GeekSpeak for 2010-12-25

Molten Solar Salt Powered Christmas

The Geeks wish everyone a happy holidays and cover the Week in Geek.

200 Years of Global Growth in 4 Minutes

BBC Four is airing a documentary series which reveals that statistics, far from being a cure for insomnia, is one of the most exciting topics on the planet.”

Four in 10 Americans Believe in Strict Creationism

“Four in 10 Americans, slightly fewer today than in years past, believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago.”

California's First Molten Salt Solar Energy Project

“California has just approved a new solar project that could revolutionize how we use energy from the sun – namely because it will be able to keep producing electricity even after night falls.”

Researchers store 90GB of data in 1g of bacteria

Researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong have successfully shown how to store encrypted data in bacteria. A colony of E.coli was used for the experiment, with the equivalent of the United States Declaration of Independence stored in the DNA of eighteen bacterial cells. As 10 million cells are present in one gram of biological material, this would translate to a data storage capacity of 90GB.

Data can also be encrypted thanks to the natural process of site-specific genetic recombination. Information is scrambled by recombinase genes, the actions of which are controlled by a transcription factor.

Why you are always in the slow line

Bill reveals how “queueing theory” – developed by engineers to route phone calls – can be used to find the most efficient arrangement of cashiers and check out lines. He reports on the work of Agner Erlang, a Danish engineer who, at the opening of the 20th century, helped the Copenhagen Telephone Company provide the best level of service at the lowest price.

Flash Ad: BMW Burns Logo onto Cinema

I’m not a big fan of motor vehicles, but I love this eye-burning guerilla ad from BMW, a kind of a cross between Julius von Bismarck’s Fulgurator and Max Headroom’s blipverts.

The stunt was pulled in a German movie theater. A giant Profoto Pro-7B was hidden behind the screen, a studio flash unit that pumps out enough light to… well, you’ll see. In front of the light was a card, with the letters “BMW” cut into it.

During the ad, and its usual guff about living your dreams by wasting fossil fuels, the flash fired and burned the letters into the unsuspecting viewers’ retinas. Then the motorbike pilot-man (that’s what they’re called, right?) on-screen tells everyone to close their eyes. They do, and see the letters projected onto the backs of their eyelids.

Welcome! | MagCloud

MagCloud is a revolutionary new service from HP that allows designers to easily create and self-publish small run magazines, portfolios, newsletters, brochures, catalogs and other printed promotional material. MagCloud is a great way to enhance your client’s brand marketing activities, provide detailed product or service information or extend event-marketing efforts with a high-quality magazine format handout. With on-demand printing you print just what you need, when you need it. No minimum print runs and no upfront costs.

Athlete Robot Learning to Run Like Human

Japanese researcher Ryuma Niiyama wants to build a biped robot that runs.
But not like Asimo, whose running gait is a bit, well, mechanical.
Niiyama wants a robot with the vigor and agility of a human sprinter.
To do that, he’s building a legged bot that mimics our musculoskeletal system.
He calls his robot Athlete. Each leg has seven sets of artificial muscles. The sets, each with one to six pneumatic actuators, correspond to muscles in the human body — gluteus maximus, adductor, hamstring, and so forth [see diagram below].
To simplify things a bit, the robot uses prosthetic blades, of the type that double amputees use to run.

Finding the inner you: Google's body browser

Google Maps and Google Earth already allow us to find our way across the planet. Now Google’s latest innovation, the body browser, is designed to help you navigate your body. Whether you’re looking to find nerves and neurons or travel from your oesophagus to your intestine, the Body Browser lets you zoom across the human body, through skin, muscle and bone, just as Google Maps lets you zoom in from continents to city streets.

DIY Star-Trek style air powered sliding doors

So, we don’t mind a small home renovation project every now and then, and this is one we’re seriously considering. Instructables has posted a step-by-step guide on installing sliding doors which are powered by an air compressor, and which look super cool. As you’ll see in the video which is after the break, it’s a pretty simple idea, which requires a pretty fair amount of work, but the results are very impressive. The sliding doors are controlled by a panel switch and have a key which can lock them open or shut, and the door also boasts a vent above it for air ventilation after operation. Yes, we actually want one of these.

Google's ChromeOS Means Losing Control of Data

“Google’s new cloud computing ChromeOS looks like a plan “to push people into careless computing” by forcing them to store their data in the cloud rather than on machines directly under their control, warns Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and creator of the operating system GNU."

Star Trek Gingerbread Men

“Good Lord, could you be a bigger geek?”