Archive for February, 2014

Kengo Kuma created a delicate matrix made from more than 3,000 curved bamboo sticks that spring up from the ground, forming an abstracted pyramid.

By Liz Stinson

Buildings have the unfortunate fate of being taken advantage of. Architecture is about form, sure, but in our day-to-day lives, we mostly appreciate it for its functionality. “We use spaces to work, to live, to shop, and we don’t often think about actually being in a building,” says Kate Goodwin.

Goodwin is the curator of Sensing Spaces, a newly opened exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art in London that looks at architecture through the array of human senses. Goodwin tapped seven architects from around the world to create multi-sensory spaces within the gallery that would challenge visitors to really experience architecture instead of passively taking it in.

The Royal Academy gave the architects free reign over 23,000 square feet with no directive other than to create immersive architectural experiences. Each approached the task differently, but each installation provokes certain senses. Chinese architect Li Xiaodong, for example, built a maze made from more than 21,000 hazel sticks. Visitors are guided through the structure by illuminated floors that are meant to evoke a snowy path on a winter night.

Japanese designer Kengo Kuma created a delicate matrix made from more than 3,000 curved bamboo sticks that spring up from the ground forming an abstracted pyramid. Each piece was soaked in the scent of Japanese cedar wood to enhance the experience. It’s a look at how a minimal amount of material can still have a maximum effect, if employed correctly.

Another piece, by Chilean duo Pezo von Ellrichshausen is a monumental wooden structure that, from the outside, appears to be a quite plain box on top of four cylinders. But behind the wood are four spiral staircases that lead visitors six meters up to the canopy of the museum, where they can closely observe (probably for the first time ever) the intricate gold detailing of the gallery’s ceiling. “It’s about taking you to another world,” says Goodwin. “You really get to experience a gallery that we never get to see normally.”…



No More Woof

EEG technology allows people to play music and control vehicles with their minds. But can it translate a dog’s thoughts into words? (Nordic Society of Invention and Discovery)

A team of oddball inventors claims they are developing a headset that translates a canine’s thoughts into words

By Tuan C. Nguyen

In a way, the intimate relationship between man and man’s best friend is  unjustly lopsided. For their part, dogs are able to understand us very well. In  fact, researchers believe a border collie named Chaser has demonstrated a  vocabulary of more than 1,000 words, along with the ability to comprehend  more complex language elements such as grammar and sentences. Meanwhile humans,  despite even the most, er, dogged scientific efforts, have yet to decode the  literal meaning behind a canine’s bark (if there is any).

But a Swedish design lab that calls itself the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery thinks that  animal behaviorists have been going about it the wrong way. What  its developers are proposing instead is the development of a device  that can infer what an animal is thinking or  feeling by analyzing, in real-time, changes in the brain. The  concept they’ve imagined, dubbed No  More Woof, would be sold as a lightweight headset lined with electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors, which record brain wave  activity.

When combined with a low-cost Raspberry Pi microcomputer, the inventors surmise  that the electrode-filled device, which rests atop a dog’s head,  could match a wide range of signals to distinct thought  patterns. A specialized software known as a brain-computer interface (BCI) would  then translate the data into phrases to communicate. The  phrases, played through a loudspeaker, may range  from “I’m tired” to “I’m curious what that  is.”

In December, the development team launched a crowdfunding campaign on in hopes of raising  enough money to at least further explore the feasibility of such an idea (the  BCI, for instance, is just an experiment at the moment). With a $65  donation, supporters of the project had an opportunity to  reserve beta versions of the gadget, programmed to distinguish  between two to three thought patterns, such as tiredness,  hunger and curiosity, and communicate them in English. Those who pledged  as  much as $600 will receive a higher-end model capable of  translating  more than four distinct thoughts and  suitable for a  number of different breeds, which the group concedes has proven  to be quite  difficult.

“The challenge is to make a device that fits different dogs and measures in  the right place,” says Per Cromwell,  the product’s creator. “If it  gets displaced it can lose the signal. We are struggling with these topics and  would rather describe the devices we are working on as as working prototypes  rather than mass produced products.”

