ananyo writes "From the Nature story: 'Scientists from Archimedes to Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein are said to have had flashes of inspiration while thinking about other things. But the mechanisms behind this psychological phenomenon have remained unclear. A study now suggests that simply taking a break does not bring on inspiration — rather, creativity is fostered by tasks that allow the mind to wander.' The researchers gave 145 students 2 minutes to list as many possible uses for an everyday object (the creative thinking task). Participants then either rested, undertook a demanding memory activity that required their full attention or engaged in an undemanding reaction-time activity known to elicit mind-wandering. A fourth group of students had no break. The researchers then set the students a second set of unusual-uses tasks and found those that had, in the interim, been set the undemanding task that encouraged mind-wandering performed an average of around 40% better than they did before. The students in the other three groups showed no improvement."
New submitter BLT2112 writes "Inspired by the Oracle of Bacon, the Oracle of Wikipedia finds the shortest path between two Wikipedia articles, as in Wikipedia Golf. As explained in the site, 'One selects one article as the tee and another article as the hole and then completes the course between them clicking as few links as possible. No typing is allowed. . . . The Oracle also allows you to search for the most challenging potential Wikipedia Golf courses. Can you find a longer course and merit a place in the "records" section?'"
lukehopewell1 writes "A Penn State robotics student has gone to the effort of building a working, automated turret from the video game series Portal. Powered by a webcam, Arduino boards and hacked up USB-missile launchers, this is one serious piece of kit that is just as adorable as its in-game counterpart. "
Okian Warrior writes "Tattoo artist Jersey from Dynasty Tattoo (in New Jersey) implanted sub-dermal magnets in his arm to wear his iPod touch like a watch. From the article: '“Those magnets are actually called micro-dermal anchors, and in body piercing they are very common. The tops are actually just 5 millimetre magnetic tops,” he said. “I took the ends of magnets and actually adhered them to the back of the iPod, and that’s how they click into my skin.” He added: “I can go for a run and it won’t come off. I’ve already taken it to the gym and jogged with it on.”'"
Nancy_A writes "An engineer has proposed — and outlined in meticulous detail — building a full-sized, ion-powered version of the starship Enterprise. The ship would be based on current technology, and would take about 20 years to construct, at a cost of roughly $1 trillion. 'We have the technological reach to build the first generation of the spaceship known as the USS Enterprise – so let's do it,' writes the curator of the Build The Enterprise website, who goes by the name of BTE-Dan."
gotfork writes "The world's largest scavenger hunt, covered in previous years on Slashdot, is now taking place at the University of Chicago. The competition is fierce: in 1999 one team build a working breeder reactor in the quad, but only won second place. Items on this year's list include your appendix in a jar (210), a disappearing spoon made of metal (105), a chromatic typewriter (216), a xyloexplosive (33) and a weaponized Xerox machine (83). Check out the full list here (PDF). Not bad for the school where 'where fun comes to die.'" Does your school have any equivalent annual hijinks?
sciencehabit writes "Three years ago, a stone-throwing chimpanzee named Santino jolted the research community by providing some of the strongest evidence yet that non-humans could plan ahead. Santino, a resident of the Furuvik Zoo in Gävle, Sweden, calmly gathered stones in the mornings and put them into neat piles, apparently saving them to hurl at visitors when the zoo opened as part of angry and aggressive 'dominance displays.' But some researchers were skeptical that Santino really was planning for a future emotional outburst. Now Santino is back in the scientific literature, the subject of new claims that he has begun to conceal the stones so he can get a closer aim at his targets—further evidence that he is thinking ahead like humans do."
Big Hairy Ian writes "An American expert in violent self-defense has been excluded from entering the UK by the Home Office. From the article: 'Tim Larkin tried to board a plane from his home in Las Vegas on Tuesday, but was given a UK Border Agency letter saying "his presence here was not conducive to the public good." Mr Larkin, who was due to host seminars, told the BBC the move was a "gross over-reaction." The Home Office said he was subject to an exclusion order. A spokeswoman said: "The home secretary will seek to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good." Mr Larkin — who trained as a US Navy Seal — runs a company teaching combat to military and law enforcement clients in the United States.'"
coondoggie writes "An innovative project, called Autonomous Dynamic Analysis of Metaphor and Analogy, or ADAMA, aims to build a software system that can automatically analyze metaphorical speech in five different languages by analyzing huge quantities of online data got off the ground this week when the U.S. Army Research Laboratory awarded a $1.4 million contract to the team conducting the research. The research is backed by the US Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), which develops high-risk, reward research projects for the government, and is intended to build a repository of speech metaphors from American/English Iranian Farsi, Mexican Spanish and Russian speakers. ADAMA could have immediate applications in forensics, intelligence analysis, business intelligence, sociological research and communication studies, researchers stated."
