Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Don't Talk To The Police"

"Innocent? Don't talk to the police." (Via T.M.)


"What is 3D NAND, and when can I get a 10TB SSD in my laptop?"

Did Americans Know FDR Couldn't Walk?

"Did Americans know FDR couldn't walk?"

[Off Topic] Hsieh Forbes Column: How Government Quality Guidelines Hurt Transplant Patients

[Off topic] My latest Forbes piece is now up: "How Government Quality Guidelines Hurt Transplant Patients".

I discuss how federal government "quality guidelines" created perverse incentives to deny medical care to the sickest patients.

In particular, many transplant centers started dropping the sickest patients from their transplant waiting lists in order to keep their success rates up. Plus many hospitals rejected less-than-perfect organs out of fear of harming their federal government score cards.

As transplant surgeon Dr. Adel Bozorgzadeh said:
“If you have young guy who has a 100 percent chance of dying, but only a 30 percent chance of dying with a transplant, you would say, ‘What the hell, give the guy a chance,’” even if the operation might be risky, he said. “But if I make an argument like that, I will be under pressure from all these other stakeholders who would penalize me.”
The federal guidelines created a conflict of interest for hospitals, caught between their government paymasters and the patients they were supposed to care for.

For more details, read the full text of "How Government Quality Guidelines Hurt Transplant Patients". (Related piece: "Doctor ‘Report Cards’ May Be Hazardous To Your Health.")

(See related piece: “Doctor ‘Report Cards’ May Be Hazardous To Your Health.”)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mars Simulation Ends

"Mars scientists leave dome on Hawaii mountain after year in isolation"

Robot Lawyer Update

"This lawsuit-financing startup uses algorithms to find cases that could earn big bucks"

Ancient Library Wars

"The Fierce, Forgotten Library Wars of the Ancient World"

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Bad Internet Predictions

"25 years on, here are the worst ever predictions about the internet"

Bog Snorkelling

"Murky affairs: Bog-snorkelling"
Held annually in Wales, the competition attracts athletes from around the world, who must swim two 55m lengths through a trench of murky, leech-filled water. American swimmer extraordinaire Michael Phelps, should he fancy a dip, might struggle: entrants must not use conventional strokes and can only propel themselves with flippered feet. Impressive, then, that the world record, held by Briton Kirsty Johnson, is just 83 seconds. Mr Phelps’s 100m butterfly record, set with the benefit of using his arms, is a shade under 50 seconds...
This is close to the top of the list of "Sports I'm Not Interested In Trying".

USSR Moonshot

"Why Didn't Russia Ever Make It to the Moon?"

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Flight Attendant Lingo

"The secret language of flight attendants".

Longest Glass Bridge

"Gulp: The World's Highest, Longest Glass Bridge Opens in China".

The article also notes, "Stiletto heels are not allowed."  I think I'll wait and see how some of the "early adopters" fare.

Pileus Clouds

"Clouds are a glimpse into the mighty power of fluid dynamics, complicated equations made real and actual and gorgeous, painted across the sky."

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fermi Paradox Revisited

"What If We Haven't Found Aliens Because Humans Came First?"

And "Relative Likelihood for Life as a Function of Cosmic Time". (Links via J.R.W.)

Excerpt: possible explanation for the classic Fermi paradox: Have we struck out in our attempts to detect alien intelligence simply because we are the first example of it to show up to the cosmic party? 
 ...implying that life around low mass stars in the distant future is much more likely than terrestrial life around the Sun today. 
If we insist that life near the Sun is typical and not premature, ... then we must conclude that the physical environments of low-mass stars are hazardous to life. 
Although our result puts the probability of finding ourselves at the current cosmic time within the 0.1% level, rare events do happen.

PokΓ©mon Gone

"People are quickly losing interest in PokΓ©mon Go"

Bagpipe Lung

Another hazard of playing the bagpipes: "Bagpipe lung" from the fungus and mold growing inside the apparatus.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Fingerprint Cloner

"$500 Fingerprint Clone Unlocked Murder Victim's Samsung S6 -- It Can Hack iPhones Too"

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Spectrum Auction Economics

"The Spectrum Auction: How Economists Saved the Day"

Real Vs. Bogus Physics Papers

Can you spot the real-vs-bogus physics papers? Test your skills at arXiv vs. snarXiv.

Trailers Vs. Previews

"Why Are They Called 'Trailers' If They're Shown Before the Film?"

Smart Tattoos

"Microsoft Research and MIT unveil DuoSkin, the latest in smart tattoos"

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How Big Is A Fart?

"How Big Is A Fart? Somewhere Between A Bottle Of Nail Polish And A Can Of Soda". (Via A.A.)

Olympic Gold

"How Much Is an Olympic Gold Medal Really Worth?"


The Omnicopter has 8 rotors, "that maximizes the vehicle's agility in all directions. The resulting vehicle possesses full force and torque authority in all three dimensions, allowing it to fly novel maneuvers."

Doggie MRI

"Cutest MRI ever shows that most dogs prefer praise over food". (Via Debby Witt.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Kyle MacLachlan Explains Dune Using Only Emojis

"Kyle MacLachlan gives a summation of Dune in one tweet using only emojis."


Squirrel takes GoPro camera, gives great footage of running along the treetops:

Awesome Chromebooks

"Attention, College Students: Chromebooks Are About to Get Awesome"

10 New Ways to Use Drones

"10 New Ways to Use Drones"

Monday, August 15, 2016

Lottery Jackpot Psychology

NYT: "The Billion-Dollar Jackpot: Engineered to Drain Your Wallet"
If you’ve noticed that colossal lottery winnings are becoming almost common this year, it’s no accident. Four of the 10 biggest jackpots in United States history have already occurred in 2016, an engineered outcome intended to generate mind-bogglingly big winners.

That’s thrilling if you are the rare winner of hundreds of millions of dollars. But whether it’s a good thing for scores of millions of other people who play government-sponsored lottery games is highly questionable, as a close look at the numbers reveals.

Rogue One Trailer

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer (Official).  This could be really good.

Stronger Carbon Composites

"MIT Aerospace Engineers Develop Carbon Nanotube 'Stitches' to Strengthen Composites". (Via H.R.)

After The Asteroid

"What Happened in the Seconds, Hours, Weeks After the Dino-Killing Asteroid Hit Earth?"

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Snow White and LOTR

"Snow White Is A LOTR Sequel: A Mind-Blowing Theory". (Via Gus Van Horn.)

Argentine Ants

"Meet the worst ants in the world". (Via H.R.)

The Infamous Collatz Conjecture 

"The infamous Collatz Conjecture":
David Eisenbud explains the Collatz Conjecture, a math problem that is very easy to understand but has an entire book devoted to it and led famous mathematician Paul ErdΕ‘s to say "this is a problem for which mathematics is perhaps not ready".

The problem is easily stated: start with any positive integer and if it is even, divide it by 2 and if odd multiply it by 3 and add 1. Repeat the process indefinitely. Where do the numbers end up? Infinity? 1? Loneliness? Somewhere in-between?

Roomba Vs. Dog Poop.

When the Roomba runs over dog poop.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Eastern Europe's 'Elevator of Death'

"Paternoster: Eastern Europe's 'Elevator of Death'"
I take a ride on a paternoster, an old school type of elevator consisting of a series of constantly moving "shelves" with open fronts. Passengers just step on and off the revolving "shelves" as they wish. A dozen or so are still in use in Prague -- quite a few, it turns out, throughout Europe. The one I rode in is in the Lucerna Pasaz in central Prague. According to Wikipedia, five people have died in paternosters since 1970. (The title of this video is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, by the way.)

Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy Template (click on image to see full size version):


"Seagate's new 60TB SSD is world's largest". (Via H.R.)

How to Hack an Election in 7 Minutes

"How to Hack an Election in 7 Minutes"

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Physics of Peeing

The Physics of Peeing or "Why Can't We Build a Splash-Proof Toilet?"

Bad Inspirational Poem

"A Motivational Poem That Is Made Entirely With Corporate Brand Slogans". (Click on image to see full-size version).

Virus Beating Insects

"How to Beat Dengue and Zika: Add a Microbe to Mosquitoes". (Via A.A.)

Delta Airlines Failure Pattern

"Delta Airlines Computer Failure Part of a Pattern"

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Google Needs Thick Scottish Accents

"Google is seeking thick Scottish accents":
The tech giant is on the hunt for people with a Scottish accent to record a set of phrases to help improve its speech recognition software. An employee from speech technology company Appen—which has been contracted by Google—started the search by posting on Reddit, in hopes of finding Scots who will record their voices in return for £27 ($36). The task, which takes up to three hours, involves participants recording phrases such as “Indy now” or “Google, what’s the time?”...

The Scottish accent’s incompatibility with modern speech recognition systems has been well documented.
And the classic skit:

Canadian "About"

"What's Going On with the Way Canadians Say ‘About'?"

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Artificial Neuron Update

"IBM creates world's first artificial phase-change neurons". (Via H.R.)

Planning Ahead

Sometimes you can't always plan ahead:

fMRI Of Hypnosis

"In patients under hypnosis, scientists find distinctive patterns in the brain".

(As always, one has to be cautious in interpreting fMRI-based results in neuroscience.)

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Habits Of Highly Mathematical People

"Habits of highly mathematical people".

These all sound pretty good to me!  (B.S., Math, 1984, before going to med school)

Self-Driving Taxis Coming To Singapore

"Delphi to Begin Testing On-Demand Robot Taxis in Singapore". (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Millenials Not Buying Cars Or Houses

"Why Millennials aren't buying cars or houses, and what that means for the economy". (Via J.J.)

Another possibility is simply that the prior generations screwed up the economy so badly that millennials don't have enough money.

Monday, August 01, 2016