Archive for the 'Cool Stuff' Category

J. Edgar Hoover and the Newark Evening News

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

It began with this letter from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to Lute Pease of the Newark Evening News, commenting on how much the Director enjoyed Mr. Pease’s “Bigger Game at Large” cartoon:

Hoover Letter
Letter from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to the Newark Evening News
May 29, 1936

The Newark Public Library provided this scan of the cartoon from the May 6, 1936 edition:

“Bigger Game at Large” by Lute Pease
Newark Evening News (May 6, 1936)

Additional information at the National Archives.

Make It So! Make It So! Make It So!

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Captain PicardThis video has clips of characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation that combine to do the vocals for the Christmas song, Let It Snow. It’s hilarious! Something every geek should see.


Calvin and Hobbes: The Movie

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Calvin and HobbesSome Calvin and Hobbes fans have made a fake trailer for a movie where Calvin is now an adult and his imagination is even more powerful—but it’s turning darker. And all I can say is “Wow.”


What Happens When You Wring Out a Washcloth in Zero Gravity

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

ISS Commander Chris Hadfield was asked by high school students to demonstrate what happens when you wring out a washcloth in zero gravity. The result is pretty cool and is all about surface tension!

(via I F***ing Love Science)

An In-Depth Look at a Pickpocket

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

ThiefThe New Yorker gives an in-depth look at Apollo Robbins, a professional magician and lecturer whose act revolves around picking pockets. He’s so good at it that he can remove people’s glasses and engagement rings without them realizing it. This level of skill requires significant knowledge of human cognition, and he lectures about what he’s learned to law enforcement, the military, corporations, and neuroscientists. This knowledge of human nature is actually the most important part of being a master pickpocket, as opposed to manual dexterity (which is also a necessity, of course, but it’s not sufficient in and of itself). Also interesting is that he learned everything intuitively, and it was only after he studied the field of human cognition that he was able to put words to what he knew.

(via Neatorama)

The Scale of the Universe

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

SpaceThe Flash animation in the linked page shows the scale of things, from the Planck length to the estimated size of the universe. It’s quite interesting, and I find it funny how they run out of metric prefixes when things get extremely large or small.

Thanks to Josh for this link.


Sci-fi Becomes Sci-fact: Cliodynamics/Psychohistory

Friday, October 26th, 2012

ScientistI guess the best way to describe cliodynamics is to say that it applies statistical methods to human society and history, in an effort to find patterns that can be generalized to predict future trends and events. The difficult part is determining which factors should be considered, as human societal behavior doesn’t lend itself to straightforward analysis.

One very interesting result is two cycles of political unrest that have occurred throughout human history and can even explain the timing of the recent Egyptian uprising. The first cycle repeats about every 200-300 years and is the result of labor supply outstripping demand due to population growth. This forms a class of elites who end up fighting for power. The second cycle occurs about every 50 years, or approximately two generations. Here in the United States, we’re due for the next one sometime around 2020.

In his Foundation series, Isaac Asimov wrote about psychohistory, the science of predicting the behavior of human societies. Cliodynamics is a step in that direction.

(via Neatorama)

Best Excuse Note Ever

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Presidential SealFifth grader Tyler Sullivan missed school to meet President Obama, who gave him a hand-written, signed excuse note on presidential stationary. It says, “Mr. Ackerman — Please Excuse Tyler … he was with me! <signed Barack Obama>”. How cool is that!

(via Neatorama)

The 2012 Ig Nobel Awards

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

ScientistThis year’s Ig Nobel prizes were awarded on September 20th. Here are some of the winners:

  • Peace Prize: The SKN Company, for converting old ammunition into diamonds.
  • Neuroscience Prize: Craig Bennett, Abigail Baird, Michael Miller, and George Wolford, for showing that false positives will occur naturally in fMRI tests—by demonstrating meaningful brain activity in a dead salmon.
  • Literature Prize: The US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.
  • Anatomy Prize: Frans de Waal and Jennifer Pokorny, for discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees individually from seeing photographs of their rear ends.
  • Medicine Prize: Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti, for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode.


The Claw

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

The ClawThis heavy lift ship, the VB 10,000 by Versabar, is known as “The Claw”. It’s used to lift sunken oil rig platforms from the ocean floor and has a rated lift capacity of 7500 tons. What gets me is that they probably pay someone to operate this machine—I’m pretty sure that any red-blooded American male would gladly pay them for the privilege of using this equipment.

(via Neatorama)

The Perfect Ring For the Science Enthusiast

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

SpaceThis gold ring includes a band made from a meteorite, with embedded gems representing the nine planets (yeah, yeah, I know). Way cool! And it can be yours for only $4200.

(via Neatorama)

The Story of the Ultimate Data Haven and Why It Failed

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

VaultSealand is a decommissioned anti-aircraft platform seven miles off the English coast. The occupants have declared it to be a sovereign nation, but it’s not recognized as such, and the UK government has just decided to ignore them. Back in the year 2000, a company named HavenCo installed computer servers in Sealand, making it the ultimate data haven, unfettered by governments, laws, or regulations. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. The linked article has the full story.