Concord: Clear sky, 69.8 °F
A blend of cool projects, great gadgets and awesomellany from Word of Mouth Internet Sherpa Brady Carlson
Well-rested and restored after our week off. Let's dive right into Here's What's Awesome: Year Two:
Put on the (3-D) glasses!
Etch-a-Sketch goes three dimensional! Sketch3D adds a third design wheel to the up-down and left-right controls, and tops it off with a monitor that renders your drawing with depth If we're going to be adding new features to classic toys, surely it won't be long, then, before someone adds a hidden compost bin to Hungry Hungry Hippos? [About:Blank]
Mine, all mine
Soon-to-close mine shafts may have a second life ahead of them as geothermal boilers, thanks to a plan by engineering students in Spain. Once the mining is about to wrap up, scientists gather data on the setup of the shaft, and then, potentially, use it to produce eco-friendly heat for nearby homes. [MNN]
"See you Friday, and let's hear '99 Red Balloons'"
We've all counted on friends to bring a dish to pass or help with decorations at parties gone by, so why not have friends help with the party music, too? FlavorTunes is part electronic RSVP service and part playlist builder, so your neighbor can tells you he/she can make the birthday bash on Saturday, AND you should totally rock your copy of Love At First Sting by Scorpions. [Lifehacker]
Now it's your turn: add your first awesome link of Year Two in the comments. Suggest a song for our (imaginary) playlist while you do.
Photo by Spirit635 via Flickr/Creative Commons
Summer. It means sun, fun, fast cars, friends and food. Warmth, wind, water, wild times and, for some, Weekend At Bernie's screenings (!). For us, it means your weekly collection of awesome links is celebrating its birthday! Here are a few links that'll make great conversation starters as you stand around the pool at your local Here's What's Awesome birthday party:
Maybe Skynet just needs a date
This week we heard a group of scientists warn that robots are getting too smart for our own good and may swat down humankind instead of serving it. On the other hand, the robots might not be a threat after all, not because they're not intelligent, but because they got too bummed out by the lack of hits on their MySpace page. Check out Cybraphon, the world's first emo-robot band, who plays sad music when it doesn't get enough attention:
I've never been to me - oh wait, there I am!
You won't mistake Chino Otsuka's new series of "double self-portraits" as a Parent Trap-style twin image. Using Photoshop (and a lot of patience), she lined up images from today and from her childhood for a clever commentary on how we change over time. I like the photo where the younger version is outside a Paris cafe, eating the biggest, gaudiest loaf of French bread that a kid could ever want, while the grown-up Otsuka ordered more practical food. [Neatorama]
Kind of Blue... Mouse
In the list of Science Questions I Didn't Think I'd Ever Ask, "why does blue food coloring reduce spinal cord trauma in mice?" has leaped to the top of the heap. And best of all, the blue dye appears to have no toxic properties or side effects - well, there's one side effect. The mice turned blue. But they were hoping to play Violet Beauregarde in the mouse version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory anyway, so it works out. [Boing Boing]
We'll be off next week in honor of the column's first birthday, so why not share an awesome link in the comments below to keep the awesomeness building for another year?
This week's edition of Here's What's Awesome has some pretty heavy-duty items - in fact, they remind me of something Margaret Mead might have said: "A small group of awesome links could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
That's next time, on This Old Desert
It's the solution a home improvement pro would love: We may be able to stop desertification with a giant retaining wall! Well, sort of - "giant" indeed means giant - 6,000 miles or so, but "retaining wall" doesn't just mean building a barrier to the sand, it means building a barrier from the sand. The plan would use a bacteria that can quickly change "loose media" like sand into hard calcium carbonate, effectively freezing the desert in place. Then they can build some planters into the retaining wall, for drainage as well as aesthetics! (Kidding.) [Scientific American]
Go-go-Gadget Telescope Eye!
While science might have found a solution to expanding deserts, the answer to macular degeneration is still a ways off - we can slow it down, but not cure it. And while we're slowing it down, we can also improve the vision of the patient with the new implantable eye telescope, a tiny set of lenses which magnifies images in the affected area of the retina. How much magnification? "Clinical trials... suggest it can improve vision by about three and a half lines on an eye chart." [via Presurfer]
Someday it'll tell you when it's double coupon day, too
If you've ever gone to the store and accidentally bought something you thought you were out of but actually had, Pantry could be your new friend. It's a sort of inventory manager for the kitchen, letting you keep a list of your foodstuffs and share it with others when it's time to restock. The system can't figure out your food needs on your own, though, so get ready for some culinary data entry if you want to make this application work for you. [Lifehacker]
Now it’s your turn: share an awesome link in the comments. Not sure you should? Just remember, a small group of comments about awesome links could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. Or something.
