Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Light Posting Notice

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual the rest of this week and all next week due to external obligations.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Bottomless Pits

"Could We Create A Bottomless Pit On Earth?"

Amazon LOTR

More details on the 5-season Tolkien series from Amazon.

Psychopath AI

What happens when you train a machine learning system using Reddit? You get "the world's first psychopath AI".

Friday, June 08, 2018

Lost Videogames Found

"70 Long-Lost Japanese Video Games Have Been Discovered in a 67GB Folder of ROMs on a Private Forum. They were found in a folder called 'DO NOT UPLOAD.'"

Armed Birds

Drawing armed birds.

Pneumatic Email

"How to email a cat". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Military WinXP

"Why the Military Can't Quit Windows XP"

The Psychology of Money

"The Psychology of Money"

Studying Videos

"Quiet! I'm Cramming for Finals -- By Watching Someone Else Study"

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

More Private Spaceflight

"With a simple and cheap rocket, Virgin Orbit aims for the extraordinary". (Via H.R.)

Future Avis

"As Rental Cars Fade Away, Avis Will Try Anything to Survive"

Sterile Neutrino?

"Evidence Found for a New Fundamental Particle":
The MiniBooNE experiment has detected far more neutrinos of a particular type than expected, a finding that is most easily explained by the existence of a new elementary particle: a “sterile” neutrino that’s even stranger and more reclusive than the three known neutrino types. The result appears to confirm the anomalous results of a decades-old experiment that MiniBooNE was built specifically to double-check.

Monday, June 04, 2018

What Is Li-Fi?

"What Is Li-Fi? The New Alternative To Wi-Fi"

Secret Government Phone Tracker

"How a Hacker Proved Cops Used a Secret Government Phone Tracker to Find Him, And how it might change what cops can do with our smartphones"

Regenerating Dental Enamel

"New material regenerates dental enamel". (Via H.R.)

Friday, May 18, 2018

Coldest Place

"NASA's Atomic Fridge Will Make the ISS the Coldest Known Place in the Universe"

Longer Nanotubules

"Forget carbon fiber -- we can now make carbon nanotube fibers". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Light Posting Notice

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual for the next 2 weeks due to external oblgations.

Choking Treatment

"What to do if you find yourself choking -- and no one's around"

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

[Off Topic] Hsieh Forbes Column: "Pelvic Exams On Anesthetized Women Without Consent: A Troubling And Outdated Practice"

[Off topic] My latest Forbes column is now out -- "Pelvic Exams On Anesthetized Women Without Consent: A Troubling And Outdated Practice".

Many doctors think this is "no big deal" and "good for society", whereas many patients consider this a violation.

Ultimately, the patients' wishes should prevail.

PGP Vulnerability

"People Are Freaking Out That PGP Is 'Broken' -- But You Shouldn’t Be Using It Anyway"

Mars Helicopter

"NASA is Sending a Helicopter to Mars on Next Red Planet Rover Mission". (Via H.R.)


"The world's lightest wireless flying machine lifts off"

Monday, May 14, 2018

Friday, May 11, 2018

Searching Devices At Borders

"Fourth Circuit Rules That Suspicionless Forensic Searches of Electronic Devices at the Border Are Unconstitutional"

Police Cams And Facial Recognition

"Facial recognition may be coming to a police body camera near you":
Axon, the maker of Taser electroshock weapons and the wearable body cameras now used by most major American city police departments, has voiced interest in pursuing face recognition for its body-worn cameras. The technology could allow officers to scan and recognize the faces of potentially everyone they see while on patrol. A growing number of surveillance firms and tech start-ups are racing to integrate face recognition and other AI capabilities into real-time video.

The board’s first meeting will likely presage an imminent showdown over the rapidly developing technology. Shortly after the board was announced, a group of 42 civil rights, technology and privacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, sent members a letter voicing “serious concerns with the current direction of Axon’s product development.”

Old School Navigation

"Figure Out Where You Are With Nothing But a Watch and Protractor":
In a recent episode of MacGyver, Angus (yes, that's his first name) finds his location in the desert using only a string, a protractor, and a watch. Is this actually possible? Basically, yes...

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant

CGP Grey: "The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant"

No Secret Tut Chambers

"Sorry, There Are No Secret Chambers in King Tut’s Tomb":
After two contradictory radar scans, Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities commissioned a third comprehensive survey that revealed no voids beyond the tomb walls.

Amazon Reviews From Scientists

"'Fits neatly inside a lizard's cloaca': Scientists are leaving Amazon reviews, and it's amazing". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The Last Man Who Knew Everything

"The last man who knew everything".

Poetry and Math

"How Poetry and Math Intersect"

Fermi Paradox Explained

 "Why We Haven’t Met Any Aliens":
I suggest a different, even darker solution to the Paradox. Basically, I think the aliens don’t blow themselves up; they just get addicted to computer games. They forget to send radio signals or colonize space because they’re too busy with runaway consumerism and virtual-reality narcissism. They don’t need Sentinels to enslave them in a Matrix; they do it to themselves, just as we are doing today. Once they turn inwards to chase their shiny pennies of pleasure, they lose the cosmic plot. They become like a self-stimulating rat, pressing a bar to deliver electricity to its brain’s ventral tegmental area, which stimulates its nucleus accumbens to release dopamine, which feels…ever so good.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

[Off Topic] Hsieh Forbes Column: That Time The CDC Asked About Defensive Gun Uses

[Off topic] My latest Forbes piece is now out: "That Time The CDC Asked About Defensive Gun Uses".

I discuss some recent work by criminologist Gary Kleck on unpublished CDC data on defensive gun use, and how that may support the case of gun rights advocates.

Some of the statistical evidence is still in question, however, and Kleck has withdrawn the original version of his paper pending further analysis.

Ultimately, individual rights are not validated (or refuted) by statistics. But real-world evidence can help affirm the underlying principles.

For more details, see the full text of "That Time The CDC Asked About Defensive Gun Uses".

Related articles:

"Any Study Of ‘Gun Violence’ Should Include How Guns Save Lives" (Paul Hsieh, 3/20/2018)
"Criminologist Gary Kleck on Guns, Crime, and Their Study" (Ari Armstrong, 11/7/2015)

Wrong Kind Of Self-Driving Car

"A man in England was caught driving his Tesla on Autopilot... from the passenger seat."

Fancy Ice Cubes

NYT: "She Makes Fancy Ice Cubes for a Living". (Via Tyler Cowen.)

New Gender Rules For Sports

"Track’s New Gender Rules Could Exclude Some Female Athletes":
In an effort to address questions about fair play, track and field’s world governing body will publish regulations on Thursday that could force some elite female athletes with naturally elevated testosterone levels to lower the hormone with medication, compete against men in certain Olympic events or effectively give up their international careers.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Difficult Statistics Of Rare Events

Alex Tabarrok: "Defensive Gun Use and the Difficult Statistics of Rare Events". (Via A.B.)

AI Discovery

"AI is discovering new alloys faster than humans ever could":
Using artificial intelligence, the scientists at Northwestern University have already been able to discover three new blends of ingredients that form metallic glass–and AI does it 200 times faster than the scientists themselves could have done. The results mean that new alloys could reach the market decades before they normally would thanks to AI. This, in turn, could have a massive impact on the industrial and structural design of objects large and small, from smartphones to skyscrapers.

Transcribing Silent Speech

"Computer system transcribes words users 'speak silently'"

Friday, April 20, 2018

Diamonds From Space

"These diamonds are tiny, flawed, and may come from a long-lost planet". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Pre-Human Civilization

"Was There a Civilization On Earth Before Humans?"

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Lebowski Theorem Of Machine Superintelligence

"The Lebowski Theorem of machine superintelligence":
Harvard cognitive scientist Joscha Bach, in a tongue-in-cheek tweet, has countered this sort of idea with what he calls “The Lebowski Theorem”:
No superintelligent AI is going to bother with a task that is harder than hacking its reward function.
In other words, Bach imagines that Bostrom’s hypothetical paperclip-making AI would foresee the fantastically difficult and time-consuming task of turning everything in the universe into paperclips and opt to self-medicate itself into no longer wanting or caring about making paperclips, instead doing whatever the AI equivalent is of sitting around on the beach all day sipping piƱa coladas, a la The Big Lebowski’s The Dude.

Ikea-Style Programming Algorithms

"Ikea-style instructions for programming algorithms".

One example:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Light Posting Notice

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual the rest of this week due to external obligations.

The Secret Language of Ships

"The Secret Language of Ships"

Monday, April 16, 2018

More Gmail Update

" redesign includes self-destructing emails". (Via H.R.)

Surveillance Tech Update

"Facial recognition tech catches fugitive in huge crowd at Jacky Cheung Cantopop concert in China"

Artificial Heart Update

"A simple artificial heart could permanently replace a failing human one":
[R]esearchers have been trying for decades to make an artificial heart that can be permanently implanted. But building one that imitates a real heart over a long period of time without breaking or causing infections or blood clots is incredibly difficult. One problem is that the more parts there are, the more things could go wrong.

To solve the problem, Sanjiv Kaul and his team at Oregon Health and Science University are developing an artificial heart with an extremely simple design -- it contains a single moving piece with no valves. They believe it could be the first such device that could last the rest of a person’s life...

Friday, April 13, 2018

Medical AI Update

"FDA approves AI-powered diagnostic that doesn't need a doctor's help":
What it does: The software is designed to detect greater than a mild level of diabetic retinopathy, which causes vision loss and affects 30 million people in the US. It occurs when high blood sugar damages blood vessels in the retina.

How it works: The program uses an AI algorithm to analyze images of the adult eye taken with a special retinal camera. A doctor uploads the images to a cloud server, and the software then delivers a positive or negative result.

No specialist required: The FDA recently cleared AI-based software to help detect stroke, too. But the agency says this is the first device authorized to provide a screening decision without the need for a specialized doctor to interpret the image or results.

New Gmail?

"Gmail will be updated soon and I’m worried"

Space War

"Space Wars Will Look Nothing Like Star Wars"

Thursday, April 12, 2018

WW2 Typo

"How a Typo Helped End World War II".

Direct link to Florence Schechter's Twitter thread explanation.

Super-Accurate GPS

"This app features super-accurate GPS, and I can’t figure out how it works". (Via H.R.)

History Of Machine Translation

"A history of machine translation from the Cold War to deep learning"

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

AI Journalism Update

"A New AI 'Journalist' Is Rewriting the News to Remove Bias".

Of course, what counts as "biased" or "unbiased" is itself in the eye of the beholder.

Phone Fiddling Clues

"Mood disorders could be diagnosed by the way you fiddle with your phone"


"How CRISPR works, explained in two minutes"

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Amazon's Tolkien TV Deal

"Inside Amazon's $250M Lord of the Rings Deal: "It's Very Much a Creature of the Times""

3D Printed Bridge

"3D printed bridge looks like alien technology". (Via H.R.)

Four-Eyed Lizard

"A four-eyed lizard walked the earth nearly 50 million years ago"

Monday, April 09, 2018

Robot Rights Debate

21st century debate: Whether sex robots need "rights". #NotAnOnionStory

Angled Satellite Images

"Satellite images taken at an angle".

Injectable Bandage

"Quick-acting 'injectable bandage' developed from seaweed". (Via H.R.)

Friday, April 06, 2018

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Dead Man Fingerprints

"Yes, Cops Are Now Opening iPhones With Dead People's Fingerprints".

As the article notes, dead people's faces are the next logical step with FaceID.

DNA Surprise

"Woman takes DNA test, learns her real dad is her mom's doctor". 

Lawsuit has been filed.

Eyeball Sunburn

"Yes, even your eyeballs can get sunburned"

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Criminal Mastermind

Shoplifter uses Play-Doh to cover up security camera lens, leaves perfectly pressed fingerprint behind.

Good High School

"A single high school in India has produced the CEOs of Microsoft, Adobe, and Mastercard"

Immigrant Social Media

"U.S. to Seek Social Media Details From All Visa Applicants"

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

What Google Knows

"How to download a copy of everything Google knows about you"

Unmixable Nanoparticles

"Scientists mix the unmixable to create 'shocking' nanoparticles". (Via H.R.)

Detecting Account Breaches

"11 Tell-Tale Signs Your Accounts and Devices Have Been Hacked"

Monday, April 02, 2018

The Science of Knuckle Cracking

"Scientists have spent 60 years agonizing over how our knuckles crack"

UBI Update

Wired: "The Paradox of Universal Basic Income"

Police Using Google Data

"To find suspects, police quietly turn to Google":
In at least four investigations last year – cases of murder, sexual battery and even possible arson at the massive downtown fire in March 2017 – Raleigh police used search warrants to demand Google accounts not of specific suspects, but from any mobile devices that veered too close to the scene of a crime, according to a WRAL News review of court records. 
I'm guessing this isn't confined to Raleigh, NC. (Via Debby Witt.)

Friday, March 30, 2018

Pre-Columbian Amazon Forest

"Network of fortified towns indicates Amazon was once heavily populated". (Via H.R.)

Birds And Hurricanes

"What happens to birds during a hurricane?"

Thursday, March 29, 2018

History Of The "Many Worlds" Interpretion

"The Difficult Birth of the 'Many Worlds' Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics".

I'm curious how things transpired in the alternate universe where Everett didn't have quite that much to drink that fateful night.

Atomic Force Microscopy Overview

Derek Lowe: "AFM Marches On". (Via H.R.)

Instant Pocket Translator

"Baidu shows off its instant pocket translator"

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Passport RFID Chips

What's really stored on your passport's RFID microchip?

Jumpsuit Future

You remember those cheesy science fiction movies, where everyone in the future wears jumpsuits? Some people wnat to make that real: "The Jumpsuit That Will Replace All Clothes Forever".

My initial reaction, "No, thank you".

Chinese Space Debris

"What Should You Do If You Find a Piece of China's Crashed Space Station?"

Short answer: Don't touch it -- for both health and legal reasons.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Avoiding Germs On Planes

Where to sit on an airplane, if you don't want to get sick:
How much contact passengers had with their fellow travelers varied by seat position. Those seated at the aisle averaged 64 contacts, the middle seat 58 and the window only 12. People sitting in the middle of the cabin had more contacts than those sitting in the front or back.

Bad Legal Science

"Bad science puts innocent people in jail -- and keeps them there"

Low Cost iPad?

"Apple reportedly unveiling a cheaper iPad next week"

Friday, March 23, 2018

Handling In-Airline Disputes

"What Should You Do if a Flight Attendant Tells You to Put Your Dog in an Overhead Bin?: A guide to arguing on an airplane when you know you’re in the right."

Japan Condom Update

"Japan condom makers hope for 2020 Olympic lift". The jokes practically write themselves.

Race-Specific Emojis

NPR discusses whether it's ok for a "15-year-old queer, white girl" to use dark-skinned emojis.

Their answer is basically, "no": "By trying on black skin when it is fun, safe and convenient, your daughter is inadvertently trivializing the experiences of real black people."

I'm curious whether they'd be ok with me (a "yellow"-skinned Asian) using either a darker or lighter skin tone emoji -- or whether they'd tell me to "stick to my own color".

Or what their response would be to a male teenager wishing to use a female emoji (or vice versa).

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Blockchain Used To Hide Contraband Images

"Child abuse imagery found within bitcoin's blockchain":
Since mining is essential for the function of bitcoin, as the process records the transactions into the blockchain to verify trades and generates new bitcoin in the process, having illegal content such as child abuse imagery within the blockchain could cause significant issues for the currency. 

