Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

People suggested “Quantum Levitation” as a topic for a blog post. I haven’t been studying Subatomic/Quantum Physics for over 2 years now and my knowledge of this subject hardly exceeds grade 12 Physics class, so, sorry if some of the things you read here seem incorrect or way too oversimplified. You’re always welcome to correct me and/or add some additional info and in-depth explanation.

So, I think that many of you have already seen this video:

The phenomenon demonstrated in this video has been known for almost 100 years now, and it’s been properly explained in mid-1930’s by German physicists.

See, when cooled to a certain temperature, some materials tend to convert into a state of superconductivity, in which all electrical charges can go through this material without delays and energy loses. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe it has something to do with the energy levels within atomic shells (where all their electrons “spin” in a quantum cloud), considering that the energy would be at a very minimum level under such temperatures (the temperature of liquid nitrogen, which they used to cool down this piece of sapphire in the video, is usually below -196 C), so there might be some weird things occurring.

Interestingly, when a material becomes superconductive, it “pushes” all the magnetic fields out of its body. So, when a ferromagnet is introduced to a cold superconductor, its magnetic force gets repelled, causing it to levitate near this superconductor. And it can also be moved across its surface with no friction whatsoever (as there is no physical contact between these two materials, and the magnetic fields don’t produce friction by definition), so it might be a very efficient mode of transportation one day (if you discount the cost of liquid nitrogen in such quantities, as well as the aerodynamic friction).

My explanation is way too oversimplified, and it doesn’t cover some key things observed in this video-demonstration (such as why the hell gravity has no visible effect on the magnet when it’s “fixed” in space and turned upside-down). I would be really thankful to hear a more in-depth explanation of this phenomenon.

Anyway, what’s the practical application of this? I’m not sure. Of course, hypothetically, you can come up with lots of fun stuff, such as quiet frictionless trains, aircrafts that are powered by magnetic fields alone (UFO, anyone?), some weird space rails (temperature is rather close to the absolute zero out there, so it wouldn’t be problem to turn a pile of metal into powerful superconductors, lol). But those are still nothing more than wild sci-fi fantasies (lol, again). We need to figure out lots of things and solve multiple purely engineering problems first….

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Google+ vs. Facebook.

Posted: July 15, 2011 in Internet, Software, Technology

I’ve been actively using Google+ for a week now, and I believe that I gained enough experience to be able to share some early thoughts on it.

So, as you, hopefully, already know, Google+ is a third attempt of the search giant to succeed on the market of social networks (with Orkut and Google Buzz being the first two). The concept is fairly similar to Facebook, with a few key differences, which, potentially, can make FB look like an underdeveloped parody on MySpace. In this posts, I just want to highlight a few reasons why Google+ might be better than Facebook (and vice versa).

Without further ado, here is my personal reasons why I might choose G+ over FB.

1. Circles. This is the feature that allows you to break your contacts into different categories and share information with each category accordingly. On Facebook, all your contacts are labeled as “friends”, and everything you post is visible to everyone (of course, you can dance around with the privacy settings and change that, but, very often, it is too inconvenient to be bothered with). On Google+, Circles flow more naturally, in this particular aspect. What that means is that you can upload pictures of yourself vomiting at a wild party, not worrying that your parents, teachers or employers will see them. Also, some of you, who have your parents on Facebook, have probably encountered this issue when your friends tag you in some pictures that you would rather prefer to keep unpublished. With Google+ Circles, this issue will be left in the past. It is also possible to post some personal cryouts and controversial rants, making sure that only a limited amount of trustworthy people will see them. Very convenient, I must say.

2. Practically unlimited post length. Yep, you heard me. Facebook only allows 420 characters per status update, and Twitter limits you to 140. On G+, you can post an entire essay as your status update (when I was testing this feature, I copy-pasted the first seven chapters of War and Peace, and it freaking worked!). Some might say that this would turn messy, as there are some people who like to flood and spam, so the news feed (Stream, as it is called on Google+) will become completely unreadable. Well, that wont happen. Google engineers/UI-designers have adopted “expand-collapse” technique, which works the same way as “See more” feature in long comments on Facebook. So, you only get to see a preview of the post (only the first few lines), and then you can click “expand” button to read the rest. That’s what I was waiting for since the time I first registered on Facebook.

