Flame War

Stretchable, durable flame-retardant fabricfrom Carrington Textiles (link may require free site registration):

Watching firefighters work in those heavy, bulky protective suits is painful. Perhaps this new flame retardant material from Carrington Textiles can make their work environment more comfortable. It's designed to ensure ease of movement for the worker, while providing a high level of protection. With an areal weight of 275 g.m–2, Carrington's Flameflex 275 is suitable for those working in hot and humid conditions who need to avoid heavy-weight fabrics.

The Butler Did—Ahhh!!

Some people really don’t like spoilers:

A Russian scientist working in Antarctica is facing attempted murder charges after allegedly stabbing a colleague for telling him the endings of books he wanted to read.

Spoiler alert: there was alcohol involved in the altercation.

By the way, you know that stack of books you haven’t gotten round to reading yet? There is a sort of a word for it: In the bestseller Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb suggests antilibrary. Kevin Mims, writing in the New York Times, prefers tsundoku, “a Japanese word for a stack of books that you have purchased but not yet read.” Potayto, potahto.

Not Fake News

Blockchains. In. Spaaaaaace!

Mining is mining, we guess, be it cryptocurrency or asteroids. Via Marginal Revolution:

Blockchain venture production studio ConsenSys, Inc. has acquired the pioneering space company Planetary Resources, Inc. through an asset-purchase transaction. Planetary Resources’ President & CEO Chris Lewicki and General Counsel Brian Israel have joined ConsenSys in connection with the acquisition. 
…Ethereum Co-founder and ConsenSys Founder Joe Lubin said, “I admire Planetary Resources for its world class talent, its record of innovation, and for inspiring people across our planet in support of its bold vision for the future. Bringing deep space capabilities into the ConsenSys ecosystem reflects our belief in the potential for Ethereum to help humanity craft new societal rule systems through automated trust and guaranteed execution. And it reflects our belief in democratizing and decentralizing space endeavors to unite our species and unlock untapped human potential. We look forward to sharing our plans and how to join us on this journey in the months ahead.”

In all seriousness, they add:

ConsenSys will operate its space initiatives out of Planetary Resources’ former facility in Redmond, WA.

Out On the Tiles

This story from the New York Times about the latest Scrabble World Champion was fairly unremarkable—until the third ‘graph:

Mr. Richards, 51, was the world Scrabble champion in 2007, 2011 and 2013. He also won the French edition of the championship in 2015 and again this year — apparently without actually speaking that language. (He is said to have memorized the French Scrabble dictionary.) [Emphasis added.]

This probably isn’t that weird. We have known Scrabble players who can rack up the points with two-letter words, few of which they actually know the meanings of.

Direct-to-Object Printing

Over at InPrint’s Industrial Print Blog, there is a post previewingthe InPrint 2018 Conference in Milan later this month, and Heidelberg’s bullishness on customized direct-to-object printing. The company will be showcasing its Omnifire technology in a joint both with partner Plasmatreat:

Plasmatreat is a world-leading specialist in pre-treating material surfaces with atmospheric-pressure plasma. Using patented plasma nozzle technology, materials undergo ultrafine cleaning, are simultaneously activated, or are functionally nanocoated. In the Omnifire systems, Heidelberg uses a rotary nozzle developed by Plasmatreat for pre-treating objects, thus enhancing crosslinking of the ink with the print object material.

By the way, that’s “plasma” as in “an ionized gas consisting of positive ions and free electrons in proportions resulting in more or less no overall electric charge, typically at low pressures (as in the upper atmosphere and in fluorescent lamps) or at very high temperatures (as in stars and nuclear fusion reactors),” not the stuff found in blood.

Pigs On the Wing

Over at Boing Boing, an interview with a farmer who feeds his pigs on cannabis leaves. And, well, why not? What does cannabis-infused pork taste like? The intrepid interviewers give it a try.

Oy Vegan

Here’s a bit of a downer for you vegan avocado lovers out there: avocadoes are not technically vegan. A recent episode of QI explains why.


Over at Graphic Design USA, Pantone has come up with am “unignorable” color:

Pantone Color Institute has partnered with the United Way of Canada to create a new color — Unignorable — developed specifically to highlight local issues — poverty, youth unemployment, social isolation, domestic violence, hunger, mental health, education inequality, and homelessness — and bring their attention to Canadians impacted by them. “We wanted to create a distinctive color whose ‘can’t-miss’ high visibility immediately stops you in your tracks,” explains Laurie Pressman, VP of Pantone Color Institute.


Wa-a-a-ay Off the Grid

Sure, you can get off the grid, adopt solar, wind, or some other renewable power source. But there is another easily renewable source of energy: hamsters. Wait...hamsters?! Yes, a hamster running on a wheel will generate some amount of energy that could be used to power...something. How many hamsters, though, would you need to power the average home? Well, the intrepid folks over at Today I Found Out crunched the numbers—and hopefully not the hamsters—and came up with (spoiler alert—put the knife away) 486,000 hamsters.

[I]t appears that a properly motivated little ball of fluff can reliably produce somewhere in the ballpark of 0.5 joules per second while running.
Now the number of seconds in a year is approximately 31,540,000 (give or take depending on leap year and the like).  Thus, a hamster with infinite stamina and no need to sleep could produce about 15,770,000 joules or 15.77 Megajoules per year.  This means it would take approximately 2,465 such hamsters to provide the needed electricity to power a typical American home for a year.
Of course, hamsters with infinite stamina and with no need to sleep do not exist, so what about using real hamsters?
It’s estimated that a typical hamster will spend about 5% of their time exercising. Thus, instead of around 15.77 Megajoules per year, we can reasonably expect about 0.8 Megajoules per year per hamster.

A more effective option is human power—such as this California gym that gets some of its electricity from its clients’ workouts.

This Week in Printing, Publishing, and Media History

October 29

1969: The first-ever computer-to-computer link is established on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet.

October 30

1885: American poet Ezra Pound born.

1938: Legitimately fake news—Orson Welles broadcasts his radio play of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, causing anxiety in some of the audience in the United States.

October 31

1795: English poet John Keats born.

1963: English singer-songwriter and guitarist Johnny Marr born.

November 1

1512: The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, is exhibited to the public for the first time.

1604: William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othellois performed for the first time, at Whitehall Palace in London. A few years later...

1611: Shakespeare’s play The Tempest is performed for the first time, again at Whitehall Palace in London.

1941: American photographer Ansel Adams takes a picture of a moonrise over the town of Hernandez, New Mexico that would become one of the most famous images in the history of photography.

1968: The Motion Picture Association of America's film rating system is officially introduced, originating with the ratings G, M, R, and X.

November 2

1920: KDKA of Pittsburgh starts broadcasting as the first commercial radio station.

1936: The British Broadcasting Corporation initiates the BBC Television Service, the world’s first regular, “high-definition” (then defined as at least 200 lines) service. It was renamed BBC1 in 1964.

1960: Penguin Books is found not guilty of obscenity in the trial R v Penguin Books Ltd, the Lady Chatterley’s Lovercase.

1988: The Morris worm, the first Internet-distributed computer worm to gain significant mainstream media attention, is launched from MIT.

November 3

1838: The Times of India, the world’s largest circulated English language daily broadsheet newspaper, is founded as The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce.  

November 4

1922: British archaeologist Howard Carter and his men find the entrance to Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings.