Help E.O. Wilson Catalog All Life on the Big Blue Marble

When well-known biologist and scientific humanist E.O. Wilso accepted his TED Award recently, he made a plea to those listening, to roll up their sleeves and to help him create an encyclopedia of all living things on the planet, called the Encyclopedia of Life. It would be a sort of biological wikipedia where every species of organism would get its own webpage. It’s a bold initiative, which will be amazing if it happens. There’s already a web site with some test pages and a video intro. I especially like the slider which allows you to dial the extent of your interest (from amateur to expert) and the content morphs to the level you dial. The species geo-location tech is nifty, too.


Crazy Car Hack

When I saw this video (bottom of page) I thought it must be a put-on, another Infinite Solutions. In it, it’s claimed that you can extend the range of the keyless entry for your car by holding the keyfob to your temple (turning your cranium into an antenna booster). Easy enough to test. So I grabbed my keys, stepped outside, and tried it on our car. I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work! Why would you need to do this? If you can’t find your car in a parking garage you can scan the garage while beaming your wireless key into your head to try and flash your lights. Oh, like THAT’S not going to freak out the Muggles.

The linked-to page on Daily DIY has a bunch of other cool car unlocking tricks, like using the air pressure of a tennis ball with a hole poked in it to unlock a car (haven’t tried this one). Tres McGuyver.


Total Noob’s Guide to Semantic Web

I was hired by a web consultancy, Project 10X, to write a couple of articles on semantic web technologies for a semantic wiki, called Alice in Metaland. The first piece, The Newbie’s Guide to the Semantic Web, is self-explanatory. The second item, Games in Context, looks at how semantic tools can be used in development to create software that developers have more control over, is more flexible, extensible, and can require fewer programmers, among other benefits. In the piece, I interview Rob Bauman, from CaraCasa Games, a Vancouver company, creating a game called Treasure Hunt: The Game, using Visual Knowledge, a semantic development environment.

House That Follows the Sun

Bucky Fuller had the idea some three-quarters of a century ago to build houses that follow the sun, adjust to the wind, and otherwise move with their environment. The Dutch Situationists also had ideas about houses that could move, change their shape, their scenery, etc. But sadly, this type of both design smarts and creative whimsy rarely makes it into the marketplace. The only time we see anything like this is in show houses that pop up from time to time, like this one, designed by Rolf Disch, and built in Freiburg, Germany. It’s actually not new. It was built in the mid-90s, but is making the rounds of the blogosphere, thanks to a growing interest in and “green” building.


Richard Dawkins and the Bishop of Oxford Discuss Evolution (& Other Things)

The Huffington Post has a fascinating video exchange between Richard Dawkins and the Bishop of Oxford. Given that Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist, an outspoken atheist, and the author of The God Delusion, and the Bishop is… well, an Anglican Bishop, you’d expect the fur to fly. But in fact, they’re friends and have written together about evolution and “Intelligent Design.” The discussion is very reasoned, surprising, and surprisingly interesting ( at least to me).

Thanks, Ron!


“Pocket” Gramophones from the ’20s

Looking at these amazing portable gramophones from the 1920s, you can’t help but think Swiss Army Knife, especially the Mikiphone (below) which folded out from a case the “size of a large pocket watch or a small cheese case.” The website has a couple of other crazy-cool portables, more pics of these two, even sound-samples of the Mikiphone in action. The Mikiphone is especially innovative because of its use of a resonator mounted on the tone-arm, instead of a sound horn. Speaking of horns, check out the four-sided leather jobby on the “Gipsy” (above) and the stirrup that holds it in place.

[Via we make money not art]


The Open Source Energy Project

I love all of the ways in which the open source ethos are being applied to other realms beyond computer software, hardware, and Web dev. The Open Source Energy Project is one such example. Protein Feed explains:

“The project is being managed with a similar methodology to Open Source Software Development and the ideas and contributions are being published openly on the Internet without an attempt to secure patents. The hope is that with an open philosophy that the project shows similar Rapid Application Development and success as Linux and other Open Source Software projects and provides a system that can meet future energy requirements in a sustainable manner.”


First Meeting of Athanasius Kircher Society

I was so wanting to make it to the Inaugural Meeting of the Athanasius Kircher Society, but wasn’t able to get it together. Phi Torrone of MAKE described is thusly: “What an exciting creepy cool evening New York city experienced!” Sounds like my idea of a good time! MAKE co-sponsored the event and is going to be sending to mag subscribers a copy of “Athanasius Kircher’s Magnetic Clock” book. Can’t wait. MAKE has a short piece on the event and some Flickr pics. If you haven’t bookmarked the Society’s website, check it out. It’s one of my new favorite sites.


Happy 100th Birthday: Sergei Pavlovich Korolev

Xeni’s 100th birthday shout-out to Soviet architect of space Sergei Korolev (January 12th 1907) reminded me of the piece I did on him for Discovery’s (now long dead) “Dead Inventors” column in 1997. I wrestled its bits from the maw of the Wayback Machine and reposted it here. Unfortunately, the videos that accompanied it appear to be lost to the datasmog.