Thursday, February 28, 2013

[Off topic] Hsieh Forbes OpEd on Fertility Panic and Freedom

[Off topic] Yesterday's Forbes (2/27/2013) published my latest OpEd, "Freedom, Not Fertility, Is The Key To A Thriving Economy".

I respond to some conservatives fretting about America's low birth rate, and discuss why it's not the government's job to promote any specific lifestyle (e.g., single vs married or childless vs. multiple-child marriage).

How many unique English tweets are possible?

How many unique English tweets are possible? (Via Rand Simberg.)

3D-printed Plastic Car

"The first 3D-printed plastic car is as strong as steel and half the weight"

Scientist Proposes Marriage with Physics Paper

"Scientist Proposes Marriage with Physics Paper". (Via Charlie Martin.)

Autopsy of a Dead Social Network

"An Autopsy of a Dead Social Network". (Via Ryan Sager.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How Pickpockets Work

Video: "How Pickpockets Work"



(Via Amy Alkon, who notes that the video is in Dutch but the scenarios demonstrated don't really require translation.)

Rats as Landmine Detectors

Trained rats as landmine detectors. (Via M.H.)

Dangerous Pads And Helmets?

"Do pads and helmets increase rather than prevent football injuries?"

Streaming And Spyware Are Killing Music Piracy

Alex Knapp: "Streaming And Spyware Are Killing Music Piracy"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Don't Drink That Water

Slate: "Which diseases can you catch from drinking water that’s had a corpse floating in it?"

Cast of Ant Colony

Cast of an ant colony. (Via @supatrey.)

Related video:

Who owns Sherlock Holmes?

"Who owns Sherlock Holmes?"

Fork by Dave Jilk

My friend Dave Jilk has written a clever short SF story, "Fork". As he says, it's not about utensils.

Friday, February 22, 2013

8 New Punctuation Marks We Desperately Need

"8 New Punctuation Marks We Desperately Need"

31 Years of Mobile Phone Evolution

"How far mobile phones have come in the past 31 years".   (Click on image to see full size.)

Rules for the New Monopoly Cat Token

"Rules for the New Monopoly Cat Token"

Physics of Sunsets

The physics of sunsets.

When I lived in La Jolla, CA many years ago, I saw 3 "green flashes" during the course of the year.  (One of the benefits of a beachside apartment.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

App Lets You Keep Tweeting After Death

"New app to keep you tweeting after death":
A new application will soon allow users to keep posting Twitter updates from beyond the grave, independently using intricate knowledge of your online character to create a virtual continuation of your personality after you die.
"When your heart stops beating, you'll keep tweeting," says the new application’s tagline...

Due to be launched in March, the LivesOn application will keep tweeting after you pass on. The service will utilize advanced analysis of your main Twitter feed, to carefully select appropriate subjects, likes, or articles that would have been likely to interest you, posting them on your behalf for your friends to read.

Pre-existing applications so far have only allowed users to schedule prepared updates.
 (Via VAViper.)

Why Germans Can't See YouTube Meteorite Videos

"Germans can't see meteorite YouTube videos due to copyright dispute"

Rota's 10 Lessions

MIT professor Gian-Carlo Rota offers these classic "Ten Lessons I wish I had been Taught".

I especially liked #7 and #8:
7. Use the Feynman method

Richard Feynman was fond of giving the following advice on how to be a genius. You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear or read a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say: "How did he do it? He must be a genius!"

8.  Give lavish acknowledgment

I have always felt miffed after reading a paper in which I felt I was not being given proper credit, and it is safe to conjecture that the same happens to everyone else. One day, I tried an experiment. After writing a rather long paper, I began to draft a thorough bibliography. On the spur of the moment, I decided to cite a few papers which had nothing whatsoever to do with the content of my paper, to see what might happen.

Somewhat to my surprise, I received letters from two of the authors whose papers I believed were irrelevant to my article. Both letters were written in an emotionally charged tone. Each of the authors warmly congratulated me for being the first to acknowledge their contribution to the field.

Internet Bacon Number is 19

Slate: "The Whole Web Is Connected in 19 Clicks or Fewer"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Airplane Seat Anarchy

"Tilting your seat back on an airplane is pure evil. But so is installing seats that recline in the first place."

Doom

"Higgs boson find may spell doom for universe".

Update: Link was missing before, now fixed!

Language Affecting Thinking

"5 examples of how the languages we speak can affect the way we think". (Via Trey.)

3D Printing Pen

Mashable: "This 3D Printing Pen Lets You Draw Sculptures in Midair". (Via Trey P. and Vik R.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bionic Hand That Can Feel

"The first bionic hand that can feel":
...[T]he hand will be attached directly to the patient’s nervous system via electrodes clipped onto two of the arm’s main nerves, the median and the ulnar nerves.

This should allow the man to control the hand by his thoughts, as well as receiving sensory signals to his brain from the hand’s sensors. It will effectively provide a fast, bidirectional flow of information between the man’s nervous system and the prosthetic hand.

