Word Of The Week: Antipodes

From Greek anti– “opposed” and pous “foot”. This translates to something along the lines of “those whose feet are on the other side’.

The antipodes of any place on the Earth is the place which is diametrically opposite of it. As in when you were a child, if you lived in the United States, you were probably raised to think that if you dug a hole through the earth you’d come out in China.

As you’ll see from the Antipodal Maps and references below, this concept that was used in ‘China Syndrome’ is incorrect (remember the movie of that name regarding a nuclear power plant suffering from thermal runaway was thought to potentially melt a hole through the earth to China?).

In fact, since 70% of the Earth is water, the odds are very likely that if you look 180% (Lat and Lon) from your point on the planet right now, your antipode will not have feet at all but would have fins.

Here’s a really cool use of Google Maps that shows a split view of your antipodes: http://www.antipodemap.com/

So what is at the opposite of China? A good portion of South America, the Andes to be more precise.


Strange Watches Becoming Norm

I don’t know what motovates the current craze over all these futuristic LED watches that have been popping up all over the place lately! Andy reported last week on the ODM pixel watches, Now I’m here to continue the trend with an offering from TokyoFlash, the Shinshoku.

Shinshoku Watch

This slick timepiece features a single adjustable metal band with drilled holes on the face, and 29 powerful LEDs arranged in a series of dots that represent hours and minutes. It takes only a minute or two to learn the LED arrangement to read the time correctly, and you’re set!

I personally like this designer LED watch over all the others I’ve seen lately. It just has that overall metallic futuristic feel to it 😉

DIY Linux Hack – Xeyes

Here’s a cool do-it-yourself hack. It’s a set of eyes made of pizza boxes you place in your window, the eyes can rotate via servos on the backside, the servos are controlled by a simple motion detector that is also in the window. It all comes together using Linux’ Xeyes applet.

When someone walks or drives by the window, the eyes are ‘aware’ of their presence and will track movement.

More pics and basic info on zedomax’ blog.

The story originated from http://hunz.geekheim.de/?p=47, it has more details.
Xeyes Linux hack

The Truth Behind Snopes.com

Link to xkcd’s webcomic on what you hope isn’t true about our favorite myth debunking site.

What Is That??

Well here we are, one week closer to Summer, and all the fun times that come with it!  Excited?  I know I am 🙂  Last weeks WIT post was correctly identified by “Tony” as a XBOX 360 Controller.  Excellent work!

So this weeks WIT photo was inspired through my inifinite search of interesting things to report on.  Time was of the essence, as my editor wants me to post more 🙂  Well here you go!

What Is That??

So there you have it, folks.  Comments section for your guesses as usual! 


What Is The Opposite Of Absolute Zero?

Absolute zero is 0 degrees Kelvin or -460 degrees Fahrenheit and where molecular motion stops. It’s one end of the spectrum for measuring heat. So what’s on the high end? What is the ‘hottest’ measurable temperature on the opposite end of the spectrum from Absolute Zero?

The answer is the ‘Planck Temperature‘ or 10^32 degrees Kelvin, or at least in theory that’s the answer.

Scientists believe that the universe experienced the Planck temperature approximately 10^-43 of a second after the Big Bang, and the universe has been cooling off ever since.

As molecules speed up they increase in temperature. As that temp reaches 10^10 Kelvin, the electrons in that matter are now approaching the speed of light and they are increasing in size so that their temperature can continue to increase.

At 10^32 K, each particle is becoming its own black hole and at this point our understanding of space and time collapse and the temperature likely isn’t observable so this is why scientists call Planck’s Temperature the theoretical highest temperature possible.

Mmmmm. Cake Goodness.

Nothing soothes the soul like a nice sugary cake!  I can always save some room for some baked goods 🙂

So some people let the geekiness in their life create the need for a special centerpiece in their weddings.

iphone cake 

I’m fond of sci-fi myself, but im not so sure i’d want to plan my wedding culinary goods around it!

