Geek Month in Review: December 2012

By JB Sanders

Now with more glowing lights!

Crappy Science or Awesome Gaming Resource?
You decide! Article over at Ars Technica pokes fun at a series of newspaper (web?) articles declaring the location of a Yeti cave, a Unicorn lair and a rogue Serbian vampire. The articles are serious, the “science” is not so much. Whether you’re reading for the sarcastic slap-down, or just so you have some great real-world resources for your modern urban fantasy campaign, it works either way.

Why Not Nuke a Hurricane?
Because according to NOAA, it just doesn’t work. First off, no bomb we have is big enough. Second, fallout. Third, you idiot.

Full-Sized Replica Millenium Falcon
And you’ve already clicked on the link, haven’t you? It’s a fan-made full-sized replica. Well, it will be. Right now it’s two laser cannons and a console. However, the guy has a big plot of land to build it on and a plan.

Warning: auto-playing video about it at the link.

Dr Who Timeline Chart
It’s extremely cool, although the creators follow the television show, not the Doctor’s personal timeline, which one imagines would be … difficult. See which incarnation of the Doctor battled the Daleks the most (you’ll be surprised), who fought the Master more than anyone else, and how long those companions lasted.

Scale of the Universe
From the subatomic to the Entire Universe. Zoom as far in or out as you want. Be sure to try the Sequel!, it’s animated.

Why So Slow?
Find out why the Pioneer spacecraft (both 10 and 11) are slowing down as they zip to the edge of the solar system and beyond. It’s a long science-laden tale of epic proportions, and has a nice moral: don’t throw out even the boring data.

Saved the Bridge
Meet the folks who saved the bridge set from the Next Generation Star Trek and turned it into a museum. Ok, not the original bridge, which was destroyed for the Generations movie, but one of the replicas built for a Vegas theme park. But it sure LOOKS like the original.

Internal Dressing
The US military is funding research into a foam that gets injected into the thoracic cavity (chest) of those with internal bleeding, to act as a sort of internal bandage. Neat, huh?

Package for Dr Henry Walton Jones, Jr.
So the University of Chicago gets a package addressed to a member of faculty they don’t recognize, but one of the students who works in the mail room realizes that the package is for Dr Jones. Yes, otherwise known as Indiana Jones. Inside was a hand-made replica of the Abner Ravenwood journal, from the first movie, including photos of Marion, some fake old-fashioned money, postcards, etc. No one is entirely sure who made it or exactly why (except, perhaps, for this reaction).

Update: They did figure out who made it and why. Link to the reveal at the end of the first article.

Watch Iceberg Form
The largest iceberg ever filmed breaking off from the big ice sheet that is the arctic. How big? It’s measured in cubic kilometers. The thing is practically the size of Manhattan.

Opening of Tut’s Tomb
Pictures from the opening in 1922. Handy game reference photos, if you want to do some alternate history supernatural story set in Egypt.

Follow-up: Code Broken
That mummified pidgeon mentioned in the last Geek Review? The one with the message capsule on its leg, and a “indecipherable” coded message inside? The one found in a blocked-up chimney? Yeah, probably deciphered.

Ice Flowers
Yup, they really exist. They’re weirdo ice formations that only form in the wild under really specific conditions, i.e. no wind and temps around -2 C. They sure look cool, though.

An Invented Language, A Bizarre Hate Group, and A Treatise on Created Languages
All in the New Yorker. Although it’s a “news” piece, it feels like a text book entry on artificially created languages. Plus a Heinlein reference. Come take a look at what might be the most precise language ever created (or hell, just plain old most precise language ever, period).

Warning: long article, but worth it if you’re a language freak (er, geek).

Feats of Memory Anyone Can Do
A TED talk by Joshua Foer on feats of memory and tricks anyone can use to improve their memory. Yes, it’s all about the memory palace.

What Happens to Boiling Water When Tossed Out a Window in -41C Weather?
This wonderful video thanks to our Russian friends, that’s what.

Oldest Christmas Recordings Made Available Online
The Museum of London got 26 wax cylinders of the Wall family’s Christmas party, recorded between 1901 and 1917. They were too fragile to play (go figure, wax over 100 years old) and so went unheard until recently transferred to digital. Now anyone with web access can hear them.

Screw Cardboard, Give the Gift of Recycled Electronics
In a new entry for Geek Dad of the Year (according to, here’s a cool present for a 5-year-old.

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: