Geek Month in Review: July 2013

By JB Sanders

Scorching July…

Weird Things in Urban Environments
What weird things, I hear you ask? There’s the over 500 dogs living in the Moscow subway system, or the City Below Kansas City (businesses and storage, mostly) in the old limestone mines, or Thames Town, which is a completely artificial English town just outside Shanghai. Plenty of urban weird to go around. How about the town in Pennsylvania that has been on fire since 1962, and will probably keep burning for another 250 years? Or the abandoned island city of Gunkanjima? It looks a lot like that dream city from Inception, actually.

The Right Way to Rehabilitate a Quarry
Those folks in China sure know how to revitalize an abandoned quarry: build a nearly billion-dollar hotel/resort inside it. With a 100m waterfall visible from all the rooms. Extra bonus points: looks like a James Bond villain’s lair

That’s Not a Train Set, This is a Train Set
Ever wonder what the greatest model train setup in the world would look like? Think you’ve already seen it? Nope.

Sci-Fi Cooking
First episode of this YouTube series? Cooking Klingon Gagh and Blood Wine.

Robot Spider, Check
So this company has a robot spider for sale, or you can order the plans to print it from your handy 3D printer. It comes with an eye camera in the thorax. That’s not creepy at all, right?

Magnetic Levitation & Mobius Strip Tracks
Scientist shoots a video of not only a “train” floating along a track in the shape of a Mobius strip, but also explains everything. It’s Science-y!

Beer Labels in Motion
I don’t know if this is geeky or just plain weird. Some inventive person has taken clever microbrew beer labels and animated them. How long before we have active-display labels on products?

How to Be Invisible to Mosquitos
The answer: wear the special patch that exudes a chemical that confuses a mosquito’s CO2 sense. That’s how they find you, the CO2.

Details of the Siberian Princess’ Tattoos
See the designs of the Siberian Princess, preserved for several millennia in the permafrost.

New Star Control Game?
Some of you, those of you old enough to remember a computer game from 20+ years ago, may remember the ship-to-ship combat and strategy game Star Control. Well, someone acquired the rights to it and is looking to make a sequel.

Mid-Air Haptic Interface
So the folks at Disney Research (did you know that Disney had an R&D department?) are working on a haptic response interface that works by using puffs of air to provide feedback for systems that rely strictly on hand and body motions (like Microsoft’s Kinect).

Largest Virtual Space Battle Ever
You know it’s a New Geek World when giant space battles are reported on the BBC’s front news page. Eve Online held a 4000-player space battle between two of its largest factions for control of a few systems’ worth of resources. Which is pretty neat.

Beethoven on the Theremin
Here’s an orchestral arrangement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony done on 167 theremins and 1 piano.

That’s Not a Snow-blower!
This is a snow blower. Brought to you by Switzerland, the land that doesn’t do things by halves.

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: