Archive for July, 2009

Bat-catching centipedes, supersonic nanoharpooning jellyfishes, bubble-shooting shrimp and other accomplished animal killers

Posted in Humour, Nature Attacks! on July 31, 2009 by Gustav

A giant centipde that catches bats in the flight? A jellyfish that autoreleases nanosized poisionous harpoon-like stingers at supersonic speeds? A shrimp that snap its claw to stun prey, creating a bubble that momentarily reaches the temperature of the sun when it collapses? They’re all real. Funny website Cracked counts down, “The 6 Most Badass Murder Weapons in the Animal Kingdom“.


Imagining the world in grey goo

Posted in Images & Videos, Science Fiction on July 30, 2009 by Gustav

Grey Goo

This is how artist Shane Hope imagines the Earth as remade by grey goo in his transhumanism-themed exhibition “Your Mom Is Open Source“. Grey goo, runaway self-replicating machines remaking its environment into colorless formless sludge, has become a staple of modern science fiction. It makes an appearance, for instance, in Alastair Reynolds’ Demarchist/Conjoiner books, which are some of my favorite SF-stories.

The term grey goo was invented by Dr. K. Eric Drexler, a pioneer in nanotechnology, in his book “Engines of Destruction” from 1986. In 2004 he published a paper that slew the myth of nanotechnological manufacturing accidentally resulting in grey goo-scenarios. A far more pressing concern would be deliberate abuse, such as,  “the possibility that a large-scale and convenient manufacturing capacity could be used to make powerful non-replicating weapons in unprecedented quantity, leading to an arms race or war”.

Via io9.

More human anatomy, this time: Victorian style!

Posted in Health & Disease, Images & Videos on July 29, 2009 by Gustav

Section of the ThoraxThe Londonese Wellcome Collection has an exhibition called Exquisite Bodies. The Victorian approach to public education and titillation seems macabre, to say the least, as the gallery through the link testifies to.

Via New Scientist.

Insect protect itself by bleeding and vomiting

Posted in Nature Attacks! on July 29, 2009 by Gustav

The armoured ground cricket (Acanthoplus discoidalis) has an, intentionally, disgusting mode of self-defence. When attacked it vomit all over itself and squirt green, acrid blood from hidden orifices. From BBC:

“What impressed me is that they control the release depending on how they are grabbed,” says [entomologist Bill] Bateman, describing the actions of the armoured ground cricket.

“If it’s from above the blood wells out and coats your hand. If grabbed by forceps from the side, by a leg, they lean towards it and crouch down, then there is a slight cracking sound and the blood jets right along the line of attack.”

“Any predator would get a faceful, and our experiments indicated that lizards do not like it all.”

No, I bet they don’t.

To control and not to control, the future of high-tech

Posted in Images & Videos, Science Fiction, Technology Attacks! on July 29, 2009 by Gustav

In the future, SF-writer Karl Shroeder imagines, the highest technology of all is knowing when you need to control something and when you can leave it alone. He mentions democracy as a similar insight, the state doesn’t have to exert total control on everything in society for civilization not to crumble.

He sees this coming already and gave the example of the Greenbelt surrounding Toronto that serves humans, other animals and plants by providing fresh air and clean water.This solves a pollution problem cheaper than building a whole bunch of high-tech filtration plants, perhaps the traditional engineering solution to the same problem.

Here’s a video of a talk he gave on “rewilding” at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention this year:

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Pixar and the science of sex, modeling robot, “high-tech” crap and steampunk postcards

Posted in Humour, Images & Videos, Love & Sex, Robots & Cyborgs, Science Fiction, The Ancient World on July 28, 2009 by Gustav

From the makers of beloved children’s movies Toy Story and Up comes: The Ancient Book of Sex and Science. NSFW. Via Nerve.

She can change him!

She can change him!

Robot Miim model wedding dress at Japanese fashion show, The Sun reports. High fashion, high geekness.   

Comedy website Cracked lists, “7 High Tech Products And Their Cheap Ass Ingredients” (e.g. audio cables that cost thousands of dollars but are indsistinguishable from any old cheap cable).

From io9: Postcards of Edwardian ladies and gentlemen walking on moving sidewalks and flying in personal airships. 1900 AD steampunk.

Han shot first, but what if he didn’t?

Posted in Humour, Science Fiction on July 27, 2009 by Gustav

io9 Asks, “What If Greedo Really Shot First?” It turns out Greedo is a total badass:

[I]t’s Han Solo’s head that Greedo tosses, to Chewy, who catches it with an anguished growl. Chewy pulls his blaster, but he’s still holding the head of his beloved captain in one paw, making his reaction time considerably slower. Chewy does get off one shot, but Greedo ducks behind Boba Fett, who catches it square in his unprotected neck area. Greedo shoots Chewbacca before he can get off a second shot, and it’s all over.

All hail Emperor Greedo!