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Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

A few weeks ago I was in Chicago, marveling at the 68 ornately designed Thorne Miniature Rooms in the bowels of the Chicago Art Institute, thanks to a tip from my friends over at Atlas Obscura, when I had an epiphany.

As I gazed at each exquisitely hand-crafted miniature room, each one depicting what it would have been like to live in various times periods across a myriad of different cultures, I realized that what the world needs right now is a different take on these works of art.  Instead of miniature rooms paying homage to our old ways of life, what we need are miniature rooms that would pay homage to our current and future ways of life.  What we need, are miniature rooms designed to depict the greatest scenes in modern science.  Pint sized inspiration to lead us through these dark times.

For instance, instead of a Victorian era home we’d have a to-scale model of the International Space Station.  Instead of a castle we’d have a particle collider.  The possibilities are endless.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the possible scientifically themed miniature rooms that we could have:

  • The International Space Station
  • The Large Hadron Collider
  • The Moon Landing
  • Houston Space Command
  • NASA Ames Research Center
  • Any other NASA facility
  • George Church’s lab at Harvard
  • The Seastead Institute Cruise Ship
  • Asgardia Space Station
  • Apple’s New Spaceship Campus
  • Googleplex
  • Facebook’s campus
  • Amazon’s headquarters
  • Foxconn factory where the iPhone is made
  • Hyperloop test track
  • Elon Musk’s lair
  • Spaceport America
  • Einstein in a classroom
  • Doomsday Seed Vault
  • Library of Alexandria
  • Library of Congress
  • Tesla’s lab
  • Ford factory assembly line
  • Internet of Things connected home of the future
  • Plato and Socrates debating in the town square
  • The iconic electronic billboard of Times Square
  • Steve Jobs and the Woz in their garage
  • Stanford’s Campus
  • Silicon Valley
  • Sand Hill Road (venture capitalism)
  • The accidental discovery of penicillin in a lab
  • Leonardo Da Vinci painting the Mona Lisa
  • Florence, Italy in its heyday
  • Athens, Greece in its heyday
  • The Renaissance
  • Egyptian hieroglyphics
  • The first stone tablet being created
  • Cave paintings
  • Science Fiction
    • The Bridge of the Starship Enterprise
    • Emmett Brown’s garage featuring the Dolorean
  • SETI Telescope Field
  • The Hubble Telescope
  • World’s Fair grounds
  • Tomorrowland at Disney
  • Stonehenge
  • The Great Pyramids
  • Other famous archaeological sites
  • Cloud computing server farm
  • Modern bedroom of a standard 13 year old app developer
  • The first room sized computer mainframe
  • The ITER fusion reactor facility

As you can see, anywhere that innovation occurs would be fair game from the research labs where famous discoveries occurred to the old stomping grounds frequented by famous scientists.  Anywhere and everywhere that science has occurred.

Now if only I knew someone capable of making such rooms…

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Are scientifically themed Thorne Miniature Rooms the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Here’s a look at everything that tickled my fancy over the past week:

Liquid Light:  For the first time scientist have achieved “liquid light” at room temperature.

According to Science Alert, “Regular light behaves like a wave, and sometimes like a particle, always travelling in a straight line. That’s why your eyes can’t see around corners or objects. But under extreme conditions, light can also act like a liquid, and actually flow around objects.  Bose-Einstein condensates are interesting to physicists because in this state, the rules switch from classical to quantum physics, and matter starts to take on more wave-like properties.  They are formed at temperatures close to absolute zero and exist for only fractions of a second.  But in this study, researchers report making a Bose-Einstein condensate at room temperature by using a Frankenstein mash-up of light and matter.”

This breakthrough could help physicists better understand the way that the Universe works while also leading to improvements on existing light based technologies such as LEDs, lasers, and solar panels.

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Space Fabric: NASA’s new space material is a three-in-one, jack-of-all-trades.

As Wired puts it, “Researchers at JPL spent the last two years developing a metallic space fabric made of interlocking stainless steel squares. It looks like chain mail, but unlike the ancient armor, NASA’s fabric isn’t welded together. Instead a 3-D printer extrudes stainless steel as a continuous sheet of material with different properties on each side. From the front of the fabric, rows of shiny, flat squares can reflect heat and light. On the back, a series of interlocking loops help the fabric absorb heat. Together, the single piece of material acts like a super-strong shield, protecting astronauts and space crafts from outer orbit’s deadly obstacles.  The fabric isn’t special in its functionality, per se; NASA already employs materials on its space crafts to reflect heat, absorb heat, and protect from flying debris. But until now, NASA didn’t have a single material that could do all three.”

