Regenerative braking for bicycles and more. Intelligent power boost while you pedal, Wifi connection, API for developers… This is pretty great stuff, but now someone has to figure out a bulletproof way to lock your rear wheel.

MIT Actually Reinvented The Wheel – Digg.

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Very nice interactive showing the trajectory of Comet ISON. Move through space in 3d, start and stop the timeline and even switch to Earth perspective to see where the comet will be in the sky. I especially like that they show the planets rotating as they orbit the sun–because the timeline is moving many days per second, it’s like the planets are spinning tops.

Sun Moon Scope.

If you just can’t stand simulations and want to see the real thing–that is, Earth, viewed from space–check this out:

Watch Earth Spin From Your Browser

With the aid of Russian space authorities, Vancouver-based UrtheCast (pronounced “earthcast”) will launch two cameras into orbit today (Nov. 25) with the immediate goal of streaming images of the Earth back home in near-real time.


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Online art: a shared canvas for anyone to make their mark. Rendered as a sphere.

The instant a touch is made, things are set in motion. Make a drawing to reach out and be touched. Drawing together we are drawn together. This is how we make a difference in the world, on micro and macro levels, individually and collectively. Touch the moon by drawing on it – a vision, doodle, statement, a greeting, thought. . . your drawing is a hinge between you, everyone else, and the universe.

By connecting in spaces for imagination – by determining what to share and how to share it – we can create a greater outcome. Through messages and non-verbal communication, in a language unique to each person, the collective work becomes a testament to personal freedom, creativity, and activity.

Celebrate with us the gathering of creative powers from around the globe to mark the passage from nothing to something and from thinking into doing. Savour this moment of transformation. Leave your fingerprint and see the shared moon grow as others reach out too. Let’s show the world that together our marks matter. Creativity defies boundaries.

Ideas, wind, and air no one can stop.

Quite an opportunity for a continuous exquisite corpse. But of course, every other doodle is bathroom graffiti.

Moon by Ai Weiwei & Olafur Eliasson.

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Clever application: a grid of SSD’s (y’know, the digital number 8) used as a lo-fi display and/or mirror.

Teehan+Lax Labs – D.I.G.I.T..

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Take a Kinect, capture topographic info and translate to a grid of fast-responding actuators to reproduce the 3d shape. Obviously limited to rolling landscape forms, but nice to see it in action. Basically, a robotic version of the classic pin-impression toy.

What if each column was made of individual cubes, and each cube could slide side-to-side in the XY plane? What if you made each column out of a flexible cable, able to be bent and manipulated by electric current?

inFORM from MIT’s Tangible Media Group.

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Sublime micro-sculptures made of mechanical junk. Looks like watch parts, silverware, other shiny bits. I could stare at these for hours. I used to take anchor bolts and turn them into giant machine guns for my GI Joes, but those pale in comparison to the intricacy of these bugs:

Muti-Valchev Dimitar Valchev on deviantART.

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I’m so glad that this essay exists, and even more content to believe that Dave Chappelle is out there, possibly very happy, not crazy, having made a deliberate decision to step away from his brilliant comic achievement (and all that cash).

Toward the end of Chappelle’s Show I remember getting more uncomfortable with the sketches and how far over the line they were willing to go for no reason. What started out as go-tell-all-your-friends insightful and hilarious ended as no more than head-shakingly embarrassing and irritating. To me, the wit had turned into spite. After reading this, I can only guess I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. You only have one life to live, what are you going to do with it?

The Believer – If He Hollers Let Him Go – by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah.

Like Salinger’s retreat from fame, Chappelle’s departure demanded an explanation: how could any human being have the willpower, the chutzpah, the determination to refuse the amount of money rumored to be Chappelle’s next paycheck: fifty million dollars. Say it with me now. Fifty. Million. Dollars. When the dust settled, and Chappelle had done interviews with Oprah and James Lipton in an attempt to recover his image and tell his story, two things became immediately apparent: Dave Chappelle is without a doubt his generation’s smartest comic, and the hole he left in comedy is so great that even ten years later very few people can accept the reason he later gave for leaving fame and fortune behind: he wanted to find a simpler way of life.

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They’re Taking Over! by Tim Flannery | The New York Review of Books.

Here’s a disturbing and fascinating book about the rise of the jellyfish. They’re destroying everything, which means, so are we. Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean by Lisa-ann Gershwin. (Actually, the link above goes to The New York Review of Books.)


