Archive for March, 2010

NCBI ROFL: Why it's so hard to intercept a ninja.

By ncbi rofl | March 31, 2010 7:00 pm

4380960903_9e83a78b8fInfluence of the epicanthal fold on the perceived direction of gaze.

“Judged direction of gaze from straight and turned heads is known to be biased from its true direction. We have tested the additional influence of epicanthal folds on the perceived direction of gaze. Western observers (U.S. residents of Western appearance) and Eastern observers (native Japanese) judged the direction of gaze from cathode ray tube-imaged heads with and without epicanthal folds (Japanese vs. Western models) when the heads, both straight and turned, gazed in different lateral directions… Read More

How Deep Fryer Grease Can Become an Energy-Saving Coating for Your Roof

By Smriti Rao | March 31, 2010 5:02 pm

smartshinglehires_270x202What’s to be done with the waste oil left behind in fast food restaurants after all the French fries, onion rings, and chicken nuggets have been sizzled to perfection? While many enterprising tinkerers use the stuff to run modified cars, one group of scientists is hoping to use fast food waste oil in an entirely new way: They want to turn it into a “smart roof coating system” that would help keep houses warm in winter and cool in summer.

Presenting the idea at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, project leader Ben Wen from United Environment and Energy says the waste oil can be turned into a high-tech polymer that reacts to the environment.

Wen notes that most houses traditionally have light or dark roofs, depending on their geographic location. People who live in warm locations typically have white roofs (think of those Grecian islands) to reflect the sun’s heat and help keep the homes cool. Colder places typically have houses with darker roofs to absorb heat in the winter and warm the home. But what about those people who live in regions that have both punishingly hot summers and frigid winters? For them, Wen set out to make a roof coating that changes function with the seasons.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Food, Nutrition, & More Food

Bulgarian Politician Punished for Playing Farmville During Budget Meetings

By Smriti Rao | March 31, 2010 10:24 am

Zynga-Farmville-FacebookOn Facebook, the Farmville updates are impossible to avoid–someone is looking for a cow, someone else is watering their crops. People who have never played the game may not understand how addictive it is, but here’s some proof. The game can not only suck away large portions of your day, it can also, as one councilmember in Bulgaria’s second largest city found out, get you demoted.

While many distracted politicians twiddle their thumbs during meetings or frantically jab at their Blackberries, city councilors in Plovdiv were apparently playing Farmville during budgetary debates.

The Escapist writes:

Council Chair Ilko Iliev “strongly scolded the eager internet farmers,” who nonetheless continued to spend time on their farms while attending council meetings.

Finally, during a meeting last Thursday, in order to send a message to the rest of the Farmville-playing community, one councilmember was given the boot.  Councilor Dimitar Kerin was voted off the budget committee, said fellow councilor Todot Hristov, because “he needed more time for his virtual farm.”

The Escapist added:

But he’s not leaving without a fight. “The troubled councilor has defended himself by saying he was not the only one in the City Hall watering virtual egg plants,” according to a report by “He said he had reached only Level 40, whereas Daniela Zhelyazkova, a councilor from the rightist Democrats for Strong Bulgaria party, was already at Level 46.”

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Discoblog: Computer Program Can “Out” Gay Facebook Users
DISCOVER: Your Digital Privacy? It May Already Be an Illusion

Image: Farmville

NCBI ROFL: The presence of an attractive woman elevates testosterone and physical risk taking in young men.

By ncbi rofl | March 30, 2010 7:25 pm

boarder“The authors report a field experiment with skateboarders that demonstrates that physical risk taking by young men increases in the presence of an attractive female. This increased risk taking leads to more successes but also more crash landings in front of a female observer. Read More


Who Needs Million-Dollar Producers? Girl Reproduces Pop Hits Via iPhone Apps

By Smriti Rao | March 30, 2010 1:06 pm

It’s rainy and drab outside and the only thing making us feel better is watching videos in which Applegirl shows off her amazing abilities with the iPhone. This YouTube sensation performs hit songs using a collection of apps on several different iPhones. Yesterday it was a three-phone version of Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable,” and today she’s taken a stab at Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface” using four phones.

She seems to use a mix of looping drum beat apps, guitar chord apps, and, for Pokerface, the T-Pain autotune app for that modern vocal sound. Here’s a look at both videos. However, here’s a heads up–Applegirl doesn’t get into the swing of things with Irreplaceable till 1:34 into the video and the cat making the rounds in Poker Face is very distracting.


