Sunday, February 27, 2011

Caffeine and Energy Drinks Infograph

Caffeine is the world's most popular psychoactive substance. Info Poster by Randy Krum. [Click on graph to enlarge].

Source: tumblr_lh0vaccFoc1qa0uujo1_1280.jpg (832×1280)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

80% of US college admissions departments check your Facebook Profile

A recent Kaplan survey found that admissions departments at 80% of US top colleges “visit potential students’ online Facebook profiles during their recruiting process.” The obvious advice is to keep your Facebook profile private.

Read more here: Report: 80% of College Admissions Departments Check Applicants’ Facebook Pages | Geekosystem

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

World's biggest family

Mr. Ziona Chana is the leader of a polygamous sect in the Indian state of Mizoram. He has 39 wives, 94 children, 14-daughters-in-law, and 33 grandchildren - which probably makes it the world's largest family. See more pictures of their 100-room house here.

Read more here: The Presurfer: The Man With 39 Wives, 94 Children And 33 Grandchildren

Real-life fairy tale houses

Picture Source:
Would you like to live in real-life fairy tale house? See this collection of Amazing Fairy Tale Houses.

Geek Hierarchy Chart

Funny geek hierarchy chart: Which geeks consider themselves less geeky than other geeks.
You might also be interested in the Geek Maslow pyramid of needs and the Evolution of Geek.

NY Times Geek Flowchart (Click to Enlarge)
Geek Diagram

Detroit plans to close half of the city's schools

Detroit Public Schools plan to immediately implement a plan to close half its schools!
The Detroit News says the financial restructuring plan will increase high school class sizes to 60 students and consolidate operations.

Read more here: Detroit Schools Closing: Michigan Officials Order Robert Bobb To Shut Half The City's Schools

Monday, February 21, 2011

Superimposed tourist photos of famous landmarks

When you visit a famous landmark, you probably take a photo of it. Did you ever reflect on the fact how many other tourists already took almost the exact some picture? 

Swiss-French artist Corinne Vionnet superimposed 200 to 300 photos of almost identical tourist photos she found online. Click here to see all 18 different landmarks: Hundreds of Tourist Photos Weaved into One (18 total) - My Modern Metropolis

Evolution Made Us All Hymn

Evolution Made Us All

Ben Hillman produced a sunday school hymn parody called "Evolution Made Us All".

Evolution Made Us All | Video | Gear

Friday, February 18, 2011

Map of the Fantasy Worlds

Cartoonist Dan Meth has completed what he regards as the complete map of the Fantasy Universe. I wonder how Dan Meth decided that Wonderland shares borders with Middle earth.
Found here: Map of the Fantasy World | Geekosystem

New Mutation Lets Fish Survive Toxins

Atlantic Tomcot Fish
[From Discovery News] A recent mutation allows Atlantic tomcod fish to survive poisonous levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins in the polluted Hudson River.

The mutation reduces the production of a receptor protein that binds toxin molecules to the cell. Having fewer receptors reduces the binding of toxin molecules fivefold.

However, the Atlantic tomcod still carries high levels of PCB and dioxins around and passes them on the next organism in the food chain, the striped bass.

Read full article here: Fast Mutation Lets Fish Thrive in Toxins : Discovery News

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Vatican endorses possibility of alien lifeforms

[Excerpt from Huffington Post article] Believing that the universe may contain alien life does not contradict a faith in God, the Vatican's chief astronomer, Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, said in an interview published Tuesday. Funes said that the possibility of extra-terrestrial life "doesn't contradict our faith" because aliens would still be God's creatures.
The Bible "is not a science book," Funes said, adding that he believes the Big Bang theory is the most "reasonable" explanation for the creation of the universe. But he said he continues to believe that "God is the creator of the universe and that we are not the result of chance." Read full article here: Vatican: It's OK To Believe In Aliens

This latest statement of the Catholic church follows a recent trend to try bringing church and modern science closer together. Pope John Paul II was reported as saying that evolution is "more than just a theory", while Benedikt XVI accepted the Big Bang theory as an explanation how the universe was created. Read more about the new conciliatory approach of the Vatican to bring science and religion closer together.

Ecuadorean Villagers May Hold Secret to Longevity

A 67-year-old man with his three children [Image: NY Times]
[Excerpt from NY Times] People living in remote villages in Ecuador have a mutation that some biologists say may throw light on human longevity and ways to increase it. The villagers are very small, generally less than three and a half feet tall, and have a rare condition known as Laron syndrome or Laron-type dwarfism. They are almost completely free of two age-related diseases, cancer and diabetes. Researchers now try to determine the causes for this phenomenon. Read full article here: Ecuadorean Villagers May Hold Secret to Longevity -

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

GPS-display Snow goggles

"A tiny screen embedded in the polarized and light-adjusting lens displays GPS metrics such as location, speed, and distance traveled." Prize tag: $500

Worlds first GPSenabled Snow goggle | Outdoor | Home

Great science education videos from the Cassiopeia Project

Great ressource for science teachers and students: The Cassiopeia project offers high quality science education videos (in chemistry, biology, physics, and earth science). All videos can be downloaded for free: Welcome to the Cassiopeia Project

Bill Nye on Evolution Education in U.S.

