Monthly Archives: August 2010

Silicon Valley, Lasers, and Airplanes

The San Francisco Bay Area, has two airports in the top five for laser-aircraft incidents according to the FAA. While the FAA didn’t release the total number of incidents, the relative ranking of the airports are are:

  1. Chicago’s O’Hare Airport
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Phoenix Sky Harbor
  4. Mineta San Jose
  5. Oakland

Money quote from the article:

The U.S. Marshals Service Office theorizes it may be due to the number of people involved or interested in high tech. While some portion of the laser shooters are thought to be middle-aged methamphetamine users looking for thrills, other shooters are young, well-educated and interested in science, science fiction and are tech-savvy, officials believe.

SFO? Where are you?

UVB-76 Broadcasting Voice

Good news everyone! UVB-76 “The Buzzer!”, the mysterious buzzing Russian “number” station, that legend says is part of the the Dead Hand system, is still broadcasting! You may remember that there was some controversy over whether the station had ceased operation back in June, but according to the WIkipedia article, that was just an unfounded rumor.

What’s really interesting, is that on August 23, it made a voice transmission.

UVB-76, UVB-76 — 93 882 naimina 74 14 35 74 — 9 3 8 8 2 nikolai, anna, ivan, michail, ivan, nikolai, anna, 7, 4, 1, 4, 3, 5, 7, 4

Ahh the world of spies.

To add another level of intrigue to the station, someone on Livejournal says he has pictures of the transmission site. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I want it to be true.

Parachute Lamp

Martin Bahrij has designed a lamp with a parachute shade that can adjust the illumination by altering its shape. This reminds me of Kisa Kawakami’s Kisawings, which also varied the shade to adjust the lamp’s intensity. While servos to move the Kisawing panels would result erratic light patterns, simply using a servo to draw the shade closed on Bahrij’s lamp would have a much more predictable and expected behavior. It would be doubly nice if the servo and bulb were controlled through a conventional dimming switch.

Blind Date Swingers Club

Blind Date Swingers Club is a rotating club event in Berlin, that sounds very cool, and very reproducible. Everyone brings a mix tape (well, CD) of music, along with a note and contact information inside the jewel case. The music is left with the DJ. At the end of the night, everyone takes a CD that someone else made.

I love how this is a really simple idea that encourages the discovery of new people and new music. I’d love for a Bay Area version of this.

Straddling Bus

Song Youzhou showed off his design for bus that allows traffic to pass underneath, at last May’s Beijing International High-tech Expo. The idea is passengers would board the bus at elevated stations, without interrupting traffic flow. Song proposes that streets be modified to either have rails for the bus to ride on (effectively turning it into a tram), or installing an optical guidance system (probably similar tot he one installed on some TEOR buses.) to aid in driving.

Song claims that Beijing’s Mentougou District (a Beijing suburb) will adapt 186 km of roads for the bus, beginning at the end of this year.

When I first saw the picture for this, I though that passengers would board at street level perhaps through either a stairwell mounted in the legs, or maybe retractable stairs. An elevating platform would available for wheelchair access. I’m kind of disappointed that this design requires elevated platforms, but it probably for the best. What will be interesting will be to see how drivers react to encountering one of these busses. The use of special traffic lights for cars under the bus, is a good idea.

It will be interesting to see if this is actually built, and if it is is widely adopted.

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