scibri writes with bits and pieces from the article: "From the early 1950s to the end of the cold war, nearly 250,000 animals were systematically irradiated in the Russian town of Ozersk. Fearful of a nuclear attack by the United States, the Soviet Union wanted to understand how radiation damages tissues and causes diseases such as cancer. Now, these archives have become important to a new generation of radiobiologists, who want to explore the effects of the extremely low doses of radiation — below 100 millisieverts — that people receive during medical procedures such as computed-tomography diagnostic scans, and by living close to the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan."
Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that huge plant-eating dinosaurs called sauropods may have produced enough greenhouse gas by breaking wind to alter the Earth's climate. Scientists believe that, just as in cows, methane-producing bacteria aided the digestion of sauropods by fermenting their plant food. 'A simple mathematical model suggests that the microbes living in sauropod dinosaurs may have produced enough methane to have an important effect on the Mesozoic climate,' says study leader Dr Dave Wilkinson. 'Indeed, our calculations suggest that these dinosaurs could have produced more methane than all modern sources — both natural and man-made — put together.' The key factor is the total mass of the animals which included some of the largest animals to walk the Earth, such as Diplodocus, which measured 150 feet and weighed up to 45 tons. Medium-sized sauropods weighed about 20 tons and lived in herds of up to a few tens of individuals per square kilometer so global methane emissions from the animals would have amounted to around 472 million tons per year, the scientists calculated. Sauropods alone may have been responsible for an atmospheric methane concentration of one to two parts per million (ppm), say the scientists and studies have suggested that the Earth was up to 10C (18F) warmer in the Mesozoic Era. ''The Mesozoic trend to sauropod gigantism led to the evolution of immense microbial vats unequaled in modern land animals. Methane was probably important in Mesozoic greenhouse warming. Our simple proof-of-concept model suggests greenhouse warming by sauropod megaherbivores could have been significant in sustaining warm climates.'"
cylonlover writes "The hashtag or "#" symbol has taken on a lot more use in recent years, especially with the rise of social media tools like Twitter, where it's used to highlight popular topics. So in a way, it's a fitting model for an apartment building designed to act as a self-contained neighborhood, which is exactly the idea behind the Cross # Towers planned for South Korea. Dutch architectural firm, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), is modeling the look of the proposed building after the familiar symbol, by placing two interlocking bridges between two skyscrapers, which will also support outdoor park areas to mimic the sort of spaces you'd normally find on the ground."
Hentes writes "The internet has made many things easier, but unfortunately this also includes crime: it seems that nowadays not even people wanting to know their future are safe from fraud. Two fortune tellers are being investigated, after the Romanian police uncovered that they have utilized some extraordinary help in their clairvoyant acts. The pair used information collected from internet search and social networks to gain the trust of their customers, claiming that they could see their personal data through their crystal ball. In some cases, they also used high-tech surveillance techniques such as hidden cameras and phone tapping. But they didn't stop at merely spying on their victims: their most bizarre case involved a scuba diver dressed as a monster." Nice to know that internet-based fraud isn't limited to motivational speakers with real-estate seminars and other get-rich-quick flim-flam.
First time accepted submitter ElectronicHouseGrant writes "Freshman Derek Low rigged up his Berkeley dorm room with something he calls B.R.A.D., which is short for 'Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm.' The room includes automated lighting, drapes, music, motion detection, and more. He can control everything through voice recognition, but a wireless remote, his iPhone and his iPad are also in on the control party. Derek started the install on February 4 and finished just a few days ago."
Freshly Exhumed writes in with a Wired story about a nerd/super-villian dream come true. "Marine biologist-cum-TV personality Luke Tipple attached a 50-milliwatt green laser to a lemon shark off the coast of the Bahamas in late April. The escapade was sponsored by Wicked Lasers, a consumer-focused laser manufacturer based in Hong Kong that produces some of the most brilliant — and potentially dangerous — handheld lasers in the world. 'This was definitely a world first,' Tipple told Wired. 'Initially, I told them no. I thought it was a frivolous stunt. But then I considered that it would give us an opportunity to test our clips and attachments, and whatever is attached to that clip, I really don't care. It was a low-powered laser that couldn't be dangerous to anyone, and there's actually useful applications in having a laser attached to the animal.'"