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The first AI Language: The singularity may be closer than we thought.  Facebook’s chat bots just created their own non-human language.

Futurism explains:

“In the report, researchers from the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research lab (FAIR) describe training their chatbot “dialog agents” to negotiate using machine learning. The chatbots were eager and successful deal-making pupils, but the researchers eventually realized they needed to tweak their model because the bots were creating their own negotiation language, diverting from human languages.  To put it another way, when they used a model that allowed the chatbots to converse freely, using machine learning to incrementally improve their conversational negotiation strategies as they chatted, the bots eventually created and used their own non-human language.”

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Quantum Communication Breakthrough: We may be one step closer to unhackable computers thanks to this latest development.

According to I Fucking Love Science, “Chinese scientists have achieved a milestone in quantum communication. They were able to send a pair of entangled photons over a distance of 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) using the satellite they launched last August. The previous record for quantum communication was about 100 kilometers (62 miles).”

That’s a 12x improvement over the previous record!

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Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Yes, these are the things that I actually think about:

  • Lots of people seem to think that dogs like music.  Dog owners who are going to be out of the house for a while may be inclined to leave the stereo or TV on for their pet so that they won’t feel lonely.  That’s all fine and dandy but if pets really do like music how come we only play it for them when we’re inside?  Lots of people go for jogs while listening to headphones.  But you never see a dog listening to headphones while on a walk.  Wouldn’t they want to break up the monotony of a walk the same way humans would?  If they like music wouldn’t they want to listen to some on a walk?  Perhaps we should invent dog headphones!  Is this even technologically possible?  Would their even be a market for such an invention?

 

  • The last few times I’ve gone antiquing I’ve seen things that would have made good gifts for other people.  I didn’t get the items at the time but figured that if I ever did need a gift for this person I’d know where to go.  Except that I’ve already forgotten what the item was, where it was, and who it was for.  And it’s only been two weeks!  It’s with that in mind that I wish we had a way to quickly and easily record mental notes.  Sure, I could take a picture of the item, record a voice memo, send an email to myself, or write it down on a physical piece of paper but all of those options require at least a little bit of effort and would draw attention to yourself when perhaps you’re trying to be discrete.  What I’d like to come up with instead is a way to literally capture a mental note.  Perhaps with a cognitive implant of some sort?

 

  • The other day a friend of mine came up with a great point when comparing physical books with e-readers: all things being equal physical books will always be better than e-readers because with a physical book someone else will always know what you’re reading.  With an e-reader you can’t tell.  Perhaps that’s the way you like it but from my friend’s point of view she would rather people know.  For two reasons.  First of all, being able to see what you’re reading is a great conversation starter if you’re hoping that a guy will talk to you.  Secondly, you’re promoting what you’re reading so that other people will want to it read too.  Perhaps neither of those reasons are appealing to you and you’re fine with the ambiguity of e-readers.  But for people like my friend what I’d like to suggest is an optional e-ink screen on the back of an e-reader that would show people what you were reading.  This screen would only reflect books that you were reading and wouldn’t display any of your other website or app activity.  It would also be entirely optional, opt-in only, and completely customizable, so that if you really wanted to you could show any book cover that you wanted, even if you weren’t actively reading that book at that time.

 

  • I feel like elevators could use a 21st Century upgrade.  And I’m not talking about sideways elevators or a Space Elevator.  Just minor changes. Such as having the ability to press undo if you accidentally hit the wrong floor (or floors as has been known to happen).  Or the ability to sync the call button with a sensor in your phone so that the elevator will start to come towards you as you approach it saving you precious seconds.

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Are dog headphones the Greatest Idea Ever?

