One board to rule them all

Everybody’s waiting for the hoverboard from Back to the Future II to become a reality. Lexus, of all companies, has now revealed their prototype. It’s a complex thing, as Wired explains:

As we explained in June, the Lexus hoverboard relies on superconductors and magnets, which work against gravity to lift board and rider above the ground. That cool-looking steam coming off of the sides isn’t decorative; it’s liquid nitrogen, cooling the superconductors to -321 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which they become superconducting.

Here’s the video, of which I love the water-hovering parts the most:

How copyright destroys the bookmarket

Copyright, in essence, seems like a good thing. But when it comes to books, a new study shows that copyright seems to have drastically curbed availability of books authored during the middle of the last century.

Shortly after works are created and proprietized, they tend to disappear from public view only to reappear in significantly increased numbers when they fall into the public domain and lose their owners.

Read the whole thing here, it’s fascinating and sad, for authors and readers alike.


I’m a fan of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (who, in their right mind, isn’t?) so I’m both excited and a bit wary of the upcoming reboot of the series. On the one hand it’s physics superstar Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan’s wife Ann Druyan (who was instrumental in the production of the original series) acting as executive producer. On the other hand it’s not Carl Sagan and not music composed by Vangelis.

That said, the recently released trailer makes it look like it’s going to be a pretty fantastic piece of television:

In case you haven never actually seen the original Cosmos, go ahead and buy it. It’s worth every single cent.

Don’t “accidentally” steal a song

So the Black Eyed Peas have always been one of the worst “borrowers” in the music industry, but now member Will.I.Am has taken the cake. He took background music by Russian artist Arty & Mat Zo and let someone rap over it. Unfortunately for the original artist, he never had permission to use the music (nor was he paying any money for it). Now he’s claiming it happened by accident:

“Arty is a dope producer so I wrote this song to ‘Rebound’ this last year,” he said. “I got in touch with Arty and showed it to him, did a different version to it ’cause I asked him [to] make it newer ’cause I don’t just wanna take your song and rap over it.”

Says Will.I.Am.

Hearing the original song reminded me of this fantastic piece of video-art, which, in contrast to everything the Black Eyed Peas have ever done, is hugely original and entertaining:

On Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchen’s last book came out recently and here’s a great little piece on it. And yes, it’s The Millions again:

 After a typically engaging talk, and an equally entertaining on-stage conversation with Salman Rushdie, Hitchens milled about among fans and friends off-stage. I caught him there and introduced myself. “It’s an honor to meet you,” I quivered. “If you say so,” he quipped. I went on to explain that I was from Denmark and wanted to thank him for his very vocal support of the Danish cartoonists back in 2006. He leaned in and put his hand on my shoulder. “Don’t let them fuck you around,” he said, before wandering off.

Read the whole thing here.

Alan Turing’s birthday

It’s Alan Turing’s birthday today. For those who’ve never heard of him, he was one of the people responsible for cracking the German Enigma machine during WWII, something like the father of modern computing and unfortunately an incredibly unfairly treated human being.

Google is celebrating with a Turing machine in their doodle, here’s a haunting letter from Turing on Letters of Note and finally here’s a funkily designed but informative website detailing everything about Alan Turing.

Happy Birthday, old chum!

About Keys

Slate has a piece up about keys. Yes, keys:

It’s a metal form that—when inserted into an opening and turned—draws back a bolt or latch. But the metal key is marked for extinction. Electronic access controls—keycards, keypads, biometric scanners, and the like—are already common in hotels, office buildings, and cars, and they’re gaining ground. What will we lose when the metal key, a form that has endured for centuries, disappears? And what will we gain?

It’s one of those illustrated slideshow-esque articles, but still worth it. Read it!

Our universe is nothing, really

If you’re still wondering, physics is actually working on answering the question from whence we came. From an article in the LA Times:

As particle physics revolutionizes the concepts of “something” (elementary particles and the forces that bind them) and “nothing” (the dynamics of empty space or even the absence of space), the famous question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” is also revolutionized. Even the very laws of physics we depend on may be a cosmic accident, with different laws in different universes, which further alters how we might connect something with nothing. Asking why we live in a universe of something rather than nothing may be no more meaningful than asking why some flowers are red and others blue.

It’s fascinating and you should read it.