Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The weird and the wacky this week

If that alliterative headline didn't catch your eye, I don't know what's wrong with you. In any case, here are my picks for the weirdest and most surprising headlines of the past week (or so):

Fact, not fiction, rules the brain (except for gamers). A new study shows that in general, the human brain places more importance on real people than on fictional ones, according to PhysOrg.com. Thus, we know that Cinderella isn't as real as George Bush, who in turn is not as real to us as our mother. (Their example.) However, the article states that: "personal relevance is not unequivocally related to what is real, since some individuals may experience personal relevance in certain fictional realms, such as in religion or chronic computer gaming. For instance, for a chronic gamer, a World of Warcraft character could yield greater activation in the amPFC and PCC [reality-oriented regions of the brain] than a real person of low personal relevance would." (Emphasis added--and gamers, please do take heed.)

Totally tubular. From Boing Boing--Audiophiles, and folks who want to risk electrocuting themselves can follow the steps laid out at Instructables.com on how to build their very own stereo tube amp from spare parts. The post starts out with this tantalizing line: "Ever wanted to build a highly dangerous, inefficient, and essentially obsolete piece of electronics?" Oh, well, in that case, what are we waiting for?

Terminator beware. And speaking of tubes, contributor Brandon Keim reports in Wired on the development of carbon nanotubes--structures that are incredibly strong, lightweight and flexible. These tubes can be used for everything from artificial limbs with "smart" muscles to solar cells. Perhaps the Governator can make use of them to save future generations of the world from the high cost of electricity.

Robofish to the rescue. As long as we're on the subject of '80s sci fi movie references, there's a new robocop on the block, and this one is sniffing out pollution. According to Britain's Daily Mail, schools of robotic fish may be released into the Thames to pick up signs of pollution. Reports the Mail: "Each fish ... will be packed with pollution sensors that can electronically 'sniff' harmful chemicals in the water." The robofish will travel in schools and alert each other via wifi when pollution is detected. (Thanks @bcaulfield for that tip.) Let's just hope no one decides to tempt them with a PCB-packed fly and cook them up for dinner.

Snow men behaving badly. Finally, two separate snow-bites-man-related stories caught our attention this past week. First, take a look at this series of videos depicting grown men riding around in the snow on retooled on children's toy cars--and clearly having the time of their lives. (Thanks @davegraham for tweeting that tip.) And in a second, related story, a Canadian man was ordered to tear down his backyard snow fort because it posed a fire hazard. (From NPR's "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me quiz.) Talk about having WAY too much fun.

And speaking of which, shouldn't you be getting back to work?

A similar version of this post appeared on my client blog, OnlineStorageOptimization.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Sunshine: so what's the difference between chronic computer gaming and religion? Jochen