# universal

## 'Treegonometry' uses math for perfect Xmas tree

Let's say you just bought a 6-foot Christmas tree and want to decorate it just so. According to a quick treegonometric calculation, you should use approximately 30 feet of tinsel. (I got that number, incidentally, by multiplying pi by 13, dividing that number by 8, and then multiplying that figure by the tree's height in centimeters.)

Didn't study treegonometry in high school? That's because it just got invented by members of the University of Sheffield's SUMS math society. Two students at the U.K. school set out to calculate the amount of baubles, tinsel, and lights needed to give a tree just the right amount of decorative zing.

Their math might not add up to anything worthy of complex analysis, but it's a festive and amusing idea. "The formulas took us about two hours to complete," 20-year-old student Nicole Wrightham said in a release. "We hope the formulas will play a part in making Christmas that little bit easier for everyone." … Read more

## Hagfish-slime clothes could be new fashion statement

Welcome to the library. Would you rather read the book "50 Shades of Grey" or the article "The production of fibers and films from solubilized hagfish slime thread proteins?" Good choice! Here's your hagfish reading.

For defensive purposes, hagfish produce a slime full of protein threads. Draw it out into a thread, and you have the potential for an incredibly strong fabric that isn't made from petroleum like popular existing synthetics. … Read more

## Killer robots? Cambridge brains to assess AI risk

Remember the cuddly Furby? Imagine it's grown a killer case (literally) of artificial intelligence and decides your house and your family are far better than its own, and decides to murder you for it.

OK, so researchers think that such a scenario is a "flakey concern" and wildly far-fetched. Still, the U.K.'s University of Cambridge is setting up a new center to analyze the dangers posed by artificial intelligence and increasingly non-human interactive machines.

Founded by distinguished philosophy professor Huw Price, cosmology and astrophysics professor Martin Reess and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, the project will … Read more

## Vevo expands its reach in Europe

Vevo has launched today in Spain, Italy and France, bringing the expansion of the online music service to 10 countries.

The free entertainment platform first appeared in the United States in 2009. Other markets where Vevo is available include the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil.

Today's launch means consumers in the new European markets will be able to access over 50,000 tracks and 4,500 music videos currently hosted on the platform.

Germany is still barred from the service, although Vevo is currently looking into ways to launch there. As The Next Web notes, the country … Read more

## Fresh poster and trailer tease 'Jurassic Park 3D'

The blockbuster "Jurassic Park" gets another chance to shine -- this time in the third dimension -- as it makes a big 20th anniversary comeback to 3D and IMAX 3D movie screens on April 5, 2013.

To mark the occasion, Universal Pictures whipped up a fresh trailer and captivating poster for the movie. We heartily recommend that you share these with any "Jurassic Park" fans so they can perfect their Velociraptor impersonations and get the movie's premiere on their calendars in advance. Jurassic Park" might be 65 million years in the making, but we think the 3D release is a guaranteed sick day months in the making. … Read more

## How math causes physical pain

Mental discomfort often has irrational roots.

There are those who walk into art galleries and feel intimidated by all the serious faces. There are those who stare at menus written in a foreign language and wish they weren't on vacation.

And there are those who look at math problems and wish they had some Xanax.

If you're one of those who is pained by your mathophobia, please let me mop your brow. For the discomfort you feel is, scientifically speaking, little different from physical pain.… Read more

## Can anyone in space hear you scream? Scientists try to find out

Some screams come from the gut.

Yes, just like that horrible monster thing in "Alien."

Now scientists with only extreme discovery in their locker of ambition have decided to learn, once and for all, whether a scream in outer space can awaken alien ears.

The Cambridge University Spaceflight team behind this experiment are truly committed explorers.

They have created a video featuring Albert Einstein -- or at least a posh-speaking version of him.

The idea is very simple. They want you to go to YouTube and record your best and most frightening, piercing scream. Indeed, the scientists want you to scream "in a creative way." … Read more

## The 404 1,157: Where we live in a van down by the river (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Anthropologist says Apple is definitely a religion.

- Google brings Street View to the Grand Canyon.

- Apple now owns the trademark to The Beatles' Apple Corps Logo.

- What I learned while live-tweeting a friend's funeral.

Video voice mail: Mossimo has a positive update on a previous video voice mail.… Read more

## U.S. looks to replace human surveillance with computers

Computer software programmed to detect and report illicit behavior could eventually replace the fallible humans who monitor surveillance cameras.

The U.S. government has funded the development of so-called automatic video surveillance technology by a pair of Carnegie Mellon University researchers who disclosed details about their work this week -- including that it has an ultimate goal of predicting what people will do in the future.

"The main applications are in video surveillance, both civil and military," Alessandro Oltramari, a postdoctoral researcher at Carnegie Mellon who has a Ph.D. from Italy's University of Trento, told CNET … Read more

## Translate into over 50 languages with this remarkable app

Universal Translator is an app for the Mac that offers word and sentence translation into more than 50 languages. The Universal Translator installs in a second or two, and the interface is a model of simplicity with two panes, one for typing a word, sentence or phrase and the other for the translation. Two selectors at the top control which languages are used. Icons allow the phrases to be spoken. The software supports non-Roman alphabets and where necessary there's both the textual translation and a phonetic translation as well. There's a long list of supported languages, although not … Read more