Jul 28, 2014

Cheering robots replace real fans at Korean baseball

posted by Larra Morris

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A struggling Korean baseball team have invented a novel way to improve atmosphere at their matches - by bringing in a crowd of robot fans.

Hanwha Eagles supporters not able to get to the stadium can control the robot over the internet.

The bots can cheer, chant and perform a Mexican wave - but presumably not invade the pitch.
via BBC News

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Jul 28, 2014

Never stay in a hotel with crappy wi-fi thanks to this useful site

posted by Larra Morris

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When you're traveling, hotel Wi-Fi might be your only source of connectivity, so when you wind up in a hotel and the internet crawwwwwls, it can be a major bummer.

Thanks to sites like SpeedSpot or Hotel Wi-Fi Test, you can avoid unfortunate internet conditions. If you're traveling to a city, simply search for each of the hotels you're searching for, and the test will give you the speed you can expect, as well as other details, like whether or not you have to pay for it. You can also just browse local hotels based on the speeds they offer. From there you can book a room through Hotels.com. They've gotta make money somehow, right?
via Gizmodo

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Jul 28, 2014

One of these Monets was made by a nanoprinter

posted by Larra Morris

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Can you tell the difference between these two images? One’s a bona fide reprint of Claud Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise.” The other? A total fake. The reproduction (on the right) is courtesy of researchers at Singapore’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering. Their goal, of course, was not to simply make a Monet replica, but rather to test an emerging method of printing that could potentially be used in the future to enable high-res displays and print foolproof anti-counterfeiting materials.
via Wired

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Image: Nano Letters

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Jul 25, 2014

Elon Musk tells Stephen Colbert his wild plans for cars, jetpacks, and wireless charging

posted by Laura Domela

Last night, Stephen Colbert's guest on The Colbert Report was Elon Musk. And, after Musk dodged the question about his inevitable slide into supervillainy, he talked a bit about the future of Tesla, SpaceX, his plan to go to Mars, and a few ideas that are somehow even more ambitious.

Musk told Colbert that he and SpaceX are focused on reusability for space flights: building a rocket that can take off, land, refuel, and take off again is incredibly important. He also says that he'll be sending people to space in two years. He talked about Tesla's desire to personalize your car, and told Colbert that he named his Old Faithful. But the most interesting part of the interview came when Musk asked Colbert what he wanted to see in the future. Colbert said he doesn't want cables, he really wants a jetpack, and then said he wanted wireless power to be everywhere, so we'd never run out of power again.
via The Verge

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Jul 25, 2014

NASA seeks commercial satellites to talk to Mars

posted by Larra Morris

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You can land the most advanced spacecraft in history on the Mars, but if you can’t keep in touch with it, it might as well be so much scrap. To prevent that from happening, NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to investigate the feasibility of using private satellites to provide communications into the 2020s between Earth and the fleet of exploration probes operating on and around Mars...

NASA’s RFI looks into the possibility of solving the problem is by using privately owned and operating spacecraft to act as relays for NASA Mars probes. The invitation seeks business models that might support such a plan, and invites American industries, universities, nonprofit organizations, NASA centers, and federally funded research and development centers to participate in the study. However, NASA emphasizes that the RFI is strictly for planning and information and that no government money is budgeted for it.
via Gizmag

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Image: ASA/JPL

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Jul 25, 2014

Feeling powerful increases how much time you think you have

posted by Larra Morris

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A new study titled "Power and Time Availability" by the University of California Berkeley has found that the more power you possess, the more time you feel like you have at your disposal. The study asked a few hundred people, some primed as "bosses," and others as "employees," to fill out surveys about how much time they felt they had to complete a specific set of brain teasers. They found that the "bosses" often thought they could pack more tasks in to a finite amount of time,

"Four studies experimentally demonstrated that power increases perceptions of available time, and that perceived control over time underlies this effect," write the study's authors Alice Moon and Serena Chen. In other words, your boss thinks they have more control over time, and thus feels like they have more time to spend.
via The Verge

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Jul 25, 2014

Mayfly swarm shows up on weather radar

posted by Larra Morris

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The forecast for La Crosse, Wisconsin, is for continuing mayflies. According to the National Weather Service, conditions are perfect for the emergence of mayflies along the upper Mississippi River, and the area teems with them every year. The swarm this year is thick enough to be caught on weather radar. What does it look like on the ground? Like this:

1406206431-0.jpgvia Neatorama

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Jul 25, 2014

Future phones could house a terabyte of memory

posted by Larra Morris

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You may think that the 3GB of memory in your new smartphone is hot stuff, but that pales in comparison with what Rice University has in store. Its scientists have detailed a form ofresistive RAM (RRAM) that can be made using regular equipment at room temperatures, making it practical for everyday gadgets. The trick is the use of porous silicon oxide where metals (such as gold or platinum) fill the gaps. Using the silicon material doesn't just give manufacturers something familiar to work with; it requires much less power than previous techniques, can last through 100 times as many uses and isn't fazed by heat. It's also far denser than earlier RRAM, storing nine bits per cell where even conventional flash storage stops at three. The result should be an easy-to-make RAM chip with the kind of capacity that you'd normally expect from much larger permanent storage, like an SSD -- as the company Crossbar hinted when it first discussed this approach, you could stuff 1TB into a component the size of a postage stamp.
via Engadget

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Jul 25, 2014

These weird meals are actually clever data visualizations

posted by Larra Morris

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Susanne Jaschko, an author and curator, and Moritz Stefaner, a data viz specialist, are exploring with Data Cuisine, a workshop based entirely around the unlikely intersection of figures and food. At two sessions—one in Helsinki, one in Barcelona—they challenged participants to come up with dishes that reflected some sort of fact, stat, or data point.

In Barcelona, for example, a pair of cakes addressed the issue of national science funding. The first was made from a standard recipe; the second used 34% less sugar—the precise amount that science funding is being cut in Spain this year. In that case, the dish turned an abstract budget cut into something much more palpable—the drop in funding literally left a bad taste in your mouth.
via Wired

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Image:  FERRAN VAL

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Jul 24, 2014

Sainsbury’s supermarket to be powered entirely by its own food waste

posted by Larra Morris

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It's an unfortunate fact that every day around the world, supermarkets throw out tons of food that has spoiled before it could be purchased. While it would be best if that spoilage could be avoided in the first place, British grocery chain Sainsbury's is taking what might be the next-best approach – it's about to start using that unsellable food to power one of its stores.
via Gizmag

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