Tag Archives | Technology

20 Terrible Scientists in TV and Film


Louisa Walker via Den of Geek:

Indiana Jones is a great movie character, but a terrible scientist. Here are 19 more for your consideration…

Scientists can get a bad rap in films and TV. As Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory utters “it’s amazing how many supervillains have advanced degrees.” They are often the source of a lot of the troubles that the heroes face, either through lab accidents or a slight megalomania problem. As science is being increasingly used in films to explain strange goings-on, I thought it worth looking for the examples of scientists in films who give our job a bad name.

So, some ground rules first.

The definition of “worst” in this list can relate to simply being bad at science. However, there is an inherent understanding in the world of science that your work should be conducted to an ethical code. Science in general is geared towards helping people or improving the world, through things such as finding ways to cure diseases or developing technology to make people’s lives easier.

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DARPA: Paralyzed Man Becomes First Person to Feel Physical Sensations in Prosthetic Connected to Brain

METIS Bionic Prosthetis by C. Darius Delaunay-Driquert
Under DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, a paralyzed 8-year-old man “has become the first person to be able to ‘feel’ physical sensations through a prosthetic hand directly connected to his brain.”

DARPA’s press release:

A 28-year-old who has been paralyzed for more than a decade as a result of a spinal cord injury has become the first person to be able to “feel” physical sensations through a prosthetic hand directly connected to his brain, and even identify which mechanical finger is being gently touched.

The advance, made possible by sophisticated neural technologies developed under DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics points to a future in which people living with paralyzed or missing limbs will not only be able to manipulate objects by sending signals from their brain to robotic devices, but also be able to sense precisely what those devices are touching.

“We’ve completed the circuit,” said DARPA program manager Justin Sanchez. “Prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by thoughts are showing great promise, but without feedback from signals traveling back to the brain it can be difficult to achieve the level of control needed to perform precise movements.

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Burners & Redemption

cable car

It’s a groggy morning coming back to big city cab driving from a Labor Day weekend camping with my kid and his Boy Scout troop. The scene of the crime was a few hours north of San Francisco at the border of the redwood-abundant Mendocino National Forest, on the outskirts of a rustic western hippie-redneck town named Willits. I kept busy with my guitar and some illicit booze (This WAS a Christian endeavor, people!) as the boys all ran around honing their various skills in sailing and canoeing on the lake, and at dispersed stations set up for archery, BB guns, shotguns and rifles.Driving in my van way too early into work this morning, there’s that smell in the air. You know the one; where no one wants to be back at their desk, where the town ever so slowly creeps back to life and productivity as every khaki pant and navy skirt stands ready to blow off their first day of work clearing out emails and shooting the shit over at the water cooler via exchanging familial tales from their time off.

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Brazilian wasp venom kills cancer cells by opening them up

This is the Brazilain social wasp Polybia paulista. Credit: Prof. Mario Palma/Sao Paulo State University

This is the Brazilain social wasp Polybia paulista.
Credit: Prof. Mario Palma/Sao Paulo State University

Cell Press via ScienceDaily:

The social wasp Polybia paulista protects itself against predators by producing venom known to contain a powerful cancer-fighting ingredient. A Biophysical Journal study published September 1 reveals exactly how the venom’s toxin–called MP1 (Polybia-MP1)–selectively kills cancer cells without harming normal cells. MP1 interacts with lipids that are abnormally distributed on the surface of cancer cells, creating gaping holes that allow molecules crucial for cell function to leak out.

“Cancer therapies that attack the lipid composition of the cell membrane would be an entirely new class of anticancer drugs,” says co-senior study author Paul Beales, of the University of Leeds in the UK. “This could be useful in developing new combination therapies, where multiple drugs are used simultaneously to treat a cancer by attacking different parts of the cancer cells at the same time.”

MP1 acts against microbial pathogens by disrupting the bacterial cell membrane.

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Malaysia Airlines MH370: The Rothschild Inheritance Conspiracy

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished on March 8, 2014. Sometime in July an alleged piece of the plane washed up on Reunion Island. What happened to the plane is still a mystery.


But it gets weirder…and it involves the Military Industrial Complex and the Rothschild family.

Starship Earth: The Big Picture, an Illuminati conspiracy blog brings us the mysterious details:

A US technology company which had 20 senior staff on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 had just launched a new electronic warfare gadget for military radar systems in the days before the Boeing 777 went missing.

