Friday, January 27, 2017

Audio Cassettes are Making a Comeback

The demand for vinyl and audiocassettes - affectionately called "tape" back in the day - gives me a few insights:

1) Nostalgia sells really well, and extends into vintage technology (re: one generation behind).

2) With information practically overwhelming people online, the linear nature of vinyl, and even more so for cassettes, makes for a more focused information stream - it's a very relaxing mode of data appreciation.

3) There may be a backlash for the Internet that is happening with the younger generations. I hope it leads to an eventual renaissance in how people deal with the online world.


Science Fiction, the Spirit, and the Mechanical Flesh: Major Kusanagi and Ghost in the Shell

It seems that the idea of an encased human (brain, in this case) within another form is an obsession - it dates through the ages, from human souls trapped in animals, to empty armor, and now, in mechanical form.

Lately, the more interesting (for me) versions of these are Robotman from DC's Doom Patrol team, and Major Motoko Kusanagi from the manga/anime franchise Ghost in the Shell.

It is, I think, a major philosophical and spiritual concern. And as the time comes nearer when we may be able to transfer our consciousnesses to virtual storage without a break in the stream of thought, it seems that we all will need to ask ourselves: can we survive as ghosts in the machines?

And will this lead to questions of who is really human?

The Deadpool Conundrum: Telomeres and Cancer

Deadpool, the comic book character, was a man who had incredible healing abilities, but was disfigured because somehow, his body was also riddled with tumors or cancerous growths. Now, it seems that whoever wrote that into his power set was right on the scientific level: if your telomeres are too long, then you have a higher risk for cancer. In order to keep on going, people in the future may have to periodically subject themselves to gene therapy to adjust telomere sizes for an optimum lifespan without getting the cancer risk.

It's kinda like a built-in anti-obsolescence system. It makes you wonder if our instinctive knowledge of this mechanism in our bodies is the basis for how consumer technology is made.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hard or Soft? The new MetaMaterials.

Scientists have now developed a material that can be hard or soft, depending on the force, impact, or stress applied to the object. It reminds me of that Mythbuster episode that looked into mixtures that had a very high surface tension.

In any case, this sort of material would be very useful in safety measures and other similar applications.

In Russia, the civilian application of a railgun is to shoot supplies to the ISS. Granted, some movies, TV shows, and anime series have already used the idea (known as mass drivers), but now that it IS possible, it feels a bit uncomfortable.

Also, it sets up the whole "In Russia..." kind of joke.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Synthezoids, Androids, and Recombinants, oh, my!

It looks like researchers have taken another step into sci-fi territory with partially synthetic DNA.


Facebook's Fake News Dilemma: The Question of Gatekeepers

Facebook's resistance to filtering news on its own is understandable. After all, the creation of Gatekeepers (editors/an editorial staff for media articles) will put them in a new ring - and with their profits driven by Facebook advertising and post-boosting, it doesn't make sense for them to antagonize their paying users.

But the problem of whether or not a gatekeeper system will be abused is a moot point, because Facebook as it is right now is being abused, whether they like to admit it or not. It's easy to say, though, that perhaps news outlets themselves should form up their own vetting committees. But they won't do that, either. And they won't do it for similar reasons as Facebook's.

And so we inch deeper into a post-truth world.


Photo Taken From:

Hydrogels: Medical Marvel and Android building block?

Hydrogels can be one's artificial skin, a medical drug patch system, or even flexible circuitry, sensors, and "skinning" for androids and robots. We're getting ever closer to the science fiction future.

It actually reminds me of whenever Data from ST:TNG is injured, or perhaps the scalp-like thing that was seen in Westworld.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Convention Conundrum

This article pretty much states what many older geeks and fans talk about over beer when the subject of modern-day conventions pop up. At the end of the day, I think that decentralization to old local fair-style conventions or "meets" will be the real driver for people to find their hobby products, or simply to meet new artists. It looks like the Indies will be the way to go again - as was always the case, if you think about it.


Batman and the Shadow

Batman has obviously been influenced by the pulp heroes, so it's nice to see a mash-up series where Batman and the Shadow can clash. I wouldn't say team-up, since these two are not the sort - unless it would involve the likes of Ra's Al Ghul.

As you can see in the art below, there's a lot of fighting. I am in between on the concept of it (though I love the artwork), since I'm a fan of the creepy/cheesy Kyle Baker Shadow era. The idea that the only thing you hear is the laughter and see are the muzzle flashes makes it much better.


2,000-year-old Bog Butter Found

All I am thinking of, is if the scientists say it is still edible... did someone taste it? If so, I would like to shake that person's hand. At the same time, given that I have an ambulance standing by to the nearest quarantine center or ER facility, I would like to taste even a little bit of that butter myself.


SunnyBag Leaf+: Solar Power on the Go

The new Leaf+ system for SunnyBag is one that I wouldn't mind having. Since I usually have at least one mobile device with me, having the option to keep the power up while traveling around the city is already a big come-on for me. The real use for this, however, would be for hikers and, perhaps, mountain climbers - anyone who wants to go to the great outdoors, but have the option to take their devices with them.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Dark Crystal: Skeksis figure

The Dark Crystal was one of my favorites, and in this case, this figure really comes off well. Made by Funko for their ReAction line, this is sure to be a hit with the Gen X crowd.


Friday, January 20, 2017

The Future is Here: Big developments in science in the next five years

With advances in artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and data collection (both in terms of database development and sensors/methods), expect our world to be very different by the time the next decade chimes in.

Full list:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Graphene: Supermaterial

It used to be that the big thing limiting development was, in part, the lack of supermaterials - heck, super robots like the ones we see in movies are probably not at all ppossible, unless we can come up with the right materials with the right properties to make fast-moving megastructures.

And then, of course, graphene came in...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Universal Basic Income: Is change possible?

While the tenets and issues about universal basic income seem to be good for everybody involved, it would need a gigantic paradigm shift for our culture, and how we've always "earned our keep." The real question is: will the current world allow such a change?

New Tooth Repair Option Takes a Bite Out of Tooth Decay

It looks like there *is* a way to stimulate new tooth material growth. And if this is true, then we can lessen the need for fillings and other similar dental methods.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Turning Swords into Ploughshares: Biodegradable Training Ammunition

Keeping things green when it comes to instruments of war has a somewhat ridiculous ring to it - but hey, at least they're doing it... right?

"A new initiative from the United States Department of Defense (DoD) and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program could change the environmental impact of training ammunition. According to a notice placed on the SBIR site, “the US Army manufactures and consumes hundreds of thousands of training rounds.” Those rounds end up in the environment, posing an ecological risk as they can take hundreds of years to degrade naturally."

Stopping Melanoma in its Tracks?

It looks like there is a new drug that can stop melanoma spread by 90%. If we can combine that with other treatments, it looks like this is another form of cancer that we can deal with.

"The human-made, small-molecule drug compound targets a gene's ability to make RNA molecules and proteins in melanoma tumours. This gene activity causes the disease to spread, but the compound can shut it down. Until now, few other compounds of this kind have been able to accomplish this."

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sweet Solution for Alzheimer's: Cannabis

It looks like we have to remove our blinders when it comes to the cultural bias against marijuana. As it turns out, it may also be good for treating Alzheimer's.

Xiaomi: Too fast, too soon?

Interesting that a company from China would be so circumspect about rapid development. Or perhaps it's learning how not to overdo things? The only other possibility is that they're running up against market saturation and/or capital shorting.