Towletech v. 111: Space Advertising, Killer Robots, Dementor Wasps, Virtual Reality Chickens



A weekly round-up of the best tech, science, and geek-related news from around the web.

Road (1) Japanese drink company Pocari Sweat is looking to put the first advertisement on the moon.

Road (1) Ampulex dementorTerrifying new wasp species aptly named after the soul-sucking Dementor creature from Harry Potter fame. “This brightly metallic colored group of insect is famous for its rather unorthodox ways of reproduction. The wasp stings a cockroach’s head, transferring neurotoxins. The cockroach then slowly turns into a submissive being, lacking all free-will, and follows the wasp to its burrow. Inside the burrow, the wasp lays an egg on it. In a few days the wasp larva hatches, feeds on the cockroach, pupates, and soon emerges as an adult.”

Road (1) Hong Kong venture capital firm appoints artificial intelligence learning program as new board member. 

Road (1) Speaking of Harry Potter, Universal Studios is expanding the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with a new ride set inside the Gringotts Bank…and it looks awesome.


Road (1)  Great red spotNeil DeGrasse Tyson dismisses philosophy as "useless," philosopher responds.

Road (1) Jupiter's Great Red Spot, the Earth-sized storm that's been raging on the gas giant for over 400 years, is mysteriously shrinking in a dramatic way.

Road (1) The FCC is moving forward with the creation of internet fast (and slow) lanes. 

Road (1) The Bluetooth bike lock Skylock has keyless entry, anti-theft protection, is solar powered, and will even alert emergency responders if you happen to get into a wreck.

Road (1) Diplomats, engineers and tech experts from around the world have gathered this week at the United Nations in Geneva to debate whether “killer robots” should be banned from future warfare.


Road (1)  Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 12.09.37 PMYou’ve heard of virtual reality headgear like Oculus Rift for humans, but what about VR for animals? Enter Second Livestock, a fictional company and service that would simulate a Matrix-esque blissful, free-range life for caged chickens and other livestock. 

Road (1) Russia is threatening to ban the U.S. from using the International Space Station over Ukraine sanctions. 

Road (1) 3-D Printed guns are becoming even easier to make…and more deadly. 

Road (1)  BoeingBoeing’s new CST-100 manned space capsule (pictured) is looks like something straight out of Star Trek.

Road (1) Not to be outdone in the space-geek news this week, NASA has unveiled a TRON-inspired spacesuit that they hope to use during the first manned mission to Mars. 

Road (1) Wired looks at the coming end of television as we know it. "The half-hour sitcom? The hour-long drama? These are conventions that came into existence for reasons that don’t matter anymore. Soon, the conventions themselves won’t matter anymore, either. Welcome to the real new golden age of television — television without limits."


  1. Randy says

    NDT should stick to what he knows. He’s not that good at presenting science. And apparently he’s not that bright about philosophy.

    Without philosophy, there is no science. What is a PhD, Dr. Tyson? It stands for Doctor of Philosophy. You can’t (or at least shouldn’t) claim to be a scientist without understanding the philosophy of science (why we claim science “works”). The foundation on which science is built is necessarily philosophical. There’s no avoiding it. Science (induction) doesn’t prove itself.

    Further, much of what is mis-labeled science today (e.g. string theory, multiple universes) is actually philosophy. Science deals with what is observed. Nobody has observed evidence of strings or the multiple dimensions they are said to inhabit. Nobody has observed evidence of other universes.

    Philosophy is a “what-if” mind experiment. It suggests paths that science can then explore. And it is able to apply reason to things which science has yet to grasp, such as justice (take that however you will…)


    Regarding the FCC, there are no fast lanes. That would require new cable. There are only slow lanes, which will be controlled by your ISP. Your data will get to your ISP just fine. But they’ll hold it hostage for a while (and they’ll probably have to spy in it, to find out how long they should hold it hostage).

    As I’ve said many times, we should be investing heavily in serving the internet to each other, putting the ISP scum out of business. The hub-and-spoke model is a poor match for the interNET anyway.

  2. simon says

    I think he did not exactly say it is useless. Of course a large part of today’s theoretical physics is also “useless”, like string theory or Higg boson. If that means having practical applications. He just pointed out the two pillars of 20th century physics, relativity and quantum mechanics, were built by professional scientists without much input from philosophers. Some philosopher countered by including Einstein and Bohr as philosophers which is a bit of a stretch. Modern scientists mostly have very little interaction with philosophers which is just a fact of life.

  3. simon says

    Most modern day scientists readily admit they use mathematics as a tool. They seldom say they rely on philosophy. Perhaps it is more correct to say it is the other way round. The founders of quantum mechanics did not start out by learning about philosophy first and they were not professional philosophers. They built the mathematical framework of quantum mechanics. The “why” only came after that and it has tremendous impact on philosophy.
    One can say asking and thinking about nature is the domain of philosophy. Not in a professional way. Most science departments require their students to take credits in mathematics. Almost none requires them to take philosophy.

  4. simon says

    The situation is perhaps more complicated. I should say most science departments expect their students to know mathematics but not philosophy in an academic sense.