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A Definite Improvement July 31, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Japan, Star Trek Technology.
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Google Translate has suffered a few blows in its day, with hilarious translations and re-translations.  English-Japanese and Japanese-English were particularly ripe for mischief, however unintentional.  Lately things have been much more robust, specifically these two famous test phrases, now translated with much greater accuracy.

Star Trek’s Universal Translator cannot be far away.

Spider Tank Mark 6 on Kickstarter July 26, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Japan, Star Trek Technology, Toys.
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Every little boy’s fantasy, for a mere hundred bucks…if he gets enough pledges.  I hope this video comes through WordPress, but if not, here’s the link to his Kickstarter page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1089105581/the-greatest-toy-kit-in-the-universe-spider-tank-m

Also, watch the video to see his toddler help him assemble it.  Far beyond merely cute.

Endymion and the Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons July 25, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Books, Brilliant words.
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Parts three and four of the Hyperion Cantos, these two books are a most satisfying ending of the previous two—which makes sense, since two or three little things were left unfinished for SIX YEARS while Dan Simmons collected praise and money for the first two.  Can’t really blame him.

I guess it was worth the wait, because these two books (I recommend the audiobooks and a lot of free time) expand on the previous universe and timestream and take place two hundred years later, after a frighteningly corrupt resurgent Catholic Church forces peace and a kind of immortality on the human universe…for certain values of “human”.

I quite liked the characters, action and pacing of these two books, and the fantastic stretches of imagination called for (the physics of the gas giant alone is imaginative, if completely impossible).  I read/heard with disgust the violence and soullessness of the bad guys in this series and hated the gruesome murders detailed within.  I am slightly more squeamish than most, though, so most people will not be as put off by that as am I, probably.

I do heartily recommend these two, available on Amazon.com and at sfpl.org, just as all good books should be.

Life-saving Water Purification–Cheap July 24, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Geek Stuff, Science, Star Trek Technology, Uncategorizable.
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Here’s another possible lifesaver for the millions without access to clean water. Rice University nanotechnology researchers have developed a solar-powered sterilization system that uses nanomaterials to convert as much as 80 percent of the energy in sunlight into germ-killing heat.

Naomi Halas, the director of Rice University’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics, and Rice graduate student Oara Neumann presented the results of a study in

which nanoshells (invented by Ms. Neumann) were put in water and exposed to sunlight.  The result was steam, and a demonstrated 24% conversion efficiency (versus maybe 18% tops for solar cells).  They used the steam to purify water by distillation (duh) and also for sterilizing equipment in autoclaves(!).

The implications are staggering.

"Sanitation technology isn’t glamorous, but it’s a matter of life and death for 2.5 billion people," Halas said. "For this to really work, you need a technology that can be completely off-grid, that’s not that large, that functions relatively quickly, is easy to handle and doesn’t have dangerous components. Our Solar Steam system has all of that, and it’s the only technology we’ve seen that can completely sterilize waste. I can’t wait to see how it performs in the field.”

Bill Gates has taken an interest in this project.


1Compact solar autoclave based on steam generation using broadband light-harvesting nanoparticles Oara Neumann, Curtis Feronti, Albert D. Neumann, Anjie Dong, Kevin Schell, Benjamin Lu, Eric Kim, Mary Quinn, Shea Thompson, Nathaniel Grady, Peter Nordlander, Maria Oden, and Naomi J. Halas

Lava on the Surface of Io July 22, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Photography, Science.
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When I was lad, we thought it grand to get a picture of the moon from a satellite.  Kids these days just don’t know how good they have it.

Hell’s Crucible July 19, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Video.
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Mercury thiocyanate and ammonium chromate.  Use a fume hood, safety glasses and distance.

Giant Robot Costume July 19, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Mutants, Toys, Uncategorizable, Video.
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I would be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed.

Skinny Dip, by Carl Hiassen July 18, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Books, Brilliant words.
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Skinny Dip by Carl Hiassen is (another) charming tale of murder, remorse, revenge, extortion, ecological abuse, corruption, adultery, drug abuse, elder abuse, theft, mental illness and bad taste.  It is also hilarious in the usual Hiaasen way, with love, honor and virtue triumphant.  The adulterous husband of a naive woman hurls her off the deck of her cruise ship on their anniversary.  She is a fabulous swimmer and, since this is in the bay off Miami, she fetches up on a bale of marijuana and floats to the private island of a retired police detective with more laid-backitude than Jimmy Buffet.

Yes, the rest can be extrapolated from this.  Sure it’s predictable, but so is a rollercoaster and you still pay to get on, don’t you?

Listen to the audio book.  It’s pretty good, and the CD version is cheaper than the Audible version by ten bucks.  How will Audible make any money that way?

Photos From Reddit July 8, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Photography, Uncategorizable.
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two-headed shark

“The Front Page of the Internet” has people posting notable things from all over the world, which are then ranked by readers, so things of greatest interest float to the top.

Bear in mind, this is average Internet users fooling around, so things like bacon rank very high.

forest fire

Not sure which fire this is from.  That’s the one good thing about global warming:  plenty of destruction for everyone.

cuddly elephant

Ending on a happy note.

Exciting update: I meant it about the bacon thing:


More Exciting Update (I miss the <blink> tag):

perfect joy

This is possibly the cutest photo ever.