3. You can edit your posts and comments, correcting your spelling and grammatical mistakes AFTER you post them. Nuff said.

4. Integration with other Google services. We all know that Google Inc has hundreds of cool products, such as Google Talk, Google Reader, Google Maps, etc. Their engineers have been working really hard to create APIs, which now allow all these integrations. Having all the Google depth attached to your G+ profile, makes your user experience truly a must have!

5. Hangouts. That’s something interesting. Hangouts is a service that allows you to have group video-calls with your contacts (so far, it is limited to 10 people per session, I think). That can be very fun. All the calls are powered by Google Talk, which is a primary competitor of Skype.

6. It’s developed by Google! I’ve always been a huge fan of Google and all their products. A social network developed by my favorite search giant is a pretty cool concept to begin with :)

Though I am very enthusiastic about Google+, there are still some things that I would miss about Facebook in case if it goes down.

These things include:

1. Facebook Groups. This, probably, has been one of my favorite features introduced by Zuckerberg’s team lately. You can create these specific groups, invite people to join them and then work cooperatively on some projects (like an assignment writing), or just do some study sessions, together, having all the access to a group chat, image uploading services, and all the other cool stuff. It’s been really fun for me to host some of these study groups I created during the first semester. I totally loved the sense of unity these groups were creating for our fellow psychology students. So far, I haven’t seen anything similar on Google+.

2. Trolling opportunities. Yes, my dear friends. I love Facebook for the tools it presents, which could be utilized to annoy the crap out of people. You can, for example, write a silly note and tag up to 30 people in it, everyone will see it and there is a high chance for the info to go viral and hit hundreds, if not thousands, of Facebook users all around the Network. Same could be done with pictures and Events. While it is considered by many as a great tool to assist spammers and crappy bands, who invite you to the events you’ll never go to, I see it as a great tool to stir people up a little, using a right approach, for the sake of LULz. At this very moment, I can hardly imagine how something like this could be done on Google+. Though, G+ has only been active for 2 weeks, and I’m pretty sure that we would be able to come up with some dirty ways to utilize their tools for Evil too, in a not so distant future :)

3. Stalking people. In contradiction with my love for G+ Circles, I would miss the opportunity to stalk an spy on people on Facebook :(. (and I do this quite often, FYI). Google+ privacy tools are thought-through just way too well…

***

Okay, those were my personal thoughts on Google+ vs. Facebook saga, that only has just began. Bare in mind that Google+ is still in beta, and that some new features are likelly to be added to the network in the next couple of months. Also, don’t forget that Facebook is still one of the World’s most powerful IT corporations, and that they employ some of the world’s best and most talented developers, so we can assume that FB still has some not-yet-introduced features up their sleeve.

Anyway, I’m observing this battle with a grate interest and a really big bag of popcorn!

Stay tuned!

This 1958 video about the bright future of American roads and transportation systems is Epic!

I LOLed so hard at the punch card with programmed destinations, as well as the “sun powered electro-suspension cars”! This is a must see!

It’s pretty interesting to observe what kinds of wild fantasies people usually have about things that only started to appear. For example, back in 1960’s, during the Space Race, when Humanity suddenly jumped from the first barometer in space to a full capacity space station just in 10 years, there were many thoughts and plans associated with Cosmology and Astronomy. People were making prognoses that by 2000’s we would be able to colonize Venus!

Similar thing was happening with automobile industry back in 1950’s, when cars started to become more affordable in US. Different auto-moto companies were running in a race against each other, inventing new features and designs, same way as it is happening now with all these big IT companies that make smartphones and tablet PC’s. Take this humorous 1953 cartoon as a proof.

Ah… you can’t stop enjoying this retro-futurism! :)

Tumblr style post.

Posted: April 15, 2011 in Animals, Technology

This is such a great picture (right click “Open in a new tab” to view the image in a full size).

More from this artist:

http://tebe-interesno.livejournal.com/

A few weeks ago I wrote that Facebook should introduce a feature that would allow you to make private notes (or tags) that you could “stick” to people’s profiles so you won’t forget who they are and what they did to you.

I think that in real life we should have something similar as well.

Modern smartphones are truly powerful pieces of technology. They allow you to browse the Web, navigate ourself with GPS, read bar codes and many, many other things. But there is still no a single app that is capable of recognizing faces in a useful way! We might just need one!