Check this out, and drool…

The Nest Architecture Of The Harvester Ant

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

‘$100 Laptop’ To Cost $175

$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.

Now Hear This: Hearing Aids Going Wireless

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.

Official Stargate Postal Stamps – Limited Edition

Creation Entertainment and MGM Studios have collaborated to bring the world postal stamps of my favorite sci-fi cast – Stargate.

Each sheet has 10 official US Postage stamps (41 cents) and the run will only be for 100 sheets so they’ll probably go quickly.

Below you can see one of the sheets with the cast for SG1, but they also have available the cast of Stargate Atlantis, Samantha Carter and Daniel Jackson. Each sheet costs US$12.95.

Link to the Stargate store.

Stargate Stamps

Retro Gaming Lives!

Yep…I admit it, I’m a product of the old gaming generation 😉  Back in the day, Pac-Man, Frogger and Battlezone were my games of choice.  The Atari 2600 we had in our house was used to its limit!  I don’t remember how many times we had to replace those old Atari joysticks.  As a side note, my editor here once had a record breaking score to Missile Command on the Atari 2600!  W00t!

1980 Games

So you pine for those day of old, when CGA gaming ruled the land?  Look no further than 1980-Games.com for your retro refill!  Trust me when I say you can literally get lost in this website.   I spend hours here at a time 🙂  Have fun!

Tweaks For Vista’s Bubble Screensaver

The screensaver settings for Vista are pretty weak, luckily there are some known hacks or undocumented tweaks you can make to the system to enable different behavior in the bubbles.

The root key to apply settings below for the Bubbles screensaver is:
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Screensavers\ Bubbles]
The 4 magic reg data settings under Bubbles are:

  • MaterialGlass will determine if the bubbles are glass or not. 1 will turn the bubbles into glass-like transparent bubbles. A 0 will turn the bubbles into metallic non-transparent bubbles.
  • ShowBubbles is a boolena and will determine whether the bubbles are displayed on your wallpaper or a black background. A value of 1 will apply the bubbles on the desktop while a 0 will render the bubbles against a solid black background.
  • Radius determines the radius of the bubbles and is a floating point integer. A larger radius results in fewer bubbles.
  • ShowShadows can cast a shadow and is also a boolean. 1 will enable shadows below the bubbles, a 0 will disable shadows.

These settings will set the screensaver for many small bubbles (see screenshot below)

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Screensavers\ Bubbles]

These settings will set the screensaver for metallic non-glass bubbles.

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Screensavers\ Bubbles]

Here’s screenshots for the normal Glass (unmodified settings), followed by Radius for small bubbles and finally the metallic (non-glass) bubbles.

Bubbles with no tweaks Normal Glass Bubbles

Small Radius Bubbles on Black Background Small Radius Bubbles

Metallic non-glass Metallic (non-glass)

First Habitable Earth Like Planet Outside Solar System Discovered

Well, before we start running around wondering what this means about life outside Earth and how it will affect science and religion as we know it today, let’s just keep our cool and see if the mainstream media and scientific journals pick it up and run with it as a legitimate inhabitable planet.

The article states that the European Southern Observatory has found an ‘Earth-like’ planet about 50% larger than ours circling the star ‘Gliese 581’ about 20 light years away. And due to it’s proximity to the star it’s at the right distance versus radiation exposure to likely contain H2O.

And H2O might mean life. Life means rethinking our place in the universe and watching some of societies most cherished assumptions now up for debate. (I can only hope! 😀 )

Here’s the story, found it on reddit.com.

What Is That??

As the turn of events have it, noone was able to correctly guess the “What Is That?” picture from last week.  So, without any pause, I reveal to you it was a HEATSINK.  (insert bells and whistles here.)  Bah! We’ll just have to try again 🙂

So this is the new submission.  I’m looking for lots of guesses here folks.  Please feel free to flood the comments section of this post with your answers!  As usual, I’ll post the name of the first correct answer in next weeks WIT post.

What Is That?

Now the games afoot!