100 Best First Lines from Novels

"100 Best First Lines from Novels". (Via William Dale.)

Spaceward Ho for iPad

I used to be a huge fan of the Mac game Spaceward Ho and I'm delighted that it's now available for the iPad.  (It's a 4X style turn based strategy game.)

Best $5 I've ever spent on an iOS app. 


Asteroids A Reminder of Space Program Weakness

Reynolds: "Asteroids a reminder of space program weakness"

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Real Life Identical Twin Criminal Law Conundrum

French police know that one of two identical twins committed a series of sexual assaults but cannot tell which.

Conventional DNA testing cannot tell the two apart.  (There is a very expensive test that might distinguish between them, but it costs 1 million Euros.)

Bruce Schneier notes, "both have been arrested in the hope that one may confess or implicate the other" (i.e., a real world Prisoner's Dilemma).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How the Zipper Was Invented

NYT: How the zipper was invented.

Superhydrophobic Oleophobic Coating

Nanotechnology update: "Ultra-Ever Dry is a superhydrophobic (water) and oleophobic (hydrocarbons) coating that will completely repel almost any liquid".



(Via Trey.)

Are You Good at Following Flowcharts?

Flowchart: Are You Good at Following Flowcharts?

(Click on image to see full size.)

Chinese Hacker Activity

Strategy Page: "China Denies, Defies And Keeps On Attacking"

Monday, February 11, 2013

It Wasn't The Cigarettes

"Finally confirmed: An asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs". (Via Instapundit.)

Although I always liked this "Far Side" cartoon:

The Secret History of Pad Thai

"Pad Thai is the most misunderstood noodle". (Via GMSV.)

Disk Size Discrepancies

"Surface Pro versus MacBook Air: Who's being dishonest with storage space?"

The answers may surprise you.

Smaller Faster Watson

Forbes: "Over the past two years, IBM’s researchers have shrunk Watson from the size of a master bedroom to a pizza-box-sized server that can fit in any data center."

Oh, and they also "improved its processing speed by 240%". (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Friday, February 08, 2013

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Online Gambling With Bitcoins

"Is Online Gambling Legal If Bitcoins, Not Dollars, Are At Stake?"

Social Media Super Bowl Winner

"Twitter Mentioned In 50% Of Super Bowl Commercials, Facebook Only 8%, Google+ Shut Out". (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Awesome Table

I want one of these tables:

Grand Canyon on Google Maps

"Exploring the Grand Canyon on Google Maps".

For example, here's the "Street View" of the Bright Angel Trail.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Norwegian Diaper Arbitrage

Norwegian diaper arbitrage. Yes, really. (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Silent Circle

Silent Circle: "Meet the groundbreaking new encryption app set to revolutionize privacy and freak out the feds". (Via Instapundit.)

Micro-production Revolution

Ari Armstrong: "The Burgeoning Micro-Production Revolution"

Confessions of a Corporate Spy

"Confession of a Corporate Spy"

Facebook May Soon Be Tracking You At All Times

Forbes: "Facebook May Soon Be Tracking You At All Times"

The article quotes this Bloomberg piece, "The app, scheduled for release by mid-March, is designed to help users find nearby friends and would run even when the program isn’t open on a handset".

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

News Prediction

"Software Predicts Tomorrow's News by Analyzing Today's and Yesterday's"

Big Breasts and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

"Are large-breasted women more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome?"

Richard III Body Found Under Parking Lot

"Body found under parking lot is King Richard III, scientists prove":
British scientists announced Monday they are convinced "beyond reasonable doubt" that a skeleton found during an archaeological dig in Leicester, central England, last August is that of the former king, who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.

Mitochondrial DNA extracted from the bones was matched to Michael Ibsen, a Canadian cabinetmaker and direct descendant of Richard III's sister, Anne of York.

Experts say other evidence -- including battle wounds and signs of scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, found during the search and the more than four months of tests since support the DNA findings.

Inducing Fear in the Fearless

"Scientists Find A Way To Scare Patients Who Can't Feel Fear"

Monday, February 04, 2013

Supersonic Ping-Pong Gun

"How to Build a Supersonic Ping-Pong Gun"

Freakonomics Experiment

If you're stuck on a major life decision, you might want to enroll in this Freakonomics experiment.

Almost Alive

"Scientists Create a Near-Living Crystal"

Skype Steganography

"Tinkering with Skype can allow people to send undetectable messages"

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Astronauts Will Be Watching Super Bowl

Alex Knapp: "Space Station Astronauts Will Be Watching The Super Bowl"

As he notes, "It's unknown at this time whether nachos and/or buffalo wings will be served."

Friday, February 01, 2013

Post-Jail Beer

Hey, if I ever bust out of jail the first thing I'm doing is stopping for a quick beer.

Gangnam Style Flip Book Animation

"Gangnam Style" video done as a flip book animation. Someone had a lot of time on their hands.

History of Curry

The history and mystery of curry.

Is Wine Tasting a Scam?

"How Wine Tasting is More -- and Less -- of a Scam Than You Thought". (Via Ryan Sager.)