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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs gave Barack Obama an iPad 2 "a little bit early"

Being the "Commander in Chief" has its perks, like getting an iPad 2 directly from Steve Jobs a few weeks before launch

By Yoni Heisler

It's no secret that the Obama administration tends to be a bit Apple-centric. During Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign, for example, Macs were relied upon quite a bit by his staff and folks in his administration were famously disappointed when, upon moving into the White House, they saw a plethora of outdated PCs running Windows.

It's also no secret that Obama himself, though an avowed BlackBerry user, is also an iPad owner. During atownhall meeting back in March of this year, Obama admitted as much while joking with news anchor Jorge Ramos.

“I mean, Jorge, I’m the president of the United States,” Obama said. “You think I’ve got to go borrow somebody’s computer?” Obama said to bouts of laughter. “Hey, man, can I borrow your computer? How about you? You’ve got one?”

But what we didn't know was that Obama got his iPad 2 a little bit before the rest of us, from Steve Jobs no less.

In a recent interview with George Stephanopoulous of ABC News, Obama explained: “Steve Jobs actually gave it to me, a little bit early. Yeah, it was cool. I got it directly from him.”

So when might this transaction have gone down?

Well, the iPad 2 was released on March 11, 2011. And interestingly enough, you might remember that Obama in mid-February hosted a tech-centric dinner where he invited a who's-who of tech luminaries, including Jobs, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Larry Ellison, and Mark Zuckerberg.

This all begs the question - how long as Obama been in possession of an iPhone 5?

Below is the photo of the aforementioned White House dinner where Jobs can be seen sitting to Obama's left.

Apple Predicted Siri 24 Years Ago So Perfectly It’s Scary


This just blew my mind. Back in 1987 Apple made a video about a future computer that would have a touchscreen with a computerize assistant you could talk to. They were off in their prediction by only 18 days. Wow.

In 1987, former Apple CEO John Sculley wrote about a concept called the Knowledge Navigator. It was a far out idea that was way ahead of its time. Its time, evidently, was today. The Knowledge Navigator features a digital assistant that is almost identical to Siri, which just launched hours ago, though Siri is a disembodied voice, not a guy in a bow tie. Less bow tie is always good. Check the video and tell me it's not eerily similar.
Here's the kicker, though. Andy Baio of noted, "The date on the professor's calendar is September 16, and he's looking for a 2006 paper written 'about five years ago,' setting the year as 2011." September 16th, 2011. So, twenty-four years ago Apple predicted that there would be a magical, touchscreen device, that could do video calls, that would have a digital assistant you could interact with, and that would pull down data from a massive network (coughTheCloudcough)... and they were only eighteen days off? That's fucking crazy.

What kind of dark magic is at work here? Does Apple have a time machine (other than their product, Time Machine) or a crystal ball? Is that how they rule computers? Time travel? Absolutely nutso. [ and BYTECellar]

Update: To clarify, the video is not from 1987. The video was made in the mid-90's. The 1987 date was when John Sculley wrote about Knowledge Navigator is his book Odyssey. Sorry confusion be banished!

UPDATE 2: To avoid confusion and on the advice of Andy Baio, I've swapped in an edited segment of the video. To be clear, this video was produced in 1987. The previous video was produced in the mid-90's and contained this 1987 video in it. So they're still time-traveling warlocks. Everybody got that? Okay, good. Thanks, Andy!

Worst Magic Trick Ever [.gif] — Kids...try this at home...and with video recording...please.

He made his brother disappear!

World's Largest Solar Bridge Under Construction in London

solar bridge blackfriars photo
Image credit: Solarcentury
I've said it before, but symbolism is hugely important as we transition from the fossil fuel age to a clean energy economy. So the announcement that an iconic steam-era railway bridge is to become the world's largest solar bridge is big news indeed.
The fact that it will generate an estimated 900,000kWh of electricity every year just seems like icing on the cake.
A New industrial Age
Whether it is an old mine becoming the world's largest solar power plant, or an industrial dockyard used for coal deliveries now sporting gigantic wind turbines, some projects seem to have particular symbolic value when discussing the dawn of a new energy paradigm. But it would be a mistake to characterize the conversion of the Blackfriars railway bridge that spans the Thames near St. Paul's Cathedral as simply symbolic.
A Solar-Powered Station
Providing nearly 50% of the energy needed to power Blackfriars station, and sporting 6,000m2 of PV panels, this will be the largest solar array in London and the largest solar bridge in the world. Derry Newman, chief executive of project developers Solarcentury explained that visibility is a hugely important aspect of this project:
"It's fantastic to see this project finally come to fruition. Blackfriars Bridge is an ideal location for solar; a new, iconic large roof space, right in the heart of London. Station buildings and bridges are fixed parts of our urban landscape and it is great to see that this one will be generating renewable energy every day into the future. Unknown to most, there are many hundreds of buildings now powered by solar in the capital as investment in this technology increases. For people to see that solar power is working is a vital step towards a clean energy future."
Perhaps even more encouraging is the news that this is not just a case of slapping on solar panels and calling it green. The panels themselves are just one part of a much broader retrofit of the station that includes installation of rainwater harvesting systems and "sunpipe" solar day lighting.
Leadership. Just Not From Our Leaders.
So while senior UK ministers continue their push for mediocrity regarding clean energy, they will see people hard at work (yes, work!) making the next industrial revolution actually happen

We'll be hosting a Live Chat with former oil man, Greenpeace campaigner, and Solarcentury founder Jeremy Leggett on October 13. We'll no doubt be discussing the Blackfriars project, alongside the latest developments in solar, the current political climate for clean energy, and his work in spearheading business responses to peak oil. Stay tuned.

solar bridge blackfriars photo
Image credit: Solarcentury

Watch: ‘Invisibility Cloak’ Uses Mirages to Make Objects Vanish

By Mark Brown
Researchers from the University of Dallas in Texas have hijacked one of nature’s most intriguing phenomena — the mirage — to make an invisibility cloak. It can hide objects from view, works best underwater and even has a near-instant on/off switch.

To understand how it works, you need to first grasp the basics of the mirage effect. This unusual experience, sometimes seen in the desert or on hot roads during the summer, can trick your brain into seeing objects that aren’t really there.

It happens when a big change in temperature over a small distance bends light rays so they’re sent towards the eye rather than bouncing off the surface. So if you see a pool of blue water in the middle of the desert it’s just the blue sky being redirected from the warm ground and sent directly into your eye. Your brain, being the clever little computer that it is, swaps this mad image out for something more sensible: a pool of water.

With that in mind, the researchers wanted to find a material that has an exceptional ability to conduct heat and quickly transfer it to surrounding areas to mimic the light-distorting temperature gradients of the desert. That material, they found, was sheets of carbon nanotubes.

The nanotubes — one-molecule-thick sheets of carbon wrapped up into cylindrical tube — have the density of air but the strength of steel. They’re also excellent conductors, making them an ideal material to exploit the “mirage effect.”

Through electrical stimulation, the transparent sheet of highly aligned nanotubes can be quickly heated to high temperatures. By transferring that heat to its surrounding areas, a steep temperature gradient is generated, which causes the light rays to bend away from the object concealed behind the device. Therefore, the object appears invisible.

“It is remarkable to see this cloaking device demonstrated in real life and on a workable scale,” said a spokesperson for the Institute of Physics. “The array of applications that could arise from this device, besides cloaking, is a testament to the excellent work of the authors.”