Chinese Government Face Scanning

"China's New Frontiers in Dystopian Tech"

Beer In Space

"How Do You Make Beer in Space?"

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

[Off Topic] Hsieh Forbes Column: Any Study Of 'Gun Violence' Should Include How Guns Save Lives

[Off topic] My latest Forbes column is now out: "Any Study Of 'Gun Violence' Should Include How Guns Save Lives".

I discuss three key principles that should be included in any kind of "gun violence" research, including:
  • Firearms save lives as well take lives. 
  • The value of firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens should be measured in terms of lives saved or crimes prevented, not criminals killed.
  • The right to self-defense does not depend on statistics and numbers.
Legal use of firearms in self-defense happens a lot more often than most people realize.

Any public health research that studies only the negative effects of criminal misuse of guns while ignoring the positive lawful uses misses a critically important part of the picture.

Literal World Map

"The literal translation of country names".

Here's the Asia map, click on the map to see larger version. (Click through to the main article to see all the other continents).

UPDATE: Looks like the original source is an Australian credit card comparison company. Kottke also notes, "I have gotten many messages indicating the map is incorrect in one aspect or another, so you might want to take the whole thing with a healthy grain of salt (despite the research)."

Hidden Document

"High-Powered X-Rays Reveal What's Beneath 11th-Century Religious Text".

I especially like that the hidden document turns out to be a "a translated text of the ancient Greek medical philosopher Galen".

Voyager 1 Lives

"NASA Gets Response From Spacecraft 13 Billion Miles Away".

No word from Star Fleet Command on whether a super-powerful alien probe is on its way to the Solar System. (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Edison Bug

"Thomas Edison Was an Early Adopter of the Word 'Bug': In an 1878 letter, he uses the term to refer to a technological glitch"

Graphene Superconductivity

Nature: "Surprise graphene discovery could unlock secrets of superconductivity". (Via H.R.)

PDF Appreciation

"Why the PDF Is Secretly the World's Most Important File Format"

Monday, March 19, 2018

Automaker 3D Printing

"Porsche and Bugatti turn to 3D printing for complex or rare parts"

False Confessions Update

NYT: "False Confessions, Mistaken Witnesses, Corrupt Investigators: Why 139 Innocent People Went to Jail".

Particularly chilling:
In just under half of the exonerations last year, defendants were wrongfully convicted in cases in which no crime was committed. This included more than a dozen drug possession cases, 11 child sex abuse cases and nine murder cases.

In one case, Rodricus Crawford, who was on death row in Louisiana, was exonerated. The state dismissed all charges against Mr. Crawford last year after officials acknowledged that evidence suggested his infant son died with pneumonia and bacteria in his blood, implicating sepsis in the death rather than murder.

Tiny Inductors

"The Last Barrier To Ultra-Miniaturized Electronics Is Broken, Thanks To A New Type Of Inductor". (Via H.R.)

Friday, March 16, 2018

Bad Relationship

Washington Post: "She found a dating app on her boyfriend's phone. Then she bought a samurai sword."

AI-Run Economy?

Alex Tabarrok: "Will an AI Ever Be Able To Centrally Plan an Economy?"

Short answer, "no". Click through for the longer answer.

Feeling In Prosthetics

"Scientists Create a Way for People With Amputations to Feel Their Prosthetic Hands". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Mirror House

"A Mirrored Mexican Home Hides Among a Lush Forest".

Click through to see more pictures.

Brain Uploading Startup

"A startup is pitching a mind-uploading service that is '100 percent fatal'".

Only $10,000 to get on the waiting list!

How To Tie Your Shoes

A video classic: "How To Tie Your Shoes". (Via G.F.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Secret Flying Taxis

Today's 21st century headline: "Google founder's flying taxis secretly tested in New Zealand".

