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Video: slowmo water balloons

Slow motion water balloons, sans breakage.

Case of the upside-down woman in the emergency room

A 7-foot-man walked into an emergency room dangling a 5-foot-woman by her feet. She told the staff that if she was upright, she'd pass out. She was only able to maintain consciousness while upside down. No, this isn't a joke. This is a true story that her attending physician, cardiac electrophysiologist Louis F. Janeira, recounts in Discover Magazine. Spoiler: The tip of her newly-installed pacemaker had become disconnected from her heart muscle. When she was upside down, the lead reconnected and stimulated her heart. From Discover:

“You’ll need to go back to surgery to reattach the lead,” I said to Mary. “Let’s page your electrophysiologist stat.” I looked at Jason and sighed. “Meanwhile, keep her upside down.”

We inserted an iv in Mary’s arm and hooked her up to an external pacing device. But pacing her heart through her chest wall gave her severe discomfort and was not a good option, even in the short term. Moreover, it turned out that Mary’s slow beat did not respond at all to medications, including intravenous epinephrine. So she was quickly transported to the electrophysiology laboratory, dangling by her ankles, carried by the only man around with enough strength to do it. And my ER shift continued.

The next day I was back on duty. As I came out of a room after examining a small child with a fever, I heard a familiar voice behind me.

“Dr. Janeira, it’s me, Mary. I’m all fixed up.”

"Vital Signs: The Woman Who Needed to Be Upside-Down"

New Boing Boing T-shirt: Robots, by Tom Gauld


The great cartoonist Tom Gauld (The Gigantic Robot, Goliath) designed our latest Boing Boing T-shirt. It's called "Robots."

New Boing Boing T-shirt: Robots, by Tom Gauld: $16.95

More Boing Boing Tees:

Revealed at last: India's public safety code for tamarind pulp

Carl Malamud says:

Public.Resource.Org has published 701 technical standards for the Republic of India. These government-produced documents cover everything cover a vast array of topics important to the people of India, including fascinating topics such as specifications for spices and condiments (tamarind pulp, cloves, fenugreek, curry powder). You'll also find safety specifications for bicycles, codes of practice for fire brigades, water testing methods, and codes of hygiene for food hawkers.

We are relying on India's Right to Information Act of 2005, one of the world's strongest freedom of information laws and one that makes clear that the works of government are owned by the people not the bureaucracies. At stake in publishing these technical standards is an important principle advanced by U.S. Justice Stephen Breyer: "if a law isn't public, it isn't a law." In today's technical world, our most important laws are these technical specifications, yet all over the world these standards are locked up behind pay walls. The legal principle that in a democracy citizens must be able to know the law if one that spans the world. Since May, Public.Resource.Org has been publishing technical standards required by law for the United States and we have received no protests, complaints, or takedown notices from any of the Standards Development Organizations (SDOs).

Coming up next are public safety standards for Africa. We will also be adding the National Building Code and National Electrical Code to the Indian collection. Own your government: read the manual, read the laws.

Campaign to rename our moon

Jack Pate says: "'The Moon' is a stupid name for our moon. As a species, we should all come together and come up with something even marginally more creative. The planet Jupiter has 63 moons. None of them is named 'Moon.' This has got to be the biggest astronomical gaffe in the Universe." Mark

That time a German prince built an artificial volcano


Perrin Doniger of Smithsonian.com says: "When a 18th century German prince visited Mt. Vesuvius in Naples, he insisted on building a replica of it on his estate back home."

Leopold III Friedrich Franz, Prince and Duke of Anhalt-Dessau ... ruled a small kingdom near the modern-day town of Dessau in the 18th century. Born in 1740, Franz was an unusually enlightened ruler, even for the Age of Enlightenment. In his mid-20s, he went on a Grand Tour of Europe, a rite of passage for the continent's nobility.

Franz's travels took him to London, Paris, Marseilles, Rome, Venice and Naples, where the 27-year-old princeling was captivated by the smoldering Mount Vesuvius and the recent discovery of the buried Roman town of Pompeii.

"Vesuvius must have really impressed him, because 22 years later he came up with the idea to re-create the Gulf of Naples in flat Germany," says Uwe Quilitzsch, the Woerlitz Garden Realm's staff historian. "He saw himself as obliged to enlighten his subjects, and he saw this as a lesson for people who would never get to Naples."

(Photo for Smithsonian.com by Rebecca F. Miller)

That time a German prince built an artificial volcano

Interview with and reading by Richard Kadrey for Devil Said Bang

Rick Kleffel says:
Richard Kadrey read from Devil Said Bang at SF in SF and afterwards I spoke with him about the novel. He told me that he originally wanted to write some hard-edged noir like Jim Thompson or Richard Stark with a supernatural aspect. Since he'd sold one book to the publisher, he figured he could sell more, and as the series spun out, his original close vision expanded. "I didn't start out with the intention of re-writing the history, like I said, of reality," he told me.

MP3 for reading | MP3 for interview

Previously: Devil Said Bang - Sandman Slim finds it's lonely at the top

The Trestle, Kirtland Air Force Base

Unknown Fields (UF) is a design studio, originating in London’s Architectural Association, that "ventures out on annual expeditions to the ends of the earth exploring unreal and forgotten landscapes, alien terrains and obsolete ecologies." Right now, Mark Pilkington, author of Mirage Men and publisher of Strange Attractor, is leading this busload of architects, writers, filmmakers and artists in an exploration of the mythic landscape of the American Southwest, and the stories that it has inspired. Their trajectory takes them from Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque New Mexico to Black Rock City, Nevada, via sites of military, architectural and folkloric significance. Mark is sending us occasional postcards from the edge. - David Pescovitz

The Trestle, Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Constructed over four years in the late 1950s at a then-astronomical cost of $58 million, the Trestle is still the largest all-wooden structure in the world, comprising over 6 million feet of timber. Part of the Air Force’s research into the after effects of a nuclear blast, a range of aircraft, including huge B-52 bombers and Air Force One were hauled up onto the Trestle, where they would be bombarded with electromagnetic pulse waves (EMP) fired from an emitter on either side.

EMP waves travel long distances in a very short amount of time and can seriously disrupt electronic systems, as we also know from powerful solar emissions. Understanding how EMP might affect the functioning of retaliatory nukes, bombers or command and control aircraft was therefore an essential part of post-apocalyptic preparations.

Every element of the Trestle, right down to its oversized nuts and bolts, had to be wooden so that none of its own components would interfere with the effects of the EMP wave on the aircraft being tested (though apparently there are some small metal o-ring components deep in the mix). Inspecting all the joints took a dedicated team a whole year; as soon as they had finished it was time to start again.

A unique monument to Cold War rigor and ingenuity, reminiscent of a huge fairground ride, perhaps the Cyclone, Coney Island’s wooden roller coaster, or a wooden labyrinth, the Trestle is now a condemned structure, too unstable to use, too expensive to dismantle. Today it provides a home to local wildlife, including a colony of great horned owls who can be heard screeching from within its depths. Our guide tells us that she likes to collect the skulls of their prey, which they leave scattered around the base of the structure.

Apple granted patent for location-based camera phone disabling

Last week I was frustrated in my attempt to take a screen grab of a frame from the cartoon Gravity Falls, which I was playing in iTunes on my Mac. The screen grab image showed the player window as gray-and-white checkerboard. Next, I downloaded a 3rd party screen grab application, and it gave me the same result. I ended up taking a photo of the iMac's display with my camera. (The photo is in this post -- it's the one with the cartoony occult symbols). Thanks to Apple's bullshit deal with the studios, the image has crappy video artifacts in it.

On Tuesday, Apple was granted a patent that could prevent photos and videos from being taken in particular locations. Other restrictions include forcing the camera to go to sleep so it cann't be used at all:

Apparatus and methods for changing one or more functional or operational aspects of a wireless device, such as upon the occurrence of a certain event. In one embodiment, the event comprises detecting that the wireless device is within range of one or more other devices. In another variant, the event comprises the wireless device associating with a certain access point. In this manner, various aspects of device functionality may be enabled or restricted (device “policies”). This policy enforcement capability is useful for a variety of reasons, including for example to disable noise and/or light emanating from wireless devices (such as at a movie theater), for preventing wireless devices from communicating with other wireless devices (such as in academic settings), and for forcing certain electronic devices to enter “sleep mode” when entering a sensitive area.

I imagine movie theaters would be the first to use this remote disabling feature (if Apple ever decides to move ahead with this technology; just because they have a patent doesn't mean they'll use it). The paranoid side of me imagines governments using it to prevent citizens from communicating with each other or taking video during protests.

PetaPixel: Apple Moves One Step Closer Toward Location-Based Camera Disabling (Via Matt Richardson)

Attention Browncoats: Get ready to squee over this 10th anniversary poster

Fans of the cult TV series Firefly may not ever get their wish of having the show come back to the air, but they do have nostalgia! Geek swag purveyor Quantum Mechanix is currently offering up a 10th anniversary poster by graphic designer -- and Browncoat -- Jeff Halsey, who created the design after watching the series for the twelfth time:

"[Firefly] taps into the themes of freedom and creating a family that really resonate with me," says Jeff. "The show may have been short-lived, but the 'Verse will live on. I feel this poster is a reminder of that feeling and is a love letter to my favorite show."

