Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Arcana and SFundry

Remember the Atari game console? How about the ET game that is widely credited with killing off said console? Well ...

Documentary filmmakers digging in a New Mexico landfill on Saturday unearthed hundreds of "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" cartridges, considered by some the worst video game ever made and blamed for contributing to the downfall of the video game industry in the 1980s. ...

Atari is believed to have been saddled with most of the 5 million E.T. game cartridges produced. According to New York Times reports at the time, the game manufacturer buried the games in the New Mexico desert in the middle of the night.

Note hazmat gear :-)
See -- if you dare -- "Atari cartridges found in New Mexico landfill." Or, for the Onion's always amusing take, see, " ‘E.T.’ Video Game Cartridges Unearthed In New Mexico Landfill."

But wait! There's more!

You've likely encountered popular interest in invisibility cloaks since the onset/onslaught of the Harry Potter phenomenon. Said interest has produced a great deal of press coverage about real-world ways to bend light waves (as yet, only of selected wavelengths) around small objects. It turns out there's been progress as well at masking other evidence of real-world objects. IEEE Spectrum covers them all in "Three Weird Ways to Make Things Invisible: Objects can go undetected by sight, sound, or heat with these tricks." (Three cheers for Get Smart and its cone of silence.)

A new high/low in relations
Two weeks ago, in Follow (and foul) up, I worried about the implications of American dependence on the Russian space agency and rocket companies. I wasn't surprised -- merely saddened -- to read recently in the LA Times that "U.S.-Russia tension could affect space station, satellites."

After Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin this week said his nation might no longer allow U.S. astronauts access to its launch vehicles and may use the International Space Station without American participation, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee pressed NASA for answers about the how the U.S. could respond. ...

The $100-billion orbital outpost, often cited as the most expensive machine ever built, has a series of modules and power systems, some Russian, some American and others from a range of international partners. The U.S. hardware produces most of the station's electricity, but the Russian propulsion system helps keep the station in orbit.

Now, that combination of hardware could cause a major headache. Under legal agreements, the U.S. has an upper hand in controlling the space station, but Rogozin said his nation could operate its modules independently of the United States.
Of course, the agency has been busy with other things. See (sigh) "NASA goes with 'Tron-like' design for next spacesuit." Because the public's input on spacesuit aesthetics was so urgent ...

Tilting at windmills ...
Meanwhile, over in the European Union, the Court of Justice has discovered a right to be forgotten. In support of that right, the court ruled that search engines (in the case at hand, Google), must hide information. Talk about being unclear on the concept of the Internet. IMO, it's basically nuts that Google is tasked to disregard a true-but-embarrassing news story (about a particular person's past debts) while the newspaper can leave its story about those debts on its website.

IEEE Spectrum takes a look at "Can You Make the Internet Forget?" (Short answer: no.) 

The Voice of America poses exactly the right questions in "When Does Privacy Become Censorship?" A key quote:

In ruling that individuals have a “Right to be Forgotten,” the European Court of Justice posited a new fundamental right that some worry will trump others’ rights to free expression.

Left unanswered are the many questions about who, how and on what basis can people limit their exposure on the Internet, and when limiting personal information may slide into censorship.

And even more, the decision now seemingly puts the European Union and the United States at political loggerheads, threatening the foundational principles governing the Internet.

Finally, Information Week offers an excellent commentary on the issue at "Rethink The Right To Be Forgotten: There are better ways to address discomfort with the truth than government-mandated lying."

But on the bright side ...

For everyone pining for a flying car, see (especially the video), "The Aero-X Hovercraft Will Land in 2017." Then check out the Smithsonian's video at "Real-Life Jetpack Flies at Futuristic Conference."

Forget your iPhone. Jailbreak your catsup ...
And to wrap up this post with some science news you can really use, see NPR's "What's The Secret To Pouring Ketchup? Know Your Physics."

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