Independent news, views, opinions and reviews on the latest gadgets, games, science, technology and research from Apple and more. It’s about the technologies that change the way we live, work, love and behave.
PSST! Want to buy a vagina? Four women born with an underdeveloped or absent vagina have been living with artificial ones for the past four years. The women suffer from Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH).
* Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome is a disorder that occurs in females and mainly affects the reproductive system. This condition causes the vagina and uterus to be underdeveloped or absent. Affected women usually do not have menstrual periods due to the absent uterus. Often, the first noticeable sign of MRKH syndrome is that menstruation does not begin by age 16…
THE Evinrude Fishing Saucer concept boat designed by Brooks Stevens and made for the 1957 New York Boat Show.
THERE”S always a good time to be had touring through old computer books, especially if there’s lots to point at and laugh condescendingly. Technology has advanced so exponentially that a 1980s computer textbook may as well be ancient Sanskrit written on palm leaves. Suffice it to say, things have come a long way in just a short amount of time, and it’s a lot of fun to look back. So, let’s jump into Living With Computers by Patrick G. McKeown (1986).
“A complete computer system – user, software, CPU, internal memory, secondary storage, keyboard, monitor, and printer – is shown here.”
LANGTON’S Ant is a story of habit. Scientist Chris Langton discovered the phenomenon in 1986.
If you were to put an ant down on a grid of squares and ask the ant to follow two rules something odd would happen.
STUART Meloy is the surgeon at Piedmont Anesthesia and Pain Consultants in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who when experimenting with pain relief discovered the orgasm pill. He recalled the Eureka moment:
“I was placing the electrodes and suddenly the woman started exclaiming emphatically. I asked her what was up and she said, `You’re going to have to teach my husband to do that.'”
THIS is an interesting little calculation that’s been made about how many people you would need on your spaceship if you were to set off and try to colonise the next star system over. Well, OK, it’s interesting to me as someone who imbibed so much SF and Fantasy stuff when in my long ago youth at least. And the answer is a very much larger number of people than you might think.
Here’s what the problem is:
Entire generations of people would be born, live, and die before the ship reached its destination. This brings up the question of how many people you need to send on a hypothetical interstellar mission to sustain sufficient genetic diversity. And a new study sets the bar much higher than Moore’s 150 people.
According to Portland State University anthropologist Cameron Smith, any such starship would have to carry a minimum of 10,000 people to secure the success of the endeavor. And a starting population of 40,000 would be even better, in case a large percentage of the population died during during the journey.
THE Wound Man is a compendium of all the injuries that a body in the Middle Ages might sustain.
The Wellcome Library advises:
Captions beside the stoic figure describe the injuries and sometimes give prognoses: often precise distinctions are drawn between types of injuries, such as whether an arrow has embedded itself in a muscle or shot right through. (The latter is better – the arrowhead can be cut away and the shaft withdrawn smoothly, whilst the embedded arrow will tear the muscle with its barbs when pulled out.)
IN 1958 New Haven-based toymaker A.C. Gilbert Company turned youngsters onto science with a new kit. The LAB TECHNICIAN SET was a “CAREER BUILDING SCIENCE” kit.
And it was got Girls.
How was it different for girls?
WHEN mankind emerged from the primordial ooze that was that was the 1940s, homes began a rapid upgrade. The Western nations’ economies grew in tandem with technology, and the benefits began to enter the home in the form of appliances that promised to transform the household. Now you could own a toaster – oh, the possibilities!
Forget Google Glass, Android Wear, Smartwatches or contact lenses that give you night vision. Instead let’s talk about the awesomeness that is this 17th century Chinese abacus ring. It’s wearable tech from the Qing Dynasty, perhaps the world’s oldest smart ring.
Measuring a mere 1.2 centimeter-long by 0.7 centimeter-wide, the miniature abacus is a fully functional counting tool, but it’s so tiny that using it requires an equally dainty tool, such as a pin, to manipulate the beads, which are each less than one millimeter long.