While developers more than doubled their initial goal—raising $22,664—you may  not want to get your credit card out quite yet.

Since the Indiegogo launch, neuroimaging  experts have come out to debunk claims made on the  product’s website, saying the science doesn’t add up.

“What I saw in their video can’t work,” Bruce Luber, a Duke University  professor who specializes in brain stimulation and neurophysiology, tells Popular Science.

Luber points out, for instance, that since EEG is designed to  measure neural activity near the surface area of the brain, it won’t be able to  determine if an animal (or human) is feeling  hungry; that feeling originates in the hypothalamus, which is  located deep in the center of the brain. And while devices  are being developed to allow users to move  prosthetic  limbs, steer a car or even play music, reliably identifying specific emotions and  thoughts has thus far been beyond the scope of even the most  sophisticated technology…

Read more:



Before long, artificial intelligence will stop looking to humans for upgrades and start seeking improvements on their own. (© Warner Brothers/Courtesy of Everett Collection)

In a new book, James Barrat warns that artificial intelligence will one day outsmart humans, and there is no guarantee that it will be benevolent

By Erica R. Hendry

Artificial intelligence has come a long way since R2-D2. These days, most millennials would be lost without smart GPS systems. Robots are already navigating battlefields, and drones may soon be delivering Amazon packages to our doorsteps.

Siri can solve complicated equations and tell you how to cook rice. She has even proven she can even respond to questions with a sense of humor.

But all of these advances depend on a user giving the A.I. direction. What would happen if GPS units decided they didn’t want to go to the dry cleaners, or worse, Siri decided she could become smarter without you around?

These are just the tamest of outcomes James Barrat, an author and documentary filmmaker, forecasts in his new book, Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era.

Before long, Barrat says, artificial intelligence—from Siri to drones and data mining systems—will stop looking to humans for upgrades and start seeking improvements on their own. And unlike the R2-D2s and HALs of science fiction, the A.I. of our future won’t necessarily be friendly, he says: they could actually be what destroy us.

In a nutshell, can you explain your big idea?

In this century, scientists will create machines with intelligence that equals and then surpasses our own. But before we share the planet with super-intelligent machines, we must develop a science for understanding them. Otherwise, they’ll take control. And no, this isn’t science fiction.

Scientists have already created machines that are better than humans at chess, Jeopardy!, navigation, data mining, search, theorem proving and countless other tasks. Eventually, machines will be created that are better than humans at A.I. research

At that point, they will be able to improve their own capabilities very quickly. These self-improving machines will pursue the goals they’re created with, whether they be space exploration, playing chess or picking stocks. To succeed they’ll seek and expend resources, be it energy or money. They’ll seek to avoid the failure modes, like being switched off or unplugged. In short, they’ll develop drives, including self-protection and resource acquisition—drives much like our own. They won’t hesitate to beg, borrow, steal and worse to get what they need…



Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant. (KYOCERA Corporation)

The densely populated nation has found a new way to harness the power of the sun

By Vicky Gan

Across Japan, 50 nuclear power plants sit idle, shut down in the aftermath of  the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Nobody is certain when government  inspectors will certify that the plants are safe enough to be brought back  online. Anti-nuclear activists point to this energy crisis as evidence that  Japan needs to rely more on renewables. One think tank has calculated that a  national solar power initiative could generate electricity equivalent to ten  nuclear plants. But skeptics have asked where, in their crowded mountainous  country, they could construct all those solar panels.

One solution was unveiled this past November, when Japan flipped the switch  on its largest solar power plant to date, built offshore on reclaimed land  jutting into the cerulean waters of Kagoshima Bay. The Kyocera Corporation’s  Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant is as potent as it is picturesque,  generating enough electricity to power roughly 22,000 homes.

Other densely populated countries, notably in Asia, are also beginning to  look seaward. In Singapore, the Norwegian energy consultancy firm DNV recently  debuted a solar island concept called SUNdy, which links 4,200 solar panels  into  a stadium-size hexagonal array that floats on the ocean’s surface.

