GeekSpeak for 2010-06-05

Some say "Skepticism" is the Topic

D.J. Grothe, president of the James Randi Educational Foundation, joins the geeks this week to talk about the JREF and TAM 8, a yearly meeting about science and skepticism. The Geeks also cover Geek News.

Shuttle successor succeeds in first test flight

After one aborted countdown, a privately developed rocket that could take on many of the jobs now done by NASA’s space shuttles reached orbit successfully on its first test flight Friday.

The launch marked a significant advance for California-based SpaceX’s eight-year-old space program.

Man's favourite recreational drug suddenly gets much stronger

Most of the world’s beer has between 4% and 6% Alcohol By Volume (ABV), and the strength of beer achieved by traditional fermentation brewing methods has limits, but a well crafted beer that is repeatedly “freeze distilled” can achieve exquisite qualities and much higher alcohol concentrations.

An escalation in the use of this relatively new methodology over the last 12 months has seen man’s favorite beverage suddenly move into the 40+% ABV realm of spirits such as gin, rum, brandy, whiskey and vodka, creating a new category of extreme beer.

Hovercraft - THe old comic book kind.

Hovercraft
2005

When I was growing up we always had a modest stack of MAD magazines in the house. This was back in the days when Don Martin was still on-board and I loved reading Spy VS Spy, Sergio Aragonés’ marginals, Al Jaffee’s blueprints and of course his classic back cover fold-ins. In those days MAD didn’t carry adverts – well not real ones anyway – but some of my friends actually had subscriptions to various comics that did. I was fascinated by the ads for Amazing Sea-Monkeys, X-ray specs, handshake shock-buzzers and various unbeatable self-defense techniques – but most of all I wanted a hovercraft.

UH-18SPW Hoverwing : Universal Hovercraft

Hovercraft in style. Powered by a 4-cylinder automotive engine, the UH-18SP is everything you’d ever want in a hovercraft. It was designed for people who love to play. For the family that gets together for fishing, skiing, cruising and all-around fun, this is your vehicle. The UH-18SP will take you places other craft have never been. Convert your UH-18SP hovercraft into the 18SPW Hoverwing™ in less than twenty minutes and fly up to 10 feet high over waves, rocks, beaches and fields in ground effect. The wings roll up and can be stored aboard the craft for easy transportation and rapid deployment. The UH-18SPW Hoverwing™ is the only ground-effect hovercraft to be released as a plan or kit. Click the links below to see the UH-18SPW in action.

BMW And Audi Congestion Strategies Look To Smart Signals

“New projects from German automakers Audi and BMW promise to ease congestion simply by looking at traffic signals and driving style, in an effort to smooth the flow of traffic.”

New AT&T data plans milk data gluttons, lower costs for most

“As AT&T Wireless CEO Ralph de la Vega has hinted at for months, AT&T announced this morning a major overhaul to its smartphone data plans. AT&T will now offer two-tiered data plan pricing, with a top cap set at 2GB. Though most users should save money, according to AT&T’s research, users that relied on unlimited data will be paying more.”

For those who aren’t quite so sure how much 200MB and 2GB are, check out this [AT&T data plan infographic|http://www.maclife.com/article/feature/infographic_iphone_data_plans_exposed] to get a better handle on upcoming changes.

Ohio Senate passes bill banning human-animal hybrids

Senate Bill 243 prohibits “the creation, transportation, or receipt of a human-animal hybrid, the transfer of a nonhuman embryo into a human womb, and the transfer of a human embryo into a nonhuman womb.”

Living in denial: Why sensible people reject the truth

HEARD the latest? The swine flu pandemic was a hoax: scientists, governments and the World Health Organization cooked it up in a vast conspiracy so that vaccine companies could make money.”

When science clashes with beliefs? Make science impotent

“It’s hardly a secret that large segments of the population choose not to accept scientific data because it conflicts with their predefined beliefs: economic, political, religious, or otherwise. But many studies have indicated that these same people aren’t happy with viewing themselves as anti-science, which can create a state of cognitive dissonance. That has left psychologists pondering the methods that these people use to rationalize the conflict.”

RC Plane Camera - Lightweight Aerial Camera

Capture breathtaking aerial videos with this lightweight RC plane camera for RC planes, helicopters, kites, parkflyers, and more!

If you own any kind of RC flyer or kite then you can appreciate just how fun it is to fly. However, controlling flight is only half the fun. To really get the most from the experience you’ll need a lightweight aerial camera. This allows you to view exactly what your RC flyer or kite is seeing while it maneuvers gracefully through the sky! We promise once you experience just how fun watching your aerial videos are that you will never fly without your RC plane camera again!

This RC plane camera records beautiful 640 × 480 videos at 25 frames per second (FPS) for smooth motion capture. Videos are stored on the internal 2GB memory which allows you to save up to 1.5 hours of video on a single charge or over 300 photos at an impressive resolution of 1280 × 960 for excellent image quality. And since the head of the camera can rotate up to 70 degrees you will always get the perfect viewing angle every time.

The James Randi Educational Foundation

The James Randi Educational Foundation is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1996. Its aim is to promote critical thinking by reaching out to the public and media with reliable information about paranormal and supernatural ideas so widespread in our society today.

The Amazing Meeting 8, 2010 (Las Vegas, July 8-11)

The Amaz!ng Meeting is on the horizon again! Enthusiasm for TAM increases every year, and every year we have added new speakers and events to the festivities. This year promises to be amongst the most exciting so far, with a great combination of leading thinkers and celebrities and activists, all united to advance critical thinking and skepticism in our world.

USB Greenhouse Brings Flower Power to your Sunless Cubicle

If fresh or faux flowers sitting on your desk just aren’t good enough, you might want to grow your own flowers at your desk. That’s right this USB powered Mini Greenhouse from DreamCheeky lets you grow your own plants. The greenhouse even includes marigold seeds to get you started.

Dream Cheeky

USB Green House

Cheap, tiny camera for RC planes

Cheap, tiny camera for RC planes captures video proof when you buy the farm

::guimp:: world's smallest website

Smaller than a small fingernail, the world’s smallest website measures only 18 by 18 pixels yet is packed full of fun projects including pong, pacman and other games.


! Our Guest

D.J. has lectured widely on topics at the intersection of education, science and belief at universities such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and dozens of others. Formerly a professional magician, he has special interests in the psychology of belief and processes of deception and self-deception. He hosts the radio show and podcast For Good Reason , prior to which he hosted over 200 episodes of the popular interview program Point of Inquiry, which he and his partner Thomas Donnelly created in 2005.

The Amaz!ng Meeting is a celebration of critical thinking and skepticism sponsored by the James Randi Educational Foundation. Thinking people travel the world to share learning, laughs and life with fellow skeptics and distinguished guest speakers.

Finally, in honor of the spirit of wonder and discovery of all scientists, we give you [Richard Feynman on the beauty of a flower|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbFM3rn4ldo] in contrast to the biological, physical, and chemical observations.

! Optical Illusion

[380px_leaningtower1.jpg|Leaning Tower]
This is an example of the [Leading Tower Illusion| http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Leaning_tower_illusion] in which your brain thinks the tower are at different amount of leaning …. it’s the exact same photo.