Friday, August 03, 2007

Friday Links!

As we head off to San Antonio for some Seaworld/Fiesta Texas action, here are some links to keep you busy. We're not coming back until Sunday, so I'll be in e-mail stasis until then.

The Onion has a hilarious article this week titled "Activision Reports Sluggish Sales For Sousaphone Hero." Here's the opening:
Despite a catchy 1890s soundtrack and realistic-feeling game play, Sousaphone Hero, the third installment of Activision's massively popular Guitar Hero video game franchise, sold a mere 52 copies in the United States in its opening week, the company reported Monday.

It's great stuff (clearly, these guys have played Guitar Hero), and you can read it here.

I mentioned Combat Mission: Shock Force earlier this week, and received several e-mails from you guys saying that opinion is very widely split on the game at this point. The e-mails pointed to these threads:
Octopus Overlords
Quarter To Three

Read them and you'll get a reasonably full panorama of people's feelings on the game at this point.

Here are some absolutely staggering numbers concerning CERN and data collection:
For one month per year, the LHC (large hadron collider) will be spitting out project data to the ALICE team at a rate of 1GB per second. That's 1GB per second, for a full month, "day and night," Vande Vyvre says. For this month, that data rate is an entire order of magnitude larger than each of the other three experiments being done with the LHC. In total, the four experiments will generate petabytes of data.

Here's a bit more:
The ALICE experiment grabs its data from 500 optical fiber links and feeds data about the collisions to 200 PCs, which start to piece the many snippets of data together into a more coherent picture. Next, the data travels to another 50 PCs that do more work putting the picture together, then record the data to disk near the experiment site, which is about 10 miles away from the data center. "During this one month, we need a huge disk buffer," Vande Vyvre says.

You can read the full article here.

David Byron sent in a link to a remarkable article about dolphins titled "Deep Thinkers: the more we study dolphins, the brighter they turn out to be." Here's an excerpt:
At the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi, Kelly the dolphin has built up quite a reputation. All the dolphins at the institute are trained to hold onto any litter that falls into their pools until they see a trainer, when they can trade the litter for fish. In this way, the dolphins help to keep their pools clean.

Kelly has taken this task one step further. When people drop paper into the water she hides it under a rock at the bottom of the pool. The next time a trainer passes, she goes down to the rock and tears off a piece of paper to give to the trainer. After a fish reward, she goes back down, tears off another piece of paper, gets another fish, and so on. This behaviour is interesting because it shows that Kelly has a sense of the future and delays gratification. She has realised that a big piece of paper gets the same reward as a small piece and so delivers only small pieces to keep the extra food coming. She has, in effect, trained the humans.

It's a fascinating article, and you can read it here.

Sudz Zimmerman sent in a link to an organization called Kiva, a micro-lending organization. Here's a description:
Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on, you can "sponsor a business" and help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you've sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.

It's a very, very cool idea, and you can read more here.

Are you one of the many fine DQ readers who live in Canada? Well, here's your chance to win a sub-orbital space flight:

Ordinary space-crazy youngsters (well, anyone 18 or older) can enter Gillette's Hitch a Ride to Outer Space contest and win a sub-orbital space flight.

The first (and only) prize of a sub-orbital flight will be provided by Space Adventures. After a flight to the Space Adventures spaceport at Ras Al-Khaimah in the UAE and three days of training, you will receive the following:

In an unprecedented sensory experience, rocket engines boost you beyond the normal limits of flight to regions above 62 miles (100 kilometers) - where space begins. After the engines shutdown, you will experience up to five minutes of continuous weightlessness, all the while gazing at the vast blackness of space and the blue horizon of the Earth below.

Canadians only, and you can enter here. Thank Jesse Leimkuehler if you win.

David Gloier sent in a link to a site called Lost America: Lost Photography of the Abandoned West. You could easily spent an entire morning here--the photography is stellar and the colors are spectacular. A "Wheels" photoset is featured, but there are many other photosets as well, including one on Ghost Towns. A beautiful, interesting site, and you can see it here.

Sirius sends in a link to a story about one of the biggest Viking treasure discoveries in history. Even better, it was found by a father and son using metal detectors. Harrogate, in Northern England, is the site, and you can read about it here.

Doubling up this week, Sirius also sent in a link to another article about the bhut jolokia (or "ghost pepper"), which is over one million units on the Scoville scale (japapenos, in comparison, are 2,500-8,000). Read about it here.

After seeing the botfly story last Friday, DQ reader Bob went one better and sent in a link to a story about a scrotal botfly infestation. I'm dizzy just typing the word scrotal, but it's quite a story, and you can read it here.

Just to clarify: it wasn't Bob's scrotum. Fortunately.

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