For the week of 12/12/12, our tech correspondent Stephen Fortune digs into algorithms, WikiGIFs, and Bitcoin territory
TUMBLR OF THE WEEK Algorithms
Those enigmatic entities can be a bogeyman to some (looking at you Knight Capital) and sufficiently powerful to move Kevin Slavin to label them the physics of culture. Follow Matthew Plummer-Fernandez as he charts the appearance and impact of algorithms on pop culture at algopop .
GIF OF THE WEEK WikiGIFs
As every brand and its mother clambers over themselves to shoehorn GIFs into their end of year content, Wikigifs is a very welcome tonic. Go there, drift, and marvel at the (often absurd) visual vestiges of the largest Encyclopedia ever assembled.
SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY OF THE WEEK Brain Cells from Urine
This science is a jaw-dropping illustration of how far stem cell science has progressed. Scientists have engineered neural progenitor cells from urine. Progenitor cells are a halfway house between pure stem cells and fixed form cells.
CYBERCRIME OF THE WEEK: Skynet commands zombie computers from within Tor
Security researchers have uncovered a Botnet operating from within the Tor network. Botnets are computers under the control of central operator, and are utilised for spamming, DDoS attacks and more recently Bitcoin mining. What's novel about this botnet (entitled Skynet, would you believe) is that it operates via Tor, a hidden service protocol built by programmers designed for increased anonyminity and untraceability.
WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: Google 60
Norbert Landsteiner debuts Google60, an alternative search engine combines nostalgia and slow media into a charming, noisy and delightfully frivolous experience. Search terms are entered via a pseudo punchcard, and images returned in plot point format (no ascii art in this media archaeology!)
HARDWARE OF THE WEEK: LCD contact lens
A breakthrough in LCD technology has produced a curved LCD screen, ready for use in contact lenses and future Robocop hardware.
GEEK OF THE WEEK: Syrian armoured vehicle has videogame controls
Admittedly, it's been some time since geek exclusively referred to passionate video gamers. Nevertheless, the Syrain rebels hacking ingeunity earns the accolade of geek(s) of the week. They've created a bespoke armoured vehicle (entitled SHAM II), and the mounted machine gun is controlled using counterfeit Playstation controllers .
ALGO ANXIETY OF THE WEEK Legal Rights for Robots
When legalise gathers around a topic like this its definitely a sign that we're sliding into a banal future nobody expected. Kate Darling proposes extending legal rights to robotic companions, in a manner analogous to animal abuse laws.
WETWARE OF THE WEEK Synthetic biology extends human colour vision
Scientists that have synthesised artificial proteins that extend light reception in the human eye. The gains in light absorption would theoretically extend human vision close to the infrared spectrum, and would transform the world around us. "Something that looked white before would now look green with your new super red vision," says researcher James Geiger. Seeing as the eyes have it this week why not read this comprehensive guide to bionic eyes over at Extreme Tech.
TECHNONOMY OF THE WEEK: Bitcoin gains EU regulatory approval
Bitcoin made headlines around the world as Bitcoin-Central.net became the first Bitcoin exchange operating within the framework of European regulations. If you are late to the Bitcoin party, forget mining, but get the low down on it here.