(Photo by alex lichtenberger via Flickr/Creative Commons)
This week astronauts aboard the International Space Station got news nobody wants at their workplace: the space station toilet is down! While I have neither interstellar plumbing skills nor any way to get up there, I do have something that will help those brave souls pass the time until their restroom is up and running again: the weekly set of excellent links that is Here's What's Awesome It's one giant blog by a man, three awesome links for mankind.
Let there be infrared light
Tired of blinding everyone at weddings and press conferences? A new invisible flashbulb developed at New York University uses infrared and ultraviolet light to "flash" your subjects without using any visible light. Infrared and UV photos don't do color very well, so the camera then takes a second, flash-less photo and merges the two together. [Popular Science]
You've tried scrubbing it out...
Might we have stumbled upon the solution to global climate change? Ok, that's probably overstating it, but consider the case of Dr. J.A. Tossell, a scientist in Maryland who, in the course of doing other research, happened to find a peculiar molecule that seems to absorb CO2 right out of the air. So, in theory, you could put a bunch of those near an old smokestack and tidy things up. Expect a whole lot of research in the next few years to see if it really works. [CleanTechnica]
Best two out of three, or go to the next room?
As the proud owner of a smallish house, I'm a big fan of space-saving devices, and fun space-savers like the Ping Pong Door are the best of the lot. Contained within the door frame is a fully-functioning ping pong table - push the panel back up at the end and you're done. [LikeCool]
Now it’s your turn: share an awesome link in the comments. Do it for the astronauts!
(Photo by addhass via Flickr/Creative Commons)
I hired a bunch of consultants for this week's compendium of awesome links. Their single, unanimous recommendation: Here's What's Awesome needs more controversy. It needs more attitude, more in-your-face, more crash-boom-bang. Seeing as how I flee from controversy the way Star Wars fans flee from the Special Edition DVDs, I'm not convinced this is a good idea. But they talked me into trying a controversial set of links just this once. If it doesn't work, expect three awesome links about fluffy bunnies and lollipops next week!
Only I didn’t say fudge – I said The Word
Naughty kids and hardware-wielding grown-ups, here’s a research study for you: scientists at Keele University in England say swearing actually helps when you hurt yourself! Their theory is that swearing helps activate the body’s fight-or-flight response, which can inhibit pain. “Swearing has been around for centuries and is an almost universal human linguistic phenomenon,” says one of the researchers, though I don’t expect that justification will get you out of detention if your teacher hears you saying one of Those Words. [Live Science]
Does this bug you?
We’ve seen chicken power and tree power in past columns, but in those cases, the electricity actually came from byproducts – chicken manure, for example. The new fly-catching LED clock catches bugs in flypaper, drags them along a conveyor belt into a fuel cell, and powers the clock from its “digestion.” Ok, this "controversy" angle isn’t doing it for me. [Envirogadget]
Gave proof through the night that these flags weren’t still there
DarkRoastedBlend brings us Flags of Forgotten Countries, a unique look at world history through its flags. Some flags tell the tale of a country’s colonial past, either as colonizer or colonized (these tend to be really elaborate); others are from countries that aren’t on the map anymore, like Yugoslavia. A few of them aren’t even for countries: in Tokyo, for example, there’s a flag for every ward in the city. [DarkRoastedBlend]
Now it’s your turn: share an awesome link in the comments. They don’t have to be controversial – in fact, I’m firing those consultants, so share a link to baby animals or something so we can get our karma back in order.
(Photo by Clover_1 via Flickr/Creative Commons)
Little-known fact: Thomas Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration of Independence accuses the King of the following:
He has endeavored to forbid us from disseminating the discovery of awesome stories, except through governors of his choosing, who seem unable to find anything awesome that does not relate to the technological advancement of tricorn hats...
This was replaced in the final version by the phrase "the pursuit of happiness," which means that we at Here's What's Awesome are keeping the spirit of independence alive with each week's set of awesome links So, before we do anything else: fireworks!
