Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sticky Robot

"Disney's New Rolling Robot Climbs Walls Like a Gecko". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Matter From Light

"Researchers have worked out how to make matter from pure light and are drawing up plans to demonstrate the feat within the next 12 months." (Via H.R.)

Unreliable Reviews

"The Trouble With Online Customer Reviews"

Monday, December 28, 2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Day After Christmas Anagram

Creating The World's Greatest Anagram: "The Day After Christmas"

"If the poem... brings you some holiday cheer, know this: Those 56 lines are an anagram of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas."  (Click on image to see full size version.)


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Light Posting

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual until after the Christmas/New Years holidays are over.

 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Original Harrison Ford Audition For Han Solo Part

"Harrison Ford's Casting Video For Star Wars Proves There Can Be Only One Han Solo":
This Star Wars casting footage shows a young Harrison Ford, with few acting credits to his name, reading for the role of Han Solo and essentially killing it. At the time, Ford had more experience as a stagehand and carpenter than an actor. The previous role that enabled Ford to even be in the casting room was George Lucas’ American Graffiti.


The New Yorker: "Can a cheap, portable microscope revolutionize global health?"
The Foldscope performs most of the functions of a high-school lab microscope, but its parts cost less than a dollar. Last year, with a grant from Gordon Moore’s philanthropic foundation (Moore co-founded Intel), Prakash and some of his graduate students launched an experiment in mass microscopy, mailing fifty thousand free Foldscopes to people in more than a hundred and thirty countries, who had volunteered to test the devices.

Highways That Don't Follow the Rules

"The Interstate Highways That Don't Follow the Rules"

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Yarn Detanglers

Markets in everything: "Knitters With Hopelessly Knotted Yarn Call 'Detanglers' for Help"
Group members like to post before-and-after photos of what they call “tangle porn.” Heaps of yarn resembling bowls of spaghetti become neat balls and cakes. “I think it’s fulfilling for people when they see what it was, sort of like house remodeling,” says Ms. Rothschild. “You see how crappy it was and how beautiful it turned out to be.”

Animal Consciousness

"The inner lives of animals are hard to study. But there is evidence that they may be a lot richer than science once thought."

Mile Addict

"Help, I'm Addicted to Frequent-Flier Miles"

Modern Day Vikings Needed

"Fleeting Wonders: Be A Crew Member On A Modern-Day Viking Ship"

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

Surviving The Cold?

"Can You Really Survive the Cold by Sleeping Inside an Animal Carcass a la Star Wars and The Revenant?"

Banks and Bad Security

WSJ: "Banks Battle Staffers’ Vulnerability to Hacks". Human factors are often still the weakest link.

Star Wars Box Office

WSJ: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Breaks a Box-Office Record".

One reason:

The Inventor of Auto-Tune

"Auto-Tune -- one of modern history’s most reviled inventions -- was an act of mathematical genius".

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

Handheld Food Lab

WSJ: "Startups Take Bite Out of Food Poisoning"

Exoskeleton Update

"From the battlefield via the factory floor to the orthopaedic clinic, artificial bones and muscles worn outside the body are providing help and protection".

Fractal Gears

Timewaster of the day: Fractal Gears.

Physics of Car Crashes

"Here Are the Physics of Why Modern Cars Are So Much Safer". (Via H.S.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Death Star Asteroid

"Want to Build a Death Star? NASA Says Use an Asteroid"

Star Trek Beyond Trailer

Trailer for Star Trek Beyond

I'm afraid it will suck. But I'll see it anyways.

80s Kids and Tech

"Why '80s Babies Are Different Than Other Millennials".

In particular: "The importance of going through some of life's toughest years without the toxic intrusion of social media really can't be overstated." (Link via Trey M.)

Bridge For Crabs

"Crabs get their own bridge to cross busy road on Christmas Island":
More than 20 kilometres of plastic barriers are in place to direct the crabs away from the island’s roads and into 31 crab underpasses - as will as a five metre-high crab bridge crossing one of the areas busiest roads, which has apparently become something of a tourist attraction in its own right. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Google and Quantum Computing

Wired: "For Google, Quantum Computing Is Like Learning to Fly"

Cemeteries With Wi-Fi

"Cemeteries in Moscow to offer free Wi-Fi in 2016"

Someone's Gotta Do It

"What It's Like to Be a Professional Chocolate Taster"

GOT For Kids?

"Who Said 'Game of Thrones' Wasn’t for Kids?"

"What mother in her right mind would tell children the stories about beheadings and torture? A single parent for whom mealtimes are agony." (Via MeFi.)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Stealth Coke For Soviet General

"Object of Intrigue: How a Red Army General Inspired 'White' Coca-Cola"

Zuist Religion Revival In Iceland

"Icelanders flock to religion revering Sumerian gods and tax rebates":
Icelanders opposed to the state funding of religion have flocked to register as Zuists, a movement that worships ancient Sumerian gods and – perhaps more importantly – promises its followers a tax rebate.

More than 3,100 people – almost 1% of Iceland’s population – have joined the Zuist movement in the past two weeks in protest at paying part of their taxes to the state church and other religious bodies. Followers of Zuism will be refunded the tax element earmarked for religion...

“There is no opt-out. Those who are unaffiliated or belong to unregistered religions effectively just pay higher taxes,” said Sveinn Thorhallsson, a Zuist spokesperson. 
My favorite line:
Some politicians have claimed that Zuism should be de-registered because it is not a true religion.
Good luck with that!  (Link via Tyler Cowen.)

Google And D-Wave

"Google says it has now proven that D-Wave's quantum computer really works"

Photos From the Top of Skyscrapers

"18 Terrifying Photos From the Top of Skyscrapers". Don't click through if you have a fear of heights.

Monday, December 07, 2015

E-mail Of Your Mail

The US Post Office will now email you photos of your mail before the mail arrives.

How to sign up for this service. (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Dramatic MRI Safety Demonstration

"A Very Convincing Practical Demonstration That Explains Why Metal Is Forbidden During an MRI". (Via Debby Witt.)

Facebook Go AI

"How Facebook's AI Researchers Built a Game-Changing Go Engine"

Giant Crane

"Watch This Enormous Floating Crane Lift a Giant Piece of an Offshore Gas Platform". (Via H.R.)

Friday, December 04, 2015

Movie Hacking In 70s, 80s, 90s

Supercut of computer hacking movie scenes from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

Mathematics of Funny Words

"There's a mathematical model to predict how funny a word is"

(Unofficial) IKEA Dictionary

"The (unofficial) IKEA Dictionary features definitions of the store's product names, including 'improper' Swedish words because 'IKEA laughs at the "rules" of human language!'"

23 Science Fiction Books Being Adapted into TV Shows

"23 Science Fiction Books Being Adapted into TV Shows"

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Glorious Lightsabers

"The iconic Star Wars weapon is among the most significant pieces of fictional technology in contemporary culture."

18th Century Resuscitation

"This Emergency Enema Kit Was the Defibrillator of the 18th Century".

I am really, really glad that medical knowledge has advanced beyond that point.

Reaction Engines

"British technology company to 'transform' air and space travel with pioneering new engine design". (Via H.R.)

The Feynman Notebook Method

 "The Feynman Notebook Method":
[He] opened a fresh notebook. On the title page he wrote: NOTEBOOK OF THINGS I DON’T KNOW ABOUT. For the first but not last time he reorganized his knowledge. He worked for weeks at disassembling each branch of physics, oiling the parts, and putting them back together, looking all the while for the raw edges and inconsistencies. He tried to find the essential kernels of each subject.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

New Yorker On Bostrom And Superintelligence

"The Doomsday Invention: Will artificial intelligence bring us utopia or destruction?"

Lengthy New Yorker profile of philosopher Nick Bostrom and his work on AI, "superintelligence", and "existential risk".

Why You Bought That Ugly Sweater

"Why You Bought That Ugly Sweater: The scientific tricks stores use to part you and your money".

Update On Knuckle Cracking

The science of knuckle cracking.

Based on new high-resolution real-time ultrasound, it is probably caused by the formation of microbubbles in the joint, not their disappearance.

New Synapses

"Neuroscientists Identify New Mechanism That Contributes to Strengthening Synapses". (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Hsieh Forbes Column: Why You Want Your Doctor To Be Wrong (Sometimes)

My latest Forbes piece is now out, "Why You Want Your Doctor To Be Wrong (Sometimes)".

Here is the opening:
“Mommy, my tummy really hurts!”

Your 7-year old daughter wakes you up in the middle of the night, doubled over in pain. You take her to the local ER. The on-call surgeon, Dr. Smith, performs a thorough physical exam, reviews the test results, informs you that she has appendicitis, and says she needs surgery right away. You sign the consent forms, and he whisks her off to the OR. An hour later, Dr. Smith comes back and says, “I’m sorry. We removed her appendix, but it turned out to be normal. She didn’t have appendicitis, just a severe case of gastroenteritis or ‘stomach flu’.”

Should you be relieved or angry? Did Dr. Smith make a mistake? Did he perform an unnecessary operation?...
I discuss Type 1 vs. Type 2 errors, why they are important, and why certain kinds of diagnostic errors are not merely unavoidable but (in the right context) desirable.

For more details, read the full text of "Why You Want Your Doctor To Be Wrong (Sometimes)".

And my personal favorite example of Type 1 vs. Type 2 errors is below:

'Outsiders' Crack 50-Year-Old Math Problem

"'Outsiders' Crack 50-Year-Old Math Problem: Three computer scientists have solved a problem central to a dozen far-flung mathematical fields."

Quantum Entanglement At Room Temperature

"Quantum entanglement achieved at room temperature in semiconductor wafers"

Make A Divergent Infinite Series Converge

"Fun With Math: How To Make A Divergent Infinite Series Converge"