Vacationing in New Zealand next year? Fly a jetpack.#

People will be able to fly a jetpack about a metre above the ground at no more than 10km/h in a carefully controlled outdoor area. The price will be around the same as for adventure activities such as bungy jumping.

An overview of TraceMonkey, FireFox v3.5's JavaScript engine#

This article gives a peek under the hood at the major parts of TraceMonkey and how they speed up JS. This will also explain what kinds of programs get the best speedup from TraceMonkey and what kinds of things you can do to get your program to run faster.

Pixel#

Just another addictive Flash game. Don't hate me.

Why was Neil Armstrong first on the moon?#

First, […] Armstrong would have priority simply because he was the senior astronaut.

[…]

And second, [the Lunar Module's moonwalk hatch] swung open away from the commander and toward the pilot. So when the hatch was open, Armstrong had a clear path to maneuver out through the opening, while Aldrin was penned in behind the hatch.

11-year-old comments as he plays Contra for the first time#

In all the other games you can get shot a few times or a lot, and you won't die, but in this if you get shot once you're toast.

Interesting, though the comments are as expected (e.g., "Halo rocks, Contra sucks"). Hard to imagine anything different from a non-OG (yeah, that phrase just happened), but still kind of fun to get a modern take on the game.

This is the first video from Nerd Balloon's Project D, a 5-part series that has this kid traveling "back in time… to experience some of the most gut-wrenching video games ever conceived by man." I don't know about all of that, but I definitely hope the series continues.

How chaos drives the brain#

It might seem precarious to have a brain that plunges randomly into periods of instability, but the disorder is actually essential to the brain's ability to transmit information and solve problems.

[…]

If the brain was in a more stable state, [neuronal] avalanches would die out before the message had been transmitted. If it was chaotic, each avalanche could swamp the brain.

At the critical point, however, you get maximum transmission with minimum risk of descending into chaos.

Pavlov's microorganisms#

Though pre-inducing genes diverts resources in the first environment and therefore temporarily hinders the organism, it confers a fitness advantage in the future. Prediction is a short-term energy expense for long-term gains in survival.

[…]

The real process occurs over millions of generations of rapidly evolving microbes, where the two processes of mutation and natural selection work together to generate highly fit networks that can interact most aptly with their environments--including the ability to anticipate future occurrences.

Holger Schubert's garage/showroom#

This beautiful and functional creation was the finest architectural garage Maserati could find. Definitely watch the video, if only to see the remote-controlled ramp that allows Holger to start the car outside of the "garage."

How to own the "guess the number of M&Ms in the jar" contest#

A great walk-through from physics lecturer Adam Micolich.

If memory serves, a friend of mine (who was majoring in chemical engineering at the time) won a free month's rent via this type of contest.

The real takeaway here is this comment from chamolibre: "If a 1150ml jar contains 1072 M&Ms then we can just use 1072/1150 as a scale factor to estimate based on the volume directly, around 93.2%."

Remembering Apollo 11#

Another fantastic set of shots from The Big Picture, many of which I'm pretty sure I'd never seen. Also, how 2001 is picture #3?

(I keep telling myself I'm going to stop posting links to TBP (because presumably most people already are subscribed to it), but sometimes I just can't help myself.)

"Pixels" (wallpaper) by Luke Raymond#

This is the background picture I'm currently using for both my laptop and iPhone. (I almost always default to a solid, light-grey background, but this one's too pretty to not use, at least for a little while.)

(Via Prettify.)