This Way Up for Saturday 4 March 2017

Dead animal tales, making more ice for the Arctic, is the digital you the real you?, hacking the pokies, and a buyer's guide to VR headsets.

When humans and animals collide

When the human world and the animal kingdom collide, the results aren't always pretty. Now a museum in the Netherlands is using a selection of stuffed exhibits to celebrate some historic examples. 

From the stone marten that got electrocuted and took down the Large Hadron Collider, to a sparrow that met its end after foiling a world record attempt, to a fish that got swallowed in a drinking game.

This Way Up's Simon Morton speaks to Kees Moeliker, the curator of the Dead Animal Tales exhibition at the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam.

Chilling out: making ice in the Arctic

Arctic Ocean

Arctic Ocean Photo: (Public Domain)

With predictions that the Arctic could be ice-free by 2030, an ambitious geoengineering project aims to create more ice by circulating water using no less than 10 million wind turbines.

The man with the plan is Professor Steve Desch, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University.

Geoengineering is the deliberate and large-scale intervention in the earth's climate system to combat climate change.

Attempts to block or reflect the sun's rays so far include giant space mirrors, releasing millions of tonnes of sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere, even pouring cereal and ping-pong balls into the sea.

Professor Steve Desch plans to combat the melting of polar ice caps by covering 10 percent of the Arctic Ocean with wind turbines that will pump water on to the ice during winter to promote more freezing.

To do this on such a scale will take 10 million turbines each costing US$50,000 - a total bill of US$500 billion.

Arctic Turbine Diagram

Arctic Turbine Diagram Photo: (Credit Sue Selkirk and John Morgan Cristoph)

Is the digital 'you' the real 'you'?

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Photo: (Pixabay)

We are all taking part in an ongoing psychological experiment. It's called using the internet!

Every time you "like" something, search the web, or choose a book to buy or a movie to watch, your behaviour is logged and analysed to try and get an idea of who you are and how you'll behave in the future.

Call it product optimisation...enhanced user experience...or just plain old snooping and surveillance....your data is really valuable, and we're creating more of it as we move our lives online.

Michal Kosinski of the Stanford Graduate School of Business studies how people behave in the digital world and is interested in how accurately their actions, even if it is just a social media like, can be used to predict their personality, and even their political views.

Michal Kosinski

Michal Kosinski Photo: (Supplied)

Hacking the pokies

Hard Rock Casino Slot Machines

Hard Rock Casino Slot Machines Photo: (By Flickr user Ted Murphy CC BY 2.0)

Despite gamblers' hopes, playing on the pokies or the slots is definitely not a passport to wealth and riches.

There's only one person getting rich and it's generally whoever owns and operates the machines, not the person stuffing it with money.

But what if you could hack the system and drastically increase the odds in your favour?

That's what some Russian gangs have been doing since 2009, when the then prime minister Vladimir Putin outlawed almost all gambling, releasing a glut of redundant pokie machines onto the market that people could study, take apart, and reverse engineer.

Brendan Koerner has written about the Russian slots scam for Wired magazine.

VR headsets: which ones are best?

Samsung Gear VR virtual reality headset (feat. Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+)

Samsung Gear VR virtual reality headset (feat. Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+) Photo: (Flickr user Andri Koolme CC BY 2.0)

Hadyn Green of's been testing the latest virtual reality headsets. So what are the options on the market today and how do they work?

Although VR's potential is clear in areas like education and learning, the primary consumer application for the technology remains gaming. 

Hadyn Green is a keen gamer and has been looking at the advances that virtual reality headsets are making into the consumer mainstream.

He looks at the various options on the market, from top end gear costing more than $1000 needing a grunty computer, to cheap cardboard headsets that are literally being given away with breakfast cereal!

Google Cardboard instructions

Google Cardboard instructions Photo: (Flickr user Sally Wilson CC BY-SA 2.0)