Ready Player One is all about people using a virtual world called the OASIS to make their dreams come true. While virtual reality has only been a thing—at least in name—since the 1980s, people have been dreaming of life in fictional worlds for thousands of years. In a new episode of “That Looks Familiar,” io9's Beth Elderkin looks at the real history of why we’re so obsessed with virtual reality. What Is Lucid Dreaming? Lucid dreaming is the act of becoming aware that you’re dreaming, while you’re asleep. Most of the time, people simply wake themselves up. But if you stay asleep, you can basically do whatever you want. The link between lucid dreaming and virtual reality isn’t just in similarity, but also in science. Research from Dr. Jayne Gackenbach has found that people who use virtual reality are better able to enter a state of lucid dreaming. The first known textual description of lucid dreaming came from the Upanishads, the Hindu … [Read more...] about A Brief History of Virtual Reality, From Lucid Dreaming to Ready Player One
In the continued attempt of the beverage industry to find new avenues in a fading market, Coke is now pushing booze for almost the first time in the 125 years of the company. It’s developing a version of the popular chu-hi beverage in Japan. The Washington Post reports today, “The company’s chief business executive in Japan, Jorge Garduño, said last month that the soft-drink giant was developing a version of chu-hi—a popular fizzy mixed drink. ‘This is a canned drink that includes alcohol; traditionally, it is made with a distilled beverage called shochu and sparkling water, plus some flavoring.’” Other than a brief wine detour from 1977 to 1983—when it owned Wine Spectrum, which was then sold to Seagram & Sons—this is the first time that Coke is looking to sell alcohol. Garduño stressed in an interview on the company’s website, “Coca-Cola has always focused entirely on non-alcoholic beverages, and this is … [Read more...] about Coke will sell a boozy beverage for only the second time in its history
It’s almost time to “spring forward” for Daylight Saving Time, but who came up with this bizarre practice? And why? If you just answered “Benjamin Franklin” and “to help farmers,” you should probably read this. Many Americans like to claim that Benjamin Franklin invented DST, but that’s not exactly true. Franklin did pen an essay suggesting Parisians should maximize their use of daylight hours in 1784, but it was satirical in nature and partially meant to poke fun at the French. Basically, he explained how they could save a ton of money on candles if everybody just woke up earlier and utilized the daylight more. Franklin didn’t mention anything about adjusting time itself. It was actually two Brits, scientist George Vernon Hudson and builder William Willett who almost simultaneously came up with the idea. Hudson presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society in 1895, suggesting a two-hour time shift forward in October … [Read more...] about The Real History of Daylight Saving Time
Matt Damon loves an opportunity to save the day. Ever notice? In movies like We Bought a Zoo (he buys a zoo and proceeds to save it) and 2017's Downsizing (in which he miniaturizes himself and saves a Vietnamese refugee), Damon is always helping, healing, and protecting the world from harm on screen, or simply offering his sage advice as a means of salvation. Playing a perplexing ally (a stretch of a role) in 2016's The Great Wall was just the tip of the white savior iceberg. Here’s a rundown of Damon’s most heroic, good Samaritan, guardian angel scenes. Video: Producer, Zoe Stahl; Editor, Eddie Costas … [Read more...] about A Brief History of Matt Damon As a White Savior
Genealogy is an old hobby that has had a recent surge in popularity thanks to new technology. In addition to attics and archives, ancestry sleuths can now log on to popular websites like Ancestry.com and connect with millions of other to whom they may be genetically linked. To Columbia University computer scientist Yaniv Erlich, this wealth of genealogical information was a treasure trove of data just waiting to be mined. “I was thinking about it, and realized we can leverage the hard work of millions of genealogists who were just interested to learn about family history,” Erlich, who is also the chief science officer at the genealogy and DNA testing company MyHeritage, told Gizmodo. “You take this hard work and you have this beautiful data set about humanity that you can study.” On Thursday, Erlich’s insights from that data set appeared in the journal Science, in the form of an enormous family tree of 13 million people, a picture of marriage, … [Read more...] about ‘Stunning’ Family Tree Includes 13 Million People Over 11 Generations