Gershwin leaves us with a disturbing final rumination:


When I began writing this book,… I had a naive gut feeling that all was still salvageable…. But I think I underestimated how severely we have damaged our oceans and their inhabitants. I now think that we have pushed them too far, past some mysterious tipping point that came and went without fanfare, with no red circle on the calendar and without us knowing the precise moment it all became irreversible. I now sincerely believe that it is only a matter of time before the oceans as we know them and need them to be become very different places indeed. No coral reefs teeming with life. No more mighty whales or wobbling penguins. No lobsters or oysters. Sushi without fish.

Her final word to her readers: “Adapt.”

I read this a few weeks ago and lost a few hairs off my head, others turned white, then I saw this what-could-possibly-go-wrong idea:

These Robots Hunt Jellyfish–And Then Liquify Them With Rotating Blades Of Death | Co.Exist | ideas + impact.

Includes videos. Maybe they didn’t read the book–what happens to the jellyfish “pulp”? And releasing floating swarm robots with blades? Swallowed the spider the catch the fly…

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Here’s a tip for those of you who hate drawing polyline borders point by point in order to do a take-off, or a hatch. Try REC and REG (rectangle and region).

First, get used to using the often overlooked REC command. It may seem like a simple thing, picking two points to draw a closed orthogonal polyline (big deal, you can do that with ortho and snap), but when combined with the mighty REGION command, you’re cooking with gas. I like REC because you can cover an area with just two clicks instead of four, and let’s face it, most architectural plans are made out of rectangles (corridors, rooms…). Plus, the x,y coordinates come out nice and consistent, from bottom-left to upper-right.

On a new layer (e.g. A-AREA) start drawing rectangles all over the place, overlapping them with abandon. We’ll clean it up in the next step. All you need to do is make sure you’ve covered the entire area you’re interested in, with as many rectangles as you need.

Now, isolate that layer so you don’t mess with your drawing (LAYISO). Type REG and select everything/hit enter. It will look like nothing happened, but really you’ve just turned all those polylines into regions. What’s a region?

Regions are two-dimensional enclosed areas you create from objects that form closed loops. Loops can be combinations of lines, polylines, circles, arcs, ellipses, elliptical arcs, and splines. The objects that make up the loops must either be closed or form closed areas by sharing endpoints with other objects.

The special thing about regions? You can perform 2D Boolean operations on them: union, subtraction and intersection. So now that you have regions, type UNI (for union) and select everything again/hit enter. You’ll see all your rectangles merge into a single shape. Yeah, mind-blowing, isn’t it? It gets better: you can subtract regions from one another. Type SU, select your main region (the one you want to keep), hit enter, then select the region that will be subtracted (the cutting shape)/hit enter. You’ll see that second region cut away from the first. And you can use this method to make donuts. That is, you can cut out islands in the middle of your regions, and Autocad, for once, knows what you’re trying to do. (You can also INTERSECT regions, but I’ve rarely found use for that.)

Now that you have a region, with or without donut holes, you can get properties to find its area, and you can select it as an object to hatch. Autocad’s gotten better at hatching complex polylines with islands, but it’s still not perfect. However, I’ve never had a problem hatching a region. It works every time, no matter how many holes you cut out.

One thing about regions: you’ll see that the vertices are not editable like a polyline. The whole shape moves as a block. No matter, you can always explode regions when you need to. And of course, you can build the pieces back into polylines and regions again, now that the JOIN command is so much better.

You’ll notice that in the above definition of REGION they mention shapes other than rectangles. This is true–you can mix all kinds of things, as long as they’re all in the same plane. Many possibilities. Enjoy.

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Man and machine unite to explore the impossible depths of projection art | The Verge.

From San Francisco studio Bot & Dolly, this has got to be a new standard in projection mapping. Robotic arms move projection screens around, creating very convincing 3D illusions. The whole time I was watching it I kept thinking of the Arthur C. Clarke quote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” and there it was on the screen at the end.

There is a recursive real-vs-reproduced phenomemon at work here. The illusion works, mostly, because the camera is also on a robotic arm, allowing the point of view to align with the projection’s perspective. Standing anywhere else would break the illusion (like in magic). So while we are in awe that this work of art is being captured 100% “in camera” (no post-processing), the whole work of art does not in fact exist outside of the camera. When you compare it to a magic trick–a fair comparison given the quote they show at the end–it actually comes out looking a little weak. If Lance Burton‘s tricks only worked if you stood in one place, would we think he was so great? Not conceptually any different from David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear. I felt swindled when I watched it live on TV and have always hated him for that.

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