Thursday, November 14, 2013

Surveillance-Proof Fashion Now Worth Considering

Over the weekend, the New York Times discussed a boom in the newest branch of counter surveillance technology: Ready-to-wear fashion that protects wearers from government drone spying and other forms of privacy-invading tracking.  And, sure, while dressing for drone evasion suggests a wardrobe for conspiracy theorists and preppers, the latest in Stealth Wear goes beyond  brainwave-blocking tinfoil hats. Adam Harvey — the pioneer of these designs — obviously thinks he's onto something. But considering the rise of aerial surveillance systems, Facebook's face-detecting software, and that one friend who's testing Google Glass, the threat is imminent. We need protection. right?

Harvey's designs include rave-kid chic hoodies made of a reflective fabric that make the wearer invisible to heat-imaging cameras and cost about $500, or an LED purse that's activated when a flash goes off and distorts the photo with a glare of white light; we can imagine this is going to be a bestseller with paparazzi-hounded celebs. He's also developed a series of hair and makeup tutorials called CV Dazzle, a way of employing geometric facepaint designs and hairstyles to break up the face shape in a way that makes it impossible for machines to detect it. He's mostly inspired by tribal paint and "high-fashion aesthetics from the club scene London," which combined gives the impression of a Juggalo from the future moonlighting in a Flock of Seagulls cover band, this time the photos are totally Facebook-tag proof.

“These pieces are designed to live with [surveillance], to cope with it – to live in a world where surveillance is happening all the time,” Davis notes on his website. And despite the trend's recent attention online and the story in the Times, Stealth Wear is still fairly niche; drone-proof clothing is for the person with a reason to be stalked by drones in the first place. Which means one thing: Harvey should nab Edward Snowden as the face of Stealth Wear's fall campaign.

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Future soldier: Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku on building a Death Star and Silicon Valley brain drain

Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku

Morning light shines softly through a large glass window as a travel-weary Michio Kaku gamely musters a smile. Just a few hours removed from a cross-country flight from the East Coast, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this physicist is plain tired. Then the camera starts rolling. In an instant, Kaku looks rejuvenated as he plays to his audience and waxes poetic about his favorite subject -- science.

In the world occupied by nerds and techno geeks, theoretical physicist and futurist Kaku is akin to a rock star. Chalk it up to a flowing mane of pepper-gray locks and the fact he co-created string field theory (which tries to unravel the inner workings of the universe). These days, Kaku can mostly be found teaching at City College of New York where he holds the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics. When he isn't teaching, Kaku still spends most of his extra time talking science, whether it be through his radio programs, best-selling books such as Physics of the Future or appearances on shows like The Colbert Report, where he recently enlightened Stephen Colbert about the dangers of sending Bruce Willis into space to blow up a deadly asteroid. As fun as it is for Kaku to talk physics, however, he also considers it a matter of survival

Future soldier Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku on building a Death Star and Silicon Valley brain drain video

"When I was a child, it was cool to be a scientist," Kaku says. "Remember Sputnik? When Sputnik went up, it just shocked the country and all of a sudden, physicists were superstars. It was your patriotic duty to learn nuclear physics to go head to head with the Russians because the future of the country depended on it. And then, we lost it -- we lost all of that momentum."

It's a change that still stings for Kaku, which is why he finds himself jetlagged in places like Reno, Nev., trying to drum up interest in his favorite subject at local universities. Just like fellow science evangelists Neil deGrasse Tyson and Brian Greene, Kaku's goal is quite simple: help science get back its mojo and nurture the next wave of rock stars by engaging the public.

"Even if we mortgage the next 100 years of generations of human beings, we would not have enough energy to build a Death Star..."

In a sense, it's kind of like having a walking, talking science encyclopedia that can carry a conversation. In fact, one of the best parts about picking Kaku's brain is that no question is too big or small. You certainly can ask him about more esoteric fare such as the advantages and disadvantages between molecular and quantum computing. Yet even a seemingly silly question about the economic impact of the Death Star -- a proposition the White House famously rejected with tongue firmly planted in cheek -- earns a full response.

"If you take a pound of anything like a book and send it into orbit, it will cost $10,000," Kaku says. "To send something to the moon costs $100,000 a pound. Now think of a Death Star, which is the size of the moon, and you start to realize that it will bankrupt the United States of America. It would bankrupt the entire planet Earth. Even if we mortgage the next 100 years of generations of human beings, we would not have enough energy to build a Death Star."

DNP Future soldier Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku on building a Death Star and Silicon Valley brain drain video

One thing the United States certainly could have built, however, was the Superconducting Super Collider just south of Dallas, Texas. Kaku pointed to Europe's Large Hadron Collider, which garnered plenty of attention in the last year thanks to its role in the discovery of the Higgs boson -- also dubbed "the god particle" much to the consternation of scientists. At a little over 54 miles in circumference, the Super Collider would have made the Large Hadron Collider look like "a pea shooter," Kaku says. Budget concerns, however, led to the Super Collider's cancellation in 1993. In recounting how the plug was pulled on the Super Collider project, Kaku did not mince words.

"Congress gave us a billion dollars to dig this gigantic hole; they canceled the machine [and] gave us a second billion dollars to fill up the hole," Kaku says. "I can't think of anything more stupid than that."

The cancellation of the project, as well as the reduced funding for scientific agencies such as NASA, are a far cry from the budgetary largess of the Cold War days. Back then, scientists only needed to utter one word -- Russia -- and Congress would open its checkbook, Kaku recounts. Those days are long gone, however, and scientists now have to "sing for their supper," he says. Part of that involves thrilling the public with technological and scientific innovations.

"Fifty percent of the top engineers and grunts doing the work in Silicon Valley are foreign-born and that is unsustainable."

Kaku admits that advocating for science and research can be an uphill battle, especially at a time marked by a strong push for austerity in some circles. After all, the impact of cutbacks isn't limited to high-profile projects. Another casualty of the decline in interest surrounding science and even math is the US education system, which Kaku describes as the most dysfunctional among advanced capitalist countries. Even with its issues, however, the United States still manages to produce Nobel Prize winners while staying at the forefront of the technology race. Kaku attributes this in large part to immigration and the influx of promising minds from other countries. Nevertheless, importing one's geniuses can only last for so long.

"Fifty percent of the top engineers and grunts doing the work in Silicon Valley are foreign-born and that is unsustainable," Kaku says. "One day, the brain drain will reverse -- it's starting to happen. Now top scientists are starting to go back to China and back to India. That's why our education cannot continue to be one of the worst known to science."

DNP Future soldier Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku on building a Death Star and Silicon Valley brain drain video

A potential brain drain, however, is not the only threat to Silicon Valley, according to Kaku. Like many of the US industrial regions of yore, Silicon Valley could very well turn into the technology equivalent of a rust belt with the end of Moore's law, he says. The law, which states a doubling in chip performance approximately every two years, essentially fueled all the wealth and prosperity tied to the current technology revolution. Kaku says that by 2020, computer chips could shrink to a layer as small as five atoms across. Not only do electrons start leaking at that point, but the heat generated could literally fry an egg, Kaku says. At that stage, Moore's law will essentially be tapped out -- at least for silicon-based computing. Although technologies such as quantum, DNA and protein computing are seen as candidates for the post-silicon computing era, Kaku says none of those are ready for prime time.

"Quantum computers compute on individual atoms," Kaku says. "The problem there is atoms are so delicate that they very easily fall out of phase with each other. A passing truck ... or a wave going by a nearby ocean have enough vibratory energy to upset the vibration of atoms. So quantum computing is still further down the line."

"I mean, it's criminal. You're not gonna put me in a capsule [and] send me to outer space backed up by the power of a cellphone. But that's what we did back in 1969."

Until the kinks with quantum computing are worked out, molecular computing could be a more viable solution, according to Kaku. Graphene, for example, is the strongest substance known to science -- you can balance an elephant on a pencil, put it on a sheet of graphene and the material won't rip, he says. At the same time, graphene also conducts electricity, making it a good candidate for replacing silicon. The challenge, of course, is figuring out a way to mass-produce the material and finding ways to etch the circuitry in the graphene's carbon, Kaku says.

The good news is that a lot can happen in a short amount of time given the amazing pace of advancement seen in technology. Take the chips that play music in greeting cards, for example. One of those chips has more computing power than all of the Allied forces of 1945, Kaku says. Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt -- all of those men would have killed to acquire the computing power of a chip that some people just throw in the garbage, he says. Even the smartphones we use today have more computing power than all of NASA did in 1969.

"Think about it; we sent off humans to outer space backed up by [technology less powerful than] a cellphone," says Kaku with amusement. "I mean, it's criminal. You're not gonna put me in a capsule [and] send me to outer space backed up by the power of a cellphone. But that's what we did back in 1969."

DNP Future soldier Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku on building a Death Star and Silicon Valley brain drain video

By 2020, computer chips will cost about a penny -- about the same amount as scrap paper -- Kaku says. At that point, computer power will be as ubiquitous as electricity. Once the internet reaches a similar point, the technology improvements could be incredible, he adds. Google's Project Glass may be getting a lot of buzz now, but Kaku says the wave of the future will be one step further in the form of internet-enabled contact lenses. Going online could literally be as simple as the blink of an eye -- users would be able to download lectures in plain sight, identify people at a cocktail party or even get subtitled translations during real-time conversations. Even folks tasked with shopping for things like groceries or electronics could share their viewpoint with another person and get real-time feedback about the items they need to get. Such an advancement would open up a whole new dimension in communication, Kaku says, whether it be tourists visiting other countries or consumers bargaining with a merchant online. Even the advent of fiber-optic cables -- which theoretically can transmit an almost limitless amount of information -- means the bottlenecks in transmission are no longer the limitations of the cable itself, but the engineering and economics of compressing and encrypting all that data, he adds.

It's certainly an interesting development for a technology that started out as a military weapon. The internet was not created so moms and dads can share photos of their kids but in order to fight the final war against the Soviet Union, Kaku says. Even more astounding is the fact that the National Science Foundation essentially gave away this military weapon in 1989 after the Soviet bloc started crumbling.

"This is unparalleled in the history of humanity that a top secret military weapon was essentially given away for free," Kaku says.

"They said [the telephone] would ruin human relations and one-to-one contact and you know something? The critics were absolutely right," Kaku says. "We do spend too much time on the telephone and you know something? We love it."

Then again, even Kaku realizes the technology he loves so much can be a double-edged sword. Although one edge can cut against ignorance, poverty and disease, Kaku admits another edge can cut against people. When the telephone first came out, for example, it was denounced by critics in many newspaper editorials.

"They said [the telephone] would ruin human relations and one-to-one contact and you know something? The critics were absolutely right," Kaku says. "We do spend too much time on the telephone and you know something? We love it."

Some people also harped on electricity, which they said would cause fires and electrocute people. Critics got that right, too, Kaku says. The alternative, however, is almost unimaginable. When power goes out and cellular networks go down in an area, we're essentially sent back 150 years to the time of our great grandparents, he says. So although technology may come with a price, it's a price Kaku is willing to pay. As for concerns raised frequently about Big Brother, Kaku says he's more concerned about "Little Brother."

"It's pesky neighbors, it's scam artists, it's petty criminals who want to steal your credit card," Kaku says. "We can create the software to protect our privacy, but let's face it, all the young hot shots want to become the next [Mark] Zuckerberg. They don't want to spend all their time trying to protect the privacy of mom and dad, they want to become the next billionaire -- and I don't blame them."

Like the debate between Coke and Pepsi for consumers, one question has raged fiercely among science nerds and geeks: Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein? For Kaku, the answer is so easy that even Einstein agrees, he says. Einstein took the foundation laid by Newton and created special and general relativity. Newton, on the other hand, had almost nothing to work with but a little bit of algebra, he says.

"In fact, there was no mathematics by which Newton could solve his theories so ... he created a new branch of mathematics: calculus," Kaku says. "If you take a look at where they started and where they left, you begin to realize that Newton started with a world of darkness -- a world where magic and witchcraft was the dominant thinking ... so comparing the two, I think, is no contest. I think Newton would be the greatest scientist who ever lived."

"... If you want to see your Death Star, you have to wait."

Looking back at the work done by both, however, makes it even more amazing to see how far science and technology have come today. Kaku points to the recent developments surrounding the Higgs boson, which he considers a significant achievement. The next big thing in physics? That would be dark matter, Kaku says, which scientists are now racing to discover.

A lot of today's talk about physics certainly sounds like science fiction, but as technology continues to advance, the lines between both will only get thinner. Even that Star Wars Death Star is possible given time. Just don't hold your breath, Kaku says. Physicists believe that there are advanced civilizations in space ranging from Type 1 to Type 3. Type 1 is planetary and can control the weather, earthquakes and volcanoes. Type 2 is stellar and can play with individual stars. Type 3 is galactic and possesses ships that can travel the galactic space lane.

"What would it take to create a Death Star?" Kaku says. "Probably a Type 2 civilization ... like in Star Trek that is spacefaring and has colonized nearby solar systems -- a civilization that is about 5,000 years into the future. So if you want to see your Death Star, you have to wait."

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My Week With Passive Exercise: Losing Weight Without Working Out?

I think everyone can agree that exercising kind of sucks. It has its good points, to be sure — the physical after-effects are great (you can even look like a superball full of muscles if you want to). It is fun to make cool new gym friends, I have been told. I exercise because I don’t want my legs to look like a half-eaten bowl of Jell-O. I run. I do “ballet barre.” Sometimes I contemplate going to a class called “Barry’s Boot Camp.” But even I can admit that these activities are secretly horrible, that running out of breath is a bore, and that “Barry’s Boot Camp” just sounds mean and upsetting.

So what if you could get the after-effects of exercise without actually, you know, doing a spin class on a Sunday when you could be sleeping? Can you really get skinny from just laying on the floor? I am here to find out just before the summer!  Using a mixture of spa treatments and odd things I bought on Amazon, I will investigate whether one can get the effects (milk) of exercise without buying the cow (ha!).

Basically, I will do a series of things that some people call “passive exercise,” i.e. tricks and tools that promise to make you slim without actually requiring time at the gym. Are these products pipe dreams or do they really work?  I will find out.

When Sketchers Shape Up shoes were victims of a class action lawsuit  because their entire technological basis was specious (they did not cause people to tone up or lose weight as they claimed and they caused “back problems”) no one was more upset than me, aside from the President of Sketchers. I was an early adopter of those shoes and I thought they were working! I thought they were turning my Jell-O legs into real legs. I didn’t even care that they looked weird and that people looked at me weirdly when I wore them on the street. 

Thus, when I found “No Gym Required” shoes while trying to find illegal and possibly used Sketchers on the internet, I was so excited. They are also unattractive sneakers with weight-loss claims attached to them, yet instead of the Shape Up’s uneven insole-of-injury — which purportedly threw you off balance in beneficial ways — they just have weights in their insole. (And gyms have weights!  Do you see how it is no gym required?)  You are supposed to wear the shoes around to do regular activities like walking but because they are really heavy (two pounds per foot) you also “burn extra calories.” On the website, they just look like regular white sneakers with lime green accents. No one has filed a class action lawsuit against them yet!  Sign me up! 

When I finally got the shoes in the mail, I was astounded at their heaviness. The sole is so full of weight that your actual foot sits relatively high off the ground. They are like those Isabel Marant wedge sneakers except far more orthopedic looking, possibly because of the aforementioned lime green accents. I decided to wear them on a walk to get an iced coffee.

I was so incredibly tired after my walk to my local Dunkin’ Donuts, I could barely believe it. How is walking in weighted shoes so tough? I was even walking rather slowly, as is my custom. However, one trip to the store became my workout of the day, which is a real time saver. And thus, I am kind of a fan of these shoes. I really think they are working.  My whole leg burned the next day (which is consistent with NGR’s rather ambitious promise of working out every single area of the leg). My foot’s arch hurt in a slightly worrying way but I don’t care. At $59.99, they are sort of a bargain.

Pro: Makes even simple tasks difficult.

Bliss Spa, a nationwide spa chain, now offers a new treatment called the “Lean Machine.” It apparently “visibly reduces the appearance of cellulite” and comes with a little leg massager that you can take home with you. Considering I once slathered my legs with baby oil and vacuumed them with a dust-buster (for a journalism experiment that I eventually refused to do because I didn’t want to show a picture of my thighs on the internet) this sounds easy and fun! Sign me up, ok?

So, I headed over to Bliss in midtown with a song in my heart. An aesthetician brushed my body with a body brush (This is apparently what Stacy Kiebler, Betty Grable of our time, does routinely ) and then put a cream called “Fat Girl Slim” on my legs (I don’t know). Then she taught me how to use the “Lean Machine” device, which is sort of like a vacuum that sucks up your cellulite and readjusts it. After the treatment, I definitely felt like the leg that was sucked up looked slightly more taut. When I used the device at home, I was not as good at it. I kept sucking up the back of my leg in a way that was painful, kind of like a forceful pinch. Bliss recommends you use the leg massager everyday until you start noticing “visible results.” Then you can transition to using it three times a week. At $195 for the machine and 30-minute instructional treatment, the system isn’t cheap, nor entirely different from a dust-buster, but it is much easier to use.

Con: Is the back of a leg more susceptible to pain than the front of a leg?

