Boing Boing 

Clive Thompson


Iphone game that challenges you to not look at your Iphone

bsocial2collage To play B-Social, you turn the app on, and choose how long you want to ignore your phone. Unlock the screen before your time's up and you lose that round.

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Mysterious radio-telescope signals caused by microwave ovens

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For 17 years, the Parkes radio telescope in Australia has been receiving strange, intermittent signals dubbed "perytons". A PhD student finally figured out where they were coming from: Nearby microwaves.

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Spiders sprayed with graphene make super-strong silk

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Italian scientists sprayed spiders with water that contained a mixture of graphene flakes and carbon nanotubes -- and the spiders began producing silk that was, by some measures, six times stronger than before.

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DARPA is developing self-guiding bullets that can change course to better hit moving targets

DARPA is developing self-guided bullets that can change course after being fired -- allowing a novice to hit a moving target.

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As you get older, you listen to less hot music: the "Coolness Spiral of Death"

coolnessspiralofdeath Data from Spotify appear to confirm why your parents are so out of it: As people get older, they listen to less hot music of the moment, and instead just queue up the oldies.

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Gorgeous drum kits of the jazz age

drumkit

Samm Bennett catalogues drum kits of the 1920s and 30s -- when the bass drums were often sumptuously painted with trippy, outdoorsy scenes.

Ebola infests a survivor's eye, and turns it green

ebolaeye Dr. Ian Crozier caught Ebola last year, but survived and seemed Ebola-free -- until scientists discovered his left eye still harbored a mass of infection, so bad it turned the eye green.

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Brazilians who keep alive the accents of Civil-War-era US southerners

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After the American Civil War, a group of Southerners left for Brazil -- where the "Confederados" remained so culturally separate from the rest of Brazilians that to this day their ancestors speak in the cadences of South Georgia: A linguistic time capsule "preserved in aspic".

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The crazy shapes of 17th-century pies

Why were pies in the 1600s baked in such improbable shapes? Over at HiLobrow, Tom Nealon investigates, and Deb Chachra drops some science on the question.

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Condolence cards designed by a cancer survivor

empathycards

If you want a card for a friend or family member who has cancer, Emily McDowell -- who survived Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 24 -- has created the best I've seen: Witty, warm, and acerbic.

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Making oddball Apple Watch apps with Wolfram Language

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Behold: An Apple Watch app that generates a random Pokemon! Stephen Wolfram shows how you can use Wolfram Language to very quickly write all sorts of fun software for the new wearable -- including a coin-flip app, visualizations of your email backlog, and an analog clock where the hands are cats.

Crystal, an app that attempts to summarize your personality

obama on crystal Crystal is an app that attempts to summarize your personality by analyzing your online presence. My friend the philosopher Evan Selinger wrote a smart assessment of the problems with this approach -- and then ran a Crystal search on me, with somewhat hilarious results.

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What if Detroit were nuked? A 1979 government report found out

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 11.27.00 PM Back in the 70s, the federal Office of Technology Assessment calculated the effects of a bomb hitting Detroit, and Leningrad. It wasn't a pretty picture, and nearly 40 years later, it's still chilling to read.

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When Ohio passed a law making "Hang on Sloopy" the official state song

The McCoys made the pop song "Hang on Sloopy" famous in 1965; twenty years later, the Ohio State Assembly voted it in as the state's official rock song. The legislation makes for a pretty excellent read.

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Cambodian rock -- before the Khmer Rouge destroyed it

cambodian pop albums

In the 60s and 70, Cambodia had a thriving, free-wheeling rock scene. Then along came the Khmer Rouge. Filmmaker John Pirozzi hunted down the surviving members of that scene and created a terrific documentary about it.

It's called “Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll,” and is currently touring around the US; check the schedule here to see if it's playing in your city, and when. The soundtrack is obtainable here.

Cambodia had surf-rock, psychedelia and hard rock, with Drakkar (pictured below, in middle age now) being an example of that latter genre. Pirozzi hunted down as many of the living musicians as he could, and -- as the New York Times reports -- he discovered some harrowing stories:

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Among those they found was Sieng Vanthy, a young singer in the 1970s who is seen in clips dressed like Cher and dancing like a wild Grace Slick. In one of the film’s most heartbreaking interviews, Ms. Sieng Vanthy — her face frozen by a stroke — says she survived an encounter with Khmer Rouge soldiers only by telling them she was a banana seller, not a singer. She died in 2009.

“The Khmer Rouge understood the value of the artists and their connection to the larger public,” Mr. Pirozzi said. “They’re the voice of the people. You can’t control them, so you eliminate them.”

Touch Seang Tana, of Drakkar, has another chilling survival story. In a Skype interview from Cambodia, where he is a scientist, he recalled being summoned by a soldier at a prison camp who had a guitar. “Do you know any imperialist songs?” the soldier asked him. Terrified, he played Santana’s hit “Oye Como Va” and briefly earned that man’s favor before a group of hardened new soldiers arrived.

“They started to kill people,” Mr. Touch Seang Tana said. “Me, I was almost killed many times. Luckily, I escaped.”

That terrific picture of the now-middle-aged Drakkar is by Hannah Reyes in the New York Times.

A "contagious" cancer is infecting clams

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Only two known forms of cancer are contagious, affecting dogs and Tasmanian devils. Now a third has been discovered -- infecting clams by spreading through the water in the Northeast Atlantic.

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London mapped to show the emotions in Victorian literature

Standford literary map of London

Behold the "emotional geography" of Victorian literary: A map that shows the "feeling and sensations" connected with various city locations in 19th-century novels. There are some surprising findings.

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