“However, this is no problem for this abacus’s primary user—the ancient Chinese lady, for she only needs to pick one from her many hairpins.”
Spotter: Endless Geyser of Awesome
FLASHBACK to 1983: The Atari 2600 machine feature the Moses ‘Red Sea Crossing’ Bible story video game.
If you saved hard to buy this gem, then the good news is that the thing is worth a bomb. In 2012, one copy was sold for $10,400.
FLASHBACK to 1951:
The electronic Morale Raiser was invented in 1951 to boost men’s confidence. For reasons unknown it never really took off.
YOU’D think that people would have worked out about these internet things by now but apparently there are none so dumb as politicians:
Shortly after the Twitter ban came into effect around midnight, the micro-blogging company tweeted instructions to users in Turkey on how to circumvent it using text messaging services in Turkish and English. Turkish tweeters were quick to share other methods of tiptoeing around the ban, using “virtual private networks” (VPN) – which allow internet users to connect to the web undetected – or changing the domain name settings on computers and mobile devices to conceal their geographic whereabouts.
Some large Turkish news websites also published step-by-step instructions on how to change DNS settings.
On Friday morning, Turkey woke up to lively birdsong: according to the alternative online news site Zete.com, almost 2.5m tweets – or 17,000 tweets a minute – have been posted from Turkey since the Twitter ban went into effect, thus setting new records for Twitter use in the country.
The ban came from the Prime Minister, pissed off that people were disagreeing with him in public. One of the first people to breach the ban on using Twitter was the Turkish President.
We might have to start saying that there’s a Turkish variant of the Streisand Effect.
The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.
THE smartphone is really only just under 7 years old: that’s right, we’re just coming up to hte 7 th anniversary of the release of the Apple iPhone. And this smartphone is now the fastest adopted technology of all time: there were a billion of the damn things made and sold last year. But the truly remarkable thing is that while Apple only has around 10% of this market they have been able to capture 60% of all of the profits of the entire sector.
Which is, when you think about it, pretty remarkable:
Indeed, since the launch of the iPhone the net profits earned by the collection of protagonists shown was $215 billion. 60% has been earned by Apple, a newcomer to the market. That figure is also consistent on an ongoing basis, having reached 60% as early as 2011 and remained in a band around that figure since.
Listen To Aldous Huxley’s Talks On The Visionary Experience’ And Read His Advice To Albert Hofmann On Taking LSD
ON February 29 1962, Aldous Huxley wrote of psychedelic drugs in a letter to Albert Hofmann.
Hofmann had invented LSD, first synthesising lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in 1938. He experienced the world’s first acid trip” on April 19 1943 as he cycled home from his Swiss laboratory. That was Bicycle Day.
He tells of his discovery in the book LSD, My Problem Child (1979):
Time and again I hear or read that LSD was discovered by accident. This is only partly true. LSD came into being within a systematic research program, and the “accident” did not occur until much later: when LSD was already five years old, I happened to experience its unforeseeable effects in my own body—or rather, in my own mind
Looking back over my professional career to trace the influential events and decisions that eventually steered my work toward the synthesis of LSD, I realize that the most decisive step was my choice of employment upon completion of my chemistry studies. If that decision had been different, then this substance, which has become known the world over, might never have been created.
Hofmann took a measure of the drug and made his way home:
“On the way home, my condition began to assume threatening forms. Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant later told me that we had travelled very rapidly.”
Did the drug have a use? Could LSD have a medicinal purpose? Maybe.
Even after LSD was banned in 1966, Hofmann maintained his belief that it had the power to solve psychological problems induced by “materialism, alienation from nature through industrialisation and increasing urbanisation, lack of satisfaction in professional employment in a mechanised, lifeless working world, ennui and purposelessness in wealthy, saturated society, and lack of a religious, nurturing, and meaningful philosophical foundation of life”.
