Here's What's Awesome

Find archive Here's What's Awesome posts here.

(Photo by Colinaut via Flickr Creative Commons)

Awesomator Brady Carlson runs down his top ten awesomest online moments of the year.  

Raj Patel, Sherry Turkle, Bruce Levine, Tyler Cowen and Eliza Griswold...oh, my! We smack a big red bow on our 11 for '11 series of conversations with big thinkers, analyze their predictive powers, and talk about their spheres of influence.  How  

We also look at some folks who, in retrospect, should have made the list, like leading edge tweeter Evan Hill, and music critic and retro-downer Simon Reynolds

From this Friday forward, Here's What's Awesome will bring you a fresh meme from the depths of web culture. This week, Misleading Doctor - who sets you up with a little news at the top of the image, only to turn that news on its head at the bottom of the image.

Local food with a capital L: New York-based Brightfarms builds greenhouses on top of grocery stores and warehouses. So if the cucumber section is running low, just run upstairs and you're good.

The system is designed to save the grocer money - if the veggies are on your roof, shipping costs go down, and the food is fresher, with a longer shelf life, meaning storage costs go down too.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gwilmore/1394399144/in/photostream/" target="blank">gwilmore</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Every since I was a young boy, I played the... gumball? The Gumball Pinball Machine is a real-life mashup of two iconic machines - turn the gumball machine handle and three candies roll onto a baseball-themed pinball board.

Sadly, losing a ball doesn't mean snack time - it goes back into the rotation.

On a slightly related note, I found what may be the world's greatest pinball dance while writing this column. If the lighting had been better, total meme fodder. Dancing Pinball Player never tilts!

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nuttz/243256328/in/photostream/" target="blank">Jim Nutt</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

The hospital delivery room is not a fun place for surprises - the more parents and medical staff know going in, the better the outcome usually is. The Predibirth system helps keep surprises to a minimum by MRI-scanning Junior in the womb* and running virtual simulations of labor - if it sees a potentially serious problem, like baby's head being bigger than expected, doctors can consider planning a c-section in advance.

Photo by Evan Hahn, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Today, a sperm donor discovers decisions can have unintended consequences.  Plus, a double dose of awesome internet viral videos and worthy time-wasters.  Also, a family who must divide in order to stay together through mental illness.  And a church works to provide Sudanese refugees with computer literacy skills.  Lastly, the future is now for prosthetics: a look at bionic appendages.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/niteseeker/69962792/in/photostream/">Melinda Taber</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Ever used one of those machines at the gym where you can place your hands on the grips and it'll track your heart rate? German scientists - probably the ones who spend a lot of time working out  - wondered if they could put those sensors in the steering wheel of a car to detect driver stress.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/niteseeker/69962792/in/photostream/" target="blank">Melinda Taber</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Ever used one of those machines at the gym where you can place your hands on the grips and it'll track your heart rate? German scientists - probably the ones who spend a lot of time working out  - wondered if they could put those sensors in the steering wheel of a car to detect driver stress.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/doggie52/3597226869/in/photostream/" target="blank">Doggie52</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

The atomic clock is so accurate that, had it been running since the Big Bang, 13+ billion years ago, it would only be off of "real" time by four seconds.

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology want to build a nuclear clock that, when asked for comment on the atomic clock's accuracy, shrugs and says, "that's totally b-list."

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/doggie52/3597226869/in/photostream/">Doggie52</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

The atomic clock is so accurate that, had it been running since the Big Bang, 13+ billion years ago, it would only be off of "real" time by four seconds.

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology want to build a nuclear clock that, when asked for comment on the atomic clock's accuracy, shrugs and says, "that's totally b-list."

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wmjas/148141867/in/photostream/">Wm Jas</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Swear jars are designed to help you put the brakes on your potty mouth - every time you say a bad word, you put a quarter in, and I guess you throw yourself a profanity-free party with the results. The Twitter equivalent is Digital SwearJar, which scours your Twitter feed for cussing; users pledge to send a set amount per outburst to a charity that helps people affected by the famine in East Africa. So if you're an actor in a David Mamet film, you're golden

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/laffy4k/403048730/in/photostream/">laffy4k</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

I remember when Lucky Charms cereal added purple horseshoes to their menagerie of marshmallowy shapes, which speaks to either my vivid long-term memory or my sheltered upbringing.

Anyway, I mention this because inventor Tom Lombardi has developed a Lucky Charms Sifter to weed out those crunchy pieces and leave you with a bowl of nothing but sweet, sweet charms. It's one of the many nifty little devices people are developing using 3D printers these days, a few of which don't involve cereal

Fans of NotAlwaysRight.com will enjoy the Twitter handle @GuestsFromHELL, a collection of purportedly real quotes from real tourists in New York City.  You'll note that I use the word "real" in the vein of "someone really just asked that question?"