Many of you know that I’m not good at remembering people’s names. But, sometimes, calling a person by the right name is vitally important.

Consider the following scenario: you at a party of some sort, perhaps a private concert. Suddenly, you feel an urge to go to the toilet, but you don’t know how to find a bathroom. You walk downstairs and you see some familiar faces.

You feel like you should ask them, but you’re afraid to do so because you don’t remember their names (and you don’t want to sound too rude… and you know that by calling people by their names you will increase the chances of them collaborating with you).

You remember that you have them on Facebook, so you decide to use technology to save your life once again.

You pull your phone out and pretend that you’re going to take a picture. They believe you and demonstrate no hesitation in making some wide and naive smiles.

But, of course, you aren’t going to take a picture of them. Instead, you’re using a sophisticated software that analyzes their faces, draws some data and then connects to your Facebook account, where it starts searching some tagged photos that match the data you’ve just obtained. Once the matching photos are found, your phone starts displaying their names on the screen next to their faces. You can now use their names to ask about the location of the nearest bathroom. You’re saved.

Pretty cool, huh? Just imagine all the other real world potential applications of this software.

Friday.

Posted: March 18, 2011 in Internet, Just for LULz, Music, Software, Technology

Humanity has come a long way through the 40 000 years of its existence. We’ve build cities and societies, developed economies and political systems, created Civilization and pursued the Science.

Our technologies have jumped enormously in the last couple of centuries. Scientists, engineers and mathematicians have been working shoulder to shoulder together, creating new inventions and advancing our society.

The Era of Renaissance and the invention of printing press that spread literature and scientific written materials all over the Europe, the Age of Enlightenment that gave use the steam engine and electricity! All the British, German and American mathematicians and engineers in the late XIX and the early XX centuries who contributed to the development of computer science and the subsequential invention of electronic computing machines. All the early programmers and software developers who made computers truly user-friendly, allowing Global computerization. All the DARPA engineers and Tim Berners-Lee who invented the Internet and the World Wide Web. All the big IT corporations who stimulated the growth of the virtual world – I thank them all for the MASSIVE progress our Civilization have faced.

All these inventions, all these advances and technologies, all of these came down together so I could show you this:

Today is Friday!!! Partyin’ partyin’ (yeah!). Partyin’ Partyin’ (yeah!). Fun fun fun!

Happy Friday, EvErYbOdY!!!!!!

About 20 years ago, Singapore had a problem with chewing gums: people were littering with them everywhere. You could find chewing gum on the sidewalks, sticked to the walls, elevator doors and public transport seats. There were even some accidents in which escalators in public places got stopped because of the chewing gums that were jamming the mechanism. The problem was so severe, that the Singaporean Government decided to ban chewing gum… Yeah, that’s right. Since 1992, the use of chewing gum in Singapore is prohibited by the law (unless it is prescribed for medical purposes).

The problem of “gumfitti” (a word used to describe chewing gum pollution in public places) is still faced in many places where young people are often present, especially at schools, where children stick gums under their cheers and tables. Even Universities have this issue! I myself stuck a chewing gum under a table at QUT Library at KG, a minute before I decided to write this post.

I was thinking here: what can people do in order to prevent kids from doing this stuff?

So far, I came up with two ways that might be efficient to a certain degree.

First way: A Radical Campaign against littering that would be aimed at school kids and written in their language. Most of the “don’t litter” and “don’t smoke” signs are straight and boring. People just ignore them. A sign might be quite noticeable as well, but, due to the lack of convincing, people would ignore the message anyway. But what if sign makers would try to make it humorous and presented on the level of school kids, on the level at which they might actually get convinced?

I tried to imagine what that sort of signs might look like. I opened GIMP 2 on my laptop and quickly made these:

If this Psychology wouldn’t work, then people can try to use Chemistry…

Second way: making seats and tables with a thin layer of some waxy substance on their surface, which would repel chewing gums (which are made of a substance based on polyethene, apparently). I can’t say what substances could be stable and safe enough to be considered practical, but I’m pretty sure that people who study Organic Chemistry would easily work it out.

It could be expensive to apply this sort of chemicals to seats and tables in public places, but I think it would totally worth it. At the end, if this method would proof to be successful, the demand will skyrocket, and the cost will eventually decreased.

***

Those were just some random thoughts.