Geek Month in Review: April 2013

By JB Sanders


Hagfish Slime — the New Silk?
Seriously, the hagfish (which is neither hag nor fish) is a bottom-feeding vertebrate that exudes a nasty slime when threatened. Scientists are exploring ways to duplicate the fibers that are part of this slime to create a pseudo-silk with more in common with spider silk than traditional silk. Such as being super-strong.

The Anti-Drone Hoodie
I see this thing and can only think: The Latest Fashion in Cult Robes. Every drone-avoiding cultist should have one.

How Far is it to Mars?
Handy website that graphically displays how far it is from Earth to Mars, although no information about whether they use an average distance or whether they’re savvy enough to calculate Mars’ position and update their info.

Decoding Our Dreams — Using Science!
Scientists have developed a program that helps decode images of brains taken while the subject is asleep. It isn’t exactly reading our minds via machines, but it’s interesting.

3D Camera with Range
Oh sure, 3D cameras — nothing new. Only this one uses lasers and has a range of 1km. Oh, and it’s not so good at human skin, so don’t worry that people are snapping your 3D picture from a thousand yards away.

Attack of the Magnetic Putty!
Take iron filings, silly putty and a rare-earth magnetic. Mix. Then film it using a time-lapse camera. Result: cool but kinda creepy.

The Cavern Underneath Manhattan
Ok, so really there are lots of caves under Manhattan, but here’s some photos of one under construction anyway.

Sugar Water Modeling Yellowstone
Scientists wanted to model the tectonic behavior of the vulcanism and other geologic movements of the area around Yellowstone and the Western US in general. So they got a huge tank and filled it with sugar water.

Actual Headline: “1913: When Hitler, Trotsky, Tito, Freud and Stalin all lived in the same place”
The freaky juxtaposition of history and some of the men who made it. And no, this isn’t some weird alternate history novel. This really was the case. They all lived in Vienna that year, right before WW1 kicked off. Oh, and add to that list the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Yup.

The Time Capsule Apartment
Wealthy woman leaves her Paris apartment just as the first rumblings of WWII break out. She went to the South of France, and continued to pay rent on the sealed apartment for the next 70 years, until she died at the age of 91. Her heirs discovered it, opened it and these pictures are of what they found there.

Anti-matter, anti-gravity, CERN — this article has it all! You know it’s real science when no one says “we’ll have flying cars in 10 years!”.

Secret Tunnels of the Mafia
No, not a Weekly World News article — the Mafia in Sicily (and other parts of Italy) really do have secret tunnels, bunkers and various bolt-holes.

The Future of Roads is Special Paint
How about a road where the lines are painted in glow-in-the-dark paint? Or what if roads in the northern climes were painted with temperature-sensitive paint that glowed when covered in ice? (Black ice no more!) That’s the possible future of roads.

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: