I spent half a day walking around the show floor at CES. This really isn't a show where one can get an idea of what's next, but rather what's here today. It's more like going to a really big Fry's. Except in CES, the most relevant company in all of consumer electronics, Apple, is not there. They have their own show.
What impressed me most, by far, was a product that wasn't even at the show. It's the Sony Playstation 3. It's not available yet. All they showed was a video showing footage from actual games. The graphics were so realistic, a few times I said to myself "oh that's real footage, not computer generated" when they were actually computer generated images. They were so realistic, it fooled me. Combine this ability with Machinima and you are one step closer to the era of making movies without cameras or actors (see my previous article on this here).
Once you see the video you can't just walk by, it captures you and you watch it for 15 minutes. That's why there was a sea of people around the booth. After seeing this, I hurried to take a look at the Xbox 360, and sorry Microsoft, it looks like chickensh... compared to the the promise of Playstation 3. If it arrives as advertised, just like Sony says, it is well "worth the wait."
Over the holidays I got David Attenborough's new DVD "Life in the Undergrowth". I've been a big fan of David Attenborough ever since I saw "Life on Earth" more than 20 years ago. That series made me love biology. Every time I watch one of his DVD's he manages to show us something new, something never done before. This one is no different. In an interview, he said that he left doing this last so that the technology of microscopic cameras would develop.
There is one scene in the series that I found especially moving that I want to mention here. One thing that I am always curious to see in nature documentaries is a primitive animal hunting a much more sophisticated animal, one far more advanced in terms of evolution. I am talking of an invertebrate like a spider catching a fish, or a spider catching a bird. So I wonder what the most primitive predator and the most sophisticated prey are. Why do I find this fascinating? Well, clearly birds evolved much later than spiders, so the spider that hunts a bird must have learned that well after the birds. If they can learn to hunt birds, can they one day learn to hunt bigger animals like us humans?
Well, what I saw in Attenborough latest films is a big centipede, "as long as my forearm" according to Sir David, hunt a bat. That's right, a bat eating centipede. Centipedes are very primitive, one of the first hunters to get on land, and descendants of worms in the ocean. Predators don't get more primitive than that (of course, the case of even more primitive bacteria killing a human doesn't count, not as dramatic). Bats on the other hand are placental mammals. They came way later than centipedes. They are very similar to humans in that sense. Well in this video, you see an arms length centipede climb up on a cave, hang down from the ceiling and grab a bat in flight, sting and kill it. That's something you don't see a lot.
Of course, probably this centipede did this for millions of years to moths and other big insects, but the sight of a centipede catching a mammal is chilling indeed.
I recommend everything David Attenborough has ever done to everybody. He is a brilliant storyteller. "Life in the Undergrowth" is one of his best. You can buy the DVD from amazon.com.uk (not in the US yet) but below is the link to the book and his other DVDs.
Other invaluable works by David Attenborough
Others are, "Life on Earth" (his first and best), "The Private Life of Plants". Those can't be found on amazon.com