Affordable 3D-Printed Homes

"This cheap 3D-printed home is a start for the 1 billion who lack shelter":
Using the Vulcan printer, ICON can print an entire home for $10,000 and plans to bring costs down to $4,000 per house. “It’s much cheaper than the typical American home,” Ballard says. It’s capable of printing a home that’s 800 square feet, a significantly bigger structure than properties pushed by the tiny home movement, which top out at about 400 square feet. In contrast, the average New York apartment is about 866 square feet

Songs You Know But Can't Name

"Here's a Playlist of Songs You Know But You Can't Name"

Monday, March 12, 2018

Humans Attacking Self-Driving Cars

"Two of the six collisions involving autonomous vehicles in California so far this year involved humans colliding with self-driving cars, apparently on purpose"

Euro Clock Problems

"How Conflict in the Balkans Is Screwing Up Europe's Clocks"

Tattoo Science

"How Tattoos Are Maintained by Macrophages Could Be Key to Improving Their Removal"

Friday, March 09, 2018

Invisible TVs

"Samsung's new TVs are almost invisible":
Samsung's new QLED line of 4K TVs features a technology the company is calling "Ambient Mode." Before you mount the TV, you'll snap a picture of the wall it's going to hang on -- it doesn't matter if it's brick, wood, patterned wallpaper, or just a white wall -- and then after it's up, you can set that picture as the TV's background. The result is something that looks like a floating black rectangle mounted on a wall.

Human Vs AI Learning

"Why humans learn faster than AI -- for now"

What Lawyers Wish You Knew

"What Lawyers Wish You Knew"

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Merriam-Webster Embiggens The Dictionary

"A Perfectly Cromulent Fake Word From ‘The Simpsons’ Is Now In The Dictionary"

Super Monster Wolf

"The 'Super Monster Wolf' is a 65cm-long, 50cm-tall robot animal covered with realistic-looking fur, featuring huge white fangs and flashing red eyes":
It's been designed to keep wild boar away from rice and chestnut crops, and was deployed on a trial basis near Kisarazu City in Japan's eastern Chiba prefecture last July. When it detects an approaching animal, its eyes light up and it starts to howl, Asahi TV says. Its manufacturers say the robot wolf uses solar-rechargeable batteries and has a range of howl noises so that animal threats don't get used to it.
Heck, I'm not a Japanese rice farmer, but I want one for my home!


Laser-Worn Levi's

"Laser-Worn Levi's Are the Start of Something Big". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Oldest-Known Message In A Bottle

"Oldest-Known Message In A Bottle Found In Australia"

LTE Security Flaws

"LTE security flaws could be used for spying, spreading chaos":
[T]he collection of exploits could be used to track device owners, eavesdrop on texts and other sensitive data, and even pose as them on cellular networks and spoof location and other data. An attacker could even spoof warning messages like those used by government agencies and weather services -- such as the false missile warning sent out by a Hawaii government employee.

Recovering Hidden Texts

"At the world’s oldest monastery, new technology is making long-lost manuscripts available to anyone with an Internet connection"

Monday, March 05, 2018

OED Vs. Internet

"Inside the OED: Can the world's biggest dictionary survive the internet?"

AI Lie Detection?

"Revealing True Emotions Through Micro-Expressions: A Machine Learning Approach"

Space Hotel

"A Space Hotel Could Be Coming Soon to Skies Near You"

Friday, March 02, 2018

Fart Tracking

"With ingestible pill, you can track fart development in real time on your phone"

First Stars

"Cosmic dawn: Sstronomers detect signals from first stars in the universe". (Via H.R.)

3000 Years Of Art

"3000 years of art in just three minutes":
This short film from 1968, set to Classical Gas, shows 3000 years of fine art in just three minutes. As the final frame of the film says:
You have just had all of the Great Art of the World indelibly etched in your brain. You are now cultured.
As mesmerizing as the film is, especially for 1968, the backstory is perhaps even more interesting...
Direct link to the video:

Monday, February 26, 2018

Math Of Turbulence

"What Makes the Hardest Equations in Physics So Difficult?":
Mathematicians classify partial differential equations like Navier-Stokes based on the extent to which they can go haywire at infinitesimally small scales. Navier-Stokes is on the extreme end of the spectrum. The difficulty of the mathematics of the equation is, in some sense, an exact reflection of the complexity of the turbulent flows they’re supposed to be able to describe.