Courtesy <a href="http://www.carnovsky.com/">Carnovsky</a>

Colorful, isn't it? It's an art installation called RGB, and it's by Carnovsky, an art duo based in Milan.

RGB, of course, refers to the colors red, green and blue; TVs and computer monitors mix those three colors together to make most of the colors you see. Which brings me to the most interesting part of the installation: look at the piece again with a special set of light-filtering goggles, and you see an almost entirely different piece.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/blyzz/4133624072/in/photostream/">Blyzz</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Let the sun shine! Or not. Spain's Gemasolar plant will generate electricity either way.

Say what?

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/changsterdam/6232864918/in/photostream/">changsterdam</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

I wanted to wait a few days to see if there were any notable tributes to Apple's Steve Jobs on the web, and there were plenty - GeeksAreSexy has a pretty good roundup of Jobs tributes you might not have seen yet.

Let's slow things down a little bit here. Ok, a bit more. A bit more... and a little bit beyond that. Perfect. We're now going to watch little ripples of oil at 1000 frames a second.

Next up, we'll watch a sloth waking up at 6000 frames a second. Hope you don't have any plans tonight!

[Presurfer

The Occupy Wall Street protests have been fueled by a lot of web activity, but even the webbiest trends can and must be remixed. Thus, the Occupy Sesame Street hashtag, with tweets like "The Counting Vampires are destroying America" and "Why isn't Reporter Kermit covering this?"

Tauntrcom ups the ante with photoshops. Elmo in handcuffs. A very grumpy Bert being led away by the authorities. 

Crowd That Lifts a Car to Rescue Guy Is Basically Like Voltron, Minus the Colorful ArmorBy Brady Carlson on Friday, September 16, 2011  

Remember Voltron, where these anime characters would merge their robots together into one super-powered "defender of the universe"? Faced with a man trapped under a car - one that happens to be right next to a burning motorcycle - this crowd in Utah lifts in sync and saves a motorcyclist's life.

Are cats supposed to go outside again? If so, the SureFlap smart pet door might come in handy - everytime a feline heads over to your door, SureFlap tries to read its microchip ID. If it's your cat, the door opens up; if not, you'll probably be up all night listening to a strange cat howling on your front porch.

In the smartphone video era, making a 90 second YouTube video can take as little as 90 seconds.

Or it can take about a zillion hours, as the folks who made this exhaustively detailed and clever stop-motion video probably had to do.

Excuse me, I need to go rest my brain now.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/waxydan/96480130/in/photostream/">Waxy Dan</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Don't let the site's name fool you - The Emotional Breakdown is not a blog about someone's life falling apart, but a site that analyzes the emotional mood of photos on a given website (the default is the Guardian's "24 hours in pictures" site, but you can choose others). It gives a percentage breakdown of the moods found in those photos, from angry to happy to sad to surprised, giving us another way to take the temperature of each day's news

This woman is surprisingly cheerful about the fact that the nearby 40,000 watts of Phat Bass are frying her ears and everything in between them.

I do like how the bass reanimates her hair, though.

[Gizmodo]

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/andreasl/2610034366/">Andreas H. Lunde</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Date rape drugs like Rohypnol and GHB have no odor or taste, they dissolve quickly in liquids and they don't linger in your system - in other words, they're very hard to trace. Which makes the new date rape drug sensor from researchers at Tel Aviv University such an interesting development.

Sick of Snooki? Can't keep up with the Kardashians? Don't know what the heck Lindsay Lohan is up to? Don't want to know what the heck Charlie Sheen is up to? Matt Richardson's  "Enough Already" device lets you program words you don't want to hear on TV anymore, and mutes the sound before "Violent Torpedo of Truth" ends up going through your speakers yet again

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/soutra/4540590923/in/photostream/">JohnConnell</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Part of my job at NHPR is to moderate web comments. We get quite a few, so it takes time, but it's not too tough to spot spam, seeing as how real posters rarely post 701 times in a row about essay writing services.

Wanna stay in my Awesomator loop? Then check these links out:

Google Plus - first impressions, where it can make an impact, what comes next.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-20082013-93/more-hints-of-google-gaming-crop-up/

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/32802776@N04/3084612415/in/photostream/">flow_br</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Psychic bikes? Not quite (though Psychic Bikes would be a great name for a Robert Pollard side project). But the concept bike here is brainwave-powered. If you need to shift to a different gear, you think it and the neuro-sensing helmet sends a signal to the gear mechanism. The bike changes gears - no levers required.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/37539972@N06/3980094274/in/photostream/">The Itsy Bitsy Spider</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Ok, you don't get to wear a cape, and you don't get a butler named Alfred, but you can have a Batphone of your own and become a superhero - to endangered bat populations, anyway.

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