We’re totally hooked on Google’s new book search tool, which lets you search and graph the frequency of words in millions of books from 1800 to today. You can even compare and contrast two words or phrases to see how they fare in print over the years. It’s intended for scholars, but it’s free for anyone to use. “We wanted to show what becomes possible when you apply very high-turbo data analysis to questions in the humanities,” said one of the geniuses behind the toy — er, tool. He calls the method “culturomics” — which is a hell of a lot catchier than the tool’s title: the Books Ngram Viewer (gotta love the nerd factor). We took the tool for a test drive…
Forget green energy and an iron man suit for the military — the most important invention of 2010 is software that detects sarcasm. (Just checking to see if the software is up and running yet.) According to Time magazine, the Semi-Supervised Algorithm for Sarcasm Identification — developed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem — can pick up on sarcastic sentences in product reviews. The researchers tested it out with 66,000 Amazon reviews and it was right 77% of the time. Which means that — cue the singing angels — the smiley-face and winky emoticons may soon become a thing of the past, at least for people who only resort to them as a desperate means of ensuring their sarcasm is conveyed.
If using your mobile phone to simulate fart noises or fake an incoming call to escape a blind date are beneath you, try this one on for size: Researchers in the UK are working on a technology that would allow you to self-diagnose STDs on your phone. If you think you might have an STD, you’ll be able to pee on a computer chip about the size of a USB key (seriously, you pee on it… saliva will do in a pinch) and then plug that into your phone or computer for insta-diagnosis. The plan is to sell the chips in vending machines in night clubs, right next to the condoms, tampons, and mini sex toys (yep, those forward-thinking Brits already sell sex toys in night club vending machines, bless ‘em).
Fake Calls is an iPhone app that lets you receive a fake call on your phone — you can either tap the icon on your home screen (discreetly labeled FC) and your phone will ring in ten seconds, or else you can schedule a call in advance. Your phone will look and sound exactly like you’re receiving an incoming call — you can select in advance who the caller is, from your mom to your boss to the president — except that nobody’s really there. You can then “answer” the call — or decline it if you’re using the app just to prove you have manners.
Kottke shared this amazing find of what happens when analog meets digital as in Andy Denzler’s series of paintings “that look as though they’re highly compressed JPEGs with encoding issues.” They also remind me of the Internet back in the modem days when Netscape Navigator would slowly render large pictures posted on GeoCities.
StuffWhitePeopleLike (TED Conference? World Cup? Picking their own fruit? Genius!) is one of our favorite blogs in the universe — seriously, it ranks right up there with FAILblog, even if it’s a bit of a one-note joke (but every time we leave it be for a few months, we go back and are reminded of its utter brilliance). Anyway, the dating site OKCupid, on its surprisingly fascinating OKTrends blog, decided to throw caution (not to mention fears of pandering to racist stereotypes) to the wind and examine the real stuff white people like… as well as the stuff that Asians, blacks, and Latinos like. They did this simply by parsing the data on all the personal ads in their system. The concept is both clever as well as a little bit stomach-turning.
First there was Form 6, a waterproof rechargeable body-safe vibe in the shape of a slim, melting pin-ball created by JimmyJane. Then came Form 2, a waterproof rechargeable body-safe vibe in the shape of little, minimal bunny ears. Now there’s Form 3, a waterproof rechargeable body-safe vibe with a malleable shape. Don’t ask us to…
California Senator Joe Simitian drafted a new bill that would make it a misdemeanor to impersonate someone online — a.k.a. “e-personation” — with the purpose “of harming, intimidating, threatening or defrauding.” If busted for e-personation, you could get $1,000 in fines and/or one year in prison. The bill was passed unanimously by both the Senate and the Assembly so just needs Ahnold’s signature to become law in California.
Lelo’s new vibe, Siri
A few weeks ago we mentioned that one of our favorite conscientious toy manufacturers, Lelo, came out with a new line of sophisticated sensual accessories. Well, we can’t keep up with them, because they’ve got another new product out, the Siri — and it’s got a lot going for it.
Browsing the dating site YouandMeArePure.com left us temporarily speechless, and then clutching for the right words to express our… awe? The top five things that boggled our minds:
For grammar nerds who are bothered by the site’s name, the very first sentence at the top of the entire site helpfully explains, “YouAndMeArePure is NOT a sentence just in case you are checking for grammar. It is rather the name of our website. The name was carefully crafted from the beginning to express that we value both, people entering in relationships and virginity.” Okay then, that totally clears things up for us. Thanks!
From low-tech lawn mowing to high-speed rail, we’ve got your run-down of some of the cool green tech stories from the week.
Industrial-strength rainwater harvesting: Seattle-area healthcare laundry service Sterile Surgical Systems has cut their massive water footprint significantly with a combination of rainwater harvesting and water treatment and recycling. (via Seattle Times)
Low-tech trike mower: PrintCollection uncovered a 1984 patent for a pedal-powered lawn mower… perhaps it’s time to bring this one into production (via Buck’s Weird News Blog)
Is the iPhone 4 green? That, and other questions answered, in this week’s green tech finds. Prize-winning biomimicry: Technology Academy Finland has awarded its biannual Millennium Technology Prize to Swiss scientist Michael Grätzel for his development of the dye sensitized solar cell, a cheaper alternative to photovoltaics that mimics photosynthesis. See the video above for details. (via…
Japanese magician Uchida Shinya posted this YouTube (subtitled) video where he uses an iPad with some magic tricks to briefly describe and explain the past, present, and future of human communication. The slight of hand tricks are pretty cool, but if you want to ruin the fun, just read the spoiler comments or watch it…
Monster bikes, phosphorous from sewage, and hybrid luxury yachts… your green tech finds for the week.