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Discoblog: Quirky Musicians + Clever iPhone Apps = the MoPho Orchestra

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

NCBI ROFL: The pyrophysiology and sexuality of dragons.

By ncbi rofl | March 29, 2010 7:00 pm

dragon“To examine the means whereby dragons produce fire and steam, we have studied a related species, the desert-lizard Lacerta pyrophorus. Read More

Shell Eco-Marathon: Meet the 1,000-MPG Cars of the Future

By Andrew Moseman | March 29, 2010 2:45 pm

High school and college engineers can do a lot with a lawn trimmer engine, bicycle wheels and a few wires—like build prototype cars that get in the thousands of miles per gallon. Here we bring you the best images from this weekend’s Shell Eco-marathon Americas competition.


A Powerful Prototype


All weekend long, prototype cars built by students around the country and shipped down to Texas battled it out. They ran 10-lap races around the 0.6 course of city streets in downtown Houston, striving to be top dog in miles per gallon.

The cars in the prototype division, like this one from Loyola-Marymount University, didn’t have many of the luxuries of the normal cars driving by and wondering what was going on. But those normal cars also don’t run at more than 1,000 miles per gallon, as many racers achieved.

The winning team in the prototype category, from Universite Laval in Canada, achieved nearly 2,500 MPG. (See a full list of winners here.)

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

Sherlock Holmes Blu-ray DVD Giveaway

By Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor) | March 29, 2010 2:06 pm

We here at DISCOVER have managed to score 9 Blu-ray DVD copies of the recent Warner Bros production of Sherlock Holmes. (Let’s just say they fell off a truck.) Anybody out there want ’em? We’re going to post a tweet in mere moments about the giveaway; the first 9 people to comment here or retweet our message will find themselves the lucky—and fast—winners. Here’s the official description of this Holmes re-boot:

The action-adventure mystery “Sherlock Holmes” is helmed by acclaimed filmmaker Guy Ritchie. Robert Downey Jr. brings the legendary detective to life, and Jude Law stars as Holmes’ trusted colleague, Watson. Revealing fighting skills as lethal as his legendary intellect, Holmes will battle as never before to bring down a new nemesis and unravel a deadly plot that could destroy the country.


Buy it on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD and For Download 3/30

Sherlock Holmes © 2009 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.


Crazy Pseudoscience Theory of the Day: Cell Phone Ringtone Can Cure Your Allergies!

By Smriti Rao | March 29, 2010 1:36 pm

Japanese-woman-cell-phoneAre spring allergies making you feel a little stuffed up? No problem–a small outlay of cash and a lot of faith in crackpot science should soon set you straight. Just invest in one of the new “healing ringtones” available in Japan; then the next time your phone rings, stick your cell phone close to your nose and let the ringtone work its magic.

According to Japan Ringing Tone Laboratory, each downloadable therapeutic ringtone can heal a certain ailment. From weight loss to hay fever, creator Matsumi Suzuki is confident that his ringtones can perk you up. (His previous innovation was the “Bow-lingual,” a device that he claimed could translate dog barks into human-speak.)

Explaining how a healing ringtone can fight hay fever, for example, Suzuki said the sound waves produced by the ringing phone dislodge stuck pollen in the nose, thus clearing the airway and making the allergen-crazed individual feel better.

While healing ring tones sound entertaining, it seems pretty obvious that they won’t save you a trip to the doctor. The BBC cautions:

Index, the mobile phone content provider which markets the therapeutic ring tones, admits the technology behind them is perhaps a little unproven but insists the number of downloads suggests they may be working.

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80beats: Surprise! Study Suggests Cell Phone Use Could Actually Fight Alzheimer’s

Image: iStockphoto

Shell Eco-Marathon: That's All Folks

By Andrew Moseman | March 28, 2010 7:11 pm

Penn StThe last-minute repairs, friendly competition, racing out to the track to get in that last run that might just be the one—that’s all over. And the dancing of the “Electric Slide” in the awards banquet hall has begun.

It was an up-and-down day. Penn State’s hydrogen fuel cell, HFV, drove like a champ and achieved the equivalent of 1,803 miles per gallon. But they couldn’t quite claim the number one spot. “We kept going back and forth with Cicero” says team member John Bearer, referring to the fuel cell champion Cicero North-Syracuse High School. Bearer wasn’t too disappointed, though, as the competition is far from cutthroat: At the very end, Northern Arizona gave up its final spot in line to Cal Poly, whose crew yearned to take a last shot at a better mileage number.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

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