Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This Week in Geek!

[A periodically updated column in which Rickey lets his inner geek shine by gleaming the internet for only the choicest stories pertaining to the realms of science, technology, and general nerdery].

Good news physics buffs and fans of giant science machinery, the world’s largest particle supercollider, goes online this summer. (“Supercollider? Rickey barely knows her!”) And while Rickey loves spacey new scientific advancements as much as the next commoner, we tend to get a bit nervous when we hear rumors that there’s a chance that this thing could create a black hole which would devour the Earth in mere nanoseconds. We kind of like this whole existence thing, you know? How ironic would it be if we discovered that all the black holes in the universe are the result of technologically advanced civilizations who attempted the same experiment? And even if the possibility of this contraption creating an interstellar void which would consume the entire planet is ridiculously remote, bear in mind that there’s always the chance that it might wake up Cthulhu. Then we’re all really screwed.

And because you weren’t quite scared enough of scientists accidentally killing us all, marvel at a story of PhDs at Caltech creating a form of “programmable” bacteria that will do our bidding! It has a wide range of potential applications which include medical uses, hazmat spill cleanups, and of course, destroying all humanity. You’d better believe that a Michael Crichton novel based on this is inbound and that the inexplicably popular Shia LaBeouf will star in the film version.

Whenever someone gets around to building it, the world’ tallest building will be two miles high. And it will contain rivers. Those looking for a way to make the designers of the Burj Dubai look like impotent little punks finally have their answer. Assuming the construction of something like this doesn’t sap the planet of whatever remaining resources it still has, this does look fairly nifty.

And in the somewhat less inspiring category of “mindblowingly inept science,” the makers of a popular Alzheimer’s drug have opted to rename their product in the hopes that the public will forget that the FDA ruled that it completely failed to treat Alzheimer’s Disease in the first place.

Courtesy of Japanese innovative minds, the same people who brought you Hello Kitty and tentacle porn, behold: new barcodes! There’s a barcode revolution coming soon to a UPS store near you. Are you on the right side?

According to Symantec, the number of viruses, worms, and Trojans circulating the internet has hit the 1 million mark. Awww… Rickey’s OSX based Mac feels strangely left out.

Courtesy of an uber-geeky website bearing the disconcerting appellation “Topless Robot,” here’s a link to an open letter of protest to the creators of the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons. We’ll just run the quote and let this one speak for itself: “Recently, a trove of legal proceedings and assorted arcana was unearthed regarding demi-human protests to the upcoming 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons release. This list of demands was signed by 8th level half-orc fighter Angrus Torn-Eye and 9th level gnome Illusionist Gnor Fnortner, representing a group calling itself "Gruumsh, Glittergold, and Sons". It was found sealed in a bone scroll case and capped with a glyph of insanity. We publish it in hope that D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast will hear their requests.” And woo boy, that’s only the introductory paragraph—it gets better. So much better.

Huzzah, the Shell Corporation has created an eco-friendly car! And it gets 2,843 mpg! But wait, there’s more: the car has no A/C, heater, stereo, cup holder, power brakes, padded seats, CD player, power steering, power windows and only seats one! Seriously now folks, who wouldn’t want to ride around in one of these? Tremble, OPEC, tremble! Another bold step forward brought to you by the Shell Corporation!

And just in case you believed that mankind’s reckless pollution of the environment was limited to the earth, behold: a picture detailing all the space junk in orbit around the planet!

Finally, to wrap things up (and in keeping with the gleefully apocalyptic tone we seem hung up on today) Rickey presents the coolest thing he’s seen all week: “The Door to Hell” in Uzbekistan. It’s a semi underground gas fire that’s been burning nonstop for 35 years. The story goes that once upon a time, a group of Uzbek geologists were drilling and they suddenly found an underground cavern filled with gas. Possessing testicles the size of planetary spheres, they ignited it so that no poisonous gas could come out of the hole, and since then, it’s been burning for 35 years without any pause and will most likely burn for decades and decades more. Even cooler? A similar fire burns in Pennsylvania, fed by coal veins. The CO2 fumes have turned an entire mining community into a spooky ghost town (although certain residents refused to evacuate and still live there) and there’s enough coal to keep the fires going for 250 years, and yes, it’s what inspired those “Silent Hill” videogames. Hello, summer vacation spot!

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Adam said...

Actually, I'm on the front lines of the new barcode transition at work! We deal in a lot of consumer goods and the barcode changeover is pretty interesting stuff. For a while, you will see products with current-style barcodes and the newfangled ones side by side. But once the transition is complete (which I think will be in a year or so) all products will feature these new designs. They look funky.

George said...

Ah Centralia. Hadn't thought about that place in years. Sadly I never made it there when I lived in PA, in Centre County, which is the actual center of PA. Centralia isn't, but we are talking about a state with a town called Jersey Shore.

Chris C said...

Maybe the black hole will just swallow up France. I can dream after all.

Haley said...

A couple months ago my family (in Pennsylvania) mentioned that decades old fire. I thought they were pulling my leg. They do that. But I guess they don't always lie.


Smitty said...

Is it wrong that I agreed with most of the registered complaints in the D & D link?

Rickey Henderson said...

Adam: This is the future of shipping consumer goods? Barcodes shaped like waterfalls and other fancy graphics?

Chris: Yep, dream big. Nothing quite like rooting for the eradication of the country that brought us modern democracy, impressionism, incredible cuisine, and the best way of kidding ever.

Haley: Indeed this Centralia place exists. Rickey really wants to check it out, but he's heard stories about the locals being insular and hostile towards visitors. No joke.

Smitty: No it is not wrong that you were in agreement with the D&D complaints. Many years ago, Rickey posessed a 12-sided die. Rickey was a level 7 paladin. Rickey certainly aint proud of it, but there ya go.

yagmurunsesi said...

Thanks man good job.