Have you ever seen an ab belt on an infomercial and thought, “That looks amazing?” Me too. That’s why I bought the Belly Burner belt on Amazon, which maintains that you will become a “fat burning machine” just by wearing a black wrestling belt. It even shows a “Thermagraphic Test” (What is this? Can someone tell me? They do not explain it) on the back of the box. There are two pictures, both faintly of abs, that seem to have been subjected to Weather Channel-style satellite vision. The first picture is a person without the Belly Burner on. They have blue abs. The second picture is a person with the Belly Burner on. They have red abs. Did someone say “Sign me up?”  Sign me up!

When I finally receive the Belly Burner in the U.S. mail, I realize it is just a gigantic neoprene belt. It is literally for someone with a 50-inch waist or more! But no matter, I put it on (it has adjustable Velcro), strapped on “No Gym Required” shoes, and headed down to the Container Store with my mom, who was visiting (you are supposed to wear the belt while doing physical activity, such as walking, and what is a better destination than the Container Store, where we could actually lift innumerable organizational tubs?). As soon as I stepped outside, I started sweating profusely all around my midsection. It was nearly 90 degrees outside. According to the Belly Burner box, the belt is creating a “sauna” around your waist that is “melting inches off.” You could also see the belt bulkily peaking out of my clothes. It made me look like I had a severe case of scoliosis. After twenty minutes of torture, and before I even arrived at the Container Store, I took the belt off. If you like sweating in a specific area, for $19.99, this is probably a good deal. Even if the science behind it makes little-to-no sense.

Pro: It does create a sauna around your waist.

The $98 dollar Seaweed Wrap at Dorit Baxter, a spa in New York City, promises to “minimize fat and water weight while toning and tightening” all while a person just lays on a table. It sounds so much easier than Bikram Yoga. Sign me up, please!

When I arrived for my hour-long treatment, I was ushered into a darkened room and directed to lay on a table. There I was massaged in slimming oil, slathered in seaweed (which was apparently from France) and wrapped up in a space blanket (and several more blankets for that matter) like a burrito. Then they left me to sweat into the seaweed. It was actually very pleasant up until the burrito part which was extremely warm (although I suppose that is the point). After twenty minutes or so inside the burrito, I was instructed to take a shower and wash off the seaweed. All that sweating did seem to pay off!  My arms, especially, looked more defined.

So what have I learned? All exercise, including passive exercise, is hard work. You still have to carve time out of your day to do it, and isn’t that the worst part about exercise? Plus you have to sweat so much to get anything done. There is no free lunch, it turns out.

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Jessica Simpson Gives Birth to Son, Ace Knute Johnson

Jessica Simpson gave birth to her second child, a boy named Ace Knute Johnson, yesterday, Us Weekly reports. The name is pronounced "Ace Ka-nute," and he is fourteen months younger than sister Maxwell Drew Johnson. Ace and Maxwell's father is former NFL tight end Eric Johnson.

According to the Social Security baby name registry, Ace was the 524th most popular name for newborn American boys in 2012.

Knute was last popular in 1893. Update: Knute "honors Johnson's Swedish grandfather." It has also come to my attention that Ronald Reagan was in a football movie called Knute Rockne All American during his acting days.

If you're still feeling haughty about celebrity baby names, read this article and repent.

View the original article here

For Bachelorettes, Nude Figure Models Are the New Male Strippers

Or so hopes Brooklyn alternative bachelorette company, Artful Bachelorette. The company offers a two hour nude figure drawing class with Champagne and instruction for $85 per bachelorette. “When there’s a stripper, you end up humiliating the bride, if she has to get a lap dance,” cofounder Fleur Child, who has 100 parties booked this summer, tells the Daily News. "None of our models are strippers." And everyone knows your bachelorette is your last opportunity to make art!

View the original article here

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It's Monday, and you know what that means; another Engadget HD Podcast. We hope you will join us live when the Engadget HD podcast starts recording at 8:30PM. If you'll be joining us, be sure to go ahead and get ready by reviewing the list of topics after the break, then you'll be ready to participate in the live chat.

Cox flareWatch beta brings IPTV with 60 HD channels, cloud DVR for $35 monthly
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Discovery Communications working on a HBO Go-esque streaming service
Twitter wants to make a 'DVR mode' for live TV events, offer delayed Twitter streams
Netflix Max hands-on: Jellyvision's take on your movie queue
Netflix renews 'Orange is the New Black' for season two, before season one launches
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Sceptre's Android-powered Sound Bar 2.1 makes any TV smart
Samsung launches 55-inch 'flawless' curved OLED TV in Korea
Sharp announces first THX-certified 4K TV, the $8,000 Aquos Ultra
Toshiba will launch 84-, 65- and 58-inch 4K TVs in August, prices start at $4,999
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