Magical ring turns your arm into a track pad

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Carnegie Mellon University researchers developed a system that turns your arm into a trackpad. Video demo above. From their scientific paper:

It consists of a ring, which emits a continuous high frequency AC signal, and a sensing wristband with multiple electrodes. Due to the phase delay inherent in a high-frequency AC signal propagating through the body, a phase difference can be observed between pairs of electrodes. SkinTrack measures these phase differences to compute a 2D finger touch coordinate.

SkinTrack: Using the Body as an Electrical Waveguide for Continuous Finger Tracking on the Skin (PDF via Wired)

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Donald Trump's old spokesman John Barron was actually Donald Trump

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In the 1970s-1990s, reporters covering Trump would sometimes chat on the phone with Trump's PR men John Barron or John Miller. Turns out, Barron and Miller were Trump himself. It'd be funny if, well, y'know... From the Washington Post's great article by Marc Fisher and Will Hobson about this weirdness:

“Actresses,” Miller said in the (1991) call to (People reporter Sue) Carswell, “just call to see if they can go out with him and things.” Madonna “wanted to go out with him.” And Trump’s alter ego boasted that in addition to living with (model Marla) Maples, Trump had “three other girlfriends.”

Miller was consistent about referring to Trump as “he,” but at one point, when asked how important (model Carla) Bruni was in Trump’s busy love life, the spokesman said, “I think it’s somebody that — you know, she’s beautiful. I saw her once, quickly, and beautiful . . . ” and then he quickly pivoted back into talking about Trump — then a 44-year-old father of three — in the third person.

In 1990, Trump testified in a court case that “I believe on occasion I used that name.” He did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

In a phone call to NBC’s “Today” program Friday morning, Trump denied that he was John Miller. “No, I don’t think it — I don’t know anything about it. You’re telling me about it for the first time and it doesn’t sound like my voice at all,” he said.

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Simple and amazing Jabba the Hutt turnovers

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Pie designer Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin made these mouthwatering Jabba the Hutt turnovers!

Ingredients:

– 2 apples – bit of cinnamon – one package of Pillsbury pre-made pie crust

"I Made A Batch Of Jabba The Hutt Turnovers For Star Wars Day" (Bored Panda via Laughing Squid)

They would go well with Han Solo in Chocolate Carbonite!

See more creations on Clark-Bojin's Instagram feed thepieious!

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Watch Penn and Teller's anti-anti-vaccine rant

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Penn and Teller's classic takedown of anti-vax bullshittery. And if you don't know, now you know.

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Katherine Dunn, author of "Geek Love," RIP

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Katherine Dunn, the author of the incredible macabre comedic novel Geek Love, about the strange shenanigans in a circus sideshow, has died at age 70 from lung cancer. From a Los Angeles Times profile of Dunn at the time of the book's release in 1989:

As Dunn's tale goes, Aloysius Binewski, proprietor of a traveling circus called Binewski's Fabulon, gets the notion to breed mutant children who will perform as sideshow freaks. His theory is that, along with boosting business, he will be bestowing upon his children "the inherent ability to earn a living just by being themselves..."

Dunn said she got the idea for "Geek Love" in 1979 while she was walking in the experimental rose gardens in Portland. Admiring the hybrid roses, she conceived Papa Al and his hybrid children.

She was thinking about her son at the time and the whole issue of "the things we do to our children--most of the evil in the world is not done with bad intentions but with the best intentions ever," she said.

Dunn said "Geek Love" also reflects her concerns with "the volcanic and terrifying possibilities of genetic mutation and the whole issue of the cult." (In the book, flipper-boy Arty starts a cult in which converts have their arms and legs amputated so they can become more like their leader.)

At first, Dunn was shocked by her own terrifying characters. Now and then she'd read a passage to her son, who invariably shook his head and responded: "Weird."

"Katherine Dunn has died; the 'Geek Love' author once took the world by storm"

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Brilliant billboard for faux funeral home is anti-texting and driving PSA

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This brilliant billboard on the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto, Canada is actually a PSA to discourage texting and driving. After this, if Wathan Funeral Home were real, people would be dying to get in. (Sorry.)

Excellent work from the john st. advertising agency and Cieslok Media.

(Adweek) Read the rest

Watch the bang as man skips sodium across river

A favorite demonstration in high school science classes of yesteryear, dropping sodium into water is spectacularly explosive. In this video, a fellow attempts to skip a pound of sodium across a river.

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Researchers demonstrate edible origami robot

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This mouthwatering morsel is an origami robot that once swallowed, unfolds itself in the gut and can be steered by magnets outside the body. According to the MIT researchers, patients may someday swallow similar robots to patch wounds or retrieve foreign objects. In a new test, the robot successfully removed a button battery lodged in a faux stomach and esophagus. Video below! Yum!

