Geek Month in Review: June 2011

By JB Sanders

The hot has begun…

Because This Will End Well
Archaeologists in Mexico have found a previously unknown tunnel under the Temple of the Snake in Teotihuacan. They estimate that it’s been sealed for over 1,800 years and there are chambers at the end of the passage. Those SciFi movie plots don’t just write themselves…

Muppets, Fraggle Rock and Serenity
Nerd and geek combined into one: cross-overs that never existed.

Behind the Scenes Photos
From little movies like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Other shots:
How they did the Empire Strikes Back text crawl (you’ll be surprised).
A shot of Alfred Hitchcock, Tippi Hedren and some birds.
A shot inside the giant alien spacecraft in Alien.
A picture of Max Schreck lounging creepily. (Bonus geek points if you know the Other Movie this ties into, all too eerily.)

Really, why are you still reading this blurb? Click on the link already!

Scary Great Toy Mashup or Sign of the Toy Apocalypse?
So, combine collectible action figures, with collectible card games, Pokeman, Gauntlet (yes, the venerable arcade game) and console-based video games. Oh, and throw in some old-fashioned leveling-up madness. What do you have? Skylanders. It’s a video game for consoles (all of them, I guess). It’s fairly standard Gauntlet-like collect things and smash monsters. However, the character you play is based on what actual toy action figure you plug into their USB-connected platform. Before your head explodes, you have to use one of the action figures (32 at release) they’re producing for the game. The plus side is that any items you collect or leveling-up you do with that specific action figure are stored — inside the action figure. You can take the guy with you to a friends house and have all those abilities and loot you got before. The game comes with 3 figures, and they’re going to be releasing “booster packs” with random figures inside.

Awesome People Hanging Out Together
It’s the name of the link and the subject matter all in one. Photos of unusual pairings, all looking like they’re candid shots. Lots of pop culture icons in there, plus some geek favorites: Niels Bohr & Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (many, many years ago, looking all hippy and geeky), Neil Patrick Harris & Stephen Colbert, Chuck Norris & Bruce Lee (that’s a money shot). And something just for a conspiracy-theorist’s dream: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Warren G. Harding, and Harvey Firestone (I mean, seriously); or Salvador Dali & Walt Disney.

Laser from a Living Cell
Are atomic mutants not far behind?

Well, The Assyrian Dictionary is Done
And it only took 90 years!

Now, This is Graffiti I Can Get Behind
Just an inspired piece of art. Imagine drawing a mustache on a famous portrait, and then take it up about ten notches.

From the ‘Dogs Can Smell Better Than You’ Files
Scientists have discovered that dogs are better at telling twins apart than, wait for it, DNA tests. Turns out there IS a genetic difference between twins, but it’s so small that modern DNA tests have trouble distinguishing between identical twins. Not so with dogs.

This is How Science-Fiction Becomes Reality
Austrian scientists have developed a new way to do what rotors on helicopters and airplanes have done before now. Heck, their flying machines don’t even need wings. They produce thrust by using rotating turbine-like blades, and because those blades can be adjusted, the D-Dalus can produce thrust in any direction, 360 degrees. It’s also fine with rough weather and nearly silent.

How to Build an Awesome Enclosure for Your Telescope
How? You make it into a TARDIS replica. Seriously.

Mars in a Bottle
Scientists create an artificial Mars-like environment and then toss in some Earth microbes to see how they fare. It does sound a little like a SciFi Channel Saturday movie, why do you ask?

Why Are Homo Sapiens the Only Hominids Still Hanging Around?
Maybe because homo erectus used the same axe design for a million years. Yeah, seriously.

The Lego(tm) Barad-dùr
It’s the heart of Mordor in Lego(tm) form. Evil Eye included. Check out the link at the bottom of the article to the Flickr pictures.

Print Anything: Input Just Sand and Sun
Ok, not anything, but lots of things. It’s a 3D printer powered by the sun that just uses sand as a material input.

Slow is Creepy, and Trippy
Ever wondered what that sound a modem makes when it does the initial hand-shaking connection-making with the host computer would sound like if you slowed it down 700%? Well, wonder no more!

Note: if you’re not old enough to know what a dial-up modem is, sounded like or was for, look it up on wikipedia already.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog: