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Category: Technology

Tech, science, gaming, entertainment, space exploration, energy, and anything else tech-related.

August 1, 2015

Citizens of Tech 012 – Biofuel Pyramid Cables

00:0000:00

We start with a discussion of jail time. Jail. Time. And…147 MPH. Yeah. Eric tells the story. And then we hop into our show.

Present

Doomception: How modders got Doom to run inside of Doom

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2015/07/doomception-how-modders-got-doom-to-run-inside-of-doom/

  • Doom was open sourced in the 90’s. Folks have gone nuts porting it to all sorts of things.
  • Now, you can run Doom inside of Doom. “OK, if we’re being technically accurate, this is actually Doom running inside GZDoom, a heavily modified Doom source port that was first released in 2005 to bring a slew of modern gaming features to the 1993 original. The author also warns that the in-game versions of Doom and Wolfenstein 3D available in the mod are only “semi-complete.” Still, the sheer amount of near-pointless effort and dedication needed to get GZDoom to run what is essentially a version of itself within itself is impressive (and kind of frightening).
  • Action code script makes this possible. ”ACS was designed to allow modders to create more interactive environments through simple bytecodes that did things like open doors, play sounds, or move items and characters around in response to player actions. The basic bytecode-based language in that game was later extended in the ZDoom source port to allow for high-level programming features like named scripts, functions, arrays, and entire libraries. Those additions made their way into the later GZDoom as well.”

We tear apart a $340 audiophile Ethernet cable and look inside

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/07/ars-prepares-to-put-audiophile-ethernet-cables-to-the-test-in-las-vegas/

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/07/gallery-we-tear-apart-a-340-audiophile-ethernet-cable-and-look-inside/

  • Audiophile people are special kind of crazy. Some are willing to spend exorbitant amounts of money to get tiny improvements that most of us (maybe none of us) could actually hear.
  • Cables are a prime example of this madness. Maybe fancy cables made a difference in the analog world. But in a digital one? The ones and zeros make it, or they don’t.
  • Ethernet cables are already manufactured and can be tested to be within a specific performance rating. For a twisted pair Ethernet cable to perform at a particular “category” level, specific pairs must be twisted a specific number of times per foot. Beyond that, the 4 twisted pairs must be then twisted around each other in certain category definitions, all to avoid crosstalk, electromagnetic interference, and errors. The shorter the cable, the less likely these issues are to be present. Even with errors, Ethernet can detect them, discarding the errant frame, and probably get a retransmission assuming an acknowledged data protocol like TCP is running over the Ethernet cable.
  • So. What’s in a $340 “audiophile” Ethernet cable?
  • “The cable itself is of reasonably high quality, with braided and foil shielding around the entire cable coupled with foil shielding around the individual twisted pair bundles.”
  • “The plugs are high-quality Telegärtner MFP8s, which cost about 9 EUR each depending on where you get them.”
  • “There’s every indication that the cables conform to the listed Category 7 specifications and, if you were so inclined, you could almost certainly use them for 10-gigabit Ethernet”
  • “Of course, you can also use other shielded Cat7-equivalent Ethernet cables that cost one-tenth the Vodkas’ price for the same purpose, so the fact that they’re high quality cables doesn’t really justify the price.”
  • “When we finally stripped away everything and got down to the actual twisted pair of copper wires, we were pleased to see that they were indeed coated in silver, as the manufacturer’s page describes.“

Deathwatch

FTC accuses ID protection service LifeLock of scamming customers—again

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/07/ftc-accuses-id-protection-service-lifelock-of-scamming-customers-again/

  • LifeLock. You know. Those people that claim they can prevent identify theft. It seems they’re preying on your insecurity as opposed to offering an useful service.
  • Todd Davis, LifeLock CEO, has famously shared his SSN publicly. “His identity, however, was reportedly stolen more than a dozen times.”
  • What’s the suit all about? “The agency, in a federal suit filed in LifeLock’s home state of Arizona, accuses the company of failing to notify its customers immediately after their identities were compromised and alleges the company did not implement the same type of identity protection safeguards used by banks. The FTC said LifeLock promised those services to its customers but did not live up to it.”

Today I Learned

TIL that due to the lack of human activity, several rare and endangered species have returned to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone including Lynx, Wolves, Wild Boar and even Brown bears.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_the_Chernobyl_disaster#Studies_on_wildlife_in_the_Exclusion_Zone

There are three different kinds of tears. Basal is what’s normally there keeping our eye moist. Reflex tears are a reaction to the environment (certain gases such as what’s emitted by onions, grit in your eye). Psychic tears are the ones that well up when we are emotional.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tears

Past

A new (to me) theory for how the Great Pyramids were constructed

http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/tall-order-Chris-shows-build-pyramids/story-16837700-detail/story.html and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1y8N0ePuF8

  • Chris Massey devised this theory
  • Canal/Causeway between the harbor and building site
  • 450BC Herodotus is told it took 10 years to build the causeway
    • Many historians think it was a walkway used for ceremonial purposes
    • Too precisely built for that??
  • Water shafts would be used to float the large blocks up to the next level, rinse and repeat.

