The Big Think

January 31, 2008

One Laptop Per Sean

Filed under: Computing,Friends — jasony @ 12:48 pm

Sean gets his OLPC in and gives it a quick review. He likes it.

January 30, 2008


Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 1:44 am

Yes, this is a runway. And yes, it’s insane.

(Josh’ll get a kick out of this one.)

January 29, 2008

How to Kill a Toyota

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 4:42 pm

This is by far the best thing I’ve watched all week. Hilarious Top Gear at its best. They take an old Toyota pickup truck and see just what they have to do to it to kill it. Running into a tree head-on? That’s nothing. How about…. well, you’re just going to have to watch it. Trust me, it’s worth it.

And don’t miss part 2, which is here.

(one thing, though… for some reason YouTube won’t let you pause in the middle or forward/reverse. Just watch it all at one time or you’ll have to start over. It’s about 10 minutes, but totally worth it!

January 28, 2008

Big Bang

Filed under: Mad Science,Science,Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 11:39 pm

How to commit mundicide. I love this kind of thinking. Wait, that sounded wrong…

Hey Patrick

Filed under: Friends — jasony @ 10:56 pm

I just thought you’d, you know, like to know

The Heat Death of Science

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 6:22 pm

What happens when scientific achievement becomes too fast to keep up with? Can we really then be said to be advancing if we can’t take advantage of the knowledge? Scienceblog looks into it.

The V Prize

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 6:01 pm

YES! I’ve been saying for years that X-prize style rewards for innovation are the key to solving some of the most intractable problems we face. A monetary prize is what got Lindbergh over the Atlantic, SpaceShipOne over the 100 kilometer hump, and may soon be responsible for human life spans in excess of 120 years.

But they don’t go far enough. I believe that if the government, or some large corporation would be willing to drop the Big 10 Digits (a billion dollars) in the prize buckets, no power in the ‘verse could stop crazy entrepreneurs from solving just about any previously “unsolvable” problem. A BILLION DOLLARS (cue Dr. Evil) is a whole lot of motivation, certainly in light of the fact that previous prizes (25K for Lucky Lindy and 10 million for Rutan) didn’t even cover development costs. They were more along the lines of prestige prizes and not actual financial incentives (Paul Allen dropped 20 million in the pursuit of the 10 million dollar Xprize).

To that end, the Dewey Foundation has set up the Victory Project. Here’s what they say on their home page:

We will pay:

To the first person(s) that solves any of these Problems:

1. Develop a cure for breast cancer.
2. Develop a cure for diabetes.
3. Reduce greenhouse emissions from petroleum powered automobiles by 95% without increasing the cost of a normal car more than 5%.
4. Achieve 150 miles per gallon of gasoline in a 3,000 lb. car, using EPA standards; without increasing the cost of a normal car more than 10%.

Onward to Victory!

Box O’ Swag

Filed under: Friends — jasony @ 5:12 pm

A friend (who shall remain nameless, but you know who you are) sent me a box of goodies in the mail today. I was expecting a couple of minor cool things, for which I was prepared to be grateful. Instead, I opened the box and discovered a treasure chest of wonderfulness. All things that were unexpected, and all things that were needed/wanted.

So a big public thank-you to you!


Filed under: Mad Science — jasony @ 2:16 pm


Better than Snakes on a Plane, here’s this classic puzzler:

“Imagine a plane is sitting on a massive conveyor belt, as wide and as long as a runway. The conveyer belt is designed to exactly match the speed of the wheels, moving in the opposite direction. Can the plane take off? “I say no, because the plane will not move relative the the ground and air, and thus, very little air will flow over the wings. However, other people are convinced that since the wheels of a plane are free spinning, and not powered by the engines, and the engines provide thrust against the air, that somehow that makes a difference and air will flow over the wing.”

Now, before you jump to a quick conclusion hear me out. I posed this question to Matt (getting his PHD in string theory), and a couple of his other Big Brained classmates up at Baylor a few months ago. We had a very lively and entertaining conversation for several hours and still didn’t come to any conclusion. And they started pulling out the slide rules and heavy math! Matt eventually posed the question to his thesis advisor and got a good answer (which depends on one fundamental assumption not posed in the original question). I have to admit I wasn’t convinced, but after puzzling it through until deep into the night with Matt, I know that their answer is the right one.

Never fear! Luckily, the MythBusters have tested it out in classic fashion.

New Addition!

Filed under: Friends — jasony @ 11:19 am

Congrats to my long-time friend Patrick and his wife Lydia as they welcome Adam Patrick Watts into the world. Mom and baby are doing fine. Daddy sounds a little thunderstruck.

January 26, 2008

Mars Rover vs. The Bunny

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 11:26 pm

Just a silly little stop motion movie I posted to YouTube. It was good practice. Looks kinda jankey at the beginning but it clears up after a few seconds.

Copyrighted C&D.

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 7:35 pm

It’s really only news to a few of the readers here (you know who you are), but publishing that Cease and Desist letter might now be considered copyright infringement.
Yes, that’s right, and it’s an indication of just how bad the copyright situation has gotten.


Filed under: Space,Technology — jasony @ 1:17 am

Wired has posted a short video on SS2. As usual, the media is couching it in all-or-nothing terms (“if they can’t pull it off it might be a long time before you and I might get our spaceflights”). There are a lot of post-deniable weasel words in that kind of reporting, but I’m glad to see Scaled on the job. Of course, if they do pull it off, some other schmuck reporter can just as easily make up another stupid question to rattle the public and investors into thinking the whole project is a deathtrap. My nominations go to the fear-of-lawsuits to environmental worries.

Get the freaking “unbiased” reporters out of the way and let the entrepreneurs do the heavy lifting.

January 25, 2008

Geek TV

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 5:29 pm

10 incredibly geeky home theaters.

January 24, 2008

Music By The Numbers

Filed under: Audio,Music — jasony @ 10:02 pm

Total pages: 368
Total “active measures”: 10,310
Total number of measures: 24,001

My charts for Sing 2008 are done! I still have to copy everything onto card stock and organize it all into folders (which will take a couple of long days), and mix the mini disc (another three or four days), but the vast amount of work is behind me. Sipping on a Glenlivet 18 and enjoying being finished.

Bloody Omaha

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 11:21 am

Compositing genius. Three guys attack Omaha Beach with nothing more than a digital video camera and period costumes. After four days of filming themselves running back and forth across the beach, and another few days of photography, plus a massive amount of compositing, these brilliant filmmakers manage to put together scenes rivaling Saving Private Ryan’s famous battle footage that cost millions of dollars. Here’s the before and after footage on YouTube.

January 23, 2008

Of the Spheres

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 3:37 pm

Handmade Orrery. Beautiful. Here are some super detailed closeups from the buyer.

My Future Ride

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 2:51 pm


Oh yeah. OH YEAH. SpaceShipTwo was unveiled today. Plans are for test flights to start in June with first commercial flights a year later. Bring it on!

More here.

Bill Clinton Rides Again

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Politics — jasony @ 10:39 am

Bill Clinton: “Screw it, I’m running for President.” Priceless:

While the announcement has come as a surprise to many, Beltway observers said it was not completely unexpected, citing footage from a recent Democratic debate that showed Clinton fidgeting in his seat, gripping the arms of his chair, and repeatedly glancing at all the television cameras while rapidly tapping his right foot. Analysts also noted one debate in which Clinton mouthed responses to all the moderator’s questions while making hand gestures to himself.

Post Deserts

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 1:56 am

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I’m buried in charts. And I’m building a castle.

So you gotta have priorities.

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