Irish technology development company conquers laws of thermodynamics

(via Engadget)
The Irish technology development company Steorn claims to have created a device which generates more power than it consumes.  Naturally, this hails the end of the oil dependence under which most of the world suffers.  Steorn is so confident in their little device that they have challenged a dozen of the world’s greatest scientists (as chosen by Steorn) to evaluate their product and attempt to disprove the limitless energy claim.

Now personally, I’m expecting an announcement that this technology is 5 to 10 years from shipping.  Around 2010, if the company is still around, we will hear that there are developmental delays, and *now* the product is 5 to 10 years from shipping.  Then, around 2016 to 2018, we’ll hear that the final problems have been worked out, and that the product will be available in 5 to 10 years.  And then the company will fade away.  But that’s just the pessimist in me.

More likely, the device will ship and then be used for the compression system that can compress arbitrary data a minimum of 10%.  With these two devices, we’ll be able to power the world and all data will be transmitted as one bit which will be perfectly decompressed and displayed on the receiving system (provided it has Steorn’s limitless energy supply device and the ultimate compression system from whoever is making that claim when the Steorn device doesn’t actually ship).

[tags]True perpetual energy, Limitless energy courtesy of Mac (inside joke), Steorn promises to end energy worries worldwide[/tags]

Sad news to LotR fans – hobbit in Indonesia not a hobbit

It’s just a developmental abnormality, it seems. At least, that’s the argument being made by skeptics who don’t believe the hobbit find represents a new species (the Homo floresiensis if you don’t know already).  So still no proof one way or the other, but here’s a view from the disbelievers.

The bizarre “hobbit” bones unearthed a few years ago in Liang Bua cave on the Indonesian island of Flores were billed as a rare find–a new species of human, Homo floresiensis (ScienceNOW, 11 October 2005). But a few critics weren’t buying. Now in a report released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the skeptics lay out a detailed case arguing that the leading hobbit specimen, a one-meter-tall, 18,000-year-old skeleton with a brain the size of a grapefruit, was merely a diseased Homo sapiens.

“This is not a new species,” says co-author Robert Eckhardt of Pennsylvania State University in State College. “This is a developmentally abnormal individual.”

The team uses several lines of evidence to challenge the hobbit’s novelty. For example, they point out that elephants apparently colonized the island twice. Because even early hominids presumably had better travel skills than elephants, humans probably also arrived on the island more than once; lack of isolation would have prevented the evolution of a new dwarf species, they say.

Full argument in the ScienceNow article.

[tags]Indonesian hobbit not a hobbit, Developmental abnormality explains apparent hobbit find in Indonesia[/tags]

Too serious? Where’s the fun?

There’s been a lot going on in the world of a serious nature.  Generally, I avoid serious stuff and just let fly with the fun.  But I’ve spent a lot of time reading about and writing about the whole liquid explosive threat and recent terrorist worries in general.  I’ll get back to more light-hearted fare soon.  The latest events though touch a nerve with me, and I want to write and discuss more about the need for balance and what is not being handled well in my view.  Sometimes, when I really care about what is going on, I tend to get really focused on it.  I promise you’ll start seeing less serious posting here in the very near future.

Improving security via watching people?

(via Stupid Security)
Here is a security move that I want to praise.  Rather than the other senseless screening precautions we’ve seen, such as by name (which resulted in Sen. Ted Kennedy having difficulty flying), we now have preliminary work being done to identify people for greater inspection based on how they are acting.  I know that this is one thing customs agents do to help pick out which travellers need to be screened more carefully.  And this is a smart way to work on improving security.  Yes, these will be times when the wrong people get picked out due to issues like race or attire, but in general, this is a good way to increase efficiency of inspection.  But it was an important part of the identification and capture of Ahmed Ressam in the attempted millenium bombing of LAX.  Much like insurers use actuarial tables, identifying people by suspicious behavior generally works if the identifiers are well trained, and incorrect identifications tend to be minimally intrusive.

This is a good move by the government, and I hope more of this kind of thing is used in the war on terror (which, by the way, is a term I don’t like even though I get why it is used).

[tags]Behavior assessment profiling, Intelligent airline security procedures[/tags]

12-year-olds on a plane

(via StupidSecurity)
I missed this when it happened, but last week on Thursday, a 12-year old boy managed to get on an airplane without a passport, without a ticket, and without being screened by airport security.  This is what the heightened security in the UK gives travellers for security?

The boy was discovered by cabin crew and turned over to airport police. Officials said they could not explain how he got aboard the plane, especially in light of security checks imposed last week after authorities foiled an alleged plot to bomb jetliners leaving Britain.

[tags]UK airport security win? 12-year-old on plane without ticket[/tags]

Google’s flash of insight

(via Dan Gilmor’s blog)

I’m stealing Dan Gilmor’s whole post.  It’s only interesting because of his comment on the situation:


The Independent: To google or not to google? It’s a legal question: But the California-based company is becoming concerned about trademark violation. A spokesman confirmed that it had sent the letters. “We think it’s important to make the distinction between using the word Google to describe using Google to search the internet, and using the word Google to describe searching the internet. It has some serious trademark issues.”

There’s a great idea: Force people to stop reinforcing your brand. Sounds like Google has too many lawyers…


[tags]Google working to stop people from using term Google[/tags]

Ultra-obsessive artists create ultra-realistic vector images

(via boingboing)

If you look carefully at these images, you can see that they are not real. But the images are exceptionally well done drawings of real things/people, and look pretty convincing to the casual glance. The first picture I looked at was a drawing of Angelina Jolie. If the skin weren’t so perfect, I’d not have noticed the eyebrows are just a little off, and thought it was a picture instead of a drawing. See all the images done by various artists and highlighted on blogspot at bansang panaginip’s page. Note that a few are not work-safe, so you might want to just send the link address to your home email for later perusal.
Here are a few that looked really well done to me and that are safe enough for work. Ignore my apparent hang-up with pictures of females…

[tags]Ultra-realistic drawings, Vector art touched to near perfection[/tags]