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March 01, 2008

Training crows to use vending machines

TED 2008: Crow vending machine maker Joshua Klein - Boing Boing

Crows are smart and adaptable. For example, they drop nuts on streets so cars run over them, then wait for the traffic signal to change so they can pick up the food. Other crows who see this happen quickly learn how to do this for themselves.

His machine uses Skinnerian training. He put coins and peanuts around the machine. The crows eat the peanut on the feeder tray. Then Joshua took away the nuts and left coins in the feeder tray. It pisses off the crows. They sweep the coins around with their beaks, looking for food. When a coin accidentally drops into the slot, it dispenses a peanut. Next, Joshua took away the coins. The crows learned to find coins elsewhere and deposit them.

February 29, 2008

Forum Warz: The game of forum pwnage and trolling

FORUM WARZ

An offensive, ridiculous game all about trolling and pwning noobs in forumz. Brilliant is what it is. A metatextual attack on the internet.

If you're bored of Kingdom of Loathing or Twilight Heroes and need a new browser game to while away your time, check this out.

February 23, 2008

Delivering broadband via space and near-space

timesonline.com | Weather balloons can lift rural broadband service...

February 22, 2008

Subcutaneous touch-screen tattoo

Subcutaneous touch-screen tattoo | Futurismic

February 21, 2008

Computers still can't handle apostrophes

Apostrophes in names stir lot o' trouble - Yahoo! News

NEW YORK - It can stop you from voting, destroy your dental appointments, make it difficult to rent a car or book a flight, even interfere with your college exams. More than 50 years into the Information Age, computers are still getting confused by the apostrophe. It's a problem familiar to O'Connors, D'Angelos, N'Dours and D'Artagnans across America.

When Niall O'Dowd tried to book a flight to Atlanta earlier this year, the computer system refused to recognize his name. The editor of the Irish Voice newspaper could book the flight only by giving up his national identity. "I dropped the apostrophe and ran my name as `ODowd,'" he said.

It's not just the bad luck o' the Irish. French, Italian and African names with apostrophes can befuddle computer systems, too. So can Arab names with hyphens, and Dutch surnames with "van" and a space in them.

Defense Department: Navy missile hits dying spy satellite

CNN | Defense Department: Navy missile hits dying spy satellite...

February 20, 2008

Infrared LED headband makes you invisible to surveillance cameras

boingboing | Cory Doctorow | Infrared LEDs make you invisible...

February 19, 2008

Next Guitar Hero game Aerosmith only

Portal of Evil | Next Guitar Hero game Aerosmith onlyLast...

February 18, 2008

The most intense laser in the Universe

via | Nature News | The most intense laser in...

The grand plan for solar energy

A Solar Grand Plan: Scientific American

Solar energy’s potential is off the chart. The energy in sunlight striking the earth for 40 minutes is equivalent to global energy consumption for a year. The U.S. is lucky to be endowed with a vast resource; at least 250,000 square miles of land in the Southwest alone are suitable for constructing solar power plants, and that land receives more than 4,500 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of solar radiation a year. Converting only 2.5 percent of that radiation into electricity would match the nation’s total energy consumption in 2006.

To convert the country to solar power, huge tracts of land would have to be covered with photovoltaic panels and solar heating troughs. A direct-current (DC) transmission backbone would also have to be erected to send that energy efficiently across the nation.

The technology is ready. On the following pages we present a grand plan that could provide 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy (which includes transportation) with solar power by 2050. We project that this energy could be sold to consumers at rates equivalent to today’s rates for conventional power sources, about five cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). If wind, biomass and geothermal sources were also developed, renewable energy could provide 100 percent of the nation’s electricity and 90 percent of its energy by 2100.

Here is the big upshot:

The federal government would have to invest more than $400 billion over the next 40 years to complete the 2050 plan. That investment is substantial, but the payoff is greater. Solar plants consume little or no fuel, saving billions of dollars year after year. The infrastructure would displace 300 large coal-fired power plants and 300 more large natural gas plants and all the fuels they consume. The plan would effectively eliminate all imported oil, fundamentally cutting U.S. trade deficits and easing political tension in the Middle East and elsewhere. Because solar technologies are almost pollution-free, the plan would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 1.7 billion tons a year, and another 1.9 billion tons from gasoline vehicles would be displaced by plug-in hybrids refueled by the solar power grid. In 2050 U.S. carbon dioxide emissions would be 62 percent below 2005 levels, putting a major brake on global warming.

(via)