Wins and Fails This Week in Geek v 12

Welcome to 2011! Does it feel different than twenty-ten? Regardless, some things never change: the first week of the new year’s brought plenty of wins and plenty of fails, and we’re here to recap the best of the best and the worst of the worst for you. Whether it’s urine-activated video games, elaborate medical hoaxes, or Doctor Who‘s regeneration, we’ve got something for everyone this week in geek.

WIN: Digital Stoners
Rejoice, everyone who’s ever dreamed of recreating laser light Pink Floyd bowling with a Wii, the entire inventory of Spencer’s, and an iPod: the band has finally caved to digital downloads of individual tracks. They have hitherto bitterly fought such an arrangement, citing single track downloads as being detrimental to the artistic integrity of their work as experienced on entire albums. But this week they reached an agreement with EMI to allow their work to be sliced, diced and, presumably, someday sold on iTunes for $.99 a pop.

FAIL: Plausibility
To paraphrase a tweet from Drew Carey, 2012 was a film about special effects in the future. And now NASA has named it the least plausible science fiction film in history. Considering its pretty stiff competition, that’s an especially dubious honor. Whether NASA’s main beef with the movie is its faulty science or the fact that they were bombed with so many panicked letters in the wake of it that they had to draw up a special web site to combat the 2012 mythology, is not entirely clear. The Day After Tomorrow, The Sixth Day, Chain Reaction, The Core, What the Bleep Do We Know? and Volcano also made the list. Along with – surprisingly, given NASA’s initial, albeit puzzling support of it – Armageddon. Perhaps they wanted to distance themselves from Ben Affleck’s career, like everyone else except Ben Affleck.

WIN: Pressure Sensors
Well, if you are a pressure sensor, you might think this story is a fail. SEGA is implementing “Toylets” in select restrooms across Tokyo. A “Toylet” is an interactive video game that uses pressure sensors to determine the strength and placement of a stream of urine, and lets the stream control any of several video games. If you are the sort of person so starved for constant stimulation that you can’t even tolerate the boredom of a minute or two to do your business, then this is a major development for you!

FAIL: Integrity. Period.
The British Medical Journal blew the lid off a massive fraud that may have harmed public health immeasurably in the years since its publication. The now-infamous retracted British study declaring an alarming correlation between vaccines and autism in children has been proved little more than a hoax, with “evidence” deliberately faked (or dare I pun – “doctored”) by the study’s conductor, Dr. Andrew Wakefield. While this isn’t breaking news (Wakefield was stripped of his medical license last May), the implications of the study with respect to cases of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles on the rise are ever-developing, and continuing to garner scientific and public attention. For the curious, and pertinent to this week, Anderson Cooper interviewed Wakefield on Wednesday. Clips can be seen on AC 360.

WIN: Regeneration
While for some the jury’s still out on David Tennant’s regeneration into Matt Smith, all Whovians can get behind the black-and-white-to-color regeneration of archived episodes of the series by the Doctor Who Restoration Team. In 1967 the BBC scrapped its Doctor Who archive, but since 1978 a number of the missing 108 episodes have been discovered in black-and-white, as they were presented in grayscale to countries still broadcasting sans color. The BBC has contracted the Restoration Team to breathe the life of color back into these classics. “It’s very, very labor intensive — several hundred man hours’ work every episode,” said Steve Roberts, a senior engineer at the BBC. It probably takes more effort to colorize a single episode than it did to dream up a plunger for a Dalek’s “intimidating” arm, but it’s a noble effort indeed.

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