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Around the Web: Paper Back. Mechanical Paper. Graphene—Again! Gambling on RFID. Water Warning. Dog Talk. Real Robocop.

Mechanical paper sculptures. A book about Graphene. Did RFID playing cards help a poker champ cheat? LED-based art helps gauge NYC’s water quality. Tech is helping animals communicate better. Real-life Robocop is no hero. Scotch pods?! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: October 11, 2019

Paper Back

Over at the BBC, an episode of its Made on Earth series looks at how paper is making a comeback.

Mechanical Paper

Over at Boing Boing, a very cool look at Paul DeGraaf’s mechanical paper sculptures—such as a paper keyboard that actually works!

First-Class Mail

All About Graphene

We've written a lot about Cary Sherburne's favorite miracle material, Graphene. Now there's a new book out that gives you the entire scoop on this material, its applications and markets. (No, it’s not printed on pages made of graphene.) 

Not So Brief Cases

Les Jeux Sont Fait

There is a modest scandal brewing in the world of livestreamed poker games. One recent winner, Mike Postle, has been accused by several other players of cheating, which he fervently denies. Postle is a regular on “Stones Live,” poker game livestreamed on Twitch. Says CNBC: “Brill has no specific accusation of what Postle is doing and even admits that she can’t be sure he is cheating. So why does she think he is cheating? His results are too good, according to Brill.”

Interestingly, and while no conclusive proof has been found, it has been suggested that the mystery of how Postle has been winning may have something to do with the RFID chips on the cards the casino uses. “The RFID cards contain chips, that combined with readers in the poker table, transmit information about each player’s hole cards, so that viewers can see the cards on the broadcast (which is on a 30-minute delay to protect game integrity).” Is he somehow accessing the information on the chips? No one knows for sure...yet.

A Wicked Pack of Cards

Via Boing Boing, Nathan Davis started asking existential questions about what happens to a deck of cards when it is shuffled, and he wrote a program to visualize how the deck changes, which he demonstrates in this video:

Stop Carping

Water Art

Are you an art lover who also has concerns about the quality of NYC’s water? If so, good news! Playlab, Family New York, and Floating Point have collaborated on a floating art installation called + POOL Light that uses LED lights to indicate the water quality in the East River. Says Engadget: “The 50x50 feet sculpture glows blue if all is well, but it turns teal if a sensor detects pathogens and pink when those levels venture beyond safe swimming standards.”

No indication that it can identify air-breathing terrestrial fish. 

Gorey Details

Time Has Come

Over at Hackaday, a creative, clock-loving user has created a new kind of clock, one that tells the time by spelling it out with selectively backlit letters. Pretty neat!

Dog Talk

Some of you may remember the old TV show Lassie, many episodes of which inevitably involved the titular canine going in search of help for a human who had become incapacitated in some way, and struggling to communicate a message. (“What is it, boy? Grandpa’s trapped in a well? Down in Dead Rock Canyon?”) Well, if Lassie could only have hung in there for another half century or so, tech is now helping dogs communicate with their owners. Says Wired: “Imagine you’re enjoying a pleasant stroll through the park when you hear someone say, ‘My owner needs your attention! Please follow me!’ You look around and see no one; then you look down and see a dog staring up at you. You think someone’s pulling a fast one. But then the dog reaches around and his mouth tugs something on the yellow vest he’s wearing, and you hear it again. ‘My owner needs your attention! Please follow me!’ the dog seems to say again.” Yes, the voice is coming from the vest.

Granted, you probably aren’t going to be discussing Wittgenstein with your german shepherd any time soon, but these technologies could be a boon for those who rely on service animals. 

Ghost In the Machine

In fact, the dogs are definitely better than a police robot, especially one in California that was less than useless.

According to NBC News, Cogo Guebara noticed the police robot when a fight broke out in the parking lot of Salt Lake Park. However, despite pressing the emergency alert button multiple times, the robot merely asked Guebara to step aside and continued to scoot along its preprogrammed path, occasionally telling people to keep the park clean. Ultimately, someone had to call 911 the old fashioned way and fifteen minutes later, a woman involved in the fight was rolled out on stretcher with a bleeding cut on her head.

What's for Dinner—Ahhh!!!

AR Glasses

Gizmodo has the latest on the potential debut of Apple’s AR Glasses sometime in 2020.

Paging E.T.A. Hoffmann

Homeward Bound

Vox Recode had a story on the growing trend in home offices—by some estimates, 5.3% of workers work solely from home and two-thirds work from some at least some of the time. And early findings indicate that it is...er...working. “While the broad impacts of remote work have yet to be measured across industries and for extended lengths of time, initial studies have found that it can increase productivity and lower employee turnover.”

Someone even wrote a book about how to effectively work from home.

We’re Not Surprised

These Are Not My Beautiful Posters

Are you a fan of Talking Heads (the band, not people on TV)? What about pulp novel covers? Vintage ads? If your Venn Diagram includes all three...good news! Todd Alcott has created a series of six posters available as giclée prints that mashup Talking Heads songs, book covers, and magazine ads. Collect the set! Only once in a lifetime does something like this come along!

Killing the Spirit

Hear Me Roar

What better way to tell other drivers to stop texting than by putting the fear of God[zilla] in them with this car horn that roars like Godzilla. As soon as we order those Talking Heads posters, this is next.

A Real Political Scandal

This Week in Printing, Publishing, and Media History

October 7

1777: The Americans defeat the British in the Second Battle of Saratoga, also known as the Battle of Bemis Heights.

1885: Danish physicist and philosopher and Nobel Prize laureate Niels Bohr born.

October 8

1921: KDKA in Pittsburgh's Forbes Field conducts the first live broadcast of a football game.

1962: Der Spiegel publishes an article disclosing the sorry state of the Bundeswehr, and is soon accused of treason.

1982: Cats opens on Broadway and runs for nearly 18 years before closing on September 10, 2000.

October 9

1446: The hangul alphabet is published in Korea.

1874: The Universal Postal Union is created by the Treaty of Bern.

1907: French actor, director, and screenwriter Jacques Tati born.

1940: John Lennon born.

1986: The Phantom of the Opera, eventually the second longest running musical in London, opens at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

October 10

1924: “Actor,” “director,” and “screenwriter” Ed Wood born.

October 11

1910: Former President Theodore Roosevelt becomes the first U.S. president to fly in an airplane.

1950: CBS’s mechanical color system is the first to be licensed for broadcast by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

October 12

1892: The Pledge of Allegiance is first recited by students in many US public schools, as part of a celebration marking the 400th anniversary of Columbus's voyage.

1979: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the first of five books in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy comedy science-fiction trilogy, is published.

October 13

1983: Ameritech Mobile Communications (now AT&T) launched the first US cellular network in Chicago. 

 

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