Freescale Semiconductor has been developing microprocessors, sensors and other technology for the past 50 years. The technology it creates is commonly referred to as embedded processors, which according to the firm are “stand-alone semiconductors that perform dedicated computing functions in electronic systems”.

Freescale’s shareholders include the Carlyle Group of private equity investors whose past advisers have included ex-US president George Bush Sr and former British Prime Minister John Major.

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Will Your Car Obey You or the Police?

Early Self-Driving Car

Philippe Gastonne via The Daily Bell:

A few lines in a seemingly routine RAND Corp. report on the future of technology and law enforcement last week raised a provocative question: Should police have the power to take control of a self-driving car?

Human drivers are required to pull over when a police officer gestures for them to do so. It’s reasonable to expect that self-driving cars would do the same. To look at it another way: Self-driving cars are programmed to stop at red lights and stop signs. Surely they should also be programmed to stop when a police officer flags them down. It is, after all, the law.

It’s clear, then, that police officers should have some power over the movements of self-driving cars. What’s less clear is where to draw the line. If a police officer can command a self-driving car to pull over for his own safety and that of others on the road, can he do the same if he suspects the passenger of a crime?

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The fate of the universe: heat death, Big Rip or cosmic consciousness?

Black holes will be all that remains before the universe enters heath death. But the story doesn’t end there… NASA/ESA/wikimedia

Black holes will be all that remains before the universe enters heath death. But the story doesn’t end there… NASA/ESA/wikimedia

By piecing together an increasing number of clues, cosmologists are getting closer to understanding what the future and ultimate fate of the universe will be. And I’m afraid the news is not good. Star formation will cease and black holes will take over until they eventually evaporate into nothingness. There could even be a “Big Rip” on the horizon. But for those who don’t mind waiting another 101050 years or so, things may start to look up as a number of bizarre events could take place.

But before we consider random events in the very far future, let’s start with what we know about the past and the present.

The past

The reason we can investigate the past evolution of the universe is that, in some regards, astronomy is analogous to archaeology.… Read the rest

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Why Are There Any Jobs Still Left?

A Ghost In The Machine

Robert Bailey via Reason.com:

After two centuries of relentless automation, why are there more jobs than ever? Certainly, tens of millions of jobs have been lost. Whatever happened to the myriads of hostlers, blacksmiths, coopers, sucksmiths, millers, tallowmakers, wheelwrights, sicklemen, puddlers, telegraphers, stockingers, fellmongers, saddlers, ploughmen, knackers, bleacherers, weavers, thatchers, and scriveners? Most of these jobs have been either wiped out entirely or largely taken over by machines.

The advance of massively more productive machinery has clearly not led to mass unemployment. The number of people employed in advanced economies has never been higher. For example, since 1950 the number of Americans employed has nearly tripled, rising from about 58 million to nearly 149 million today. During that time the proportion of adults in the civilian workforce rose from 55 percent in 1950 to peak at 65 percent during the dot-com boom in 2000. The ratio has now dropped to 59 percent, but the lower rate is widely understood to reflect the fallout from the Great Recession, Baby Boomer cohort retirements, and younger individuals spending more time in school.

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Will Artificial Intelligence Get High?


Gabriella Garcia writes at Hopes&Fears:

With the speculative possibility of a sentient machine, can we assume that Artificial Superintelligence would “take drugs” or “get high”? Hopes&Fears looked toward researchers at Rensselaer AI & Reasoning Laboratory, as well as Dr. David Brin, a fellow at Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, for the answer.

In the techno-dystopian future of Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan, gonzo protagonist Spider Jerusalem has a maker machine that can create everything from food to weapons to booze. Just one catch; the maker is constantly tripping on machine drugs—hence, Jerusalem’s sorely mismatched photographic “live-lenses,” which he requested from the maker while it was high on a hallucinogen simulator. Whether out of boredom of performing menial tasks, or perhaps rebelling against servitude, Jerusalem’s maker continues to manufacture and abuse machine drugs to the point of total uselessness.

If AI is being modeled by and after human behavior, why wouldn’t computers experiment with mind-altering substances or fall victim to addiction?

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Terminator-style ‘skin’ repairs itself after a gunshot

A self-healing material that can fix itself with unprecedented speed could help protect structures in space.

via New Scientist:

Developed by Timothy Scott from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and his team, the self-healing “skin” contains a reactive liquid sandwiched between two polymer sheets. When punctured, a chemical called tributylborane in the liquid reacts with oxygen to make it harden, sealing the hole within seconds.

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