Thor's hammer gets a Tesla coil, puts out 80,000 volts

Thor's hammer + Tesla coil = zzzzap. Before we get into this, let's talk about safety. You probably shouldn't try this at home. Or at work. Or pretty much anywhere else. We're talking 80,000 volts of electricity. Unless you really know what you're doing, don't try to mess with the elemental forces of nature that were harnessed for this project.

Caleb Kraft from Hackaday and Tesla coil expert Staci Elaan teamed up to bring a comic book legend to life. To make Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, truly summon lightning, they had to provide the lightning in the form of a solid-state Tesla coil embedded into a foam prop. At the push of a button, 80,000 volts of electricity arc from the hammer's top.… Read more

Smell the superhero: 'Iron Man 3' to get odor effects in Japan

You take a seat. The lights go dark. Tony Stark struts across the screen. What's that smell? It's Eau de Iron Man! That's what I imagine the experience will be like when "Iron Man 3" debuts in 4DX in Japan this year. The 4DX format aims for a more interactive experience than just sitting in your seat, passively absorbing a movie through your eyes and ears.

The 4DX format adds odd gadgets to the theater setting, such us tilting seats, bubble makers on the ceiling, fog, wind, strobe lighting, and odor effects (Smell-O-Vision!). It's like some mad scientist got ahold of a Regal cinema and went nuts customizing it. Naturally, 4DX theaters have to be specially equipped to handle all the extras.… Read more

Marvel trying again with 700-issue comic book giveaway

About a month ago, Marvel Comics set the Internet on fire with an offer that was downright super: 700 first-issue digital comic books absolutely free.

But the company quickly learned that freebies can put a fantastic strain on servers, as host Comixology immediately buckled under the demand -- and ultimately suspended the giveaway.

Avengers, assemble! (OK, that's my last superhero analogy.) Marvel has risen from the (cr)ashes to extend the offer once again: more than 700 free first-issue comics. Just sign up between now and 11:59 p.m. (ET) tomorrow, and you'll get on the waiting … Read more

The 404 1,225: Where the first issue is a gateway drug (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Baauer of "Harlem Shake" sued over unauthorized samples.

- Surprise hit "Harlem Shake" was a shock for artists heard on it.

- "Sweet Brown" sues Apple and radio stations for unauthorized interview.

- SXSW: Marvel to give away 700 first-issue digital comics.

- Marvel giveaway crashes Comixology's servers.… Read more

Comixology suspends Marvel giveaway

AUSTIN, Texas -- Following a catastrophic server crash that occurred hours after Marvel Comics and Comixology announced a massive giveaway, Comixology has suspended the promotion.

Comixology CEO David Steinberger acknowledged that his company had "let down" customers. Previous orders under the "Marvel Comics #1" promotional, time-limited giveaway would be honored, he said, and he asked fans to fill out a form so they could be alerted when the promotion returns.

Because of Comixology's unique place in the digital comic-book distribution business as an iTunes-style marketplace with few, if any, direct competitors, other publishers' sales were … Read more

Marvel giveaway crashes Comixology's servers

AUSTIN, Texas--Marvel Comics announced yesterday at its 1 p.m. South by Southwest panel here that it was giving away 700 first-issue comics, spanning its entire publishing history, via its Comixology-powered app.

Barely six hours later, Comixology tweeted that its servers had buckled under the traffic load.

The comics deal was slated to last only until the end of SXSW Interactive on Tuesday, giving fans of Spider-Man, Wolverine, the X-Men, and the Avengers around 60 hours to download as many of their favorite No. 1 comics as possible.

Both Marvel Comics and Comixology declined to comment for this story. It's currently not known when their servers will be back up, or if the giveaway might be extended.… Read more

Project Gamma brings intelligent audio to digital comics

AUSTIN, Texas--From the band Love and Rockets lifting its name from the famous cult favorite Hernandez brothers' comic, to a suspiciously-coincidental Jack Kirby and Frank Zappa meeting, comic books and music have a long history of influencing each other.

The fusion of music and comics as directed by the comics' creators has been limited to a list of recommended tunes in the letters pages of the book -- until now. Today, Marvel Comics raised the curtain on a plan to turn that history on its ear with a digital comics-and-music fusion code-named Project Gamma.

Project Gamma is, in the words … Read more

Time to recalculate? Thor's hammer may be a featherweight

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson brought Thor's hammer Mjolnir into the geek spotlight recently by running some calculations on its weight. He shared his findings over Twitter, saying:

If Thor's hammer is made of neutron-star matter, implied by legend, then it weighs as much as a herd of 300-billion elephants

— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) February 5, 2013

It's a good thing he said "if," as it's starting to look like he might be wrong. Suveen Mathaudhu is a program manager in the materials science division of the US Army Research Office. He pointed out to The Abstract of North Carolina State University that Thor's hammer is actually made from Uru, a fictional metal found in the faraway realm of Asgard.… Read more

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Thor's hammer weighs 300 billion elephants

Beloved astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is no stranger to the world of comic book superheroes, having already found the location for Superman's home planet. He has now turned his keen scientific mind to the Marvel world and the issue of just how much Thor's mighty hammer weighs.

Thor's hammer Mjölnir is said to be made of neutron-star matter. Tyson did the calculations and determined the hammer must therefore weigh as much as 300 billion elephants. That's not a common form of weight measurement, so we have to do some further calculations to translate elephants into pounds.… Read more

Netflix, RIM, others get boot from key Nasdaq stock index

The shakeup that landed Facebook on Nasdaq's top 100 list is also leading to the departure of other prominent tech players.

Facebook was added last week to the Nasdaq 100, the collection of the largest 100 nonfinancial companies trading on the stock exchange. Facebook's addition to the index came with the departure of IT consulting company Infosys, which is moving over to the New York Stock Exchange.

However, Infosys is not the only tech company leaving the index. A handful of other prominent tech players, including Netflix and beleaguered handset maker Research In Motion will be dropped from … Read more