Tuesday, July 11, 2006
- Smile, Chicago! There are piranhas in the Des Plaines River - but don't worry about it, they're likely only there because they've been released into local waters by careless aquarium fish owners. [Chicago Tribune]
- Windows 98 is dead. So is Pink Floyd founding member Syd Barrett.
- Japanese researchers have been excitedly developing scent players ("Smell-o-Vision") for years; now, New Scientist reports engineers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have built a working scent recorder/player:
"Point the gadget at a freshly baked cookie and it will reproduce the odour." ...
While a number of companies have produced aroma generators designed to enhance computer games or TV shows, they have failed commercially because they have been very limited in the range of smells they can produce, says Pambuk Somboon of the Tokyo team. So he has done away with pre-prepared smells and developed a system that records and later reproduces the odours. It's no easy task: "In video, you just need to record shades of red, green and blue," he says. "But humans have 347 olfactory sensors, so we need a lot of source chemicals."
Somboon's system will use 15 chemical-sensing microchips, or electronic noses, to pick up a broad range of aromas. These are then used to create a digital recipe from a set of 96 chemicals that can be chosen according to the purpose of each individual gadget. When you want to replay a smell, drops from the relevant vials are mixed, heated and vaporised. In tests so far, the system has successfully recorded and reproduced the smell of orange, lemon, apple, banana and melon. "We can even tell a green apple from a red apple," Somboon says. [read full article]
- The Secret History of French Fries: met frietsaus for me, thank you:
On March 11, 2003 the cafeteria menus in the three United States House of Representatives office buildings changed the name of french fries to freedom fries in a symbolic culinary rebuke of France stemming from anger over that country's opposition to the United States government's position on Iraq. French toast was also changed to freedom toast. In response, the French embassy noted that french fries are Belgian. "We are at a very serious moment dealing with very serious issues and we are not focusing on the name you give to potatoes," said Nathalie Loisau, an embassy spokeswoman.
- Can you quantify happiness? New York Metro's Jennifer Senior reports on recently developed psychological tests that claim to do just that, with geographic precision:
"...if you want to know the absolutely most miserable Zip Code—and this is based on a very large number of people—it seems to start with 101." That’s the prefix assigned to many of the office buildings in midtown Manhattan. "Staten Island is also miserable," [Chris Peterson, of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania] adds. So what does this say about New York? I ask. "I don’t know," he says. "Maybe that if you make it there, you can make it anywhere, but you won’t be happy doing it." [continue reading]