One of my favorite things about Game of Thrones (the show) is the opening sequence. There are a lot of fantastic openings out there (Six Feet Under, True Blood, and Dexter spring immediately to mind), but for me there’s none better than Game of Thrones. It’s not just because I’m full of anticipation for the episode I’m about to watch, either. The way the sequence builds a map that spans the GoT universe, complete with castles and forests rising up from what looks like a game board, perfectly illustrates the transition from story to reality, from page to screen. The camera pans to each area, uniting, at least in that brief glimpse, seemingly disparate or antagonistic kingdoms and giving viewers a rare comprehensive look at the entire game board before focusing on the specific players who aim to march across it. In short, I’m a complete sucker for maps or depictions that bring a place to life and imbue it with a sense of story, which is exactly what six prize-winning students did when they transformed maps of 17th century London into a unified 3-D world.
With all the healthcare hullabaloo taking over the public consciousness as of late, people are in dire need of more easily accessible personal medical testing. And there’s no better place to look for potential future tech than Star Trek, that bastion of advanced concepts. Illinois resident Howard Leventhal, 56, recently claimed he’d created a device similar to the all-in-one tricorder used in the classic series, but instead of actually showing anyone the product or what he said it could do, he blindly milked a ton of money out of investors before getting caught by an undercover agent posing as another potential buyer. Too bad he didn’t have a mocked-up Enterprise to allow himself a hasty getaway.
Last year, Leventhal contacted executives at the Fort Lauderdale company Paragon Financial Group, Inc. claiming that he was owed upwards of $4 million from Health Canada, saying the agency had previously agreed to buy his “McCoy Home Health Tablet” device that he’d created through his company Neovision USA. The product was described as such in a document Leventhal provided: “Heltheo’s McCoy Home Health Tablet, named after the fictional Dr. Leonard McCoy of TV’s Star Trek series, is designed as a platform to maximize the patient benefits through broadband-augmented in-home telemedicine.” It doesn’t quite sound too good to be true, but rather too bullshitty to be real.
When I lived in Vancouver, I didn’t find it particularly cutting-edge. Sure, a bunch of our favorite TV shows such as the X Files, Battlestar Galactica, and Fringe, among others, were filmed there back when the exchange rate was a bit more favorable, but in terms of the implementation of cutting-edge technology into the city’s infrastructure, the city wasn’t particularly noteworthy, especially compared to Boston, where I live now. But Vancouver’s about to get some serious bragging rights among forward-thinkers: the first ATM that dispenses Bitcoins.
If you haven’t heard, Bitcoin is decentralized digital crypto-currency that isn’t affiliated with any particular country or central authority. The peer-to-peer network validates and regulates transactions and allows people to keep a “digital wallet” or account. Bitcoins can be converted into dollars, pounds, yen—you name it. The creation of new bitcoin currency is slowing down, there are 21 million in circulation, and no new ones will be issued. We’re currently just over halfway there, and bitcoins have been making news and gaining popularity for a while now, especially given currency fluctuations. Vendors such as WordPress accept them as payment, and Mars One intends bitcoin to be the primary currency if and when their Mars colony comes to fruition.
Back in 2009, NASA began the Commercial Crew Program (CCP), designed to promote private sector development of human spaceflight. The eventual goal is to jumpstart a spaceflight industry capable of taking tourists and government astronauts into space. The program’s focus is on crew transportation system designs, an important first step in the development of a commercial industry which is predicted to deliver cheap, reliable, and more efficient transportation of space-going folks into Low-Earth Orbit. In 2012, NASA received proposals from companies committed to working on fully developed and integrated crew transportation systems. SpaceX, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada Corporation were among those that received funding after a NASA evaluation, and are now expected to meet 15 milestones on the way to realizing their privatized human spaceflight plans. SpaceX just reached, and passed, the eighth milestone—a review of its in-flight abort procedures.
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft made its first manned test flight in December 2010, and a few years later became the first commercial vessel to dock with the ISS. Dragon is partially reusable, and will be sent into space by the Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The recent review focused on the craft’s SuperDraco engines, the software that controls the abort procedure, and the communication between the Dragon and the Falcon 9.
Last weekend, one of Birmingham, England’s biggest assface douchebags (that’s the technical term) was out and about in the Bullring shopping center, where the Bullring Predator street performer seen above entertained the passersby. While an equally dickheaded friend recorded a cell phone video, this shitstick ran up and shoved the performer off of his platform, knocking him into a young girl who was standing and enjoying the show. The guy immediately took off running and avoided capture. At least, until the Internet got involved.
Police in the UK recovered a 3D-printed gun and what they believe is a 3D-printed magazine for bullets during a raid in Manchester yesterday. Next to the gun was a high-tech 3D printer, which police fear might have been part of a bigger scheme to churn out a new type of firearm.
This isn’t the first such gun ever made or found—that honor belongs to the Liberator, designed by Defense Distributed. The single-shot gun has sixteen functional parts, fifteen of which are made from plastic, including the springs. The only non-plastic part is a nail that functions as the firing pin. A 3D printer can produce the body of the gun overnight, and printing a new barrel takes only a matter of few hours.