Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Latin Comeback

The Economist: "Why is Latin making a comeback?"

One answer:
Latin’s succinctness makes it ideal for Twitter’s 140-character epigraphs and aphorisms. Five words can often say more than ten English ones, according to David Butterfield, a Latinist at the University of Cambridge.
With the Latin revival, I'm hoping we'll see more cool Latin names like these:

And Rand Simberg reminded me of the classic grammar lesson scene:

Framing With Bitcoin and Silk Road

Bad guys try to frame enemy by buying illegal drugs with Bitcoin on Silk Road, sending them to his house, then calling the police.

The Real-Life Costs of Being a Superhero

"The Price of Being a Superhero in Real Life: Then & Now".

More here.

Every Movie Reference From the First Five Seasons of The Simpsons

Slate: "Every Movie Reference From the First Five Seasons of The Simpsons"

Monday, July 29, 2013

Gold and Military Salaries

Military salaries (in ounces of gold) hasn't changed much between the Roman Empire and today:
The annual cost of one Roman legionary plus one Roman centurion was 40.9 ounces of gold. The annual cost of one United States Army private plus one Army captain has recently been 38.9 ounces of gold.

Can You Name These Cities by Their Starbucks Locations?

Quiz: "Can You Name These Cities by Their Starbucks Locations?"

When "Smart Homes" Get Hacked

"When 'Smart Homes' Get Hacked: I Haunted A Complete Stranger's House Via The Internet"

The Backwards Song

"The Backwards Song": The lyrics were sung in reverse. This is the time-reversed video.

Here's the original (forward) version.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Indian Army's Astronomical Error

BBC: "India's army reportedly spent six months watching 'Chinese spy drones' violating its air space, only to find out they were actually Jupiter and Venus."

The Science of Winning Poker

"The Science of Winning Poker: Bluffing still matters, but the best players now depend on math theory". (Via Debby Witt.)

Should Reddit Be Blamed for the Spreading of a Smear?

NYT: "Should Reddit Be Blamed for the Spreading of a Smear?"

Two-Sentence Horror Stories

"Two-Sentence Horror Stories are actually pretty chilling".

Some good ones:
I just saw my reflection blink. -marino1310
I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, “Daddy check for monsters under my bed.” I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, “Daddy there’s somebody on my bed.” - justAnotherMuffledVo
The doctors told the amputee he might experience a phantom limb from time to time. Nobody prepared him for the moments though, when he felt cold fingers brush across his phantom hand. -Gagege
 Lots more here.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

PD on Real Prisoners

What happens when you run the "Prisoner's Dilemma" on real prisoners?

Internet Monitoring in China

"Watching The Watchers In China"

Physics Experiment Succeeds After 69 Years

"Trinity College experiment succeeds after 69 years":
After decades of waiting, physicists at Trinity College have for the first time captured a rare scientific event on camera. 70 years after the experiment was set up, the scientists have videoed pitch dripping from a funnel...
 (Via Gus Van Horn.)

Handbook of Government Ethical Failures

The federal government publishes a free book The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure meant to help train government employees in what not to do.

The stories are all true and it makes for very entertaining reading.  (Via Freakonomics.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Quine Relay

Quine Relay.

Some background. (Via David Jilk.)

The Morality of Jailbreaking

Diana Hsieh podcast segment on "The Morality of Jailbreaking". More information on her weekly broadcasts.

The Eddie Murphy Rule

Excellent NPR "Planet Money" podcast on whether the commodities trading scenes in Trading Places were realistic. (Their conclusion, surprisingly so.)

And how the movie contributed to the creation of the real-world "Eddie Murphy Rule".

Meteor Strike On The Moon?

"If a big meteorite struck the moon, would we notice it here on earth?"

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ads By Bone Conduction

Soon, the voice you hear in your head might not be God, but rather ads delivered by bone conduction. Related BBC story.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Watch North American City Skylines Sprout In 3-D Video, From 1850 To Today

"Watch North American City Skylines Sprout In 3-D Video, From 1850 To Today". (Via Jennifer A.)

Precise Atomic Clock May Redefine Time

"Precise atomic clock may redefine time". Or more accurately, may redefine our measurement of a "second". (Via Jeff Patterson.)

NSA Cracked the Kryptos Sculpture Years Before the CIA

Wired: "It took more than eight years for a CIA analyst and a California computer scientist to crack three of the four coded messages on the CIA’s famed Kryptos sculpture in the late '90s.

Little did either of them know that a small group of cryptanalysts inside the NSA had beat them to it, and deciphered the same three sections of Kryptos years earlier — and they did it in less than a month, according to new documents obtained from the NSA."

Swim In A Pool of Beer

There's an Austrian brewery where you can swim in a pool of beer.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Monday, July 08, 2013

Slot Machine Sounds

How slot machines manipulate players with sound. (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Physics of Waterslides

National Geographic on the physics of waterslides.

