Sunday, April 24, 2005

Inventor Creates Soundless Sound System: "Elwood 'Woody' Norris pointed a metal frequency emitter at one of perhaps 30 people who had come to see his invention. The emitter—an aluminum square—was hooked up by a wire to a CD player. Norris switched on the CD player.

"'There's no speaker, but when I point this pad at you, you will hear the waterfall,' said the 63-year-old Californian.

"And one by one, each person in the audience did, and smiled widely.
Norris' HyperSonic Sound system has won him an award coveted by inventors—the $500,000 annual Lemelson-MIT Prize. It works by sending a focused beam of sound above the range of human hearing. When it lands on you, it seems like sound is coming from inside your head."

"Norris said the uses for the technology could come in handy—in cars, in the airport or at home.

"'Imagine your wife wants to watch television and you want to read a book, like the intellectual you are,' he said to the crowd. 'Imagine you are a lifeguard or a coach and you want to yell at someone, he'll be the only one to hear you.'

"Norris holds 47 U.S. patents, including one for a digital handheld recorder and another for a handsfree headset. He said the digital recorder made him an inventor for life.

"'That sold for $5 million,' Norris laughed. 'That really made me want to be an inventor.'

"He demonstrated the sound system at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, also called OMSI, on Thursday.

"Norris began tinkering as an inventor at a young age—taking apart the family radio and putting it back together again. He said ideas come to him when he's driving around or talking with friends."

"One of his most recent patents is for the AirScooter, a personal flying machine designed for commuting. It reaches speeds up to 55 mph and is light enough—under 300 pounds—to not require a license to fly."

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Saving the world, one robot at a time: "Organizers say this weekend's FIRST LEGO League World Festival might help save the planet, but for the thousands of kids putting their robots up against those of their peers, this is just plain fun.

"Atlanta's Georgia Dome is awash in hundreds of colorful team banners for the three-day event.

"When opening ceremonies began, event leaders stood in front of a giant video screen introducing teams from around the world who excitedly waved flags and filled the stadium with cheers."

NASA KSC Telescience Lab: FIRST Robotics Competition, including previous years' archives
Dart Test

A young lady named Sally, relates an experience she had in a seminary class, given by her teacher, Dr. Smith. She says that Dr. Smith was known for his elaborate object lessons.

One particular day, Sally walked into the seminary and knew they were in for a fun day.

On the wall was a big target and on a nearby table were many darts. Dr. Smith told the students to draw a picture of someone that they disliked or someone who had made them angry, and he would allow them to throw darts at the person's picture.

Sally's friend drew a picture of one who had stolen her boyfriend. Another friend drew a picture of his little brother. Sally drew a picture of a former friend, putting a great deal of detail into her drawing, even drawing pimples on the face. Sally was pleased with the overall effect she had achieved.

The class lined up and began throwing darts. Some of the students threw their darts with such force that their targets were ripping apart. Sally looked forward to her turn, and was filled with disappointment when Dr. Smith, because of time limits, asked the students to return to their seats.

As Sally sat thinking about how angry she was because she didn't have a chance to throw any darts at her target. Dr. Smith began removing the target from the wall.

Underneath the target was a picture of Jesus. A hush fell over the room as each student viewed the mangled picture of Jesus; holes and jagged marks covered His face and His eyes were pierced.

Dr. Smith said only these words: "In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me," Matthew 25:40.

No other words were necessary; the tears filled eyes of the students focused only on the picture of Christ.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

NASA's New Chief to Scrutinize Shuttle Launch Decision: "NASA's new administrator, Michael Griffin, promised Monday to leave 'absolutely no stone unturned' in deciding whether it's safe to launch Discovery next month—the first space shuttle flight since the Columbia disaster.

"Discovery is scheduled to blast off as early as May 15. That date is in question because of a critical engineering review and stack of paperwork that still need to be completed. The review is scheduled for Tuesday at Kennedy Space Center, and Griffin will be there with other NASA managers."

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Senate Confirms New NASA Head: "The Senate Wednesday approved Michael Griffin as NASA chief, completing a swift confirmation process ahead of the space shuttle's scheduled return to flight in the next two months.

"Griffin, 55, is a widely popular choice to lead the U.S. space agency. Democratic and Republican senators at Griffin's confirmation hearing praised the physicist, who holds seven degrees and, until now, headed the space department at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory."

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Researchers find ideal spot for moon base: "Researchers have identified what may be the perfect place for a Moon base, a crater rim near the lunar north pole that's in near-constant sunlight yet not far from suspected stores of water ice.

"Permanently sunlit areas would provide crucial solar energy for any future Moon settlement, a goal for NASA outlined last year by President George W. Bush. Such sites would also have resort-like temperatures compared with other lunar locations that fluctuate between blistering heat and unfathomable cold."
Yahoo Search Lends a Hand to Wikipedia: "Internet search engine Yahoo Search will be donating hardware and resources in support of Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia written and edited by people all over the world. The Wikimedia Foundation claims it is the largest dedication made by a corporate sponsor to date."

This news is interesting considering the previous offer by Google for the same thing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The new telephony: "After a decade of promises about how it would forever change communications, Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is finally beginning to nudge the 130-year-old traditional phone network toward obsolescence.

"It's inexpensive and, beyond mimicking traditional telephony, makes possible a wide range of new digital revolution-bestowing features and flexibility."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Congress may extend daylight-saving time: "If Congress passes an energy bill, Americans may see more daylight-saving time.

"Lawmakers crafting energy legislation approved an amendment Wednesday to extend daylight-saving time by two months, having it start on the first Sunday in March and end on the last Sunday in November."

"The amendment was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee that is putting together major parts of energy legislation likely to come up for a vote in the full House in the coming weeks."

"'The more daylight we have, the less electricity we use,' said Markey, who cited Transportation Department estimates that showed the two-month extension would save the equivalent of 10,000 barrels of oil a day.

"The country uses about 20 million barrels of oil a day."

Monday, April 11, 2005

Spending Bill For Military Is Ripe For the Stuffing: "There's nothing more tempting in Congress than a must-pass bill.

"The Senate this week takes up emergency spending legislation to keep military funds flowing to Iraq and Afghanistan. Because it's a bill for the troops, it is certain to end up on President Bush's desk, and that's why lawmakers will try to tack on their own pressing provisions."

"Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) will go against the flow by attempting to strip out funds that he deems are not urgently eeded. 'If Social Security is in crisis, we can't afford to play games with the budget,' Coburn spokesman John Hart said."

"JUDICIAL RESTRAINT: All rhetoric to the contrary, the Senate actually does approve some federal judges. At 5 p.m. today, the Senate is scheduled to begin considering the nomination of Paul A. Crotty to be U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York. Democrats predict he will be approved by a wide margin and with the support of both New York senators, Democrats Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton."

"Meanwhile, the judicial battle has flared up on an unlikely front: the Capitol tour circuit. At Frist's invitation, David Barton, author of a handbook called 'Impeachment,' in which he lays out the constitutional foundations for ejecting 'overactive' federal judges, is scheduled to lead interested senators and their families around the Capitol this evening. Barton, founder of WallBuilders, which bills itself as a pro-family organization, specializes in the building's spiritual heritage and has conducted numerous such tours in the past."

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A tale of customer service, justice and currency as funny as a $2 bill: "Put yourself in Mike Bolesta's place. On the morning of Feb. 20, he buys a new radio-CD player for his 17-year-old son Christopher's car. He pays the $114 installation charge with 57 crisp new $2 bills, which, when last observed, were still considered legitimate currency in the United States proper. The $2 bills are Bolesta's idea of payment, and his little comic protest, too.

"For this, Bolesta, Baltimore County resident, innocent citizen, owner of Capital City Student Tours, finds himself under arrest."

"With his Capital City Student Tours, he arranges class trips for school kids around the country traveling to large East Coast cities, including Baltimore. He's been doing this for the last 18 years. He makes all the arrangements: hotels, meals, entertainment. And it's part of his schtick that, when Bolesta hands out meal money to students, he does it in $2 bills, which he picks up from his regular bank, Sun Trust.

"'The kids don't see that many $2 bills, so they think this is the greatest thing in the world,' Bolesta says. 'They don't want to spend 'em. They want to save 'em. I've been doing this since I started the company. So I'm thinking, "I'll stage my little comic protest. I'll pay the $114 with $2 bills."'

"At Best Buy, they may have perceived the protest—but did not sense the comic aspect of 57 $2 bills.

"'I'm just here to pay the bill,' Bolesta says he told a cashier. 'She looked at the $2 bills and told me, 'I don't have to take these if I don't want to.' I said, 'If you don't, I'm leaving. I've tried to pay my bill twice. You don't want these bills, you can sue me.' So she took the money. Like she's doing me a favor.'

"He remembers the cashier marking each bill with a pen. Then other store personnel began to gather, a few of them asking, 'Are these real?'

"'Of course they are,' Bolesta said. 'They're legal tender.'

"A Best Buy manager refused comment last week. But, according to a Baltimore County police arrest report, suspicions were roused when an employee noticed some smearing of ink. So the cops were called in. One officer noticed the bills ran in sequential order."

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Shuttle rolls to launch pad - Apr 7, 2005: "Discovery, with its two solid rocket boosters and external fuel tank attached to its belly, rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at 2:04 p.m. EDT for a four-mile journey to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

"A crawler transporter moved the shuttle to pad 39B where it will sit until launch—set for no earlier than May 15."

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Google Feature Incorporates Satellite Maps: "Online search engine leader Google has unveiled a new feature that will enable its users to zoom in on homes and businesses using satellite images, an advance that may raise privacy concerns as well as intensify the competitive pressures on its rivals.

"The satellite technology, which Google began offering late Monday at maps.google.com, is part of the package that the Mountain View-based company acquired when it bought digital map maker Keyhole Corp. for an undisclosed amount nearly six months ago."

Google Maps, Round III: Since the last time I reviewed Google Maps, it crossed my mind how cool it would be if Google picked up on the last edge MapQuest had over it, and that was satellite maps. Of course, their acquisition of Keyhole made that very possible.

However, not only did they add satellite views, but you can get your driving directions overlayed on a satellite view instead of a map graphic. Too cool! For instance, our previous DC to Chicago example can now overlay the real thing instead of just the map.

I might also add, of my last three suggestions, they only added one: Street Maps.
Death doesn't quell political battle over Schiavo case: "In death as much as in life, political controversy surrounds Terri Schiavo."

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in a statement issued hours after Schiavo's death: "This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change."

"'The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior,' said the Texan. DeLay was a driving force behind legislation Congress passed two weeks ago that gave federal courts jurisdiction in an attempt to save Schiavo's life. Asked later at a news conference about possible impeachment proceedings against judges in the case, DeLay said, 'There's plenty of time to look into that.'

"Sen. Edward M. Kennedy took exception. 'I'm not sure what Mr. DeLay meant when he said 'the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior,'' the Massachusetts Democrat said in a written statement. 'But at a time when emotions are running high, Mr. DeLay needs to make clear that he is not advocating violence against anyone.'"

The astute observer will Note that Mr. Kennedy's statement says a lot more about Mr. Kennedy than it does about Mr. DeLay.

Monday, April 4, 2005

Don Feder: "When it comes to a judiciary run amok, the other two branches of government are in a persistent vegetative state."

Thomas Jefferson: "To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions (is) a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy."