GIF OF THE WEEK: by Colin Raff
I can’t say no to the Bad Day on the Midway aesthetic going on here.
TUMBLR OF THE WEEK: Amazon Random Shopper
Not satisfied with the junk he buys on purpose, web engineer Darius Kazemi created a bot that buys random stuff – a paperback book, DVD or CD – from Amazon. The only criteria: a $50 budget and a randomly-generated word from the Wordnik API that the bot uses as search parameters.
SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY OF THE WEEK: Planarian flatworms / human head transplants / the plastisphere
Decapitated planarian flatworms can recover their memories along with their heads. Researchers trained the worms to overcome their fear of bright lights and open spaces, then observed how they recall their training while regrowing their heads.
Somewhat related: neuroscientists claim that human head transplants are now possible, if you don’t mind being paralyzed from the neck down.
Taking it one step closer to a Rudy Rucker-inspired era of sentient piezoplastics, scientists have identified the plastisphere: a new ecological community that lives on plastic debris in the North Atlantic Ocean.
CYBERCRIME OF THE WEEK: Project Upstream
Rounding off a great year for the National Security Agency and its unironic love of clip art, The Washington Post has exposed how the NSA is tapping fiber-optic networks under a program codenamed "Upstream", presumably as a play on PRISM’s “downstream” data collection.
WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: We Do Phoshop / Hermes: a Mobile Phone Opera
We Do Phoshop, where people make Photoshop requests to spice up their pictures and get savagely trolled in return. It’s all in Korean, but that shouldn’t matter.
Not so much a website as a mobile phone opera in four acts, performed by tiny singing robots. Download the libretto by Karl Heinz Jeron here.
HARDWARE/GADGET OF THE WEEK: Cortex Exoskeleton / MR-808 drumbot
Cortex Exoskeleton is a 3D printed cast concept by Jake Evill which could provide lighter, more structured support for mending bones. Each cast is created from a 3D scan of the wearer’s limb and can be removed with a set of integrated fasteners.
The world’s first 80s drum robot, because nostalgia isn’t quite dead yet.
GEEK OF THE WEEK: Jennifer Lewis / Peter Sunde
Jennifer Lewis and her team of researchers have created the world’s first 3D printed battery, as well as a customized 3D printing nozzle that can create features as small as one micrometre across. The next step: “integrated electronics” that can be used to power medical devices and smart wireless sensors.
Broke P, a.k.a. Peter Sunde of the Pirate Bay, is raising funds for a free, user-friendly cryptomessaging service called Heml.is (hemlis is the Swedish word for ‘secret’).
INTERNET EXPLORERS OF THE WEEK: Earthcode / Paul Gardner-Stephen / Jasper von Loenen
Earthcode: Martin Howse has high hopes to create a "dirty, irrational computational device". Using organic elements to create a functioning "earth computer", Earthcode’s long-term goal is to create a massive installation for the ages.
A research fellow at Flinders University is working on an open-source project that could lead to a form of localized, DIY internet. Gardner-Stephen’s app, Serval, allows Android phones to create their own mesh networks with WiFi enabling calls, texts and file transfers without being in range of each other.
DIY drones – this compact kit by Jasper von Loenen will let you make anything into a flyable, Bluetooth-controlled drone.
ALGO ANXIETY OF THE WEEK: NSA + Google / Facebook Demetricator
So, NSA helped Google write the source code for Android operating systems. That’s a good thing, right?
Facebook Demetricator: because who needs metrics, anyway?
Follow Alexis Ong on Twitter here @steppinlazer