Apr 282007

A nest created by a mature colony of harvester ants is undeniably spectacular. In a study by the Florida State University, a nest void was filled with a thin slurry of orthodontal plaster poured into the nest entrance. This produced a nearly perfect three-dimensional rendering of the nest’s voids. The hardened cast was excavated and then reassembled to produce the finished cast.

This pic below is one such nest that consisted of 135 chambers and 12 meters of vertical shafts. The top-heavy distribution of chamber area and spacing is typical for the species, as are the helical shafts and the decrease of chamber size with depth.

There are many more pics at the link below, they’re amazing.

Link via Digg

Ant Nest

 Posted by at 6:28 am
Apr 272007

Erin McKean at the Word Lovers’ Boot Camp (a session at the GEL 2007 conference), led 60 people through the process of trying to create new words. She feeds them the raw materials for new words and helps them to invent their own.

The winner? Crappyjack : ‘any kind of empty, snacky junk food’, created by Karen Watts. The link below has the full list of words created and their definitions.


 Posted by at 6:27 am
Apr 262007

$100 laptop

From Physorg.com:

The founder of the ambitious “$100 laptop” project, which plans to give inexpensive computers to schoolchildren in developing countries, revealed Thursday that the machine for now costs $175, and it will be able to run Windows in addition to its homegrown, open-source interface.

Even at US$175, it’s still a well needed bargain for developing nations. We also learn that the founder of the $100 laptop initiative has negotiated with Microsoft to ensure a version of Windows can run on the machine. It’ll likely be the Starter edition that was recently announced last week as the $3 Microsoft software package for governments that subsidize student computers.

Here’s the link to Physorg for the full story.

 Posted by at 9:26 pm
Apr 262007

From Embedded.com:

Thanks to the rise of wireless technology, the Rodney Dangerfield of the gadget world is about to get a makeover. The humble hearing aid, long shunned by engineers as a technological dinosaur, is going stereo and getting linked to cell phones and MP3 players, moves that could turn this badge of old age into a gizmo with the cachet of a Bluetooth ear clip.

You would think that if you can solve some of the challenges of a hearing aid in such a tiny space and to make it unobtrusive and ‘invisible’ so as not to draw attention, then you’d be making serious inroads into other micro-miniature areas that could benefit. Perhaps in mini robotics.

Link to the rest of the story.