My grandfather was caramel-skinned with black eyes and thick, dark hair, and until he discovered that he was adopted, he had no reason to suspect that he was not the son of two poor Mexicans as he’d always been told. When he found his adoption papers, according to family lore, he pestered the nuns at the Dallas orphanage where he had lived as an infant for the name of his birth mother. Name in hand, at 10 years old, he hopped a bus to Pennsylvania, met his birth mother, and found out that he was actually Syrian. At least that’s what we thought until my Aunt Cat mailed a tube of her spit in to AncestryDNA. Genetic testing suggested that my aunt’s genetic makeup was only a tiny bit Middle Eastern—16 percent, not the 50 percent you might expect if your father was a full-blooded Syrian, as my grandfather believed himself to be. The rest of her Ancestry breakdown provided some explanation, but mostly more confusion. While we typically think of the Caucasus as … [Read more...] about How DNA Testing Botched My Family’s Heritage, and Probably Yours, Too
During Black History Month, there are a few obligatory staples and customs that all black kids in America come to expect: the Black History Month assembly where a vivacious and chubby child recites MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech or Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” with the cadence of a LisaRaye performance; brief history lessons about Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King and of course, Rosa Parks; being regaled by rousing renditions of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by your church’s youth choir for the youth ministry’s Black History Month program; and another recitation of “Still I Rise.” Among these mainstays are classrooms festively bordered with pictures of exceptional and world-renowned African-American professionals and entertainers: people such as Mae C. Jamison, Malcolm X, Duke Ellington, Jackie Robinson and the body that formerly housed the soul of famed neurosurgeon Ben Carson. As … [Read more...] about Unpopular Black History Opinion: Jackie Robinson Might Have Been an Opp
If you had a computer in the early 2000s and didn’t have a ton of common sense (or proper antivirus software), you probably ended up with an allegedly helpful purple ape named BonziBuddy crowding your desktop. He could talk, tell jokes, “sing,” and generally annoy you. He promised to help you use the internet, but mostly he just got in the way. If you aren’t familiar with BonziBuddy, that probably sounds pretty weird to you…but the backstory behind this weird relic of the aughts is even stranger than the monkey himself. Where Do Purple Monkeys Come From? In today’s world, virtual assistants seem normal. Alexa, Siri, Google, and even Cortana are household names, and we just sort of accepted the idea that a disembodied, vaguely human-sounding voice can help us do routine tasks. That much at least makes some sense to us now, but who in their right mind would think that you’d want a purple cartoon monkey to … [Read more...] about A Brief History of BonziBuddy, the Internet’s Most Friendly Malware
As digital technology continues to seep into every aspect of our analog lives, it seems it was only a matter of time before it started to replace our plain old visual experiences with something a little more tantalizing. Head-mounted displays, or HMDs, are an almost ancient piece of tech which have begun to see a reboot in the past few years as computers get more powerful, and the games inside them more visually spectacular by the day. In this article, we’re going to cut through the noise and give you the basics of the HMD revolution. We’ll cover the terms you need to know, the history of where they came from, and how far the technology might be taking us next. So if boring old regular reality just isn’t enough anymore, maybe it’s time to take a dip into the world of the virtual and see where you end up on the other side. Seeing Things Differently: a (Brief) History of HMDs Back in the 1960’s, a cinematographer named Morton Heilig had a crazy idea: what if … [Read more...] about Head Mounted Displays: What’s the Difference between Augmented and Virtual Reality?
You’ve probably heard the term “chipset” tossed around when talking about new computers, but what exactly is a chipset, and how does it affect your computer’s performance? In a nutshell, a chipset acts like the motherboard’s communications center and traffic controller, and it ultimately determines what components are compatible with the motherboard—including the CPU, RAM, hard drives, and graphics cards. It also dictates your future expansion options, and to what extent, if any, your system can be overclocked. These three criteria are important when considering which motherboard to buy. Let’s talk a little bit about why. A Brief History of Chipsets Back in the days of computer yore, PC motherboards consisted of lots of discrete integrated circuits. This generally required a separate chip or chips to control each system component: mouse, keyboard, graphics, sounds, and so on. As you can imagine, having all those various … [Read more...] about What Is a “Chipset”, and Why Should I Care?