Monday, October 31, 2016

Placebo Update

Placebos can still work even when you know you're getting a placebo.

Remote Drone Takedown

"There’s a new way to take down drones, and it doesn’t involve shotguns"

Brain Training

"Want to 'train your brain'? Forget apps, learn a musical instrument". (Via C.B.)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Google Insecurity

"Adding a phone number to your Google account can make it LESS secure".

Or if you do so, at least employ 2-factor security. (Via Gus Van Horn.)

Entertainment Pills?

"A Matrix-like hallucinogenic pill may be the future of entertainment, says Netflix’s CEO"

Rotisserie Chicken Economics

"Are Rotisserie Chickens a Bargain?"

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mercedes Self-Driving Car Ethics

"Mercedes says its self-driving cars will kill pedestrians instead of drivers":
When they crash, self-driving Mercedes will be programmed to save the driver, and not the person or people they hit. That's the design decision behind the Mercedes Benz's future Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous cars, according to the company's manager of driverless car safety, Christoph von Hugo. Instead of worrying about troublesome details like ethics, Mercedes will just program its cars to save the driver and the car's occupants, in every situation.

One of the biggest debates about driverless cars concerns the moral choices made when programming a car's algorithms. Say the car is spinning out of control, and on course to hit a crowd queuing at a bus stop. It can correct its course, but in doing so, it'll kill a cyclist for sure. What does it do? Mercedes's answer to this take on the classic Trolley Problem is to hit whichever one is least likely to hurt the people inside its cars. If that means taking out a crowd of kids waiting for the bus, then so be it...

Modern Cars Are Freaking Out In Car Washes

"Modern Cars Are Freaking Out In Car Washes". (Via H.R.)
The issue is that the sensory safety systems that help to prevent crashes on the road also often prevent cars from thinking the enclosure full of spraying water and spinning brushes is a good place to be, causing the systems to overload and essentially disable the vehicle. 

The Science Of Holding Your Breath

"What’s the Longest You Can Hold Your Breath?"

Facial Expressions Not Universal?

"Facial expressions -- including fear -- may not be as universal as we thought"

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

[Off Topic] Hsieh Forbes Column: How Your Doctor's Politics Affects Your Health Care

[Off topic] My latest Forbes piece is now out, "How Your Doctor's Politics Affects Your Health Care -- And What You Can Do About It".

I discuss the latest research indicating the doctors' own personal political biases can affect the advice they give patients in three areas -- abortion, gun ownership, and marijuana use. And strategies that patients and doctors can adopt to minimize inappropriate physician bias in the exam room.

New Internet Attacks

"The Mirai botnet’s internet takedown opens up a new market for attackers and defenders"

Sensor Threads

"The next frontier in medical sensing: Threads coated in nanomaterials". (Via H.R.)

Driverless Beer Truck

"'Driverless' beer run; Bud makes shipment with self-driving truck":
Anheuser-Busch hauled a trailer loaded with beer 120 miles in an autonomous-drive truck, completing what's believed to be the first commercial shipment by a self-driving vehicle.

The trip happened last week in Colorado as Anheuser-Busch, collaborated with Otto, a subsidiary of Uber that is developing self-driving truck technology. The semi drove autonomously on the highway between Fort Collins, Colorado and Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Plus: Self-driving beer truck! In Colorado!
Minus: Bud ?!?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Boaty McBoatface Update

"Boaty McBoatface Is Training for an Historic Arctic Journey"

Political Handshakes

"The Strange World of Political Handshakes"

Human Google

"The Public Librarians Who Serve as Human Google"

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Secret Nazi Base

"Secret Nazi military base discovered by Russian scientists in the Arctic".

The only thing missing is the frozen clone of Adolf Hitler ready to be re-animated and take over the world!

Inside Witness Protection

"What Happens When You Enter the Witness Protection Program?"

New Internet Attacks

Krebs: "Hacked Cameras, DVRs Powered Today’s Massive Internet Outage".

Related warning from Bruce Schneier from before the attacks: "Someone Is Learning How to Take Down the Internet" (9/13/2016).

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Magnus Carlsen Playing Chess Hustlers in Washington Square Park

"Magnus Carlsen Playing Chess Hustlers in Washington Square Park".

"Norwegian grandmaster and world champion Magnus Carlsen was in New York and went to watch the old guys playing chess in the park. One of them beat his manager pretty badly, so Carlsen sat down and proceeded to checkmate in ten moves. The old guys play so many people they don’t look too closely at them, so it was a surprise..."

Brain Implant Update

NPR: "Brain Implant Restores Sense Of Touch To Paralyzed Man"

Assault With a Deadly Tweet?

When does a tweet constitute assault?

Winning The Oreo Twistoff Game

"Aerospace engineers found a way to predict with 100% accuracy where the cream ends up when you twist an Oreo".

Great way to win a bar bet.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Airline Food Critic

"What’s the deal with airline food? An in-flight dining critic explains."

Driverless Cars In UK

"Public trial for driverless cars beginning in Milton Keynes"

Smartphone Microscope

"This Smartphone Microscope Lets You Play Games With Microbes"

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Tinder For Sperm

The London Sperm Bank "just released a Tinder-esque mobile app that lets women filter potential sperm donors based on traits like ethnicity, occupation, personality type, eye color, and more."

Informative Photon

"Single Photon Carries 10 Bits of Information"

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

World's Largest Dinosaur Footprint

"World's Largest Dinosaur Footprint Found In Mongolian Desert"

Bubbles And Beer

"This Technology Is About to Revolutionize Beer-Making":
The secret sauce in their new method is cavitation, the formation of small bubbles of vapor within a liquid and their subsequent collapse. This is usually done by reducing the pressure within a liquid so that it boils and then increasing it again so that the vapor condenses.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Stripper Economics

"How Strippers Get Paid". (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Weir On Musk

"The Martian's Andy Weir talks to Ars about the science of Musk's Mars vision". (Via H.R.)

Monday, October 03, 2016

World's Strongest Coffee

"The 'Strongest Coffee in the World' Has the Same Amount of Caffeine as 80 Regular Cups of Joe"

Auto-Tune Math

"The Mathematical Genius of Auto-Tune"

Sunday, October 02, 2016

58 Waters

"A Guide to the 58 Crazy Different Terms for 'Water'"

Hawking And Space

Stephen Hawking: "I think the human race has no future if it doesn't go to space".

Krebs Attacked

"Digital attack on journalist raises specter of online censorship".

(Minor quibble: I would reserve the use of the term "censorship" for government actions to restrict speech, not criminals seeking to limit speech.)