 

Future

Our reliance on fossil fuel combustion is ruining carbon dating

http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/07/our-reliance-on-fossil-fuel-combustion-is-ruining-carbon-dating/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiocarbon_dating

http://www.imperial.ac.uk/people/h.graven

  • Science uses radiocarbon dating to determine how old something is. Useful for the dating of recent objects — things that are thousands of years old, not millions.
  • Per Wikipedia, “The radiocarbon dating method is based on the fact that radiocarbon is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen. The resulting radiocarbon combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide, which is incorporated into plants byphotosynthesis; animals then acquire 14C by eating the plants.”
  • Then when that living thing dies, the C-14 it contained at death decays at a predictable rate. The state of decay is measurable, and therefore can be used to compute how long ago the remains discovered were actually alive.
  • Per Wikipedia, “The older a sample is, the less 14C there is to be detected, and because the half-life of 14C (the period of time after which half of a given sample will have decayed) is about 5,730 years, the oldest dates that can be reliably measured by radiocarbon dating are around 50,000 years ago, although special preparation methods occasionally permit dating of older samples.”
  • So, what’s the problem? Burning fossil fuels (you’ve heard them jokingly referred to as ‘dinosaur bones’ right?) is diluting the atmosphere of fresh C-14. “Fossil fuels, of course, are very, very old organic matter—so old that they have practically no carbon-14 left. So when we burn them, we dilute the amount of atmospheric carbon-14, meaning that present-day organisms have lower levels of carbon-14 than we might otherwise expect. Because dead organisms also have low levels of carbon-14, the result is that organisms living today, interacting with today’s atmosphere, will have the same levels as dead organisms from long ago.”
  • Dr. Heather Graven of the Imperial College in London had some summary comments about these findings. “Ultimately, Graven writes, this means that we’re going to need to reassess our dating methods no matter how successful our environmental policies are. Improving precision in radiocarbon dating itself, to enable detection of even the tiniest differences in levels of decay, is one step we could take. Greater precision is unlikely to fill the gap by itself, though, meaning that many scientists will need to develop alternative measurement techniques just to keep doing what they’re currently doing. The impacts of this, as Graven writes, will be far-reaching.“

Your body, the battery: Powering gadgets from human “biofuel”

http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/07/your-body-the-battery-powering-gadgets-from-human-biofuel/

Using our bodies as a source of power is tempting for things like personal wearable, hearing aids, pacemakers, etc. But…not easy.

Here are a couple of ways our bodies might be able to pull this off.

  • There’s voltage in our ears. “The ears of mammals contain a tiny electric voltage called the endocochlear potential (EP). Found inside the cochlea, a spiral-shaped cavity in the inner ear, the EP aids hearing by converting pressure waves into electrical impulses. It’s vanishingly weak—about a tenth of a volt—but still strong enough, in theory, to power hearing aids and other aural implants.” Status? Someone has…“developed an “energy harvester chip,” about the size of a fingernail, which was designed to extract electrical energy directly from the EP. They tested the chip in a guinea pig, implanting it into the animal’s inner ear where it generated enough electricity to power a radio transmitter. The minute electric power produced by the chip—about a nanowatt (a billionth of a watt)—is still about a million times too low to power an electronic implant.”
  • There’s voltage in our butts, if we’d just get off of them. “In the past few years, researchers have started to exploit a unique property of some materials, known as piezoelectricity, to generate electricity from human movement. Piezoelectric materials spontaneously generate electric charge when exposed to stress. But their next use could be in energy-generating fabrics.” Status? “One of the most advanced of these was developed in 2013 by a Chinese-US research team that invented an elastomer-based piezoelectric fabric able to generate electricity using only the kinetic energy of human locomotion. When a piece of this fabric was worn as a shoe insole by a volunteer, walking generated enough electricity to illuminate 30 LEDs. What’s more, when the same fabric was applied onto a shirt that was then artificially moved, it charged a lithium-ion battery in a matter of hours.”

Other interesting ways include…

  • The chemical energy in blood.
  • Sweat. “Human sweat is rich in a compound called lactate, which can also be used to generate electricity.”
  • Tears. “The cornea is continually kept moist by a film of what are called “basal” tears. These mostly serve to lubricate and nourish the eye, but they’re also full of energy. Among other chemicals, basal tears contain glucose, lactate, and ascorbate.” Imagine a contact lens powered by tears that can display information. Augmented reality powered by you.