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The other day I came across an interesting Twitter feed, a parody account of sorts that’s all about coming up with sketchy ideas.  As the title suggests some of these ideas are really sketchy.  Like really, really, really sketchy.  Borderline offensive even.  But there were some gems.  Such as:
  • Make headphone wires out of shoelaces and shoelaces out of headphone wires, now headphones will always untie and your laces will never undo.
  • Google’s Self Driving Car should have an incognito mode where it tints all your windows.
  • Movie about a Nigerian Prince who struggles to move millions of dollars out of his country with the help of a strangers he meets online
  • Make it so no city can have more than one professional sports team… and it has to play all sports!
  • Take a girl on a first date to couples counseling.
  • Get all the one hit wonder bands together for a massive concert where they each only play their one song.
  • A microwave that goes to YouTube and finds a video the exact length of the time you just typed in and plays it on the microwave door.
  • Snickers should do a commercial with Louis C.K. where he’s optimistic and cheerful until he eats a snickers.

Intrigued I decided to try and come up with a few sketchy/shady/quirky ideas of my own.  Here’s a look at what I came up with:

  • Partner with Eddie Murphy to create an airline that caters to flying with babies.  Call it Daddy Day Air.
  • Collect all of the drier and belly button lint in the world and convert it into bio-fuel.
  • Make Family Feud all about competing against members of your own family instead of competing against a different family.  Book the Kardashians for the first episode.
  • Mandate that Sports Illustrated can’t use any words.
  • In addition to a driving test mandate that everyone also has to pass a walking test.
  • Make it so that if you don’t vote you lose the right to vote from that point on.
  • Give multiple life sentences to anyone who doesn’t pick up after their dog, litters, harms an animal or defaces nature in any way.
  • Create a Real World style reality TV show where all presidential candidates live together in the same house.  Candidates vote each other out until only one remains and that person gets the nomination.
  • Mandate that everyone has to take a citizenship test every five years.  If you fail you get deported.

Are any of these sketchy ideas the Greatest Idea Ever?

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The annual Consumer Electronics Show is currently underway in Las Vegas.  Which can only mean one thing: everyone around the world is geeking out about the latest technology.  Drones!  Virtual Reality!  3-D Printing!  The Internet of Things!

But how much of that is truly innovative?  Sure there are lots of cool things but how many of them are truly unique?  How many of them can accurately be described as ingenious?  I’m willing to bet, not many.  But you know what truly is remarkable?  Some of these unheralded innovations that I’ve heard about lately.

Such as:

Face Time Swing:  A staple of every playground, the swing is every child’s favorite toy.  The rocking back and forth, the sensation of flying, the joy on the face of your parent as they push you.  At least you think that last part is true.  Since you’re not facing them you have no way of knowing what they’re doing.  Enter the Expression Swing.  A two person set up that allows for both parent and child to enjoy the swing time experience together.

General Electric’s Innovative Oven Design:  GE is a huge behemoth that has ties to Thomas Edison.  Suffice it to say they don’t lack for innovative ways of thinking.  Yet one of their latest creative ideas doesn’t come from their own ranks.  Rather it comes from a retiree working with FirstBuild, their DIY maker space cooperative that they created so that they could crowd source new ideas and bring them to market much more quickly than through traditional R&D means.  And the idea really is incredible.  Simple.  Yet incredible.

As Wired UK explains, “One of FirstBuild’s products, (is) a simple but elegant oven drawer that opens towards the user when the door is opened (so the cook does not have to reach deep into the oven)…”

Anyone who has ever baked something is probably asking themselves right now: why didn’t I think of that!

Ziploc Cereal Bag – For decades we’ve been buying boxes of cereal, opening up the bag inside, eating half the box within the first two days, and then watching by as the rest goes bad.  It’s a vicous cycle.  One that results in ridiculous amounts of wasted Frosted Flakes.  They’re Grrrreat….sttttale!

Wouldn’t it be great then if there was a way to keep the contents of cereal boxes fresh?  Well a recent tweet from entrepreneur Troy Osinoff suggested a possible solution: have cereal boxes come equipped with built in ziploc bags!

You’d imagine that this would have to be technologically possible by now wouldn’t you?  To figure out how to do it Kellogg’s might just have to think outside the box.  Or, rather, inside it.

Well there you have it.  Some truly innovative ways of thinking that have nothing to do with virtual reality or drones.  Take that CES!

