Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

September 12th, 2009:

Odd Lots

  • What the Hell: Some researchers at the University of Michigan have created an 8-bit processor incorporating pneumatic gates, pointing toward a computer that doesn’t require electricity at all. Make sure you watch the videos. It’s not going to beat your local Beowulf cluster on the speed side, but if you find yourself on a planet where nanomachines eat electrical conductors (as they did in my novel The Cunning Blood) such a machine might well come in handy.
  • The Make Blog aggregated probably the best writeup of a homebrew railgun that I’ve ever seen. Make sure you prowl around the site, and make double sure you see the pictures and watch the videos!
  • Bill Cherepy sent me a link to a short writeup on the still-hypothetical Asus 2-screen ebook reader. You can use it as a netbook, with one screen doubling as a touch keyboard, or you can use it as a facing-pages ebook reader display. Now, displays are probably the most expensive part of devices like this, so I doubt a 2-screen model will be the low cost leader. Still, it’s an idea that’s well worth a try. (And please, guys, make the card slot XDHC compatible, ok?)
  • If you ever loved whole milk and wish you could go back to it, read this. And then go back to it. No guilt. No apologies. And yes, no heart attacks.
  • Back in the ’50s there was a product called Siz that was (I kid you not) foaming Napalm in a spray can. It was for starting charcoal. Lileks does a wonderful riff on it. (They had such indescribably cool toys in the ’50s.)
  • On the other hand (with Lileks always there to remind us) they did some ungodly weird stuff in the ’50s too.)
  • When I was a kid, Verne/Wells films were all the rage, and by far my favoriate was Journey to the Center of the Earth . Small boys aren’t equipped to appreciate Arlene Dahl, but I was quite the fan of James “Nemo” Mason, and was willing to tolerate Pat Boone even though my older cousin Diane thought he was “dreamy.” The film was dazzling in 1959, especially the “cave of crystals,” which flooded out when dreamy Pat Boone got too agressive with a geologists’ pick. Well, some years ago Mexican miners discovered a real cave of crystals 1200 feet beneath Naica, Mexico that makes those old 1959 movie sets look sick. National Geographic has more textual coverage, and it’s worth noting that the cavern is unliveable without life support suits, being at a constant 122 degrees and 90% humidity, which is worse than Houston, if that were possible.