This Week in Geekdom

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there and a happy weekend to everyone. Between the oodles of daylight we're enjoying in the Northern Hemisphere and the fact that registration for Gen Con events is only a week away, it's really starting to feel like we're on the cusp of summer. All-around awesomeness right there. Let's get down to the Week in Geekdom.

Image from RiptApparel
Brand new base pairs! Image: Synthorx
One of the single most exciting announcements of the week came to us from the Scripps Research Institute in California. Researchers at the Institute confirmed that they had not only inserted two new, artificially created nucleotides into the DNA of of a bacterium, but that they had bred that altered subject and the resulting offspring maintained the new bases in its genome.

The upcoming edition of the Astrophysical Journal will feature this work from the University of Texas at Austin which claims to have identified the first 'sibling' of Sol, our sun.

Speaking of star relatives, check out this incredible video of the latest simulation that seeks to illustrate how our universe came to be.

Later this month we'll be treated to a brand new set of meteor showers. These celestial fireworks come courtesy of the comet 209P/LINEAR and may generate up to 1,000 visible particles an hour. Click here for more details on what parts of the shower will be visible to you.

Back on March 29 the sun lashed out with a super powerful X-class flare. On Friday, NASA released this video of that monster solar eruption. 

Star Trek fans had another reason to grin (or gloat) this week after NASA released these images of the surface of Mars which apparently has an affinity for the Starfleet.

And if you haven't gotten enough gorgeous images of the realm beyond our atmosphere, you can stop by this page and check out a live HD stream from the ISS whenever you'd like.

Dean Kamen, best known for inventing the Segway, and his company garnered a major victory this week when the US Food and Drug Administration (a.k.a. the FDA) granted approval to his line of prosthetic arms. What's so special about these particular prostheses? Not only are Kamen's line of bionics capable of never-before-seen levels of precision, but they have the added feature of being controlled by the wearer's mind.

Will checkout lines soon be a thing of the past. The Global Institute believes that not only will this be the case, but the transition to a universal line-free shopping experience is likely closer than you may think.

We've talked a bit about the ongoing saga concerning net neutrality here in the U.S. While may news outlets may have pronounced the concept as already dead, there are plenty of forces working tirelessly to see that this distressing reality does not come to be.

In the lead up to the FCC's highly anticipated vote regarding net neutrality, there has been an increasing uproar directed at major ISPs who appear to be proactively curtailing service.

Fortran code has formed the foundation of complex modelling and Monte Carlo simulations since its invention in the 1950s. So why is it, more than six decades later, that no successor coding language has ever been drafted? Three challengers now hope to succeed this theoretical behemoth.

Ever wonder why you can't un-see a certain interpretation of an image once said analysis has popped into your mind? Turns out that this phenomenon is part of an emerging theory about how the human brain functions as a whole.

Have you ever staged a picture so there was a white, high-contrast background behind your subject? Well, after this week, doing so is a violation of's newly awarded copyright. <> This is all your fault.

On the docket of Not All Smartphone Apps are Evil is this entry from the University of Texas at Houston, which can screen for melanoma at a higher rate of accuracy than many trained medical professionals.


The Oculus Rift continues to garner all sorts of attention as the future of gaming hardware, but the virtual reality helmet is also lending itself to functions very much rooted in pragmatism. The Norwegian military, for example, has expressed interest in deploying the helmets to their tank commanders as a way to mitigate risks associated with, you know, driving a big, expensive tank.

Nintendo found itself mired in controversy this week after it was discovered that their simulator game for the 3DS, Tomodachi Life, does not allow players to engage in same-sex relationships. While a social media campaign to allow for said interactions rages on, the publisher seems to be standing firm in their ruling.

As if its reputation for evil wasn't thoroughly entrenched, EA is now on the cusp of finalizing a partnership with Comcast that would theoretically allow you to purchase games through your TV. 'Theoretically' is the magic word there.

General Awesomeness/Feats of Nerdery

Japanese electronics maker Amadana is hoping to cater to Star Wars fans with this R2-D2 projected virtual keyboard.

As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!

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