This Creepy App Isn't Just Stalking Women Without Their Knowledge, It's A Wake-Up Call About Facebook Privacy
It's when you push the radar button that Girls Around Me does what it says on the tin. I pressed the button for my friends. Immediately, Girls Around Me went into radar mode, and after just a few seconds, the map around us was filled with pictures of girls who were in the neighborhood. Since I was showing off the app on a Saturday night, there were dozens of girls out on the town in our local area.
"Wait... what? Are these girls prostitutes?" one of my friends asked, which given the Matrix-like silhouettes posing on the splash screen was a pretty good question.
"Oh, no," I replied. "These are just regular girls. See this girl? Her name's Zoe. She lives on the same street as me and Brittany. She works at a coffee shop, and I'm pretty sure she doesn't moonlight picking up tricks."
Update: Charlie Stross has a good followup to this.
Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.
The Quietest Room in the World
It is a room within a room within a room; the innermost chamber is lined with 3.3-foot-thick fiberglass acoustic wedges and floats on I-beams and springs. Both inner rooms have double walls of insulated steel; the outside walls are foot-thick concrete. The background noise level is minus 9.4 decibels. In this room, even a dog is deaf to the world outside.
The total absence of sound outside your body makes you keenly aware of what's going on inside your body. Your heart pumps. Your lungs inflate and deflate. Your ears buzz. Your blood pulses. In an anechoic chamber, you are one noisy organism. With no reverberation in the room, you have no spatial orientation cues. After about half an hour in the dark, you can become disoriented. Eventually, you might experience visual and aural hallucinations.
Previously, previously, previously, previously.
The Best Birth Control In The World Is For Men
A doctor applies some local anesthetic, makes a small pinhole in the base of the scrotum, reaches in with a pair of very thin forceps, and pulls out the small white vas deferens tube. Then, the doctor injects the polymer gel, pushes the vas deferens back inside, repeats the process for the other vas deferens, puts a Band-Aid over the small hole, and the man is on his way. If this all sounds incredibly simple and inexpensive, that's because it is. The chemicals themselves cost less than the syringe used to administer them. But the science of what happens next is the really fascinating part.
The two common chemicals -- styrene maleic anhydride and dimethyl sulfoxide -- form a polymer that thickens over the next 72 hours, much like a pliable epoxy, but the purpose of these chemicals isn't to harden and block the vas deferens. Instead, the polymer lines the wall of the vas deferens and allows sperm to flow freely down the middle (this prevents any pressure buildup), and because of the polymer's pattern of negative/positive polarization, the sperm are torn apart through the polyelectrolytic effect. On a molecular level, it's what supervillains envision will happen when they stick the good guy between two huge magnets and flip the switch.
With one little injection, this non-toxic jelly will sit there for 10+ years without you having to do anything else to not have babies. Set it and forget it. Oh, and when you do decide you want those babies, it only takes one other injection of water and baking soda to flush out the gel, and within two to three months, you've got all your healthy sperm again.
Previously, previously, previously.
Death of a data haven: cypherpunks, WikiLeaks, and the world's smallest nation
My findings have just been published in a new 80-page article in the University of Illinois Law Review, one called "Sealand, HavenCo, and the Rule of Law". It tells the full -- and very weird -- story of how this micronation happened to be in the right place (the North Sea) at the right time (the late 1990s) to provide some cypherpunk entrepreneurs with the most impractical data center ever built. Here, I'll give the condensed version of the tale, hitting the important points in HavenCo's history and explaining what went wrong.
I don't think I'd seen a photo of the Sealand Data Center before. You know, the one that was going to be behind an airlock, in a booby-trapped, nitrogen-filled vault that you could only enter with scuba gear.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Data Center:
Femtolisp is kind of badass.
But this comment right here is what elevates it to Mad Science:
This is what I do for fun, because it is the exact opposite of the kind of thing people will pay for: an obscure implementation of a programming language everybody hates.