In a recent survey of 926 public high school biology teachers across the nation, only 28 percent of teachers taught evolution as a well-supported fundamental idea of science, while 13 percent openly supported "intelligent design" in the classroom.

Popular Mechanics talked to prominent science promoter Bill Nye (aka the science guy) about what his views on evolution education in the U.S.: Read the interview here:Evolution in Science Education – Bill Nye on Evolution in Science Education - Popular Mechanics

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Interactive panoramic views of airplane cockpits

Enjoy these 14 panoramic interactive 360 degree views of airplane cockpits: I Believe I Can Fly (14 Airplane Cockpits)

Universal Translator now available. Thanks to Google Translate.

Star Trek has the Universal Translator, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has the babel fish, Farscape has translater microbes, Dr Who uses a telepathic field generated by the TARDIS, and now we have Google Translate!

Google recently released Google Translate as a free application for smartphones. The application can translated up to 57 languages in text-only form with the ability to recognize up to 15 different languages spoken into the app. The software can also speak 23 languages out loud.

Will applications like this make learning foreign languages obsolete?

Read more here: iPhone Turns Into Universal Translator With Google Translate |

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Star Wars Episode IV told in icons

Designer Wayne Dorrington tells you the entire Star Wars Episode IV as icons (iconoscope). Enjoy!
[Click on image below to see full version]

Iconoscope No.1: Star Wars Episode IV | DozBlogThing

Robots Share Knowledge to Learn from Experience

Dr. Markus Waibel of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) believes that what’s holding robots back is their inability to send and receive new information over the internet like humans do. To combat this problem, and hopefully propel robot development in the process, the Swiss team are developing RoboEarth — a repository of data that robots can use to learn new tasks and expand through their own experiences. At its core, RoboEarth is a World Wide Web for robots: a giant network and database repository where robots can share information and learn from each other about their behavior and their environment. RoboEarth is part of the Cognitive Systems and Robotics Initiative from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme.

Read more here: Robots Share Knowledge On Robot Wikipedia RoboEarth | Geekosystem

Valentine's Day Cards for Scientists

New York subway system as music instrument

Music visualization Conductor turns the New York subway system into an interactive string instrument. Using the MTA’s actual subway schedule, the piece begins in realtime by spawning trains which departed in the last minute, then continues accelerating through a 24 hour loop. The visuals are based on Massimo Vignelli’s 1972 diagram

See it here: MTA.ME

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Clever illustration of Egypt's political options

See original here: theocracy.jpg (590×395)

Tree of Life of a Sandwich

Found here: Abstruse Goose » Tree of Life

Bringing Religion and Science together on Evolution Weekend

This weekend, Feb 11-13 2011 is the sixth annual Evolution Weekend. The event is sponsored by The Clergy Letter Project, an organization of more than 14,000 clergy members and evolution scientists that aims to find common ground between science and religion. 

Participants span a wide range of different christian denominations, Jews and Muslims; different ethnicities; Males and females; old and young; conservatives and liberals.

Being celebrated on the weekend closest to the birth of Charles Darwin (Feb. 12, 1809), Evolution Weekend participants aim to demonstrate that the modern theory of evolution and modern religious faith are fully compatible.

2011 is the International Year of Chemistry

According to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), 2011 is the International Year of ChemistrySee more information here: Home - International Year of Chemistry 2011

What would our world be without chemistry?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Could online courses fully replace traditional courses?

In his 2010 annual letter for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates suggested that have at least one great course online for each subject rather than lots of mediocre courses. The idea is that students could freely access these "best possible" lectures online - which might in turn replace more mediocre real-life lectures.

Several top universities already offer some of their lectures online for free, including the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University M.I.T.’s OpenCourseWare program, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and the University of California, Berkeley. The UK-based OpenUniversity offers free online courses. Aggregator website Academic Earth offers a collection of over 150 full courses from different universities. Additionally, youtube edu offers a collection of lectures.

However, could such online lectures truly replace traditional education? There are several issues to hinder online courses to replace human-taught courses. First, online courses are notorious for high dropout rates. Personal relationships with instructors and other students might help students persevere. Second, many universities may now offer online lectures but complete courses consists of more than just the lecture, for example discussion groups, feedback from instructors, study groups, and office hours. These elements are currently missing in free online courses. Third, while lectures might be freely available, universities do not give credit for studying them. Free online courses do not (yet) lead to academic degrees. A step in this direction was taken last year by the regents of the University of California when they approved a proposal to test the viability of offering a bachelor’s degree that could be earned entirely online.

Read more in this New York Times article: Online Courses, Still Lacking That Third Dimension -

Prehistoric Fish Still Alive Today

Frilled Shark
See this fascinating list of pre-historic fish that are still with alive today: Top 10 Prehistoric Fish Alive Today

See this youtube video of a frilled shark in action:

The Human Radio Bubble in the Milky Way

The first AM radio broadcast was on Christmas Eve, 1906, and the opening ceremony of the 1936 Olympics is regarded as the first video signal powerful enough to be carried into space.

How far did human-generated radio and video signals travel since then? Our radio bubble is about 200 light years (the diameter of the small blue dot in the enlarged section below). Compared to the vast size of the Milky Way (which is just one of many galaxies in the universe), our own presence seems rather insignificant. 

[Click on picture to see it full size.]

Read more here: The Extent of Human Radio Broadcasts in the Milky Way | Geekosystem

Monday, February 7, 2011

Animals brought to extinction by humans

Quagga (extinct since 1883)
Neatorama has an interesting but sad list of seven animals that are now extinct because of human interference, from the tasmanian tiger and the Quagga to the Dodo and the passenger pigeon.

See list here: 7 Animals Humans Brought to Extinction

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Prehistoric humans had foxes as pets

Honey, I am taking the fox for a walk....
Before dog became man's best friend, our ancestors might have kept foxes as pets.

Bones from a pre-historic burial ground (about 16,500 years old) in northern Jordan indicate that people got buried with their favorite pets, which include dogs as well as foxes.

I find it interesting to imagine how our world would look different if humans adopted foxes instead of dogs as our pets; current dogs breeds are variations of original Asian wolves (read more about evolutionary origins of dogs here). Imagine how many different breeds of pet foxes we might have instead.

High-tech Biometric Wallet with fingerprint scanner

Dunhill Biometric Wallet
Dunhill's biometric wallet is made from carbon fiber and is "virtually indestructible" and will open only after scanning your fingerprint.

The wallet can be linked via Bluetooth to the owner’s mobile phone – sounding an alarm if the two are separated by more than 5 metres!

Unfortunately, this cool high-tech wallet comes with the steep prize tag of $825!

If you should have the necessary cash, you can order it here: Biometric Wallet | QGK0169 | dunhill

Meaning of country names

This map shows the etymology (origin of) the names of countries around the globe [Click on the map for a larger view].

Unfortunately, the map does not include references for further information.

etymology-map.jpeg (4500×2234)

Indian Supreme Court declares Astrology a Science

According to The Times of India, an Indian NGO called Janhit Manch filed the public interest litigation. But as the Supreme Court of India has already ruled that astrology is a science, the Mumbai High Court dismissed the case on February 3rd 2011. So far as prayer related to astrology is concerned, the Supreme Court has already considered the issue and ruled that astrology is a science. The Court had in 2004 also directed the universities to consider if astrology science can be added to the syllabus. The decision of the apex court is binding on this court.

This incidence reflects the struggle India finds itself in: Establishing India as an urban technology and science power, while large parts of the population are strongly religious and believe in astrology (including Supreme Court judges).

Read more here: Short Sharp Science: Indian court considers astrology a science

Solar Wind Bridge Design

Three Italian designers, Francesco Colarossi, Giovanna Saracino and Luisa Saracino, propose a new way to harvest wind energy without consuming valuable real estate. Between the pillars of a long-expanse bridge, a multitude of turbines capture wind energy from the faster-moving high-altitude currents - going both ways. The estimated energy production of Solar Wind is 40 million kWh per year.

The “Solar Wind” Bridge Design Harnesses Energy Two Ways

Does the Internet make children more gullible?

Professor Donald Leu, University of Connecticut, and colleagues showed teenagers a fictional website about a "tree octopus" and many took it for fact. The authors of the study conclude that schools need to teach students how to critically evaluate the trustworthiness of internet ressources.

The question arises how do you effectively judge the trustworthiness of a website? Do you trust information because it's being presented by a major website (for example the New York Times or BBC)? Do you trust a site that has a professional layout? To what degree can you trust information on Wikipedia? How do you find out about hidden agendas behind certain websites (for example pharmaceutical companies which host medical information websites)?

Video - Breaking News Videos from

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Viking used polarizing crystals for navigation

Vikings were skilled seafarers spreading from Sweden and Norway. They initiated settlements in Northern England, Iceland, Greenland, and may have been the first Europeans to arrive in North America.

The Vikings did not have compasses and used the sun and stars for navigation (in addition to coast lines and bird migration patterns). In the far north, they faced the problem of foggy weather that made it often difficult to see the sun.

Danish archaeologist Thorkild Ramskou suggested in 1967 that Vikings used so-called “sunstones”. A sunstone is a crystal that polarizes light passing through the clouds and makes it possible to determine the position of the sun. [See this video by NASA to see sunstones in action.]

Read more on Viking Sunstone Navigation here.

Google Art Project offers virtual tours through art museums

Google revealed it's newest project: The Google Art Project is an interactive online tour that takes users through some of the greatest museums in the world using a Google Street View-like interface.

The Google Art Project allows users to virtually explore the interior of 17 partner museums. The Google Street View team designed a brand-new vehicle called the 'trolley' to take 360-degree images of the interior of selected galleries. Eachimages contains around 7 billion pixels (more than 1,000 times more detailed than an average digital camera).

The Google Art project is in it's early stages, but certainly worth a visit: Google Art Project.

Google Art Project Aims To Redefine Museum Experience--But Has Some Rough Edges