Magic Carpet Can Detect and Predict Falls (BBC) — Beneath the carpet is a mesh of optical fibres that detect and plot movement as pressure bends them, changing the light detected at the carpet’s edges. These deflected light patterns help electronics “learn” walking patterns and detect if they are deteriorating, for instance in the elderly. Neat use for fibre optics! (via Sara Winge)
Travelling the Silk Road (PDF) — A measurement analysis of a large anonymous online marketplace [...] A relatively small “core” of about 60 sellers has been present throughout our measurement interval, while the majority of sellers leaves (or goes “underground”) within a couple of weeks of their ﬁrst appearance. We evaluate the total revenue made by all sellers to approximately USD 1.9 million per month; this corresponds to about USD 143,000 per month in commissions perceived by the Silk Road operators. (via Robert O’Brien)
The Coffee-Ring Effect (YouTube) — beautiful video of what happens in liquids as they evaporate, explaining why coffee stains are rings, and how to create liquids with even evaporative coating.
The Importance of Quantitative Thinking Medicine (PDF) — scaling laws underly aging, metabolism, drug delivery, BMI, and more. Full of wow moments, like Fractals are a common feature of many complex systems ranging from river networks, earthquakes, and the internet to stock markets and cities. [...] Geometrically, the nested levels of continuous branching and crenulations inherent in fractallike structures optimise the transport of information, energy, and resources by maximising the surface areas across which these essential features of life flow within any volume. Because of their fractal nature, these effective surface areas are much larger than their apparent physical size. For example, even though the volume of our lungs is about 5–6 L, the total surface area of all the alveoli is almost the size of a tennis court and the total length of airways is about 2500 km. Even more striking is that if all the arteries, veins, and capillaries of an individual’s circulatory system were laid end to end, its total length would be about 100000 km, or nearly two and a half times around the earth.
Electric Sheep — hypnotic screensaver, where the sleeping computers collaborate on animations. You can vote up or down the animation on your screen, changing the global gene pool. Popular animations survive and propagate.
CMU iPad Course — iTunes U has the video lectures for a CMU intro to iPad programming.
Inspiring Matter — the conference aims to bring together designers, scientists, artists and humanities people working with materials research and innovation to talk about how they work cross- or trans-disciplinarily, the challenges and tools they’ve found for working collaboratively, and the ways they find inspiration in their work with materials. London, April 2-3.
Facebook’s S-1 Filing (SEC) — the Internets are now full of insights into Facebook’s business, for example Lance Wiggs’s observation that Facebook’s daily user growth is slowing. While 6-10% growth per quarter feels like a lot when annualized, it is getting close to being a normal company. Facebook is running out of target market, and especially target market with pockets deep enough to be monetised. But I think that’s the last piece of Facebook IPO analysis that I’ll link to. Tech Giant IPOs are like Royal Weddings: the people act nice but you know it’s a seething roiling pit of hate, greed, money, and desperation that goes on a bit too long so by the end you just want to put an angry chili-covered porcupine in everyone’s anus and set them all on fire. But perhaps I’m jaded.
Hadoop Hits 1.0 — open source distributed computation engine, heavily used in big data analysis, hits 1.0.
Sparse and Low-Rank Approximation Wiki — interesting technique: instead of sampling at 2x the rate you need to discriminate then compressing to trade noise for space, use these sampling algorithms to (intelligently) noisily sample at the lower bit rate to begin with. Promises interesting applications particularly in for sensors (e.g., the Rice single pixel camera). (via siah)
Rise of Printer Malware — firmware attacks embedded in printed documents. Another reminder that not only is it hard to write safe software, your mistakes can be epically bad. (via Cory Doctorow)
Electric Circuits and Transistors Made From Cotton — To make it conductive, the researchers coated cotton threads in a variety of other materials. To make conductive “wires,” the team coated the threads with gold nanoparticles, and then a conductive polymer. To turn a cotton wire into a semiconductor, it was dipped in another polymer, and then a further glycol coating to make it waterproof. Neat materials hack that might lend a new twist to wearables.
Duplicates Detection with ElasticSearch (Andre Zmievski) — duplicate detection (or de-duping) is one of the most unappreciated problems that the developers of certain types of applications face sooner or later. The applications I’m talking about share two main characteristics: item collection and some sort of social aspect.