Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides and writes for This American Life, The Atlantic, Breakfast on Mars, and The Magazine. You can follow him at chrishiggins.com.
The buzz continues for The Pluto Files, coming to NOVA on March 2! In the The Pluto Files, we'll learn the inside story of "the rise and fall of America's favorite planet," Pluto, which was infamously downgraded from planetary status by Neil deGrasse Tyson in 1999 (well, it didn't become official until 2006). This Pluto thing is so infamous that we even have a shirt about the incident. The NOVA team has released a few more videos featuring major newsmen (and women) including Jon Stewart, Stephen... READ ON
People of Earth, BEHOLD! I bring you CubeStormer, your new Rubik's Cube-Solving Overlord! CubeStormer is allegedly the world's fastest "speedcubing" robot made entirely from Lego Mindstorms RCX parts. It uses a Lego webcam to scan the faces of the cube, Cube Explorer software running on a PC to solve the faces, and a whole bunch of pinchy/grabby Lego bits to manipulate the cube. My favorite part? The blinkenlights all over the edges. The blinkier the better, as far as robots are concerned.... READ ON
Derek Sivers is best known as the founder of CD Baby, a website that sells CDs for tons of independent musicians, located in Portland, Oregon (my home town). In the ultra-brief TED Talk below, he gives us several bits of very interesting trivia about Japan, China, and west Africa -- none of which have anything to do with selling CDs. If you've got the three minutes, you'll learn something -- I... READ ON
Nathan Myhrvold is a professional eccentric multimillionaire polymath (for the non-geeks among us: a rich geek who does a bit of everything). After making his millions at Microsoft, Myhrvold decided to travel the world checking out archaeological sites, penguin fecal patterns, barbecue, dinosaurs, and whatever else struck his fancy. Myhrvold is a huge geek, in a great way: he gets big bonus points for using the word synecdochally and dropping a different s-bomb within the first few minutes of the TED... READ ON
Let's just get this over with. I saw a cute dog video (the first below), and decided that y'all needed some more cute dog videos in your lives. Now, on with the show!
Labrador With Human Hands
Puppy Can "Whistle"
This little guy can mimic human whistles with his high-pitched... READ ON
J.K. Rowling gave a killer speech at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association last year. This speech is very much worth your time. How did J.K. Rowling go from an unemployed, near-destitute single parent to one of the richest women in Britain? By failing, giving up on others' dreams for her, and embracing her own. "Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I built my life," says Rowling around the 9:30-mark in the speech. Here's a bit more:
Ultimately, we all have to decide for... READ ON
Airing TONIGHT (February 16, 2010) on PBS! The film is "MINE," part of the Independent Lens series on PBS. Set your DVRs or VCRs now, as this one will not be streaming online after airing! Check your local listings; in most markets it airs at 10pm.
Tonight on PBS's Independent Lens, watch the story of New Orleans pet owners who were separated from their pets during Hurricane Katrina. The documentary is called MINE -- echoing the pet owners' frequent refrain ("This dog is mine!") as they try to get... READ ON
IBM has created a supercomputer that plays the TV game show Jeopardy. In English. And yes, it buzzes in. We can also presume that "Watson," our new Jeopardy overload, phrases its answers in the form of a question -- every time, without fail. And it does all this without being connected to the internet -- Watson stores all its answers in an offline database. So are we doomed? Is Jeopardy now going the way of chess, a game where even the best humans can be beaten by a computer? The short answer: not... READ ON
If you're a PBS viewer, you've likely seen Antiques Roadshow, a form of "reality TV" in which people have their antiques and collectibles appraised. Experts explain the history and estimated value of the items to the often-stunned owners. It's great TV, and now The Collectors Weekly has gone behind the scenes in An Inside Look at Antiques Roadshow. It's a great read, giving us a look at the real process leading up to making an episode -- specifically, 3,200 pairs of free tickets are handed out (though... READ ON
Fans of the Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch are in mourning, after learning that Captain Phil Harris died on February 9. He suffered a stroke while unloading his boat, the Cornelia Marie. Fans have been sharing their condolences on a message board (there are currently 274 pages of condolences), and the Discovery Channel just sent me the video clip below showing some of Phil's best catches -- it's worth a look if you've ever seen the show.
"Discovery mourns the loss of dear friend and... READ ON
About one in every 2 million lobsters is born with a rare genetic defect that turns it blue.