Posts about interesting (old posts, page 4)

World Science Festival Videos

The inaugural 2008 World Science Festival attracted over 120,000 people to the Festival's 44 events at 22 venues located throughout New York City. More than 130 participants, speakers, and performers, including 11 Nobel Laureates, guided a large, diverse audience-students to adults, novices to professionals, the merely curious to science enthusiasts-to experience science as never before, making the esoteric understandable and the familiar fascinating. Through a series of gripping debates, captivating performances and interactive events, the Festival showcased cutting- edge ideas and discoveries, revealed science's pivotal role in addressing critical global issues, and explored how it profoundly shapes modern life.

Scenes from Sri Lanka

Only three months after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or Tamil Tigers) were defeated in the decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka, signs of economic recovery and a new sense of security are emerging across the country. Government and business groups are working hard to rebuild a tourist industry once hampered by fear of terrorist attacks, and fishermen are enjoying more freedom to fish harbors long restricted by the military. Although the popular mood seems optimistic, and the international community is encouraging rebuilding efforts with loans and other assistance, questions remain about the Sri Lankan government's tactics in the last weeks of the war - and its current treatment of Tamil refugees. Amnesty International's Science for Human Rights project just released a troubling analysis of satellite imagery of the restricted combat zone and Sri Lankan police continue to restrict access to journalists - and continue to prevent refugees from leaving their camps.

Scenes from Sri Lanka

More Robots

Scientists, students and corporations continue their work around the world in the field of robotics, persistently improving and redefining their capabilities, interfaces and roles in society. Unmanned vehicles fly above war zones, telerobotics give humans a broader virtual presence and humanoid robots gain more parity with humans, refining their movements and responses. Collected here are a handful of recent photographs of robotics in use around the world. [Previously on TBP: Robots] (36 photos total)

More Robots

Telephone Terrorists - Pranknet

Coalescing in an online chat room, members of the group, known as Pranknet, use the telephone to carry out cruel and outrageous hoaxes, which they broadcast live around-the-clock on the Internet. Masquerading as hotel employees, emergency service workers, and representatives of fire alarm companies, "Dex" and his cohorts have successfully prodded unwitting victims to destroy hotel rooms and lobbies, set off sprinkler systems, activate fire alarms, and damage assorted fast food restaurants.


The all composite aircraft has a wingspan of 141 feet and is flown from the right fuselage. Unlike most airplanes of its size, it has no autopilot and the controls are simple pushrods and (carbon fiber) cables. There is no fly by wire or even boosted controls, it's a true stick and rudder airplane. This is a plane that could bring space flight to the masses, yet the controls are more Piper Cub than Boeing 777.


A weather front rolls in from the horizon, storm clouds darken the sky, and (at least 1.3 billion times a year) lightning strikes. Last month, the National Weather Service promoted their Lightning Safety Week, with information designed to call attention to safe practices, helping people avoid lightning strikes which kill an average of 100 people every year. While the exact nature of the initial formation of lightning remains a subject of debate, what is known is that lightning strikes are caused by electrical imbalances present in the clouds. Those imbalances correct themselves suddenly, with an often spectacular light show - which I've tried to show here, with a handful of recent photographs of lightning from around the world. (26 photos total)

2009 Tour de France

The 96th Tour de France cycling race is currently underway, with the final, 21st stage of the 3,445 km (2,141 mi) race coming up on Sunday, July 26th. At this time, Alberto Contado of Kazakh team Astana appears to be headed toward a second tour title, currently leading riders Andy Schleck of Team Saxo Bank and Luxembourg and, in 3rd place, Lance Armstrong, also of team Astana. Armstrong's recent emergence from retirement to return to this year's tour has been the focus of much of this year's media coverage. 180 riders in twenty teams started in Monaco on July 4th, heading for the final ride into Paris this weekend. Collected here are a handful of images from the 2009 race. (40 photos total)

2009 Tour de France

Man skates down a roller coaster

An adrenaline junkie has taken in-line skating to new heights and set a new world record after racing down a roller coaster at speeds of 56mph.Dirk Auer decided to go where no sane man or woman had gone before and skated down an 860 metre track in just over a minute.Wearing specially designed in-line skates, the German made the attempt on the Mammoth roller coaster at the Trips Drill theme park in Stuttgart..."The roller caster is wooden and so unlike rides made from iron and steel there was always a chance of the odd nail or screw that would not be entirely flat.If the skates were to catch a stray nail then I could have fallen and I would almost certainly have died. " 36-year-old Dirk Auer said.

Numbers Stations As Music

Let's say you're a spy, out in the field, spying. You need instructions now and then from headquarters, but you don't want to risk exposure by picking up a phone (tappable) or getting an e-mail (traceable). Face-to-face meetings carry their own risks. What do you do?One solution, dreamed up during the Cold War: Listen on shortwave radio at a predetermined time and frequency for a message that only you can understand. Numbers stations, it turns out, are the one-way chatter of espionage agencies to their spies. This isn't conspiracy theory hokum; it's referenced in a dozen-plus memoirs of assorted ex-spooks and defectors. And though numbers broadcasts might sound low-tech in the age of the BlackBerry, the idea isn't utterly cockamamie."Even if you assume that most of the messages are 'pick up this money' or 'drop off the laundry,' think about what numbers stations represent. The only way a secret like this can be kept is if you live in a society where everybody is obeying and everybody is a little sleepy. But if you're a curious kind of chap you'll wonder, if your government can keep this a secret, what other secrets are they keeping.