GeekSpeak for 2009-08-08

The Drabblecast on GeekSpeak

Norm Sherman narrated and producer of the wonderful Drabblecast join Geeks Al and Lyle and special geek guest [Jessse Wilkins|http://wilkinsconsulting.us] to chat about the [wonderful flash fiction podcast, The Drabblecast|http://web.mac.com/normsherman/Site/Podcast/Podcast.html] .

Ink Calendar by Oscar Diaz

Spanish designer Oscar Diaz has designed a calendar that uses the capillary action of ink spreading across paper to display the date each day at a time.

Touchable Holography

Related Sections: Future Tech Video
Touchable holographic display uses hacked Wiimotes

Well, this sure seems like the future: a holographic display that responds to touch and can be physically felt. Even cooler? It’s made using two hacked Wiimotes!

The video does a great job explaining it, but here it is in a nutshell: the Wiimotes sense where your hand is, telling the holographic image to adjust based on your location. Then an airborne ultrasound tactile display creates the sensation of touch. I don’t know what the practical applications of this are, but it’s totally awesome.

Scientists Track Down Source of Earth’s Hum

You can’t hear it, but the Earth is constantly humming. And some parts of the world sing louder than others.

After discovering the mysterious low-frequency buzz in 1998, scientists figured out that the Earth’s hum is caused not by earthquakes or atmospheric turbulence, but by ocean waves colliding with the seafloor. Now, researchers have pinpointed the source of the Earth’s “background noise,” and it looks like it’s coming primarily from the Pacific coast of North America.

Cozy social networks 'are stifling innovation'

Previous research has shown that certain patterns of social interaction make radical innovation more likely. Bold ideas are typically incompletely formed when first conceived and easily shot down by criticism. Hence, they emerge more readily in communities in which individuals work mostly in small and relatively isolated groups, giving their ideas time and space to mature.

The problem, says social scientist Viktor Mayer-Schönberger of the National University of Singapore, is that today’s software developers work in social networks in which everyone is closely linked to everyone else. “The over-abundance of connections through which information travels reduces diversity and keeps radical ideas from taking hold,” he suggests.

Virtual Worlds, Future of Scientific Collaboration

(PhysOrg.com) — Normally, virtual worlds are the setting of many online games and entertainment applications, but now they’re becoming a place for scientific collaboration and outreach, as well. A team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology, Princeton, Drexel University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have formed the first professional scientific organization based entirely in virtual worlds. Called the Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA), the organization conducts professional seminars and popular lectures, among other events, for its growing membership.

Sega Pekoppa Robot Plant

Plants would make great pets if they just did more stuff. Hey, they can grow, they can make oxygen, they can die… but that’s pretty much it. Nobody names a plant. You can’t really hug a plant. However, luckily for you Sega of Japan has re-envisioned the lowly plant as a cute robotic companion. Using futuristic muscle wires for movement, the Sega Pekoppa Robot Plant looks surprisingly lifelike but never needs watering or sunlight… what it craves is your attention. Talk to your Pekoppa plant and it responds to your voice by bending and moving in a very lifelike manner (if real plants could move, which they mostly don’t). Ignore it and it gets pretty sad. The more you talk, the happier it is… making it the ideal companion for your wife or girlfriend.

urban mole | Sewer Robot

As cities get more crowded, it will be more difficult for UPS and the Postal service to get around in their trucks full of packages. So what do you do? You make like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and take to the sewers. Well, not you. Robots. Hopefully they don’t drop your packages in sewer water.

The Urban Mole is a capsule that travels through existing networks of underground pipes to transport packages like groceries, signed documents or even your Amazon order. The Mole frees up our streets and roads making traffic less congested.

Musical robot hooked on social media

Inspired by early 19th century mechanical bands such as the nickelodeon, Cybraphon is an interactive version of a mechanical band in a box. Consisting of a series of robotic instruments housed in a large display case, Cybraphon behaves like a real band. Image conscious and emotional, the band’s performance is affected by online community opinion as it searches the web for reviews and comments about itself 24 hours a day.