Stick your eyes back in your mouth

Looking for a new way to enhance your sex life? Tired of using the same old vision technology? Try hooking 144 electrodes up to your tongue. Paul Bach-y-Rita is developing a high-resolution interface to one of the most dense areas of nervous endings, which also comes with great conductance thanks to saliva.

The wired article that led me to this also says that Bach-y-Rita is hoping to have a wireless retainer-like interface that could be used for a number of purposes. The holy grail of course, “a sensor-filled condom that, in theory, could channel sexula stimulation to the tongue.”

U of Wisc: Tongue seen as portal to the brain

Social coevolution

When did man become best pals with the dog? Recent genetic research suggests that dogs may have evolved as recently as 40,000 years ago in East Asia, assumedly through human domestication of wolves.

So how has this tightly coupled evolution affected our relationship with the little woofer? Cognitive research shows that dogs respond to human social cues better than any other animal, including our assumed ancestor, the chimpanzee and their closest extant relative, the wolf. So when you look into your dogs eyes, and you think there is something more there than a blank stare, there probably is.

NSU: Stone Age man kept a dog

Science: Domestication gave canines innate insight

Ellen Feiss interview

The most surprising nugget in this Brown University newspaper interview with stoner hero Ellen Feiss (like my computer totally crashed and it went bleep bloop bloop bleep so i switched to apple) is the director of the series: Errol Morris. I had no idea that this docugenius was behind the clever character presentation in the ads. From Dr. Death to Happy Apple in one step.

Brown Daily HeraldL Ellen Feiss Interview

Errol Morris: filmography and more

Consulting interview question #2520

A debate has ensued between myself and a friend, and I’m calling on the weblog community to help us solve it. So here it is:

Which is more probable: a meteor hitting a commercial airliner, or a meteor hitting a person?

There are quite a few variables in this debate, which I will list along with my approximation, usually pulled from thin air:

Number of people on planet earth: 6 billion

Average percentage of people standing outdoors at a given point in time: 0.1%

Surface area of an average person (from the top): 1 sq. foot

Surface area of “in risk” population: 6 million sq. feet

Average number of airliners in the air at any given point in time: 10,000?

Average surface area of a commercial airliner: 2500 sq. feet?

Surface area of “in risk” airplanes: 25 million sq. feet?

My money was on the demons in the sky, which is why my statistics probably favor that solution. If anyone has a better estimate on these numbers, or can find some motherf%@$ing google query that turns up good statistics, please lend a hand. The fate of a job-seeking consultant may be in your hands.

My lovely time at MIT

Nothing is better than when a good friend documents your life for three years and then edits it down into a three minute movie. Aisling has been around me continuously during my time here in dorkland, constantly taking pictures and video of the experience. Sit back and enjoy her (and my) life at one of the weirdest places on earth

audiovisceral: Life at MIT

Location, postal style

While search engine companies struggle to provide effective geographical search methods, the BBC news service points to a simple and effective trick for identifying sites around you: search for your postal code.

In this case, I used my postcode as the only search criteria, ensuring that the whole thing was in quote marks. A full postcode will typically cover 15 addresses but on occasion it will extend to include the whole side of a road. What tends to come up on the web? Well, if you live above or near to a promenade of shops, expect links or references to them to dominate. However, on purely residential roads, the results prove to be more varied and unexpected.

In America, the results tend to be less significant. Using only the 5 digit zip code, there tends to be a lot of noise from the fact that many other things tend to share the first 100,000 integers on the web. Extending the zip code to include the 4 digit extension specifies the search enough, but given that the extension is optional, misses lots of results.

Since the extra 4 is geographically based, I subtracted and added within a range of 20 for my home address and received quite a few results, but since Google and other search engines do not support regular expressions or partial search queries, this is a painstaking process.

BBC: Web reveals hidden lives

Google: Sites around the Media Lab

Motorola Day

The Media Lab has many interesting relationships with our corporate sponsors. One of these that evolved a few years ago is the fellowship program, where sponsors can choose to support a given student in hopes of fostering a tighter relationship between our research and theirs. Ever since I arrived at the Lab, I have been a Motorola fellow, one of the largest fellowship programs we have.

This Friday I have one of my biannual meetings with a group of Motorolans, where I update them on my ongoing research and try and connect it to what they’re interested in. After hearing Howard Rhinegold speak, this is the first time that I really feel a strong connection in our purpose, Blogdex and Motorola, both providers of communication technologies.

This meeting is also a perfect venue to interact one-on-one with designers, engineers, or even high-level executives about their products and services. So if you’ve been holding in some Motorola-related angst, or have been waiting for a while to extol their virtues, now is the time to let it flow. Perhaps the CTO or CEO will even get to read your remarks.

I’m interested to see how much my meager readership has to say about a given company, so spread the word, and if anyone you know has something to say to Motorola, tell them to comment here. I’m sure they will take an interest in what you have to say.