Meanwhile, the Shimizu Corporation has presented plans for the ultimate  offshore power plant: solar panels encircling the Moon’s equator that would  transmit energy to Earth via microwaves and lasers. The company claims this  project could provide up to 13,000 terawatts of electricity per year—more than  three times what the U.S. produces. And as an added bonus, nobody would ever  have to worry about cloudy days.

Read more: Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12!: Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter Read more at



Taking lessons from the rise and fall of divinity in online games.

By Jason Anthony Illustration by Jonathon Rosen

From the moment he arrived, Egor lived for mayhem. The time was 1982, and the place was the first online game world, called MUD (short for Multi-User Dungeon). Before Egor there had been duels, pranks, and the occasional fire-breathing dragon, all amiably playing out in the MUD world, hosted on the servers of the University of Essex. A rough kind of social contract had held.

Egor was the screen name of a player who set out to test the limits. He learned the shortcuts allowed by the code. He wrote scripts that let his character level up quickly. He discovered a way to fake other players’ logins. With a borrowed screen name, he would go on sprees of destruction, and watch with amusement as the real player logged on later to face a raging mob. He “ganked” new players—killed them before they knew which end of the sword to hold.

Thirty years down the road, an online multiplayer scene would grow geometrically from those few hundred players logging into the Essex server. About 618 million people now participate in online worlds; on a given day, the most popular might boast 2 million people playing at the same time. The industry built around these so-called massively multiplayer online games (or MMOs) brings in $14.9 billion in annual revenues, greater than the gross domestic product of Iceland.

Yet that whole massive industry was shaped, in some way, by how the game handled the problem of Egor. At the golden dawn of online space, he brought a snake into Eden. He forced his little world of techno-misfits to answer its first big questions, questions familiar to students of any society and its basic rules: Who’s in charge, and by what authority? And how does a community test and affirm its social boundaries?

Neighbors can create the ineffable threads of a good society, a point made in the book The Great Good Place, by sociologist Roy Oldenburg. He argues that for this to happen, a culture needs a place for people to meet informally. He calls this a “third place.” It isn’t one of practical functions, like a courthouse or an office building. Instead, it encourages the alchemy that happens in unstructured “hanging out.” In the past, that’s happened in the agora of ancient Greece, or in the cafés of Enlightenment-era France. Chat is common in a third place; so are games. 

The earliest online communities ticked many boxes of a third place. Until MUD, however, none of them had really been a place. Richard Bartle, who designed MUD with Roy Trubshaw in 1980 at the University of Essex, sees this as a signature contribution of his game. MUD was the first game world that could host dozens of players at the same time. A database housed a chain of “rooms” that allowed players to wander from one to the other. If they happened to enter the same “room,” they could do things that people did in real life: chat, fight, even kiss…



ByDaily Mail Reporter

From a the wreck of a Japanese warplane to grinning great white sharks, these are just some of the thousands of entries in the largest underwater photography competition.

Nearly 8,000 pictures were entered for the competition with 17 categories from above water, to wrecks, sharks and even underwater fashion featuring models.

And after the judging was finally completed, Belgian photographer Ellen Cuylaerts, who is based in the Cayman Islands, was declared World Champion after only three years of diving.

Keeping the side up: British photographer Paul Colley took first prize in the Wide Angle Marine Life category with this picture of a school of fish

Keeping the side up: British photographer Paul Colley took first prize in the  Wide Angle Marine Life category with this picture of a school of fish

Snapper: Austrian Wolfgang Zwicknagl won second place in the Over/Under category with this fish who looks ready to spring on to land

Snapper: Austrian Wolfgang Zwicknagl won second place in the Over/Under category  with this fish who looks ready to spring on to land

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook



.Webster Lucas claims he was racially abused by a McDonald’s manager
.He insists ‘mental anguish’ after the incident has left him unable to work
.Alleged row took place at McDonald’s in Pacoima, California, on January 29

ByTom Gardner

A McDonald’s customer is suing the fast food restaurant for $1.5million because he was given only one napkin with his meal.