September 20, 2002 marked the premiere of the "American space western" on Fox, which canceled the show after just 14 episodes. But fans have not let the show end up forgotten, as evidenced by their persistent presence on the internet. Look, Firefly was a groovy show, but if that had run for 10 years, do you think Joss Whedon would have made us The Avengers? Or Cabin in the Woods, for that matter? Okay, I'm sorry. That was rude of me.

The poster, which measures 27" by 40", is currently available for pre-order at Quantum Mechanix. Posters begin shipping September 20.

Cast iron crepe pan on Kickstarter


I enjoyed Joe Sandor's crepe pan Kickstarter video. He's seeking $6k. I hope he gets it, because it's nice to see a project that doesn't have electronics in it for a change.

Audrey Kawasaki: exclusive first look at new paintings

As regular BB readers know, we are huge fans of Los Angeles-based painter Audrey Kawasaki. Mark and I both have had original paintings by Audrey hanging in our homes for years and they continue to bring us great joy. Audrey's next solo show, titled "Midnight Reverie," opens September 8 at New York City's Jonathan LeVine Gallery. We are thrilled to present this exclusive sneak preview of these otherworldly new paintings, courtesy of Jonathan Levine Gallery, with thanks to Maléna Seldin. I think this is Audrey's most magnificent work yet.

Here's what Audrey said about the show:

“Some of the pieces have windows, like passage-ways into another world, yet it can also feel like limbo or static—wanting to walk through to the other side, but not being able to. Others are deep in the make believe, magical, mystical realm. In these, the black parts represent a void, emptiness or the unknown, yet they can also be something real and solid, like holes or shadows.”

More images after the jump, perhaps NSFW...

Read the rest

This Is How I Roll: Kat Vecchio and Joe "Maulin' Brando" Mihalchick on the rise of men's roller derby

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to attend a screening of This Is How I Roll, a documentary about the growing presence of men's roller derby teams. Not satisfied with acting as coaches and referees -- or standing on the sidelines rooting for their derby girlfriends -- a small group of guys started talking about forming their own team and, eventually, their own roller derby league. It sounds like it should have been no big deal. After all, roller derby is a sport, and why should guys have a problem getting into sports? As it turns out, men trying to break into a sport dominated -- and revived -- by women was not as easy as it sounds.

After the jump, hear from the filmmakers of This Is How I Roll, producer and director Kat Vecchio and Joe Mihalchick, producer and men's derby skater Maulin' Brando with the New York Shock Exchange.

Read the rest

This is how you do a video PSA about childhood cancer.

This video from City of Hope, a large cancer research and treatment center in Los Angeles, documents the story of Gavin Wolfrank, a boy first diagnosed with leukemia at 7 months old. His treatment of high-dose chemotherapy continued until he was 4, when a matching donor for a bone marrow transplant was finally found... on the other side of the world.

Gavin wanted to meet this extraordinary stranger who saved his life, and City of Hope made it happen. We are hoping to raise awareness around the life-saving impact of people willing to donate their bone marrow and continue to make stories like this possible. Please watch this video and help us share with your community. Finding an exact bone marrow match is often times an up hill battle but there is strength in numbers if we can continue to encourage others to sign up for a registry.

So, the story is beautiful, and it's impossible not to empathize with this sweet kid, his loving family, and the wonderful woman who donated bone marrow to save a life. The cause is worthy. But I also want to draw attention to how tastefully this video was produced.

Read the rest

New Cassini eye candy: the changing seasons of Saturn

Carolyn Porco, Cassini Imaging Team Leader and director of CICLOPS in Boulder, CO, writes:

For no other reason than that they are gorgeous, the Cassini imaging team is releasing today a set of fabulous images of Saturn and Titan...in living color...for your day-dreaming enjoyment. Note that our presence at Saturn for the last 8 years has made possible the sighting of subtle changes with time, and one such change is obvious here. As the seasons have advanced, and spring has come to the north and autumn to the south throughout the Saturn system, the azure blue in the northern winter Saturnian hemisphere that greeted Cassini upon its arrival in 2004 is now fading; and it is now the southern hemisphere, in its approach to winter, that is taking on a bluish hue.

[B]ack here on Earth, the Cassini mission was recently given rave reviews by a panel of planetary scientists and NASA program managers for its contributions to our understanding of the solar system, a circumstance that bodes well for a well-funded continuing mission over the next 5 years. Despite the fact that we can't know exactly what the next five years will bring us, we can be certain that whatever it is will be wondrous.

Photo above: "A giant of a moon appears before a giant of a planet undergoing seasonal changes in this natural color view of Titan and Saturn from NASA's Cassini spacecraft."

More beautiful images from Cassini here.

Hellooooo, new desktop.