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Monthly Archives: September 2008

Moon Dust Pens Feature Lunar Regolith From Texas

By Evan Ackerman

It’s pretty dusty up there on the moon. So dusty, in fact, that in an effort to prepare the lunar surface for human habitation, a company called W.I.S.E. Retail Solutions is now stuffing Apollo 11 commemorative pens with it and selling them to earthlings to help make the place a bit tidier. The pens have a little chamber for the dust, as well as “a handcrafted, individually hand painted miniature Apollo 11 astronaut figurine” at the top.

Of course, it’s not real moon dust. Of course. The dust in the pens is actually a simulant called JSC-1A, which is made in Texas with volcanic ash from Arizona. It’s just about as close to the real thing as you’re likely to get, though… NASA uses JSC-1A to test out equipment destined for the lunar surface. Real moon dust is electrostatically charged (making it stick to everything) and highly abrasive; not something you really want getting into either sensitive equipment or your lungs. With that in mind, NASA goes through literally tons of it trying to moon-proof spacesuits and the like.

If you’re interested in the real moon bits, you can find pieces of the moon for sale from meteorite dealers (how else do you s’pose it gets to Earth?) online. The moon is not cheap, though… Expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 per gram. If you’re thinking you might rather have the pen instead, it’ll only cost you $25, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation.

Oh, and just a warning: their website is atrocious.

[ Moon Dust Pen ] VIA [ Moon Daily ]

Finger Plates For The Modest Eater

By Jonathan Kimak

There is admittedly a lot of stupid junk that companies try to pass off as actual products and this is one of those.

The FingerFood, designed by Ken Goldman, is a plastic ring with a little plastic plate on top that allows you to carry an hors d’ouevre on the same hand as your wine. And really, what compliments a fine chardonnay better than a cocktail weenie. The ring plates are “one size fits most” and keep your other hand free for activities like shaking hands, high-fiving your best buds and giving out some gun fingers.

The petite plates come in packs of 10 so that you and your friends can enjoy this fine dining accessory at your next formal ball.

[ Yanko Design ] VIA [ DVICE ]

Mind Games That Won’t Require Years Of Therapy Afterwards

By Jonathan Kimak

If you’re in Chicago over the next few weeks you may want to check out Wired NextFest going on now until October 12. While there you should check out the game Brainball.

Brainball is played by you and an opponent sitting at the gaming table that vaguely resembles the table version of shuffleboard. You place a band around your head with metal contacts that will monitor your brainwaves. The headband allows you and your opponent to move a little ball using nothing, literally. The headband checks your alpha and theta brainwaves and moves the ball based on how low they are, the less active they are the faster the ball moves.

Lowered brain activity occurs when you are relaxed and not thinking too hard. So the best way to win the game is to not think about it or anything else.

[ ars technica ] VIA [ Crunch Gear ]

Best Science Images of 2008

By Evan Ackerman

This electron micrograph of long finned squid suckers is one of National Geographic’s Best Science Images of 2008. Have a look at the entire gallery here, or see the first place winner (a picture of diatoms on an invertebrate) after the jump.Continue Reading

The Ultimate Matrix Collection On Blu-Ray – Overpackaging At Its Finest

The Ultimate Matrix Collection on Blu-Ray (Images courtesy TOYSREVIL'S I LIKE TOYS)
By Andrew Liszewski

To celebrate the release of The Matrix trilogy on Blu-Ray in Japan, Warner Brothers has created this ridiculously over-the-top packaging where the 7 discs in the collection can be stored inside a 2-foot highly detailed model of the Nebuchadnezzar. The 7 discs include a copy of The Matrix trilogy and The Animatrix on Blu-Ray as well as 3 additional standard-def DVDs featuring the ‘making-of’ documentaries. The Ultimate Matrix Collection, as it’s appropriately called, will probably only be available in limited quantities when it’s released in Japan on December 17th, and will sell for about $375.

[ The Ultimate Matrix Collection ] VIA [ TOYSREVIL’S I LIKE TOYS ]

Metal Plate X-Ray Messages – Because Airport Security Officers Have A Great Sense Of Humor

X-Ray Message Plates (Images courtesy Evan Roth)
By Andrew Liszewski

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, while I’m not exactly thrilled with having to deal with Customs lineups and random security searches whenever I fly to the U.S., I’m more than willing to take the ‘just suck it up’ approach, instead of the ‘let’s poke the bear’ approach. So in the future I probably won’t be traveling with these custom etched steel plates created by Evan Roth which are designed to show up whenever your luggage passes through an x-ray security machine. I’m sure 1 out of 1,000 Customs officers might find them amusing, but the other 999 who’ve been dealing with travelers all day probably won’t.

[ MAKE: Blog – Metal plates send messages to airport x-ray screeners ]

Tamagotchi Plus Series – Now In Color!

Tamagotchi Plus Color (Images courtesy Bandai)
By Andrew Liszewski

Surprisingly it’s been over 12 years since the original Tamagotchi was released, and following in the steps of television and then the Game Boy, the keychain-sized fad is hoping to gain some popularity once again by introducing a color screen! The concept is still the same, you’re in charge of taking care of a small digital creature, and by ‘take care’ I of course mean torture, starve and whatever other cruel and unusual punishments the game actually allows you to carry out. But this time around it looks like the 128×128 pixel TFT LCD screen is actually able to render custom backgrounds like a living room, bedroom, kitchen and even a bathroom. (I’m pretty creeped out that the toilet actually has a face, what heinous crime did that guy commit in a past life?)

The new Tamagotchi game also introduces other elements like different seasons and weather conditions, and more expressive emotions that should provide a bit more satisfaction as you make your character’s life a living nightmare. The Tamagotchi Plus Color will be released on November 22, but this time around they’ll set you back a rather steep $48.

[ Tamagotchi Plus Color ] VIA [ Gearlog ]

Dell Latitude E6400 Includes Software Privacy Screen Option

Dell Latitude E6400 (Image courtesy Dell)
By Andrew Liszewski

Tired of people trying to sneak a peek at your screen while you’re surfing at the airport? Or maybe you have a penchant for clicking NSFW links even while at work? If that’s the case, the next time you upgrade your laptop you might want to seriously consider the Latitude E6400 from Dell. It’s the first in their lineup to include an electronic privacy screen that can be quickly activated or deactivated using a keyboard shortcut, or with Dell’s ControlPoint bloatware. The privacy screen is actually software based, and it creates a pixel-based pattern on the screen that dramatically reduces the side viewing angles, while having a minimal impact on the screen’s brightness. Unfortunately the privacy screen is a ridiculous $139 option, but since it’s a software solution, I would just wait for the inevitable third-party alternatives that should be popping up for download any minute now.

[ Dell Latitude E6400 ] VIA [ Gizmag ]

3M’s Mobile Identity Reader

3M Mobile ID Reader (Image courtesy Wired Gadget Lab)
By Andrew Liszewski

Check out this new Mobile ID Reader from 3M that you might soon see in use at a major event or other public gathering where security and safety is a big concern. It looks similar to the portable credit card machines you see the employees at Apple stores now carrying, but instead of taking your money, it’s used to scan your passport or Visa and check your credentials against a local or international ‘watch’ list. The scanner runs Windows Mobile 6 and is able to wirelessly check your ID thanks to built-in Wifi and GSM/GPRS EDGE, and it even features a capacitive fingerprint sensor should you not have any printed ID on you. It’s also got 8GB of storage onboard for keeping detailed logs of who’s been scanned, but all of that info is supposedly encrypted to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.

[ Wired Gadget Lab – Give Away Your Identity Faster Than Ever, in a Single Swipe ]