Betelgeuse wants Charles in Charge of them!
TV signals don't just broadcast out to your house and mine, they also head out into space, making decades of entertainment Earth's largest interstellar export. Abstruse Goose's TV/space map shows which programs have made it to which stars, in case there are any aliens monitoring the signals. By the looks of this map, the poor folks near the star Pollux are just a year or two away from receiving The Star Wars Holiday Special. [via Gizmodo]
Coat hangers make very good toilet paper holders
Hopefully I'm not too late to the ThereIFixedIt party, a "fail"-style blog chronicling the laziest, least-thought-out home and auto repairs. Few things can top my favorite: an unused container of JiffyPop standing in for a smoke alarm. [ThereIFixedIt]
This is your robot speaking, we'll be dragging you to the gate in just a few moments
Airplane engines are more fuel-efficient in the air than on the ground - you guessed that already from the name "airplane," didn't you? Europe's Airbus is co-developing a way around the problem of having jet engines drive around airport runways: a "taxi-bot" that would dock with planes on the ground and pull them to their gates. Pilots would still be able to steer the bots via remote control, but would get their planes from place to place using substantially less fuel. [NewScientist]
Now it's your turn: as Patrick Henry would say, share an awesome link not related to tricorn hats in the comment - or give me death!
As you know, Here's What's Awesome has several teams working in the field at all times to collect awesome links, sometimes in the most unlikely of places. This week's links were found in a 6,000 year old archaeological burial site, buried in a false tomb near the center of a Peruvian leader's tomb. The links were carefully extracted, flown to the US, beechwood aged, given the Colonel's secret blend of herbs and spices, certified as cruelty-free, fed a macrobiotic diet, introduced to guest celebrity Robert Wagner and put into a 75 foot long display that took 85 people and $16 million to display.
Then we heard about Michael Jackson and couldn't concentrate, so we picked the first three links we came across and posted those.
Warning: exploding pants!
Few sites have names as wonderful, or as self-explanatory, as Safety Graphic Fun, a compendium of signs that warn you against hazards like having a dog chew on your pants, causing the pants to explode. My favorite is a space for an evacuation plan that says "run as fast as you can." Thanks for the tip! [Safety Graphic Fun]
Just don't put the pathogens on your fridge
Filtering diseases out of the bloodstream is tricky, especially if you don't have the ability to shrink to microscopic size to fight the germs in person. But Donald Ingber, a biologist at Harvard, has something every bit as useful: miniature magnetic beads that bind with pathogens and pull them out of the blood. Hopefully, Ingber says, techniques like these will pull out enough of the bad bacteria or fungi to give the body a chance to heal itself, and/or to avoid using dangerous anti-fungal medication. [Scientific American]
Podcasts have some pretty cool information - there's this show called Word of Mouth, for example, that's one of my favorites. (I think it's produced in Canada or somewhere, I forget.) But podcasts require time, and time, as we know, is money. Looking to squeeze more podcast into less time? Try Podshifter, which lets you play your podcasts back at faster speeds, assuming you can still follow the course of the conversation, and assuming you don't mind every voice sounding like Alvin, Simon and Theodore. [Lifehacker]
Now it's your turn: share the links your own globe-trotting teams have found in the comments.
It's an all-Father's Day edition of Here's What's Awesome! This week's awesome links are all about dad stuff - sadly I was unable to find a robot that fixes your power tools. Maybe next year.
Usually when dads (and moms) count to three, it's because Junior is doing something he or she shouldn't be doing. Not here - this dad (a spitting image of Iron and Wine's Sam Beam) has rigged up a kid-launching super slip 'n' slide for his little ones So when they hear Pops counting, they expect fun instead of punishment.
Every lovely spot near or far, you can reach them too in your car club's car
Most dads don't have hundreds of thousands to plonk down that luxury condo - hence the rise of time-shares. Now dads who want to ride and drive like the demons that drive their dreams can hit the road in the sleekest, fastest rides of the day through a sort of supercar timeshare, where members gets access to James Bond-type cars. Membership is $35,000, but that's why you kids have been selling lemonade and magazine subscriptions all year, right? [Mother Nature Network]
Gadzooks! My face has been shorn of its prized whiskers!
