The Geek Month in Review: November 2014

By JB Sanders

Is it Turkey Day yet?

Ancient Home Video Games in Your Browser
Want to play your favorite Atari 2600 game from yesteryear? Want to do it without leaving your web browser? Ta da!

Bowling Ball and Feathers Falling in a Vacuum
Wanna see how gravity (mostly) reacts the same to two objects with different weights? Watch the video.

Algae Farm Over Highway Eats Pollution
A French and Dutch design firm has created a prototype algae farm over a highway in Geneva, Switzerland. It eats the CO2 from car and truck exhaust, and could be used to produce biodiesel, green electricity, medication, cosmetics, or even food.

Interact With 3D Models of Space Vehicles Like Iron Man Would
Anyone else remember that scene in Iron Man where Tony Stark (billionaire, philanthropist, genius) is moving the holo projections around like they’re real-world objects, instead of cool bits of light in the air? NASA rocket scientists have developed an app (definitely iOS, possibly others) that uses the smartphone’s camera, a real-world reference marker, and superimposes a full 3D model of a variety of NASA vehicles and satellites into virtual space. Seriously, this is scifi-type future stuff, here. You can turn the “reference marker” (or printed piece of paper with the special pattern) and the 3D model of, say, the Mars Curiosity rover will move with it. You can zoom in on specific details simply by moving the phone closer to the virtual 3D model. The future is here, people.

Search your favorite app store for: “Spacecraft 3D”

Here’s a video, showing off the action:

Island Discovered in the Arctic
No, this isn’t a headline from 1894. No, it is not a story featuring a strange doctor, and his fetish for animal/human hybrids. Nor will there be dinosaurs. Probably. Russian military helicopter pilots, on a return from a supply mission saw an island in the Arctic ocean north of Tiksi (it’s in Siberia). It wasn’t on any maps. So why now? That area is normally covered with ice for much, if not all of the year, until recently. The low-lying island simply wasn’t visible before. Kinda cool that we’re still discovering islands.

Fire-breathing Robot Dragon
And … you already clicked the link, didn’t you? It’s a full-sized (e.g. Huge, for those Pathfinder/D&D folks out there) semi-autonomous walking dragon robot. That breathes fire.

Spiral Undersea City
Apparently some Japanese investors are planning on opening an underwater spiral sea-city by 2030.

Science and Music Combined
Into an awesome show of fire, water, and lightning. All real, no special effects.

Ancient Computer in LEGO
Remember the Antikythera mechanism? That weird series of gears found in a shipwreck, and dated to 1500 BCE? Scientists later figured out, using x-ray tomography, that the mechanism was designed to predict eclipses. And it does. With startling accuracy. Now see how that works, through the wonder of LEGO.

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: