Boing Boing 

Tomorrow: Student-designed experiments take flight on the International Space Station

The YouTube Space Lab competition gave teenagers around the world a chance to design a science experiment for the International Space Station. Tomorrow morning, starting at 9:30 Central, you can watch live while astronaut Sunita Williams conducts the two winning experiments, and see Bill Nye interview the experiments' creators—Amr Mohamed from Alexandria, Egypt; and Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma, from Troy, Michigan.

Higgs Boson papers clear peer review

The two papers documenting evidence that CERN has found a particle matching the description of the Higgs Boson have cleared peer review and are now published in the journal Physics Letters B. Ironically, that journal is the offspring of Physics Letters, the journalwhich rejected Peter Higgs' 1964 paper that first hypothesized the existence of the Higgs Boson. Higgs' paper was eventually published by a different journal, Physical Review Letters. You can read it online. (Many thanks to Rachel Courtland for the history, and to Jennifer Ouellette for the Higgs paper link.)

TOM THE DANCING BUG: Mitt Romney Plays "Santa Claus Politics"

Help sustain Tom the Dancing Bug, by @RubenBolling, by joining its INNER HIVE. Please click HERE for information.

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Skeleton found at dig may be Richard III

The remains of England's King Richard III, killed in battle 500 years ago, may have been found in ancient ruins long-hidden by modern development: "a result beyond our wildest dreams." [Telegraph]

Lego's massive Haunted House set

Drew sez, "Lego has released a Haunted House set with vampire figures, zombie chef, Frankenstein butler, and glow in the dark ghosts. It's not a traditional Lego set as it's made to look in a state of disrepair with cracked windows, crumbling foundation and broken shutters. 2000 pieces make it a substantial build intended for older, more advanced builders."

Above is Jason Forthofer Brick Show review of the 2000+ piece set.

Lego Monster Fighter Haunted House (Thanks, Drew!)

Jason Sudeikis will return to Saturday Night Live for an abridged season

All summer long, following the departures of Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig from the Saturday Night Live cast, Jason Sudeikis never really committed to staying or going. It was a tricky situation, since he has found some success in movies, but has been playing a really great version of Mitt Romney on the show throughout this election year. But now, it's confirmed that Sudeikis will stay on to play the Republican nominee (and other roles, of course) through the election and then say his goodbyes in December. So, apparently someone has purchased a working crystal ball that provides election results! That might be news, too! (via Splitsider)

Teenage Mutant Turtles ephemera: the precambrian merchandising explosion

Brain Rot's Ed Piskor says:

NewImage I was just digging around in my comic collection and found this great editorial in an old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic, that appeared just before the merchandising onslaught took place. You might dig it. In all those old editorials, a real, episodic, narrative took place, starting with Eastman and Laird borrowing money to print up the first books, while living on Ramen, to being surprised at the amount of copies they needed to fill demand, to what this editorial contains, and beyond. They read like those "American dream" type stories we all heard about.
Click image for enlargement.

Why cilantro-haters hate cilantro

I have loved cilantro (also known as coriander) passionately since first eating it in a Vietnamese restaurant in a former gas station in downtown Chicago when I was 10. And most people seemed to agree with me that it is the best herb ever. Only in recent years did I stumble upon the vocal minority of cilantro-haters—the people who think my beloved cilantro tastes like soap. I do not understand them. But Nature News offers some insight. Turns out, dislike of cilantro is linked to a variation in a gene associated with our sense of smell. Bonus: If you hate cilantro whole, there's some evidence to suggest you might like it pulverized in a pesto.

Interview with the Singularity Weblog

I recently sat down for a video interview with the Singularity weblog to talk about about The Rapture of the Nerds, Singularity, science fiction, how fiction works, sf movies, and a lot of varied subjects.

Cory Doctorow on Singularity 1 on 1: The Singularity Is A Progressive Apocalypse

A tour of the bat cave

In this video for Science Friday, bat biologist Nickolay Hristov takes a thermal camera inside Carlsbad Caverns to see what bats do in the dark when nobody's watching.

In his footage, a blazing yellow blob on the cave ceiling—which the video's narrator likens to a pool of lava—is actually a mass of bats, packed closely together and hanging upside down. Here, Hristov can see, in person, the very social world of bats, playing out as though he weren't even there.

It's a great video, and well worth watching.

Via Science Friday

EDIT: Video embed is fixed and should work now.

Something new under the sea

Drug cartels are building their own diesel submarines in the jungles of South America. A recently caught version wasn't fully submersible—the engine needed to bring in air via a snorkel that stuck out above the waterline—but it did have a range of 3000 miles. (Via Mo Costandi)

What's climate change ruining today?

Barring a seriously crazy shift that plunges us quickly into an especially cold winter, 2012 will likely go down as the hottest year on record in the United States. More importantly, this broken record is part of a larger pattern that affects the whole world—record-breaking high temperatures are becoming, themselves, a bit of a broken record. On a global scale, counting average land and water temperatures, 2012 is (so far) the 11th warmest year on record—almost a full degree hotter than the 20th century average. Of the 12 warmest years on record, all of them have happened since 1998 (and the top 20 is made up of years since 1987).

Over time, that kind of long-term trend takes a toll. But for those of us who are lucky enough to live with relatively high levels of wealth, air conditioning, supermarkets, and all the luxuries of modern life, that toll is not always obvious. Sometimes, you have to look a little deeper to see how climate change is already affecting the American way of life.

So, what's climate change ruining today? How about electricity generation? Juliet Eilperin at The Washington Post has a story about how a consistent trend of high temperatures and drought has affected water reserves, and how those diminished reserves affect our ability to produce electricity.

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Crappy YouTube trailer leads to death of US diplomat and others in Mideast

Update: The whole thing sounds like a weird disinfo job. But, by whom and to what end? The AP has outed "Sam Bacile" as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, a Coptic Christian who claims the film supports the concerns of Christian Copts about their treatment by Muslims. On The Media notes that there's something fishy about the film dialogue. And Gawker has spoken to one of the actresses in the film, who says she had no idea what the film was really about.


The Associated Press identifies Sam Bacile as an Israeli filmmaker based in California who made an independently produced and financed anti-Muslim movie that's sort of "Birth of a Nation" meets "Bed Intruder." The YouTube trailer is embedded above, and it unapologetically attacks Islam’s prophet Muhammad. Bacile has no known prior history as a filmmaker.

His D-grade web trailer inspired (or, alternately, was used as cover for) attacks by ultra-conservative Muslims on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya. J Christopher Stevens, America's ambassador to Libya, and three American members of his staff were killed today in resulting violence.

From the Associated Press:

Speaking by phone Tuesday from an undisclosed location, writer and director Sam Bacile remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and that the 56-year-old intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion. Protesters angered over Bacile’s film opened fire on and burned down the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. Libyan officials said Wednesday that Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed Tuesday night when he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as the building came under attack by a mob firing machine guns and rocket propelled grenades.

Bacile is a real estate developer in California who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew. “Islam is a cancer, period,” he told the AP. The video above is a trailer for his two-hour movie, “Innocence of Muslims,” which cost $5 million to produce and was, according to the director, backed by funding from 100 Jewish donors. There's an English version and an Arabic-dubbed version of the trailer here. Bacile reports that the entire film has been shown "once, to a mostly empty theater in Hollywood earlier this year."

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David Byrne's How Music Works

Former Talking Heads frontman and all-round happy mutant David Byrne has written several good books, but his latest, How Music Works, is unquestionably the best of the very good bunch, possibly the book he was born to write. I could made good case for calling this How Art Works or even How Everything Works.

Though there is plenty of autobiographical material How Music Works that will delight avid fans (like me) -- inside dope on the creative, commercial and personal pressures that led to each of Byrne's projects -- this isn't merely the story of how Byrne made it, or what he does to turn out such great and varied art. Rather, this is an insightful, thorough, and convincing account of the way that creativity, culture, biology and economics interact to prefigure, constrain and uplift art. It's a compelling story about the way that art comes out of technology, and as such, it's widely applicable beyond music.

Byrne lived through an important transition in the music industry: having gotten his start in the analog recording world, he skilfully managed a transition to an artist in the digital era (though not always a digital artist). As such, he has real gut-feel for the things that technology gives to artists and the things that technology takes away. He's like the kids who got their Apple ][+s in 1979, and keenly remember the time before computers were available to kids at all, the time when they were the exclusive domain of obsessive geeks, and the point at which they became widely exciting, and finally, ubiquitous -- a breadth of experience that offers visceral perspective.

There were so many times in this book when I felt like Byrne's observations extended beyond music and dance and into other forms of digital creativity. For example, when Byrne recounted his first experiments with cellular automata exercise for dance choreography, from his collaboration with Noemie Lafrance:

1. Improvise moving to the music and come up with an eight-count phrase (in dance, a phrase is a short series of moves that can be repeated).

2. When you find a phrase you like, loop (repeat) it.

3. When you see someone else with a stronger phrase, copy it.

4. When everyone is doing the same phrase, the exercise is over.

It was like watching evolution on fast-forward, or an emergent lifeform coming into being. At first the room was chaos, writhing bodies everywhere. At first the room was chaos, writhing bodies everywhere. Then one could see that folks had chosen their phrases, and almost immediately one could see a pocket of dancers who had all adopted the same phrase. The copying had already begun, albeit in just one area. This pocket of copying began to expand, to go viral, while yet another one now emerged on the other side of the room. One clump grew faster than the other, and within four minutes the whole room was filled with dancers moving in perfect unison. Unbelievable! It only took four minutes for this evolutionary process to kick in, and for the "strongest" (unfortunate word, maybe) to dominate.

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