- Pedal-powered police patrols? Yes, some police departments have bikes in their vehicle mix, but the low-tech patrol vehicle designed by the Hampshire Constabulary and students at the Ringwood Comprehensive School will be used for competition in the upcoming British Pedal Car Grand Prix. (via Greenopolis)
- Social media and the oil spill: Mashable has a round-up of four social media efforts aimed at helping with clean-up of and recovery from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Warning: only hardcore nerds — or those with a soft spot for hardcore nerds — will find this YouTube footage touching. It goes on for a while, you can’t quite see what’s going on, and there’s no climactic applause and shouts of congratulations at the end. But with a little background info, it becomes more…
White House solar panels, recycling your Xbox, and the top green cars… your green tech finds for the week.
Plug-and-play solar… we’re getting there: Start-up Armageddon Energy is scheduled to release its SolarClover system, which can be installed by non-specialists, later this year.
Finnish town joins the Concerto: The Concerto Initiative, that is. Lapua, in Western Finland, will participate in this EU-sponsored project to build local energy self-sufficiency and efficiency.
Cape Wind a go?: After years of wrangling, the Obama administration has given a green light to the Cape Wind project… but the opposition is already threatening a lawsuit, according to the Huffington Post.
Your Earth Week green tech finds…
- Droid your dry cleaner: The National Organization for Women (NOW) has released an Android and web app (iPhone coming soon) for finding dry cleaners in your area that don’t use perchloroethylene (or “perc”).
- Puma’s new bag-box: The shoe company teamed up with design firm Fuseproject to create a the new “clever little bag” that requires much less cardboard than a traditional shoe box, and creates a much smaller manufacturing footprint. Look for it in 2011; find out more about it in the video above. (via Fast Company)
As Robert Redford notes in the video above, the environmental footprint of major league baseball (or any professional sport) is “formidable”: from the energy to run the stadium, to the gas consumed by fans traveling to a game, to water used in bathrooms and to keep field grass green, many resources go into the production of America’s national pastime. Yesterday, the partnership between MLB and the NRDC announced a significant initiative to assess and address that footprint: “…a comprehensive software system to collect and analyze stadium operations data to develop and distribute best practice information across the 30 Clubs” that will go into use this season.
Ink-saving fonts, energy-producing homes, and pedal-powered prison television… here are your green tech finds.
- No package? No pick up…: Sounds like a lead-up to dating advice, but it’s actually the concept behind UPS’ new Smart Pickup service for small and medium-sized businesses. Customers use a tracking service so that drivers only stop to pick up packages when there are some… (via SmartPlanet)
- The font’s the thing…: Want to save printer ink? Change your font.
No foolin’… here are this week’s green tech finds.
- Low-tech renewable energy storage: In Vinalhaven, Maine, they’re testing out a system of distributed energy storage for wind power… and it’s based on old technology. (via Green Living Ideas)
- The green(er) bookmobile: A new bookmobile for Wood County, Ohio, runs on natural gas.
No foolin’… here are this week’s green tech finds.
Last week, we wrote about how the ChatRoulette improv piano guy almost makes you forget about all the purple throbbing genitals you were forced to weed through on your first and only foray into that weird world. (We’re still trying to decide which was more disturbing: Seeing a guy jerking off the first time we logged…
Is the solution to carbon capture sitting in your conditioner bottle? This, and more, at this week’s green tech finds.
Biomimicry and boat-building: We noted earlier this week that David de Rothschild set sail on the Plastiki. Designer Michael Pawlyn explains how biomimicry played into the creation of this boat made from plastic bottles.
A greener web: Greentouch, a consortium of academic and corporate partners, is exploring methods to make the internet, and other computer networks, much more energy efficient.
Another greener smart phone: Sprint has unveiled its LG Remarq at the International CTIA Wireless Show. The phone features some recycled materials, and meets RoHS standards; its charger is even ENERGY STAR certified. (via TFTS)
Homes wired for electric vehicles, artificial islands, and floating power plants… here are your green tech finds for this week.
- Dell’s new Optiplex — most efficient desktop ever? According to Jaymi Heimbach at Treehugger, the new 980 model is, as it features a 90% efficient power supply, meets ENERGY STAR 5.0 standards, and has earned an EPEAT Gold rating.
- No more downcycling for plastic? That’s what researchers at IBM and Stanford claim their new development in plastic production does: the material can be continuously recycled. See the video above… (via Green Inc.)
Robots, biogas, and a green 7-11… it’s green tech finds time! Solar power from pea plants: Many researchers are looking to the plant world for inspiration for harvesting solar energy more efficiently. Prof. Nathan Nelson of Tel Aviv University is looking at pea plants as a potential source of nano materials that could “…form the…
It’s Thursday… and that means green tech finds! Here’s what we found this week:
- Princeton calls Kindle experiment a success: In our very first green tech finds post, we took note of Princeton’s plans to experiment with the Amazon Kindle to save paper. The pilot worked on that front… though findings showed the device may still may not be ready to fully supplant paper texts.
- The beach sand fuel cell rolled out: Bloom Energy received tons of coverage yesterday for its public launch of the “Bloom Box,” a fuel cell system based on “solid oxide ceramic fuel cells.” Developers promise a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions, cheaper electricity, and fuel flexibility with the system.