Star Wars fans may be dismayed to hear that the U.S. will not be building a Death Star after all. The White House finally responded to a petition with nearly 35,000 signatures calling for a Death Star to be built for a “strong national defense” and job creation.
On Friday evening, the Obama administration announced that it had decided against building the spacecraft. Paul Shawcross, head of the Science and Space Branch of the Office of Management and Budget, outlined why:
- The Death Star could cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000 to build, which might increase the deficit a bit
- The Obama administration does not support blowing up planets
- The Death Star has a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship
While a Dark Side spacecraft may be a few years away, Shawcross reminded readers of the U.S. participation in the International Space Station.
Read on after the break for the full White House response.
Instructables has posted a do-it-yourself guide on installing Star Trek-style air-powered sliding doors in your home. The process is relatively complicated, involving an air compressor, various pneumatic hardware, a door cut in half, above-door vent (to allow the famous whoosh sound to be heard), and more. A PIC microcontroller powers a key-equipped door open/close switch on the wall and controls the air supply. A lot of work, but the results are pretty impressive. We’re tempted to try this at home ourselves.
Video of the door in action after the break.
If you’ve always wanted to add an Apple reality distortion field to your action figure collection, here’s your chance! The illustrious iCEO, Steve Jobs, has been crafted into miniature form, complete with his trademark black turtleneck shirt, Levi’s 502 jeans, New Balance sneakers, and beard. He also comes with rimless glasses, a mini iPhone 4, and an Apple logo to stand on.
The $79 figurine is highly detailed and even comes with a set of speech bubble cards that you can mount next to him, so your playtime routine can include such gems as “People don’t read anymore,” “I’ve always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do,” “It turns out people want keyboards…we look at the tablet, and we think it is going to fail,” “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas,” and more.
Check out M.I.C. Gadget for more photos and ordering info.
Update (11/23): Apple has of course issued a cease-and-desist notice to the site selling these, so unfortunately no more Steve Jobs toys!
A new type of artificial retina may one day allow blind people to see with much greater detail than today’s prosthetic eyes allow. The new system, described in a study by Sheila Nirenberg and Chethan Pandarinath of the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, was designed to work more like frontline photoreceptor cells naturally do. ”If you want to really restore normal vision, you have to know the retina’s code,” Nirenberg said. “Once you have that, the door is open to the possibility of restoring normal vision.”
In mouse testing, the researchers found the new retina (center photo above) sensed more details of the original image (left) than current systems (right). ”Incorporating the [more accurate] code jumped the system’s performance up to normal levels – that is, there was enough information to reconstruct faces, newsprint, landscapes, essentially anything,” said Nirenberg. Prosthetic eyes may one day benefit over 25 million people worldwide who have lost sight due to retinal diseases– the next step forward is to begin studies in humans.
If “Will It Blend” isn’t enough for you, the makers of EZGrill have put up a comparison video between a Windows Phone 7 device (HTC Surround), an Android phone (T-Mobile HTC G2), and an iPhone 4 to see which lasts longer on a grill. Looks like Windows Phone 7 has a stronger “firewall” than the iPhone, and the Android phone roasts the quickest.
See the video after the break.
Simon Sinek’s TED talk, “How great leaders inspire action.” looks at why Apple succeeds in communicating with consumers where others fail. Instead of focusing on its products, Apple tells people why they design what they do. Once you understand Apple’s purpose — the underlying motivation behind everything they do — then you’ll be open to buying anything they make. You might buy a Dell PC because it’s cheap or has nice specs, but that doesn’t make you any more likely to buy a Dell MP3 player, whereas people convinced of Apple’s dedication to challenging the status quo or making some other statement would be likely to buy not just a Mac, but an iPod, iPad, and anything else.
As Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do- they buy why you do it.”
A new study by MIT researchers shows that people’s sense of morality can be altered significantly by strong magnets that interfere with neuron activity in a particular part of the brain. Prior studies have found great activity in right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) when people consider moral judgments like evaluating another person’s the intentions, so the researchers decided to disrupted right TPJ activity by “inducing a current in the brain using a magnetic field applied to the scalp.” This noticeably impaired subjects’ ability to make moral judgments based on others’ behavior (such as someone allowing his girlfriend to cross a bridge he knows is unsafe). The study shows that human morals are quite easily corruptible, but more importantly, it sheds light on how the brain compartmentalizes moral decision making.
Google has finally closed down its censored Google.cn search engine. As we reported, the company announced in a January 12 blog post that following a series of intrusions into its systems by Chinese hackers, it would no longer cooperate with the Chinese government’s mandate that Google censor its Chinese site to remove results the government didn’t approve of, from the words “freedom” and “democracy” to the Tiananmen Square protests, Dalai Lama, and more. Over the last two months, the company has been in negotiations with the Chinese government, which is, unsurprisingly, not willing to budge.
Google just put up another blog post announcing that it has shut down Google.cn and is redirecting users to a simplified Chinese (the language used on the mainland) version of Google.com.hk (the Hong Kong site, normally uses the traditional Chinese script). As we mentioned in January, there is much speculation as to the reasoning behind Google’s decision. After all, while the company does claim “don’t be evil” as a motto, it’s been censoring Chinese search results for nearly four years now, so why the sudden change of heart?
Read on to find out.
Some people clearly have too much time on their hands. Not that we mind though– here’s the dinner you’ve been waiting so long to make: an edible version of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ head, made of cheese and black pepper. The Cooks’ Den posted a tutorial on how to create your very own, along with recipes for iPad Thai (shown), Spicy Steve Nachos, and an Apple Cheese Plate. Glasses optional.
Source: The Cooks’ Den
Presenting the world’s smallest model of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise-D! Measuring a whole 8.8 micrometers in length — or less than one-tenth the thickness of a human hair — “Nano Trek” was fabricated by Japanese scientists at one-billionth scale using a “30 kV Ga+ focused-ion-beam CVD using phenanthrene gas.”