From MIT:

...The new robot consists of two layers of structural material sandwiching a material that shrinks when heated. A pattern of slits in the outer layers determines how the robot will fold when the middle layer contracts....

In the center of one of the forward accordion folds is a permanent magnet that responds to changing magnetic fields outside the body, which control the robot’s motion. The forces applied to the robot are principally rotational. A quick rotation will make it spin in place, but a slower rotation will cause it to pivot around one of its fixed feet. In the researchers’ experiments, the robot uses the same magnet to pick up the button battery.

The researchers tested about a dozen different possibilities for the structural material before settling on the type of dried pig intestine used in sausage casings. “We spent a lot of time at Asian markets and the Chinatown market looking for materials,” Li says. The shrinking layer is a biodegradable shrink wrap called Biolefin.

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Documentary about Hunter S. Thompson at the Kentucky Derby

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In 1970, journalist Hunter S. Thompson, 32, and artist Ralph Steadman were assigned to cover the Kentucky Derby for Scanlan's Monthly magazine. The resulting article, "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved" (PDF) was the birth of the good doctor's gonzo journalism and changed first-person reporting forever.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Below, Michael D. Ratner's short documentary about "Gonzo @ The Derby." (Thanks, Jordan Kurland!)

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Do you have negative ESP?

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Negative ESP, or "psi-missing," is when you score far below chance in an ESP test. According to the textbook An Introduction to Parapsychology (2007):

It is important to note that this does not indicate a lack of ESP (or of psi in general) since the latter would be associated with nonsignificant scores. Rather, psi missing might be viewed as an expression of psi in a way that produces a result opposite to the conscious intent.

(via Weird Universe)

Article below from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (1/19/72):

(illustration at top by Rob Beschizza) Read the rest

The Pink Panther Theme is very odd in a major key

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Henry Mancini's "Pink Panther Theme" (1963) reworked into a major key would make a good soundtrack for a bad 1960s sitcom. (Major vs Minor, via Digg) Read the rest

New message from Zodiac killer was actually class project

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Police in Tallahassee, Florida were on high alert after a message appeared on a sidewalk that looked very similar to the writing and cryptograms written by the Zodiac serial killer in the late 1960s and early 1970s in Northern California. The Zodiac Killer's identity is still unknown. Here's the message:

“You were wrong. I am not dead or in the hospital. I’m alive and well and I’m going to start killing again."

Turns out, the message was part of an assignment on serial killers and drug cartels in a Florida State University class. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, "the assignment was to write a message in a public forum, take a picture and send it to (professor Iheoma) Nwachukwu.

From the Tallahassee Democrat:

On Friday, someone reported seeing the message and called police.

Meanwhile, the student who wrote the message had left for a weekend trip. She returned and on Tuesday called police after seeing flyers alerting Luxe residents to it and seeing it reported on the news.

She told police she and her roommate wrote the message but left in the pouring rain thinking the chalk would wash away.

"Police: 'Zodiac' message near FSU part of class project" Read the rest

Amazingly weird results when people draw a bicycle from memory

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For his project Velocipedia, artist/designer Gianluca Gimini asked friends and strangers to draw a men's bicycle from memory. Then he digitally mocked up the designs.

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This cat is freaked out by a snake in a toad's mouth

Wouldn't you be too? (via Dangerous Minds)

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Antiques Roadshow erroneously appraised 1970s high school art class mug at $50,000

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Antiques Roadshow appraised this "bizarre and wonderful" ceramic jug from the late-19th/early-20th century at $50,000. Turns out, they were mistaken. A woman named Betsy Soule crafted the mug in high school in the 1970s. Soule's friend recognized the piece on TV and alerted her.

"As far as its age is concerned, I was fooled, as were some of my colleagues," said Antiques Roadshow's Stephen L. Fletcher in an update. "The techniques of making pottery, in many ways, haven’t changed for centuries…Still, not bad for a high schooler in Oregon.”

The current owner paid $300 for the object at an estate sale.

“I hated it when it was $30,000 to $50,000, because who wants $30,000 to $50,000 lying around their house?" he told the Bend Bulletin. "Now, it’s on my table, and I love it.”

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Watch multi-talented street performer juggle a drum beat

Fuman Musicoloco performing in Zaragoza, Spain.

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Watch The National's beautiful cover of The Grateful Dead's "Morning Dew"

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Stunning! The National's cover of "Morning Dew," a song penned in 1961 by Bonnie Dobson and later popularized by the Dead, is one of 59 (!) tracks on the Day of the Dead box set they helped produce, featuring Sharon Van Etten, the Flaming Lips, Real Estate, War on Drugs, Jenny Lewis, and many more covering Dead songs. Day of the Dead will be out May 20, with all profits benefiting the HIV/AIDS organization Red Hot.

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