My friend Joe Hutsko contacted with the intriguing offer to serialize his novel, The Deal, on Boing Boing. I jumped at the chance. I read The Deal when it first came out in 1999 and loved the thrilling story about a Apple-like company's undertaking to create an iPhone-like device.
Are you willing to take on the responsibility that comes with bringing trillions of universes into existence, each teeming with sentient life? That's something to ponder before plunking down $20 for this make-your-own-universe kit, created by artist Jonathon Keats.
If two events are possible, quantum theory assumes that both occur simultaneously - until an observer determines the outcome. For example, in Schrödinger's famous thought experiment, in which his cat may have been killed with a 50 per cent probability, the cat is both alive and dead until someone checks. When the observation is made, the universe splits into two, one for each possible outcome. For example, Schrödinger's cat would be alive in one universe and dead in the other universe.
According to the theory, any kind of measurement causes the universe to split and this is the basis of Keats' new device. His universe creator uses a piece of uranium-doped glass to create a steam of alpha particles, which are then detected using a thin sliver of scintillating crystal. Each detection causes the creation of a new universe.
Aaron Fotheringham, 16, earned a Guinness World Record last weekend as the first person to land a backflip in a wheelchair. (Click the image to see the full photo by Stephen R. Sylvanie/Special to the Home News.) From the Las Vegas Sun:
To achieve the trick, Fotheringham, rolled down a skatepark ramp to generate enough speed. He then went up another ramp and landed his flip on flat ground.
He first completed the trick in 2006, and has dozens of videos of his backflips, but had yet to make it official...
Aaron Fotheringham, who suffers from spina bifida and has been in a wheelchair since he was 13, came up short in his quest to set a record for most consecutive backflips in 45 seconds. His unofficial record is six back flips in a row, however, he could not get consecutive flips Oct. 25.
"I'm a little bit disappointed I didn't get the consecutive flips, but I guess I'm taking it for granted that I got in the book," Fotheringham said.
What does it mean to be truly evil? Cognitive scientist Selmer Bringsjord is developing a virtual human that embodies their evolving definition of "evil." In development for several years, the character, named "E," is designed to interact with humans in a way that sounds similar to a chatbot, albeit a really demented chatbot. Bringsjord is even considering the ethics and "danger" of making an evil software program. (Brett Leonard, your meme is ready.) From Scientific American:
To be truly evil, someone must have sought to do harm by planning to commit some morally wrong action with no prompting from others (whether this person successfully executes his or her plan is beside the point). The evil person must have tried to carry out this plan with the hope of "causing considerable harm to others," Bringsjord says. Finally, "and most importantly," he adds, if this evil person were willing to analyze his or her reasons for wanting to commit this morally wrong action, these reasons would either prove to be incoherent, or they would reveal that the evil person knew he or she was doing something wrong and regarded the harm caused as a good thing...
Following the path of a true logician, Bringsjord's interest in the portrayal of virtuousness and evil in literature led to his interest in software that helps writers develop ideas and create stories; this, in turn, spurred him to develop his own software for simulating human behavior, both good and odious, says Barry Smith, a distinguished professor of bioinformatics and ontology at the State University of New York at Buffalo who is familiar with Bringsjord's work. "He's known as someone on the fringe of philosophy and computer science."
Bringsjord and Smith both have an interest in finding ways to better understand human behavior, and their work has attracted the attention of the intelligence community, which is seeking ways to successfully analyze the information they gather on potential terrorists. "To solve problems in intelligence analysis, you need more accurate representations of people," Smith says. "Selmer is trying to build really good representations of human beings in all of their subtlety."
Underground film director Rodney Ascher, whose work we've featured on BB and BBtv many times before, just completed a new horror spoof called Visions of Terror. A collaboration with Josh Fadem and also starring Zoe Jarman, Visions of Terror is a real laff-riot that takes the piss out of B-movie horror buffs, which Ascher is himself. Visions of Terror
Monkeys outfitted with neural implants have learned to control temporarily paralyzed muscles in their arms. So instead of controlling a robot arm with its mind, the monkey controls its own muscles that have become "disconnected" from its brain. The research, conducted by the University of Washington and the Washington National Primate Research Center, is a step forward in the development of technology that routes around a damaged spine, enabling a patient to once again manipulate paralyzed body parts. From IEEE Spectrum:
In exchange for a reward of applesauce, the monkeys had been conditioned to create just the right amount of torque in their wrists to move a cursor on a display so that it hit a target. To conduct the experiments, the researchers used anesthesia to block signals in a nerve just below the shoulder of a monkey’s arm, temporarily paralyzing the rest of the limb. The brain cells that control wrist movement were still firing in response to the monkey’s desire to hit the target and get the payoff, but with the neural connection shut down, the wrist remained limp. The scientists implanted electrodes into the monkey’s motor cortex and fed the electrical signals they received from the monkey’s brain into a computer. The computer then translated the signals into a stimulating current that was fed to electrodes implanted below the nerve block in the monkey’s wrist. The monkeys were able to learn to manipulate their own brains to get their wrists moving.
Today on Boing Boing tv we continue a series of transmissions from Tokyo by our monster-hunting comrade Sean Bonner, who vanished mysteriously while seeking a legendary shrine devoted to the Kappa, a water-dwelling, ninja-turtle-like, child-sized creature who is fond of cucumbers and human colon meat, which it may access by grabbing up your butt.
Today, he reappears, with proof that he has touched the mummified hand of the cucumber-loving amphibious prankster. He also brings us irrefutable proof that some of Japan's greatest manga artists found a source of inspiration in Kappa art. Also on the streets of Tokyo, just outside the shrine, BBtv's yokai squad discovered MONSTER KITTEH.
The UCLA Digital Library has a few interesting photos of Halloween in the 1940s. The caption for this one reads: "Stage and crowd at Halloween Slick Chick beauty contest in Anaheim, Calif., 1947." I wonder if Daisy Mae was the winner?
Short Attention Span Science Theater is a new Stanford University site that features "microdocs," two to four minute videos explaining scientific topics in a simple and engaging way. Groups of microdocs are packaged into "notebooks" on particular topics. From Stanford News Service:
The first Short Attention Span Science notebook demystifies ecological sustainability–the basis for the green movement around the world, (Marine Science professor Steve Palumbi) said: "What is sustainability? What promotes it? What threatens it? What are the tipping points that push an ecosystem into ruin or keep it functioning forever? The ecological sustainability notebook shows the elements of sustainability and explains how they apply to one of the most important and beautiful ecosystems on earth–coral reefs."
Palumbi serves as narrator and on-camera host of many of the microdocs, which were shot at research sites in Fiji, Samoa, the Caribbean, Micronesia and other coral reefs. "Navigating around the site is like a fast trip to the coral reefs of the world, with you in control of the journey," he said. "We present the problems facing reefs, and how they can recover and grow. We show the kinds of reefs, the species that live on them and efforts by local people all over the world to preserve them."