Hmmm? Large modern movies are programmed down to individual frames. Every single aspect is tuned by huge crews of people. They're quite mechanical creations. Modern Hollywood is profitable exactly because of this. Movies involve significant investments, and are absolutely not left to the whims of creators like Wilder. » 2/24/15 10:47pm Tuesday 10:47pm

No, it's much worse than that. Even with perfect piloting and some kind of auto-gyro or parachute fail-safe, it's dangerous to fly in high winds. As it is, plane flights are cancelled all the time because of weather. That's with experts at the controls and a vast safety infrastructure. Planes basically have no… » 2/23/15 9:04am Monday 9:04am

If they can fry birds, can North Korean hackers use it to fry planes? I once worked it out for a smaller power tower, the 5 MW eSolar Lancaster plant, and figured it could hit 100 kW/m2 (the power density the Air Force uses for their death lasers) at about a mile above the system. Larry Niven's Ringworld sunflowers,… » 2/19/15 1:22pm 2/19/15 1:22pm

This "Designed in X" stuff has got to stop. You're all Americans, dudes, before you're Californians or Philadelphians. Sure, go ahead and like your state or city, and feel free to boast about it privately, but don't put it ahead of the country. Robert E. Lee made the wrong choice there, and caused misery to millions. » 2/17/15 7:24pm 2/17/15 7:24pm

Gotta say that the horizontal ring-shaped buildings are really off-putting. They show a defensive wall against the world, a barrier to repel invaders. They minimize external surface area, so the fewest possible people get outside views. I can see why the British GCHQ would want such a building, since they're into… » 2/17/15 4:10pm 2/17/15 4:10pm

Very much this. Notice how the Kingmen are not actually government agents. Real agents these days torture people when they catch them, kill them with drones when they can't, and steal pallets of shrink-wrapped hundred dollar bills from Baghdad. It's kind of hard to make light-hearted spoofs about them. » 2/12/15 2:28pm 2/12/15 2:28pm

At the time it looked like a mere publicity stunt by IBM. The program was being modified between games by human masters, and may in fact have been modified during the games, which would have been cheating. IBM never revealed the logs of what happened to the machine during the games, and dismantled the machine… » 2/11/15 7:32am 2/11/15 7:32am

Without cardboard boxes it's hard to see how you could ship small items any distance at all economically. Any small manufactured item would be likely to be damaged unless it had careful hand packing. Having a box means that you can have centralized production of biscuits or anything else. You can have national… » 2/09/15 9:56am 2/09/15 9:56am

I had a look at the same data for a more innovative city: Cambridge, MA. I went to the USPTO search database and searched for matches on inventor city, inventor state, and year issued. Cambridge has also seen an explosion in the number of patents issued in recent years: » 2/04/15 11:25pm 2/04/15 11:25pm

Yes please! In "Tuf Voyaging" our hero starts out as as small-time wheeler-dealer when he somehow comes into possession of an immensely powerful seedship of the Earth Ecological Corp. It contains genetic records of every species ever found, including every style of plague, every predator, and every food species. … » 2/02/15 5:00pm 2/02/15 5:00pm

A great adaptation of Arthur would be to film "Winter Solstice: Camelot Station" by John M. Ford, whose early death we still lament. It won the Rhysling Award for best long-form poem in SF in 1989. It's a steampunk version of the gathering of the Round Table, as they each return by train to Camelot for the holiday. … » 2/02/15 6:39am 2/02/15 6:39am

The number of cars per person has gone up a lot in the last 30 years, so I would expect that the number of registered-vehicle-years has gone up a lot too. It could be that cars aren't getting as much use as they used to when the entire family had to make do with one. » 1/30/15 11:52am 1/30/15 11:52am

CD and DVD plastic wrapping. Not only do you have to strip off the cellophane around the box, you then have to take that strip of tape off of the edge to get the box open. You need either sharp fingernails or a special tool, and it always takes way too long. It's yet another way that Big Content shows its hate for… » 1/28/15 9:10am 1/28/15 9:10am