Geek Month in Review: December 2013

By JB Sanders


Real Warp Drive
No, I’m not kidding. They’re working on it at NASA. It doesn’t break Einstein’s law of relativity, either.

One Drone to Rule Them All
This clever hacker has come up with a drone that seeks out other drones, hacks them mid-air, and then adds them to your robot army. Your flying robot army, obviously.

Oldest Human DNA Found: 400,000 Years Old
Yup, you read that number right. Some remains found in a Spanish cave gave up DNA, and it has some interesting thing to say. For one thing, it’s not Neanderthal, but a sister race much closer to the Denisovans (who were around about the same time). Who knows what else the DNA will give up?

Old Master’s Using Cameras to Paint?
So Johannes Vermeer is a Dutch painter who mastered a photo-realistic painting technique that was pretty amazing for 1653, and for a guy 21 years old. Did he secretly use a Camera Obscura to paint his masterpieces (now hanging in major museums)? Long article talking about the puzzle, and the documentary unraveling it by Penn & Teller.

An Object Impossible to Make, OK to Print
So these guys decided to create an object that could ONLY be created using a 3D printer, and they wanted to make it as complex as possible. Take a look at the video showing the sphere created entirely with interacting gears.

Mystery Object Blocks Tunnel Boring Machine
From the Writes Its Own Scifi Movie Department, we have some unidentified object blocking a tunnel boring machine under Seattle. This is a machine capable of breaking up boulders, mind you, so it’s a bit of a mystery as to what could be stopping it. Speculate away!

Modern-Day Castle, On Sale
Pretty nice little pad: it’s own footbridge at the entrance, crenelations, a jacuzzi, fireplaces, and a forest setting. What more could you ask for?

Where to Find a Lethal Dose of Neutrinos
Hint: not anywhere in this solar system. The creator of xkcd, the webcomic, takes a little time out of his busy humor schedule to answer random questions, the latest of which is “how close to a supernova would you have to be to get a lethal dose of neutrinos”? Fun science problem!

Star Wars Holiday Decorations — DIY
Want some nice cut-out snowflakes to hang up in your window, but you’re doing a Star Wars themed Christmas scheme? No worries! Here are instructions on creating those paper snowflakes with Yoda, Empire symbols, what have you.

Classic Computer Games of the 70s and 80s for Free!
The Internet Archive has rigged up a virtual-through-the-web system for playing classic video games of the 1970s and 1980s, including stuff from Atari 2600, Colecovision, and Magnavox Odyssey. Enjoy!

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: