Sunday, January 31, 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

RIP, Marvin Minsky

Marvin Minsky: "You don't understand anything until you learn it more than one way."

RIP, Professor Minsky.

Intel Compute Stick

Review: "Intel Compute Stick (2016)"

Third Brake Light

"Thank A Psychologist For Your Third Brake Light". (Via H.R.)

Zcash Update

Wired: "Zcash, an Untraceable Bitcoin Alternative, Launches in Alpha"

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Update On Property In Space

Aeon: "Space is for sale. And if we want to get serious about our interplanetary ambitions, that could be a good thing".

Includes quotes from Rand Simberg, one of my favorite space policy commentators.

Hipster Mattresses

The rise of the hipster mattress: "It was only a matter of time before the hipsters got a hold of memory foam."

Webster Vs. "U"

"The case of the missing 'u's in American English".

Casino Lingo

Secret casino insider lingo.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Playing Guitar In Space

"It's surprisingly difficult to play guitar in space":
Playing in space is particularly difficult, Hadfield said, because you have to press the guitar against you so that it doesn’t float away, while also trying to move your hand up and down the fretboard...

Hadfield also said that weightlessness interfered with the muscle memory of where his hands belonged to play a certain chord. If you want to recreate the feeling of playing guitar in space, stand on your head for a few hours and then try to play upside down. “You kind of have to learn how to be a space musician,” Hadfield said.

NASA's Vault

"Inside the vault: A rare glimpse of NASA's otherworldly treasures":
Among the samples on display is the so-called “Genesis rock,” which appears to have been coated by powdered sugar. The crew of Apollo 15 had been tasked with searching for just such an anorthosite rock, and they found it near the Apennine Mountains. Dating to 4.1 billion years old, within a few hundred million years of the Solar System’s formation, the Genesis rock helped validate the theory that the Moon formed after a Mars-sized object collided with Earth in the very early Solar System.

Real Hoverboard

"Rocket scientists have come up with a hoverboard that works".  Only $19,900!

Invisible FX

"Why 'invisible effects' are Hollywood's best kept secret". (Via H.R.)

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Evolution Of The Eye

"Inside the Eye: Nature's Most Exquisite Creation"

Key quote:
But simple eyes should not be seen as just stepping-stones along a path toward greater complexity. Those that exist today are tailored to the needs of their users. A sea star’s eyes—one on the tip of each arm—can’t see color, fine detail, or fast-moving objects; they would send an eagle crashing into a tree. Then again, a sea star isn’t trying to spot and snag a running rabbit. It merely needs to spot coral reefs—huge, immobile chunks of landscape—so it can slowly amble home. Its eyes can do that; it has no need to evolve anything better. To stick an eagle’s eye on a sea star would be an exercise in ludicrous excess.

“Eyes didn’t evolve from poor to perfect,” Nilsson says. “They evolved from performing a few simple tasks perfectly to performing many complex tasks excellently.”

Bitcoin Failure?

Mike Hearn: "The resolution of the Bitcoin experiment".

And a response: "Community Disagrees with Mike Hearn,as He Sparks Bitcoin Classic Adoption"

NASA Planetary Defense

"NASA Has Opened a Planetary Defense Office to Protect Earth from Cosmic Collisions"

Using MRI As Guitar Amp And Speakers

"Using an MRI scanner as a guitar amp and speakers". (Via Debby Witt.)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Shelf-Life of Condiment Packets

"Expiration Date of Condiment Packets"

Quick graphic summarizing the results (click on image to see full size):

Pilots Too Dependent On Automation?

"US Pilots Forget How to Fly Manually, Says Department of Transportation".

The article quotes a recent DOT report:
Advances in aircraft automation have significantly contributed to safety and changed the way airline pilots perform their duties...
While airlines have long used automation safely to improve efficiency and reduce pilot workload, several recent accidents, including the July 2013 crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214, have shown that pilots who typically fly with automation can make errors when confronted with an unexpected event or transitioning to manual flying.
As a result, reliance on automation is a growing concern among industry experts, who have also questioned whether pilots are provided enough training and experience to maintain manual flying proficiency.
I hope we have enough of these advanced autopilots on board, then!

Online Shopping Return Tech

"Inside the Hidden World That Handles Your Holiday Returns". (Via H.R.)

Swarm AI In Medicine

"Diagnostic AI: By the People, of the People, for the People".

An interesting update on the "wisdom of the crowds", applied to modern medicine. (Via D.L.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Friday, January 08, 2016

Expected Value of Powerball Ticket

"We did the math for the $450 million Powerball jackpot and concluded it's not worth buying a ticket".

The problem is the taxes, which seriously cut into the expected value.

Training A Dog To Sniff Bombs

"How Do You Train a Dog to Sniff Bombs?"

Things That Go Bump On The Flight

The science (and psychology) of air turbulence.

Plastic Welder

"I used this cool liquid plastic welding material to repair a broken butter tray door". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

4 New Elements

"4 New Elements Are Added To The Periodic Table".

Temporary working names: ununtrium (113), ununpentium (115), ununseptium (117) and ununoctium (118), with permanent names to come later.

Musk On AI

"(All) Elon Musk Artificial Intelligence Quotes -- A Catalogue of His Statements". (Via P.O.)

5 Star Wars Movies in 4 Years

"Disney is set to release five 'Star Wars' movies in the next four years"

College Chess and Big Money

"UMBC's once-mighty chess team fails to qualify for the Final Four".

Some colleges are feeling increasing pressure to spend on scholarships and coaches to remain competitive. (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Monday, January 04, 2016