One of the pivotal moments of my childhood was when my dad shaved off his massive 70's mustache and became part of the clean-shaven 80's. I was maybe six at the time, but even then I knew it was a major turning point, and it jarred me until about 3:30 pm that day, when cartoons started. Anyway, some enterprising Photoshoppers have used their skills to crop some of the world's most famous mustaches off of their owner's faces. You can see Salvador Dali without the handlebars, or Charlie Chaplin minus his most famous facial feature - if you're brave enough, that is. [Neatorama]
Now it's your turn: do like Dad would do, and share an awesome link in the comments.
Hi. My name is Brady Carlson. My family has been sharing awesome links ever since my great-grandfather, Silas McAwesome, opened up a small stand called "Hey, did you guys hear about this?" in Toledo, Ohio in 1909. Now, a century later, I'm proud to keep this family tradition alive on the Internet, through this column, Here's What's Awesome. I like to think great-granddad would be proud (I also like to think this great-granddad actually existed.)
Get your wind-powered motor running...
Here's a biker-themed awesome link in honor of Motorcycle Week: a helmet with a built-in wind power generator! Students in Taiwan put together a system of small turbines that gather enough energy to help power a bike's lights, which it does via a Bluetooth device. No reviews yet of the aesthetics of the helmets, though they can't possibly look stranger than foam domes.... can they? [Eco Trees]
Where Google Earth wins CIA certification
Last year we shared an awesome link to a project pulling together photos of North Korea from different sources for an online photo gallery. Turns out there's another project along these lines, and it's incredibly detailed: North Korea Uncovered is a plug-in for Google Earth that displays pretty much everything we know, think, or have a hunch about what and where things are in the Hermit Kingdom, from the Pyongyang Chewing Gum Factory to sites where the country is believed to hold public executions. Again, we may not know everything about North Korea, but efforts like this help share what we do know. [via Poynter Online]
Avoid the intersection two blocks ahead - and look up once in a while
Looking to not get mugged? They have an app for that - Are You Safe for iPhone cross-references crime data with your current location to give you an idea of how safe the neighborhood is. Right now it's only available in three cities; another limitation is that it doesn't help protect you from the urban scourge that is not paying attention to other pedestrians, cars or lampposts while staring at a mobile phone. [Google Maps Mania]
Now it's your turn: share an awesome link in the comments. Do it for great-granddad Silas.
(Photo courtesy Francesco Rachello via Flickr/Creative Commons)
We're on the verge of a major milestone! According to the Global Language Monitor, this week will mark the creation of the one millionth word in the English language. Yes, some word will join great creations like "pantleg," "Vanilli" and "chinderwear" in our rich and vibrant lexicon, to enrich us, to teach us, to be in the title of hilarious internet videos They haven't actually chosen the millionth word, of course - it hasn't been invented yet - so let me coin a new word that will set the standard for the next million words: Hwawesome, adj., meaning something so beyond ordinary awesome that it may be featured on the Here's What's Awesome blog. Three examples of hwawesome are as follows:
Bee Mission, coming this summer to theaters everywhere
Uncle Sam wants bees - and bees have answered his call! Our flower-pollinating neighbors are taking a break from fighting crime to help detect and remove some of the innumerable landmines buried along borders and in war zones. How? Scientists can train bees to look for certain chemical trails - more consistently than dogs, say the researchers, and without the slobbering-on-you thing - and they essentially follow where the bees go. And here's the coolest part: the bees actually recruit other bees to help. Sleep better, America, knowing the bees are out there protecting you. [CleanTechnica]
One giant step for metal detecting
Metal Detector Sandals are, as you'd expect, sandals with detecting equipment built into the soles, which finally lets you search for coins and buried treasure without having to carry around a big ol' gadget. On the other hand, wandering around the beach with the sandals' big ol' battery pack tied to your leg may make the beach patrol wonder how you escaped home confinement. [Trendhunter]
If you try to claim ownership of my photos again I'LL KNOW!
Here's an alert system of a different kind, and one that's not combined with your footwear: TOSBack monitors the Terms of Service for a number of popular sites - the changes can be important, and after all, not every site asks for votes from its membership when it changes its terms, like Facebook does. [CNet]
Now it's your turn: share an awesome link - er, a hwawesome link - in the comments.
(Photo courtesy wolfpix via Flickr/Creative Commons)
Banner illustration courtesy hartboy via Flickr/Creative Commons