Webster Lucas claims he is now unable to work because of the ‘undue mental anguish’ and ’emotional distress’ caused by the incident.

He launched the lawsuit following a row with the store manager at the outlet in Pacoima, California, on January 29.

Tempers seem to have flared after Mr Lucas complained that he had received just a single paper towel with his Quarter Pounder Deluxe.

Mr Lucas, who is African-America, says the he was racially abused by the manager when he went back to the counter to ask for more, according to TMZ.

The employee, who is named only as ‘Angel’ and is said to be of Mexican-American appearance, is alleged to have mumbled something that sounded like ‘you people’, Mr Lucas claims.

Mr Lucas wrote a letter to the restaurant’s manager about the incident in which he complained of his treatment and said he has been mentally scarred.

He wrote: ‘Good morning, after I received your email I called McDonalds in Pacoima and spoke with “Angel” (store manager) who despite the prior misconduct of his, he again was hostile and unreasonable.

‘I simply don’t understand, and it is sad that I encountered the now-current situation.

‘Thank you, but I don’t think that you will be successful in changing “Angel’s deep-seated attitude towards customers.

‘I am unable to work because of the undue mental anguish and the intentional infliction of emotional distress caused by your employee “Angel” who played around when I asked for the proper spelling of his last name… that I still don’t have. Take care.’

McDonald’s were unavailable to comment when contacted by MailOnline.


America is arguably the home of the  outlandish lawsuits.

The annals of legal history  are filled with people launching and winning massive payouts for the most  extraordinary of reasons.

A woman failed with a $3m lawsuit against  Starbucks after suffering severe burns after spilling tea on herself.

cup of starbucks coffee

Rachel Moltner, 78, from Manhattan, claimed a double cup served from an outlet of the world’s largest coffee chain was defective.

She spilled tea onto her left leg and foot  when she tried to remove the lid from a ‘venti’-sized cup, causing burns that  required a skin graft.

However, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of  Appeals upheld a lower court’s dismissal of her claim for  damages.

Moltner was in a coffee shop on Manhattan’s  Upper East Side when the accident happened in February 2008.

A case which has gone down in legal folklaw  involved Merv Grazinski who set his Winnebago on cruise control, slid away from  the wheel and went back to fix a cup of coffee.

The Winnebago unsurprisingly  crashed.


Grazinski blamed the manufacturer of the  motor homes, above, for not warning against such a maneuver in the owner’s  manual. He sued and won $1.75 million.

In 2007, a man sued a family-run dry cleaners  for more than $65million after it lost one pair of his trousers 5 million for  one pair of pants.

The Superior Court judge threw out the claim,  which he called ‘vexatious litigation’ and awarded damages to the dry  cleaners.

In 2006, A man from Portland, Oregon, sued  sports giant Nike because he looked like  basketball star Michael Jordan.

He launched the legal action ‘for defamation  and permanent injury’ – plus $364 million in ‘punitive damage for emotional pain  and suffering’.

He claimed that he was constantly being  mistaken for the star – despite being three inches shorter, 25lbs lighter and  eight years older than the star.

He was convinced to drop the lawsuit by  Nike’s lawyers.

In 2005, A man from Burnsville, Minnesota,  sued magicians David Blaine and David Copperfield because, he claimed, the  illusionists were using ‘godly powers’ to defy the laws of physics.

He said that since he was God they must  ‘somehow’ be stealing that power from him. The case did not go  further.

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook



Take that, sir! The altercation's most talked about moment came when one of the brawlers managed to throw a swinging hook with his right hand without spilling a drop of champagne from the glass in his left

.The fight was between a man in his 60s and one in his 40s as guests mingled
.It erupted as guests hobnobbed in reception area at Vienna’s Opera House
.One of men managed to throw right hook without spilling drink in left hand
.Older man showed off nasty cut to his chin and blood over dress shirt
.Vienna’s Opera Ball is Austria’s premier high-society event in social calendar

ByMatt Blake

The Ambassador’s balls are noted in high society for their host’s exquisite taste that captivates his guests …

But it wasn’t a nutty chocolate treat that captivated attendees of Vienna’s Opera Ball last night, but a full-blown punch up between two tie-and-tailed classical music enthusiasts.

