GeekSpeak for 2010-01-09

Lithium and Five New Planets

Al on Li, Ben excited by exoplanets, and Miles (almost) comes in late.

'Pong Prom' turns the classic into one sensual game

You’re already familiar with the classic game, Pong: there are two paddles, one on each side of the screen, and you try to keep the ball that bounces between them from flying off your side. Well, a chap by the name of Ed Keeble has decide to update the revered title, but with a sexy twist. Instead of using a joystick, two players control their paddles by slow dancing with one another.

An accelerometer built into each suit keeps track of each player’s swaying and guides each paddle back and forth accordingly, as Keeble describes it:

The project uses the Lilypad Arduino platform to control game play, run the display, and communicate between devices. Patches of conductive fabric on the shoulders, hips, and cuffs of the shirts are used to create a serial connection between the Arduinos. An accelerometer attached at the back of the neck allows each player to control their game paddle by rocking their partner back and forth.

Kepler Telescope Discovers its First Five New Planets

In their search for a planet that looks like Earth — comfortably bathed in sunshine in a pleasant solar system where life would be easy come easy go — astronomers keep turning up the strangest things.

They’ve found two planets with surfaces hotter than molten lava.

They’ve found two inexplicable planet-sized objects that for some reason are hotter than the stars they orbit. Scientists have never seen anything like this before.

Patrick Stewart Knighted

Patrick Stewart – “Star Trek: The Next Generation’s” Capt. Jean-Luc Picard – becomes Sir Patrick in Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year honors list, which also includes a knighthood for theater and film director Nicholas Hytner.

“This is an honor that embraces those actors, directors and creative teams who have in these recent years helped fill my life with inspiration, companionship and sheer fun,” said 69-year-old Stewart, who recently returned to the British stage following a long career in Hollywood that included playing Professor Charles Xavier in three “X-Men” films.

In search of Lithium: The battle for the 3rd element

In search of Lithium: The battle for the 3rd element
The good news: A wonder metal that fires your phone, iPod and shiny new electric car is so clean it may save the planet. The bad news: More than half of the world’s lithium is beneath this Bolivian desert…and getting it is so dirty it inspired the latest Bond plot

MagicJack for cell phones: femtojack

At the latest International Consumer Electronics show, a brand new product caught the attention of many show-goers. You’ve more than likely seen or heard the MagicJack phone device commercials and infomercials on television, or even on the internet. MagicJack is a nifty little USB device which plugs into your home computer and then allows you to make free phone calls over the hi-speed internet. The MagicJack reviews have been mixed, but overall it could become an option for many people to completely eliminate their phone bills.

Now another product has been developed known as the “femtojack”, which was shown off at CES. The femtojack will do the same trick MagicJack does, only for cell phones. You’ll plug the femtojack into your mobile phone and be able to make completely free cell phone calls. You may be wondering how this all works and if it’s legal. The femtojack will work using radio frequencies. These are the same frequencies many cell service providers have paid billions of dollars for exclusive licenses on. And yes, it’s completely legal.

The catch will be that the femtojack will only work with certain cellphones, with SIM card slots. It won’t be compatible with your Verizon or Sprint phones, but will likely work with several AT&T, Cingular and T-Mobile variations.

Canon dumps disc, tape camcorders | DVICE

Need a cheap replacement MiniDV camcorder to play back your old tapes? If you want a Canon, you’ll soon be SOL. Canon has gone all flash — no more MiniDV, no more DVD, no more hard disk drive. All Canon’s new camcorders are all flash-based. The only non-flash model left is the HV40, the company’s superior HDV (high-def) MiniDV-based camcorder.

Unreliable Evidence? Time to Open Up DNA Databases

WHEN a defendant’s DNA appears to match DNA found at a crime scene, the probability that this is an unfortunate coincidence can be central to whether the suspect is found guilty. The assumptions used to calculate the likelihood of such a fluke – the “random match probability” – are now being questioned by a group of 41 scientists and lawyers based in the US and the UK."

Concern as China Clamps Down on Rare Earth Exports

“Neodymium is one of 17 metals crucial to green technology. There’s only one snag – China produces 97% of the world’s supply. And they’re not selling.”

USB Comb

IMM Barber USB 2GB Flash Drive

Price: $35.99, AC Reward Points: 36

Be the first to write a review and receive 100 AC Reward Points

Features

Remember the cool kids who carried their combs in the back pocket of their blue jeans? Hair repair was high priority. This combination hair comb and usb device allows for easy reach of data that fits nice and tight in your jeans. Carry your files with flair.

Specifications

Memory capacity: 2GB
USB standard USB2.0/1.1