Directed Design Process The heart of the problem, he concludes, is that the people responsible for developing software products don’t know precisely what constitutes a good product. It follows that they also do not know what processes lead to a good product. In short, they are operating by trial and error, with outcomes like customer satisfaction achieved by little more than blind luck. By Hugh Dubberly, first published AIGA GAIN Journal, 2001
A five-part series on the ultimate limit on technology, and how that limit could help us find other civilizations: 1 2 3 4 5 [via]
"Premature babies born at the edge of viability force us to debate the most difficult questions in medicine and in life. After just 23 weeks of pregnancy, Kelley Benham found herself in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with a daughter born so early neonatologist doctors would call her a "micro preemie." New technologies can sometimes keep micro preemies alive, but many end up disabled, some catastrophically so. Whether to provide care to these infants is one of the fundamental controversies in neonatology. This is the story of how Benham and her husband, Tom French, made the difficult choice: Fight for the life of their micro preemie baby or let her go?" [more inside]
At the western edge of Golden Gate Park sit two Windmills, claimed to be among the largest in the world. Built over 100 years ago to irrigate the park, they were eventually made functionally obsolete by electric water pumps and were allowed to fall into a state of neglect. The North (Dutch) Windmill was given a face-lift in 1980, and more recently The South (Murphy) windmill has been completely restored. For the first time in decades both windmills started spinning, appropriately enough, on Queen's Day earlier this year. The entire reconstruction process of the South Windmill is documented in this extensive photo gallery.
"Why should I load up on debt just to binge drink for four years when I could just create an app that nets me all the money I’ll ever need?" Young entrepreneurs are ditching college in droves, seen by some as a bad investment while dropping out is a "badge of honor" in Silicon Valley, whose lionized heroes include Zuckerburg, Jobs, and Gates - all college dropouts themselves.
Why People Really Love Technology: An Interview with Genevieve Bell The thing I love about Intel researcher Genevieve Bell is that she finds surprising things by looking at what's left out of the dominant narratives about technology. She finds data that's ignored because it didn't fit into the paradigm of, say, how people adopt technology. The dominant narrative is that young men determine the popularity of phones, computers, websites, and the like. But when Bell looked at the data, the story we told ourselves about how the world worked was not reflected in the numbers. That's why I wanted to talk to her about what gadgets people around the world might be using over the next decade. I figured she was someone who could look past the conventional wisdom and find the missing pieces of the future
"During his civil lawsuit against the People's Republic of China, Brian Milburn says he never once saw one of the country's lawyers. He read no court documents from China's attorneys because they filed none. The voluminous case record at the U.S. District courthouse in Santa Ana contains a single communication from China: a curt letter to the U.S. State Department, urging that the suit be dismissed. That doesn't mean Milburn's adversary had no contact with him." [China Mafia-Style Hack Attack Drives California Firm to Brink]
"You probably don't think of your car as a developer platform, but Mike Rosack did."
The Philips CD-i was a unique blend of CD player and gaming console, with "interactive" playback capabilities. The only completely interactive music CD for the platform was released by Todd Rundgren in 1993. A reference guide for everything CD-i can be found here.
In the telling it has the contours of a creation myth: At a time of great evil and great terror, a small group of scientists, among the world’s greatest minds, secluded themselves in the desert. In secrecy and silence they toiled at their Promethean task. They sought the ultimate weapon, one of such great power as to end not just their war, but all war. They hoped their work would salvage the future. They feared it could end everything. - Prometheus in the desert: from atom bombs to radio astronomy, New Mexico's scientific legacy