Arrest Caught On Google Glass Reignites Privacy Debate

NPR: "Arrest Caught On Google Glass Reignites Privacy Debate".

Of course if all this happened in public, is there any reasonable expectation of privacy?

Update: Link was bad, now fixed!

Driverless Cars Update

NYT: "How Driverless Cars Could Reshape Cities"

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Wikipedia Terminal Event Management Policy

Wikipedia has a "Terminal Event Management Policy" to deal with the collapse of civilization. (Via @elidourado and Tyler Cowen.)

Beautiful Glass Blowing

"Glas: Glass Blowing Looks So Fantastically Fun". (Via Howard R.)

Phantom Phone Calls

BBC: "Why you think your phone is vibrating when it is not". (Via T.V.)

Bitcoin Seizure

"In a case believed to be the first of its kind, federal authorities have seized a Charleston man's virtual currency due to an alleged drug law violation with possible links to a shadowy online black market."

Thursday, July 04, 2013

The Mystery of the Missing Hotel Toothpaste

Slate: "The Mystery of the Missing Hotel Toothpaste"

Faking Mental Illness?

"How easy is it to fake mental illness?"

Online Dating's Biggest Conundrum

"Tackling Online Dating's Biggest Conundrum: When you read the profile of a potential partner, how do you know it's true?"

William Shakespeare's Star Wars

What if William Shakespeare had written Star Wars?

Here is the opening from the book:

Outer space.
It is a period of civil war.
The spaceships of the rebels, striking swift
From base unseen, have gain’d a vict’ry o’er
The cruel Galactic Empire, now adrift.
Amidst the battle, rebel spies prevail’d
And stole the plans to a space station vast,
Whose pow’rful beams will later be unveil’d
And crush a planet: ’tis the DEATH STAR blast.
Pursu’d by agents sinister and cold,
Now Princess Leia to her home doth flee,
Deliv’ring plans and a new hope they hold:
Of bringing freedom to the galaxy.
In time so long ago begins our play,
In star-crossed galaxy far, far away.
Here is a PDF version of the first 16 pages.

Happy Independence Day!

Regular posting will resume tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Pluto's Moons

"Pluto's tiniest moons now have official names: Kerberos and Styx".

BTW, William Shatner is displeased with the final vote:
Initially, there were 12 names on the ballot, including such minions of Hades as Eurydice, Alecto, and Persephone. After a few days, Showalter added eight more. By the time voting closed, more than 450,000 votes had been cast, and voters had written in with 30,000 other options (including Stephen and Colbert, Mickey and Minnie, Potato and Pota(h)to, and various siblings claimed to be underworldly).

Among those write-ins was Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and volcanic fury, and the first addition to the ballot. Suggested on February 12 in a tweet by the actor William Shatner, Vulcan quickly zoomed ahead of the competition, leading the final tally with more than 170,00 votes.
Showalter submitted Vulcan, and second-place Cerberus (99,432 votes) to the International Astronomical Union for approval.

But when mulling over the names, the IAU found there were already too many objects named after Vulcan – not including the fictional home world of Star Trek‘s Mr. Spock – and after much deliberation, ruled that Vulcan wouldn’t work.

“What? That’s impossible! I’m going to lead a revolt,” Shatner said, when Wired told him of the outcome. “Pluto is so big and cold that it deserved to have a hot little rock running around it, named Vulcan — for fire.”

Quantum Remote Control

"Physicists Discover the Secret of Quantum Remote Control"

Bitcoin Fund

"Winklevoss Twins Plan First Fund for Bitcoins".

But Matthew O'Brien at The Atlantic thinks you shouldn't invest.

Why Lego Minifigures Have A Hole In Their Heads

"Why Lego Minifigures Have A Hole In Their Heads".

The answer: "To match the bricks? To snap on hats? Nope. In reality, minifigs have been designed to allow air to pass through if lodged in a child’s throat." (Via Jennifer Armstrong.)

Monday, July 01, 2013

Computers Reading Human Emotions

"A computer can learn to recognize, and respond intelligently to, users' emotional state"

Medical Uses of 3D Printing

"3D Printers May Save Your Life One Day"

Superconductivity, Levitation, and Mobius Strips

Great video on superconductivity, levitation, and Mobius strips:

Freaknomics on "Do You Really Want to Know Your Future?"

Fascinating Freakonomics podcast: "Do You Really Want to Know Your Future?"

Discusses why some people do (or do not) wish to know whether they have the incurable (and fatal) genetic condition Huntington's Disease.  There is a test for the condition which, but not a treatment.  Those with the gene will appear normal growing up, then develop symptoms as young adults.  If they carry the gene, their children will each have a 50% chance of also having the gene.