Monday Topsight, December 10, 2007
Oh, No: In their never-ending quest to make ordinary citizens rise up and destroy capitalism, the advertising community has discovered a new place to put hard-to-ignore ads: in your skull.
New Yorker Alison Wilson was walking down Prince Street in SoHo last week when she heard a woman's voice right in her ear asking, "Who's there? Who's there?" She looked around to find no one in her immediate surroundings. Then the voice said, "It's not your imagination." [...]
The billboard uses technology manufactured by Holosonic that transmits an "audio spotlight" from a rooftop speaker so that the sound is contained within your cranium.
Go ahead and scream. A local hero (or "vandal") stole the speaker out of the billboard shortly after it went up; the speaker has since been replaced (no word on whether they've added more security... hint hint). The Holosonic rep suggested that it might take time for people to become accustomed to this new technology. I suspect it will take less time for the system to become subject to some harsh regulation.
(Via Warren Ellis)
Zzzzap: The New York Times reports on a study done by Massimiliano Vasile at the University of Glasgow on the best ways to deflect an asteroid heading towards the Earth. Nuclear bombs don't work, pushing with a spacecraft wouldn't work well, and "gravity tractors" would likely take far too long to be effective. Vasile determined that the best option is the swarm:
The best method, called “mirror bees,” entails sending a group of small satellites equipped with mirrors 30 to 100 feet wide into space to “swarm” around an asteroid and trail it, Vasile explains. The mirrors would be tilted to reflect sunlight onto the asteroid, vaporizing one spot and releasing a stream of gases that would slowly move it off course. Vasile says this method is especially appealing because it could be scaled easily: 25 to 5,000 satellites could be used, depending on the size of the rock.
The vaporized material then serves as a "rocket" to push the asteroid to a new course. If done early enough, this should be entirely achievable, with a large but not impossible price tag. The one problem (not addressed in the article) is that of liability: if an asteroid is heading towards the Earth, and is projected to hit (say) Egypt), and is nudged enough to change course but not enough to avoid impact -- now in (say) India -- who gets the bill? There would be horrific regional damage either way. Would nations with the power to do this avoid the undertaking out of fear of legal risks?
Welcome to the Participatory Panopticon, Officer: A New York cop interrogated a teenager about a shooting, and tried to intimidate him into confessing. On the witness stand in court, however, the copy claimed to have done none of that. Is the jury going to believe the cop or the kid? How about the kid's MP3 recorder?
Perino had arrested Crespo on New Year's Eve 2005 while investigating the shooting of a man in an elevator. While in an interrogation room at a station house, Crespo, then 17, stealthily pressed the record button on the MP3 player, a Christmas gift, DeMarco said.
The impact of the Participatory Panopticon will not be felt the most in our privacy, but in our ability to get away with secrets and lies.