The L.A. Times reports that 12-year-old Arturo Valdenegro's winning entry in a paper-airplane contest got upscaled to slightly larger dimensions, courtesy of Pima Air & Space Museum's Giant Paper Airplane Project, and flown, via helicopter assistance, in the Arizona desert. Slightly larger, in this case, means the plane based on Valdenegro's designs "was 45 feet long with a 24-foot wingspan and weighed in at a whopping 800 pounds," constructed of a tough, corrugated material called falcon board. Unfortunately, the tow didn't take the plane as high as planned (only 2,703 feet, instead of four or five thousand) so the resulting flight was brief and destructive — which doesn't make the accompanying launch video any less fun to watch, though I wish it showed more of the flight, including its end. (I tend to always make the same kind of acrobatic glider; do you have any good paper-airplane hints?)
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Wo-wo-wee-wah! It looks like the Kuwaiti officials at an international shooting event never got the memo that the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan wasn't an actual documentary. Gold medalist Maria Dmitrienko stood stoically while the offensive national anthem from the film was played during the awards ceremony. From the article: "Coach Anvar Yunusmetov told Kazakh news agency Tengrinews that the tournament's organizers had also got the Serbian national anthem wrong." Nice!
itwbennett writes "High demand, high prices, and nearly identical cheaper alternatives is a recipe for fraud. Eel fraud, that is. This has led Japanese researchers to develop a method to cheaply and quickly batch-test DNA by taking small tissue samples from thousands of eels. 'If a non-local eel is found in a batch, more tests will be performed to find the guilty foreigner.'"
Steve Jackson Games occupies a special place in the history of gaming, not only for publishing some of the best-known tabletop games ever published, especially their distinctive microgames, but the company's failure to roll over in the aftermath of an FBI raid more than 20 years ago led to the creation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Since 1980, Steve Jackson and company have been publishing games -- and a magazine, and even a book. The company is based in Austin, Texas, so while I was at SXSW, I had a chance to meet up with SJG's Chief Operating Officer and Managing Editor, Philip Reed, who gave a quick overview of what's new on the table. (Har har.)
itwbennett writes "If you're of a certain generation, the screech of a modem, the stuttering song of the dot matrix printer, and the wet slap of a mimeograph machine can transport you to simpler (or at least slower) times. JR Raphael has rounded up 20 tech sounds on the brink of extinction for your listening torture. We're only sorry we don't have smell-o-vision to bring you that sweet mimeograph scent."
sciencehabit writes "Researchers have long hypothesized that objects weigh less at Earth's equator because the planet's spin and shape lessen gravity's pull there versus at the poles. Satellite accelerometers have confirmed this, but a digital scale manufacturer decided to test things the old-fashioned way. Enter the Kern garden gnome. When placed on a scale at the South Pole, the intrepid ornament weighed 309.82 grams versus 307.86 grams at the equator, a difference of 0.6%."
New submitter CanHasDIY writes "Tired of waiting for the Pip-Boy or Omni-Tool to be invented? Never fear! Nokia is developing the basic technology needed to make your dreams a reality: haptic-feedback tattoos. According to the patent application, Nokia is proposing 'a material attachable to skin, the material capable of detecting a magnetic field and transferring a perceivable stimulus to the skin, wherein the perceivable stimulus relates to the magnetic field.' Basically, the process is the same as for normal tattooing; the difference is in the ferromagnetic ink. Kind of brings new meaning to the term 'embedded device,' doesn't it?"
As a nexus of both computer programmers and other creative builder and maker types, SXSW (and Austin generally) is a great place to witness the overlap. John Zitterkopf and his pal Red, while helping to run the giant (and charitable!) LANFest at this year's event, had on hand for display a few of their own modded computer cases. John and Red are both part of Austin Modders, which helps Austinites swap tools and ideas (in-person, and via forums) for creating the kind of enclosures that computer makers simply can't — they're too time-intensive and too personalized for that. It's especially fun to see the effects that the newly widespread availability of laser cutters makes possible. (C'mon, O'Reilly, isn't it time for another Austin Maker Faire?)
1sockchuck writes "The Pirate Bay says it plans to deploy servers on airborne drones several kilometers above international waters. The site said it was experimenting with servers using Raspberry Pi, a credit-card sized Linux computer. April Fools come early? Torrent Freak says the plan is real. It's apparently a literal approach to cloud computing."
This is a 15 minute video conversation with Andy Marken of Marken Communications, who has been working in technology public relations long enough to know what's what -- and then some. We had a pleasant conversation via Skype, and afterwords he sent along some excellent additional advice about how to handle do-it-yourself tech industry PR.
judgecorp writes "Google is cooling its data center in Douglas County, Georgia, using 'recycled' water that has been through the bathtubs and toilets of the surrounding community. So called 'grey' water is perfectly adequate for the data center's cooling system which relies on evaporation (the wet T-shirt effect), says Google."
sciencehabit writes "Offer a male fruit fly a choice between food soaked in alcohol and its nonalcoholic equivalent, and his decision will depend on whether he's mated recently or been rejected by a female. Flies that have been given the cold shoulder are more likely to go for the booze, researchers have found. It's the first discovery, in fruit flies, of a social interaction that influences future behavior."
In this video, Brian Alspach tells you how Gamestar Mechanic helps turn kids from game players into game authors, which helps them learn a lot about programming and how computers work in easy steps while having a good time. If you're a parent, you'll especially want to read this page on their site, which will help reassure you that these folks know what they're doing, and might even (hint hint) give you the idea of suggesting that your local school should subscribe to Gamestar Mechanic, which several thousand schools already do. The price varies between free and $6 per month, which is a great deal for something that can engage children for many hours every day -- and just might keep a parent or grandparent interested, too.
An anonymous reader writes "In response to the still-raging MPAA & RIAA, a kind of reverse piracy campaign has arisen. The "Send Them Your Money" campaign urges pirates and landlubbers alike to send scanned images of American currency to these agencies. According to the campaign's webpage, 'They've made it very clear that they consider digital copies to be just as valuable as the original.' The operation gained fame via sites like Reddit and Tumblr, inspiring citizens of other countries to send their legal tender to the MPAA and RIAA."
alphadogg writes "There are holidays, and then there are holidays for nerds, and March 14 (3.14) is one of those. Based on the mathematical constant number that represents the ratio between the circumference and the diameter of a circle, Pi Day has grown to become somewhat of a day to celebrate for mathematicians and techies. Here are 10 things to do on the big day."