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You probably won’t have time to read this.  I barely even had time to write it.  Such is life in today’s day and age of information overload and infinite choice where the battle for your attention span is constantly being waged.  So much so, that we’ve now reached critical mass.  A point of no return where it is now literally impossible to do everything that we want to all the time.  I don’t know about you but that stresses me out.  In fact, I sometimes find myself so paralyzed with indecision that I often wind up doing nothing at all.  Like a Netflix queue of life where you spend all your time scrolling through options, looking for something to view, instead of actually watching something.

Speaking of Netflix, that’s as good a place as any to start my rant because I just took time off from binge watching Mad Men to binge watch Jessica Jones and Dark Matter.  That’s on top of all the other network TV shows I currently have lined up on my DVR.  Mondays it’s Gotham and Minority Report.  Tuesdays its Marvel’s Agents of Shield and The Flash.  Wednesdays its Arrow.  By Sunday night when I’m watching Into The Badlands, Last Week Tonight, and Quantico I’m ready to tap out.  Just in time for Monday to roll around and start the cycle all over again.  And just when I think I’m going to get a reprieve with most of those shows taking a mid-season break, I get a whole new slew of shows to watch in the interim with the return of The 100, Peggy Carter and the debut of Legends of Tomorrow.  It’s a never ending cycle.  One that I’d be grateful for if watching TV was my only passion.  But it’s not.

I’m also a really big sports fan and in particular devote a lot of time to fantasy sports.  I have six fantasy football teams and five fantasy baseball teams.  Just managing a team is time consuming in of itself but in order to be successful at a high level you also have to do a significant amount of research.  Baseball in particular requires knowing about major league players, minor league players, and even high school and college players too.  Some leagues are so deep in fact that they require knowledge of international amateurs.  That’s right.  I actually know way more about sixteen year old boys from the Dominican Republic then I should probably be admitting publicly.  And all that without having the ability to play FanDuel or Draft Kings in my home state of Arizona.  I can’t even imagine the time commitment it would take to be successful in a daily fantasy league where every day you have to come up with various lineups, meticulously crafted in pursuit of winning cash money.

Sports and TV aside I also like to write about new ideas, innovations, and inventions which I do on this blog.  I try to post at least once a day, having so far posted over eight hundred and twenty five times over the last three years.  At that rate you’d think that I’d have run out of things to write about by now but just the opposite is true.  There’s so much happening on a daily basis that I can never keep up with it all.  And that’s just my blog.  I also have over thirty book and screenplay ideas and plans to expand this blog to a YouTube Channel, digital magazine, and ultimately a public speaking series if I ever get around to it.  Plus there’s always the off chance that I might actually act on one of my gazillion ideas and actually start my own company.

That’s doubtful though because when I’m not writing about new ideas, I’m reading about them.  But I just can’t read Wired.  I also have to read Wired UK.  I just can’t read Fast Company. I also have to read Fast Company South Africa.  Yes, that really exists.  All told, I try to read every issue of eighteen different magazines ranging from Popular Science and Popular Mechanics to Discover and Scientific American.  That’s a lot of reading.  Most of which I never do because life gets in the way.  My iPad is now at the point where I’m so backed up with things to read that it’s unable to download any new content.  And that’s just magazines I’m talking about.  Dare I even sit down and try to read a newspaper?  Or, heaven forbid, an actual book?  Nah, I’ll just wait for the movie to come out.  Oh wait, now I have to go to the movies too?  Who has time for that?!

To make matters worse I decided to go out on Cyber Monday and buy a PS4.  I don’t know why I did this.  I obviously don’t have time to play video games.  I haven’t even taken it out of the box yet.  But life is short so I decided to take the plunge.  After all, why deprive myself any longer of something that might bring me enjoyment.  Unfortunately, I may have underestimated what I would be getting myself into for there are at least a dozen franchises from Uncharted to Halo, all with multiple titles and expansions, that look like they will be worth playing.  And I can’t half ass it.  Now that I’ve taken the plunge I have to play all of these games.  And can you even imagine what will happen when the Oculus Rift comes out?  I’d never leave the house again.

And I really, really, really want to leave the house so that I can go hiking.  There are literally thousands of miles of trails within driving distance of my house.  And I intend to hike all of them at least once.  And that’s just in Arizona.  Just think about how many other hike-able places there around the world.  And that’s just hiking.  I also like to ride my bike, play softball and basketball, and go swimming. I even recently started playing Frisbee golf.  Turns out that it’s not just for stoners – although I can see why they’re drawn to it; it’s addicting as all hell.

Speaking of addicting there’s about a half dozen social media pages that I have to maintain religiously even though I don’t even want to.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, etc.  It never ends.  And don’t even get me started on Instagram.  Why total strangers are liking my pictures of mountainside sunsets is beyond me.  Actually, it’s not.  It’s because they’re epic.

With all of these video games to play, TV shows and movie to watch, books and magazines to read, sports to watch and play, and hikes to go on, you’d think that I’d be happy.  That’s a lifetime of entertainment right there.  But just the opposite is true.  I have too many choices, too many options, too many interests that it’s literally impossible to keep up with it all.  But that’s actually the least of my worries.  What bothers me the most is that I have no time to do anything else.  Anything important that is.  You see, there are certain things that I wish I had the time for.  These are things that I call “pursuits” because I’m constantly chasing after them.  Things like hunting for exoplanets on Galaxy Zoo, learning how to code, and taking online courses in fields of study that interest me.  The kind of things that could actually improve my standing in life or allow me to actually feel like I’m gving something back to society.  But sadly I’ll never do any of those things.  There’s just not enough time in the day because in addition to everything I already mentioned I also host a podcast about Ancient Aliens, consult on political matters for Wikistrat, own an online marketing company, and go antiquing on the weekends.

All that and I haven’t even mentioned anything social yet.  I’ve swiped right on so many activities that I no longer even have time to swipe left on Tinder anymore.  Hanging out with friends, going on dates, doing things in public.  Those are now all afterthoughts.

To make matters worse there’s no end in sight.  Anyone can create a podcast or self publish a book or start a YouTube channel.  The barriers to entry have been lowered.  Every one of us is now a media mogul.  Keeping Up With The Kardashians was the easy part.  It’s keeping up with everyone else that’s hard.

So is there anything that we can do about it?  Well, there may be some technological solutions on the way.  Driverless cars will free up a ton of time currently spent commuting.  Time that could be spent reading, playing video games, or binge watching shows.  Personal robotic assistants could help us do chores and errands and save us some time.  3-D printers could save us some trips to the store.  But other than that there’s probably not a technological solution to the problem.  All that technology is going to do is help us create more content and ways to consume it.

That’s why I actually feel bad for kids today.  For as bad as I think I have it now just imagine how they’ll feel when they’re my age and there’s another thirty years worth of books, movies, TV shows, and video games to catch up on.  Binge watching six Star Wars movies to get ready for the Force Awakens was bad enough.  Can you imagine having to watch seventeen of them? Actually, that sounds kind of awesome.

Which come to think of it is probably the point.  Having so much content at our fingertips isn’t a curse.  It’s a blessing.  It’s not overwhelming.  It’s exciting.  For we now live in a world where it’s physically impossible to get bored.  Could your parents have said the same thing?  So let’s embrace it.  Let’s dive right into the content deep end without a care in the world.  It we never get through it who cares?  At least we had fun trying.

 

In today’s day and age we’ll never be able to do it all.  So let’s stop trying and just enjoy the ride.

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I broke my ankle.  Shattered it really.  Tore the ligaments too.  I was also in a car that flipped over several times and landed in a swamp a hundred feet away from the highway.  But nothing can compare to the pain I’ve experienced when I’ve stepped on a Lego while walking barefoot.  If nails scratching a blackboard and stubbing your toe had a baby it would be the feeling you get when you step on the jagged edge of one of those iconic children’s toys.  Thankfully, Lego agrees.  Which is why they’ve teamed up with design company Brand Station, to create special Anti-Lego slippers with extra padding on the bottom that make your feet impervious to pain.

As CNET explains, “The squared-off slippers are interchangeable between right and left feet, which is handy when you’re fumbling for them in the dark. They come in bright red and yellow with the bold Lego logo on the top of the foot. They have an open back so they can be quickly shuffled onto your feet before you step into a potentially painful area full of little Lego landmines.”

For now this concept is just for a promotional campaign with only 1,500 pairs being given away at this time.  But I’m hopeful that someone else will come along and make these into a real thing just in time for the holiday season.  And if they don’t, I might just have to make a pair myself…out of Legos.

Are Lego Slippers the Greatest Idea Ever?

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