He spoke with Huxley, who had in the 1950s written The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, books dealing with states of mind and body produced by hallucinogenic drugs. Hofmann was impressed, writing:
The alterations of sensory perceptions and consciousness, which the author experienced in a self-experiment with mescaline, are skillfully described in these books. The mescaline experiment was a visionary experience for Huxley. He saw objects in a new light; they disclosed their inherent, deep, timeless existence, which remains hidden from everyday sight
These two books contained fundamental observations on the essence of visionary experience and about the significance of this manner of comprehending the world—in cultural history, in the creation of myths, in the origin of religions, and in the creative process out of which works of art arise. Huxley saw the value of hallucinogenic drugs in that they give people who lack the gift of spontaneous visionary perception belonging to mystics, saints, and great artists, the potential to experience this extraordinary state of consciousness, and thereby to attain insight into the spiritual world of these great creators. Hallucinogens could lead to a deepened understanding of religious and mystical content, and to a new and fresh experience of the great works of art. For Huxley these drugs were keys capable of opening new doors of perception; chemical keys, in addition to other proven but laborious ” door openers” to the visionary world like meditation, isolation, and fasting, or like certain yoga practices…
In The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, Huxley’s newly-published works, I found a meaningful exposition of the experience induced by hallucinogenic drugs, and I thereby gained a deepened insight into my own LSD experiments.
Huxley called. They would meet in Zurich:
He considered experiments under laboratory conditions to be insignificant, since in the extraordinarily intensified susceptibility and sensitivity to external impressions, the surroundings are of decisive importance. He recommended to my wife, when we spoke of her native place in the mountains, that she take LSD in an alpine meadow and then look into the blue cup of a gentian flower, to behold the wonder of creation.
As we parted, Aldous Huxley gave me, as a remembrance of this meeting, a tape recording of his lecture “Visionary Experience,” which he had delivered the week before at an international congress on applied psychology in Copenhagen. In this lecture, Aldous Huxley spoke about the meaning and essence of visionary experience and compared this type of world view to the verbal and intellectual comprehension of reality as its essential complement.
You can hear Visionary Experience here:
In one letter Huxley wrote to Hofmann:
. . . I have good hopes that this and similar work will result in the development of a real Natural History of visionary experience, in all its variations, determined by differences of physique, temperament and profession, and at the same time of a technique of Applied Mysticism—a technique for helping individuals to get the most out of their transcendental experience and to make use of the insights from the “Other World” in the affairs of “This World.” Meister Eckhart wrote that “what is taken in by contemplation must be given out in love.” Essentially this is what must be developed—the art of giving out in love and intelligence what is taken in from vision and the experience of self-transcendence and solidarity with the Universe….
You don’t have to endorse the use of drugs to see that they can be useful to some people.
FLASHBACK to 1982, and the go-ahead new ZX Spectrum is making waves in the Jackie magazine classroom:
TWITTER is, lets face it, a place where people pretend their more exciting or more wealthy or more miserable than they really are. They do it to get attention from people they don’t know and repeat the process week-after-week until someone trolls them, and then they actually are miserable… but no-one takes any notice because they’ve been pretending to hate everything and everyone for so long.
With that, some science people have come up with a thing so they can tell whether you’re lying or not with your Tweets. Bad news for those of you who have convinced us all that your life is all cocktails and new trainers.
IF you can’t sell records anymore, thanks to illegal downloaders and the like, then why not work out another way of making money? That’s what Neil Young has done – instead of pissing around with music sales, he’s launched something you can’t download: something to play your music on.
So say hello to the Pono, which is apparently a high quality device. Young said of the gizmo: “once you hear this, you can’t go back”.
Pono will be a digital music service (PonoMusic) and 128GB portable device (PonoPlayer) and you’ll be able to store 2,000 high resolution songs.
It is described as a “purpose-built, portable, high-resolution digital-music player designed and engineered in a “no-compromise” fashion to allow consumers to experience studio master-quality digital music at the highest audio fidelity possible, bringing the true emotion and detail of the music, the way the artist recorded it, to life.”