GeekSpeak for 2012-04-14

Enterprising Cosmic Whale Vomit

Learn a little about the Geeks and what’s interesting about whale barf. And much more about the week in geek tech with Miles, Ben, and Lyle. Also, Rick is back, so we take some calls!

Physicist claims victory over traffic ticket with physics paper

“A physicist at the University of California San Diego used his knowledge of measuring bodies in motion to show in court why he couldn’t be guilty of a ticket for failing to halt at a stop sign. The argument, now a four-page paper delving into the differences between angular and linear motion, supposedly got the physicist out of a $400 ticket. If you want to use this excuse, you’ll have to learn a little math — and some powers of persuasion.”

Netflix never used its $1 million algorithm

“Netflix awarded a $1 million prize to a developer team in 2009 for an algorithm that increased the accuracy of the company’s recommendation engine by 10 percent. But today it doesn’t use the million-dollar code, and has no plans to implement it in the future, Netflix announced on its blog Friday.”

'Whale Barf' Is No Longer Needed to Make High-End Perfume

“Of all of this week’s victories in science, this one has got to be the strangest: Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a plant-based replacement for ambergris, an expensive perfume ingredient made from aged and weathered whale vomit.”

NASA Shuttle Discovery set to buzz Washington, DC

Barring bad weather, NASA said the space shuttle Discovery mounted atop the space agency’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft will make a series of low passes – 1,500 ft. around parts of Washington DC on April 17 between 10-11 am eastern daylight time.

We Almost Had a Life-Size Enterprise in Vegas

The real winner of the 1992 downtown Las Vegas redevelopment competition was NOT the FREMONT EXPERIENCE – it was the STARSHIP ENTERPRISE from STAR TREK. But no one knows this – until now.

The Amazing Trajectories of Life-Bearing Meteorites from Earth

About 65 million years ago, the Earth was struck by an asteroid some 10 km in diameter with a mass of well over a trillion tonnes. We now know the immediate impact of this event—megatsunamis, global wildfires ignited by giant clouds of superheated ash and, of course, the mass extinction of land-based life on Earth.

But in recent years, astrobiologists have begun to study a less well known consequence: the ejection of billions of tons of life-bearing rocks and water into space. By some estimates, the impact could have ejected as much mass as the asteroid itself.

The question that fascinates them is what happened to all this stuff.

Geek Bit: Videos of Space Flight in Space

The footage in this video is derived from image sequences from NASA’s Cassini and Voyager missions.

Dual-focus contact lens prototypes ordered by Pentagon

The Pentagon has put in an order for prototype contact lenses that give users a much wider field of vision.

The lenses are designed to be paired with compact heads up display (HUD) units – glasses that allow images to be projected onto their lenses.

Most Precise Measurement of Scale of the Universe

Physicists on the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) have announced the first results from their collaboration, revealing the most precise measurements ever made of the large-scale structure of the universe between five to seven billion years ago. They achieved this by observing the primordial sound waves that propagated through the cosmic medium a mere 30,000 years after the Big Bang.