Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides and writes for This American Life, The Atlantic, Breakfast on Mars, and The Magazine. You can follow him at chrishiggins.com.
It's time for a new occasional feature! Rejoice! In this column, I'll talk about my personal experience being diagnosed with sleep apnea, what treatments are available, the science behind the condition, and (hopefully) my miraculous improvement after being treated. For this first entry, I'll talk about the experience leading up to my sleep study. In future columns I'll reveal the diagnosis and treatment, and you can follow along as I try to catch some sleep. Before we begin the narrative, let's get a... READ ON
What can a team of design students create in just 24 hours? How about a complete video game level, crammed with animation, danger, and innovative art?
Last weekend, students from New York City's slightly awkwardly-named Parsons The New School for Design divided themselves into teams to design levels for an upcoming PlayStation 3 game called LittleBigPlanet. In the game, the player controls a little "sackboy" (with what appears to be a hacky sack for a head) as he runs around levels that are designed... READ ON
Can we stop epidemics by stopping people from shaking each others' hands? Can we solve global overconsumption by making people smaller, or just getting rid of mostly everybody? If a "one child per family" policy means children's families are small, why not add dozens more parents to each family? Artificial intelligence maven Marvin Minsky tackles these "solutions" in a tongue-in-cheek TED Talk from 2003.
Minsky makes an interesting point (in a roundabout way) about the nature of emotion and its role... READ ON
Journalist/programmer Andy Baio had a problem: he had recorded a half-hour telephone interview, but didn't want to spend hours transcribing it to text so he could post it on his blog. If you've ever transcribed audio to text, you know it's laborious and time-consuming -- just no fun at all. There are online transcription services, but they're expensive. So what did Baio do?
Bracing for a good four or five hours of rewinding and writing and rewinding, I remembered that this is The Future! So,... READ ON
At last night's Emmy Awards, HBO's John Adams miniseries won a boatload of awards. It's out on DVD now, and I enjoyed the heck out of it when it aired on HBO earlier this year. It's must-watch material for anyone with a keen interest in American history, and "should-watch" material for everyone else. Here are a few reasons why I think you should give it a look.
1. It's the Emmy-Winningest Miniseries of All Time
John Adams won a staggering thirteen Emmies, which makes it the biggest winner in... READ ON
UPDATE: Contest Winner Selected!
After nearly a hundred entries, we've randomly selected a winner: commenter Meg Stivison. Meg posted: "My new favorite word is sub-Turing, used specifically for those who wouldn't pass a Turing intelligence test." We'll email Meg shortly with instructions on how to claim her free Anathem shirt! Thanks to all for entering, and for sharing your favorite... READ ON
Back when life was simpler, Sesame Street produced a video showing how a crayon factory worked. I don't recall seeing the video as a kid, but watching it now, I learned a few things:
1. Words are not necessary to describe the process of making crayons. An awesome soundtrack, on the other hand, is a must.
2. Making crayons is a messy business. Orange wax everywhere!
3. Skilled crayon-makers can pick up scores of crayons at once using a special two-handed grab.
Set aside two minutes for... READ ON
Although the presentation was given ten years ago (the presenters start by cracking jokes about the then-current box office hit Titanic), ocean explorer David Gallo has some amazing video of animals and other interesting stuff in the deep sea. The thirteen-minute presentation is crammed full of video showing strange octopods, colorful jellyfish, beautiful tubeworms (including a worm fight!), and scary fish -- but there's also some really interesting video of deep-sea hydrothermal vents. The vents are... READ ON
What happens when you take a photograph and apply every Photoshop filter to it? Well, cartoonist/infographicographer Dorothy Gambrell did just that. And she applied them in order, as they appear in the Filters menu. Starting with... READ ON
Several friends of mine have reported strange chat sessions over the past few months. The chats are a form of mediated communication between strangers that seems either like a prank or an art project (or perhaps both). The scenario generally goes like this:
1. A chatbot (posing as a human) starts up a conversation via AOL Instant Messenger (or another chat service). Some bots (like TheGreatHatsby) use a single, distinctive opening line like, "I say, old bean, have you seen my hat?" while others use... READ ON
The sum of all the numbers on a roulette wheel is 666.