The brawl’s most talked about moment came when one of the pugilists managed to throw a swinging hook with his right hand without spilling a drop of champagne from the glass in his left.

His older opponent countered with his own right hand but was unable to prevent the blow from landing squarely on his jaw, leaving a nasty gash on his chin.

The fight broke out at the Austrian capital’s State Opera House as the event’s well-heeled guests mingled in the reception area over canapes and champagne.

The civilised hum of high-society hobnobbing was shattered when the two men – one in his mid-60s and another in his 40s – began shouting at each other and waving their fists.

In an instant the row turned ugly as the  younger man swung for his enemy, catching him squarely on the chin with his  ring.

When the fight ended, the older assailant was  eager to show off the cut on his face from which blood had poured over his  pristine-white dress shirt and tie…

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


Source: Times of India

An internet security firm has stumbled upon a “mind boggling” and “Godzilla-sized” cache of personal data put up for sale on the online black market by hackers.

One of the hacker attacks stole over 105 million records making it the single largest data breach in cybercrime history.

The trove included credentials from more than 360 million accounts and around 1.25 billion email addresses.

The discovery was made by cybersecurity firm Hold Security. “These credentials can be stolen directly from your company but also from services in which you and your employees entrust data. In October 2013, Hold Security identified the biggest ever public disclosure of 153 million stolen credentials from Adobe Systems. One month later we identified another large breach of 42 million credentials from Cupid Media,” the firm said.

They accumulated the data over the past three weeks. The company first tracked over 300 million abused credentials that were not disclosed publicly (that is over 450 million credentials if one counts the Adobe find).




by John Summerly

Banisteriopsis caapi, also known as ayahuasca, caapi or yaje, is a South American jungle vine used to prepare a decoction with a long history of entheogenic uses as a medicine and “plant teacher” among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Rainforest. It has unique properties found to treat Parkinson’s disease and other neurogenerative disorders.

B.caapi contains harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine, all of which are both beta-carboline harmala alkaloids and Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). The MAOIs in B. caapi allow the primary psychoactive compound, DMT (which is introduced from the other primary ingredient in ayahausca, the Psychotria viridis plant), to be orally active.

The name ayahuasca means “vine of the soul”and the shamans of the indigenous western Amazonian tribes use the plant in religious and healing ceremonies. In addition to its hallucinogenic properties, caapi is used for its healing properties as a purgative, effectively cleansing the body of parasites and helping the digestive tract.

Harmala alkaloids are short term yet powerful MAOIs which render tryptamines orally active by temporarily reducing levels of monoamine oxidase in the body which otherwise rapidly destroys them. Their effects are more powerful and less toxic than pharmaceutical SSRIs since they do not lead to suicidal tendencies and other side effects which detrimentally affect human behavior.

The principal ayahuasca compounds have a common indole structure which, through several mechanisms, influences certain functions of the central nervous system (CNS). The relevant factor is the biochemical similarity of these compounds to the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT). The harmala alkaloids in ayahuasca, primarily harmine and tetrahydroharmine, reversibly inhibit the neuronal enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO).

This allows DMT to be active when ingested orally. It also facilitates accumulation of biogenic amines, such as 5-HT, which are normally metabolized by monoamine oxidase enzymes. DMT is a naturally-occurring biochemical substance secreted by the human body in the pineal gland. It occurs in hundreds of plant species worldwide. It can produce very powerful visionary effects when smoked in its pure form or taken orally in Ayahuasca.

The Ayahuasca Experience

People who have consumed ayahuasca report having spiritual revelations regarding their purpose on earth, the true nature of the universe as well as deep insight into how to be the best person they possibly can. This is viewed by many as a spiritual awakening and what is often described as a rebirth. In addition it is often reported that individuals can gain access to higher spiritual dimensions and make contact with various spiritual or extra dimensional beings who can act as guides or healers…





%d bloggers like this: