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The 2014 Ig Nobel Prizes Will Be Awarded Tonight 30

Posted by timothy
from the as-they-should-be dept.
alphadogg (971356) writes At Harvard University's Sanders Theater this evening, a collection of the most off-the-wall, bizarre and lurid scientific efforts of the past year will be dubiously honored with an Ig Nobel Prize. The Ig Nobels are awarded annually by Improbable Research, an organization devoted to scientific education that publishes the Annals of Improbable Research magazine six times a year. Past honorees have included:*A study about homosexual necrophilia in ducks; Competitive analysis of breakfast cereal sogginess; The discovery that dung beetles can navigate using the Milky Way galaxy. The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. EST, and can be viewed online for free here.
Television

Interviews: David Saltzberg Answers Your Questions About The Big Bang Theory 106

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-they-are dept.
As the science consultant for The Big Bang Theory for the past seven seasons, Dr. David Saltzberg makes sure the show gets its science right. A few weeks ago, you had the chance to ask him about his work on the show and his personal scientific endeavors. Below you'll find his answers to those questions.
Robotics

Developing the First Law of Robotics 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the thou-shalt-not-kill-all-humans dept.
wabrandsma sends this article from New Scientist: In an experiment, Alan Winfield and his colleagues programmed a robot to prevent other automatons – acting as proxies for humans – from falling into a hole. This is a simplified version of Isaac Asimov's fictional First Law of Robotics – a robot must not allow a human being to come to harm. At first, the robot was successful in its task. As a human proxy moved towards the hole, the robot rushed in to push it out of the path of danger. But when the team added a second human proxy rolling toward the hole at the same time, the robot was forced to choose. Sometimes, it managed to save one human while letting the other perish; a few times it even managed to save both. But in 14 out of 33 trials, the robot wasted so much time fretting over its decision that both humans fell into the hole. Winfield describes his robot as an "ethical zombie" that has no choice but to behave as it does. Though it may save others according to a programmed code of conduct, it doesn't understand the reasoning behind its actions.
Australia

Quickflix Wants Netflix To Drop Australian VPN Users 172

Posted by timothy
from the all-we-want-is-a-captive-audience dept.
ashshy writes 200,000 Australian residents reportedly use Netflix today, tunneling their video traffic to the US, UK, and other Netflix markets via VPN connections. A proper Netflix Down Under service isn't expected to launch until 2015. Last week, Aussie video streaming company Quickflix told Netflix to stop this practice, so Australian viewers can return to Quickflix and other local alternatives. But Quickflix CEO Stephen Langsford didn't explain how Netflix could restrict Australian VPN users, beyond the IP geolocating and credit card billing address checks it already runs. Today, ZDNet's Josh Taylor ripped into the absurdity of Quickflix's demands. From the article: "If Netflix cuts those people off, they're going to know that it was at the behest of Foxtel and Quickflix, and would likely boycott those services instead of flocking to them. If nothing else, it would encourage those who have tried to do the right thing by subscribing and paying for content on Netflix to return to copyright infringement."
Music

Say Goodbye To That Unwanted U2 Album 323

Posted by timothy
from the auf-wiedersehen-baby dept.
Ronin Developer writes Apple has listened to the complaints of those who object to having received a pushed copy of U2's latest album as part of their recent campaign. While nobody has been charged for the download, some objected to having it show up in their purchases and, in some cases, pushed down to their devices. While it is possible to remove the album from your iTunes library, it takes more steps than most would like to take. Apple has responded and released a tool to make it possible to remove the album from your iTunes library in a single step.
Sci-Fi

Sci-Fi Authors and Scientists Predict an Optimistic Future 191

Posted by Soulskill
from the roddenberry-approved dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A few years ago, author Neal Stephenson argued that sci-fi had forgotten how to inspire people to do great things. Indeed, much of recent science fiction has been pessimistic and skeptical, focusing on all the ways our inventions could go wrong, and how hostile the universe is to humankind. Now, a group of scientists, engineers, and authors (including Stephenson himself) is trying to change that. Arizona State University recently launched Project Hieroglyph, a hub for ideas that will influence science fiction to be more optimistic and accurate, and to focus on the great things humanity is capable of doing.

For example, in the development of a short story, Stephenson wanted to know if it's possible to build a tower that's 20 kilometers tall. Keith Hjelmsad, an expert in structural stability and computational mechanics, wrote a detailed response about the challenge involved in building such a tower. Other authors are contributing questions as well, and researchers are chiming in with fascinating, science-based replies. Roboticist Srikanth Saripalli makes this interesting point: "If the government has to decide what to fund and what not to fund, they are going to get their ideas and decisions mostly from science fiction rather than what's being published in technical papers."
Music

Apple Outrages Users By Automatically Installing U2's Album On Their Devices 610

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-not-want dept.
Zanadou writes "Apple may have succeeded at breaking two records at once with the free release of U2's latest album, titled Songs of Innocence, via iTunes. But now, it looks like it's also on track to become one of the worst music publicity stunts of all time. Users who have opted to download new purchases to their iPhones automatically have found the new U2 album sitting on their phones. But even if iTunes users hadn't chosen automatic downloads, Songs of Innocence will still be displayed as an "iTunes in the Cloud" purchase. That means it will still be shown as part of your music library, even if you delete all the tracks. The only way to make the U2 album go away is to go to your Mac or PC and hide all of your "iTunes in the Cloud" purchases, or to use iTunes to manually hide each track from your purchased items list. Other reactions include rapper Tyler, The Creator saying that having the new U2 album automatically downloaded on his iPhone was like waking up with an STD. Update: 09/16 15:06 GMT by T : Note: Apple has released a fix.
Sci-Fi

Original 11' Star Trek Enterprise Model Being Restored Again 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the to-brightly-go-where-no-man-has-gone-before dept.
NormalVisual (565491) writes The original 11-foot U.S.S. Enterprise studio model from the original series has gone back into the shop again. The Smithsonian owns the model and has had it on display in a gift shop at the National Air and Space Museum for the last 13 years, but will be placed on display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall in 2016, to coincide with the museum's 40th anniversary. In the meantime, the model will be undergoing its fourth restoration to address a number of issues. The last restoration in 1991 was performed by Ed Miarecki, a professional modelmaker well known for his work in "Star Trek: The Next Generation", as well as films such as "Event Horizon". This previous restoration had Trek fans up in arms owing to the paint job, which many feel doesn't represent the way the model looked originally. Hopefully this next restoration will bring her back to her former glory.
Sci-Fi

The Future According To Stanislaw Lem 196

Posted by Soulskill
from the drugs-and-nanotech dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Paris Review has an article about SF author Stanislaw Lem, explaining Lem's outlook on the future and his expectations for technological advancement. Lem tended toward a view that technology would infect and eventually supplant biological evolution. But he also suggested an interesting explanation for why we haven't detected alien civilizations: "Perhaps ... they are so taken up with perfecting their own organisms that they've abandoned space exploration entirely. According to a similar hypothesis, such beings are invisible because technological ease has resulted in a 'Second Stone Age' of 'universal illiteracy and idleness.' When everyone's needs are perfectly met, it 'would be hard, indeed, to find one individual who would choose as his life's work the signaling, on a cosmic scale, of how he was getting along.' Rather than constructing Dyson Spheres, Lem suggests, advanced civilizations are more likely to spend their time getting high.""
Television

Verizon Working On a La Carte Internet TV Service 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-cannot-in-good-conscience-let-any-of-my-money-go-to-TLC dept.
An anonymous reader writes: One of the reasons people have been fleeing cable TV in droves is the idea that they're paying for hundreds of channels but only using a handful. Even though that's not really true, Verizon is now working on an internet TV service that lets people pick and pay for only the channels they want. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said, "I think everyone understands it will go to a la carte. The question is what is that transition look like ... I don't think there is anyone that would stand up here and say the only way it's going to be offered five years from now is linear and it's going to be tied to your TV set because frankly they will miss the market and they will be the ones left behind."
Wireless Networking

L.A. TV Stations Free Up Some Spectrum For Wireless Broadband 80

Posted by timothy
from the slightly-less-waste dept.
alphadogg (971356) writes An effort to free up some of the airwaves used by TV broadcasts and make them available for wireless broadband took a big step forward this week in the U.S. Two TV stations in Los Angeles, KLCS and KCET, have agreed to share a single frequency to deliver their programming freeing up a channel that can be auctioned off to wireless carriers next year. The change, which the Federal Communications Commission calls "repackaging," is possible because digital TV broadcasts don't need the full 6MHz of broadcast spectrum that was used for analog TV.
Build

Two Bit Circus is 'a Big Band of Nerds' (Video) 8

Posted by Roblimo
from the games-that-take-physical-movement-are-healthy-games dept.
Brent Bushnell, CEO of Two Bit Circus, is today's interview victim. Two Bit Circus is an amalgamation of technology, play, entertainment, and "immersive social amusements." They develop games like the ones shown in their Great Forest Challenge demo reel video. Their big push right now is preparing for STEAM Carnival – Los Angeles, which will be held October 25 and October 26 at CRAFTED, a permanent craft market at the Port of Los Angeles. The STEAM Carnival is also available as a traveling event; if you'd like to host it in your town, Two Bit Circus just might be able to accommodate you. (Alternate Video Link)
Android

Amazon Instant Video Now Available On Android 77

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-watch dept.
briancox2 writes Amazon has avoided releasing the Amazon Instant Video app that is on Fire and Kindle to the general Android market, even though the app has been available for some time on iOS. Now, after a workaround had allowed some users to install the app on Android by fiddling with permissions, Amazon has released the app to many devices calling it "Amazon Instant Video for Google TV". It's not clear yet which devices can run this app. Currently it is not available for older Samsung Galaxy lines, however the Nexus, a major competitor of Amazon's devices, can run the new app.
Music

Deadmau5 Accuses Disney of Pirating His Music 137

Posted by timothy
from the could-have-become-a-doctor dept.
An anonymous reader writes After Disney objected to musician Joel Zimmerman [aka Deadmau5]'s trademark application in the U.S. (his logo is already properly trademarked in many other countries), a battle of trademarks and copyrights ensued. Apparently, Disney was (URL has since been disabled, as per DMCA law requires) hosting a video containing a remix of music which Zimmerman claims ownership of. Not only that, but the Deadmau5 logo was prominently displayed next to said video. The mouse fight was on and a few hours ago Deadmau5 retaliated with a rather surprising counter attack. As it turns out, Disney is hosting a Deadmau5 video on their website, without permission. "Disney prominently features the deadmau5 Mark next to the Infringing Video. implying a non-existent endorsement by Zimmerman," the letter reads. "Again. we are unaware of any license allowing you the right to reproduce, distribute or otherwise exploit the deadmau5 Mark or to exploit Zimmerman's name and likeness in connection with same." At the time of writing Disney hasn't complied with the request, but it seems that they have no other option than to comply. Whether it will change anything in their stance towards the DJ's mouse ear trademark application is doubtful though.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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