Voting Machine Vulnerabilities

NYT: "The Myth of the Hacker-Proof Voting Machine"


"Pedaling pictures: The art and science of GPS doodling". (Via H.R.)

Friday, February 23, 2018

Hsieh Forbes Column: TV Medicine Vs. Reality

My latest Forbes column is now out: "How Badly Does Hollywood Distort Truth In Medical Dramas?"

I discuss some recent research on television representations of trauma and emergency medical care, and how differences between TV and reality can affect both patients and doctors.

I like a good medical drama as well as anyone, but sometimes the mistakes make me cringe.  Of course, anyone who has watched a medical TV drama with me and has had to "shush" me when I repeatedly complain about some Hollywood exaggeration already knows this.

(And don't even get me started about random x-rays being hung upside down or backwards on viewboxes in the background of an OR or ER scene.)

Marvel Movie Graph Updated

"The Marvel Movie Graph -- 5 Years Later"

Biohacker Regrets

"A Biohacker Regrets Publicly Injecting Himself With CRISPR"

Thursday, February 22, 2018

What Color Is a Tennis Ball?

"What Color Is a Tennis Ball? An investigation into a surprisingly divisive question."

Brain Implant Update

NYT: "The First Step Toward a Personal Memory Maker?"

Home Bees

"Genius Company Installs Beehives In Your Living Room, And Here’s How It Works". (Via P.B.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Conspiracy Theories

Tyler Cowen: "How to Test Your Favorite Conspiracy Theory"

Waterbed History

"The Weird True Story of the Rise and Fall of the Waterbed".

A housemate of mine in college had an awesome waterbed, and his was always the most popular room during parties.

Hollywood Vs. Reality In Medicine

Shocker: Hollywood portrayals of medicine sometimes diverge from the actual reality.

Academic article in the Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open journal compares medical outcomes in "Grey's Anatomy" to real life, "Grey’s Anatomy effect: television portrayal of patients with trauma may cultivate unrealistic patient and family expectations after injury".

Of course, anyone who watches a medical TV drama with me and has to "shush" me when I repeatedly complain about some Hollywood exaggeration already knows this.

(And don't even get me started about random x-rays being hung upside down or backwards on viewboxes in the background of an OR or ER scene.) 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Elevator Revolution

"Supertall Towers Are Driving an Elevator Revolution"

Butterfly Map

"New Comprehensive Map of How Butterflies Are Related to Each Other". (Via H.R.)

Lazy Dog

"Lazy Bulldog Enjoys A Half Body Massage From A Roomba"

Monday, February 19, 2018

Quantum Internet

Nature: "The quantum internet has arrived (and it hasn't)"

Unsolicited Amazon Toys

"Someone Is Sending Amazon Sex Toys to Strangers. Amazon Has No Idea How to Stop It."

New Form of Light

"Scientists Create a New Form of Light by Linking Photons"

Friday, February 16, 2018

Apple Success

"Apple now accounts for more revenue than the rest of the entire global smartphone industry combined"

Fecal Transplant Update

"Fecal transplants move into the mainstream to treat difficult infection"

Google Vs. Advertisers

"The world's biggest advertising company is about to embark on a new venture: blocking advertisements."

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Air Gap Hacking

"Mind the Gap: This Researcher Steals Data With Noise, Light, and Magnets"
Guri and his fellow Ben-Gurion researchers have shown, for instance, that it's possible to trick a fully offline computer into leaking data to another nearby device via the noise its internal fan generates, by changing air temperatures in patterns that the receiving computer can detect with thermal sensors, or even by blinking out a stream of information from a computer hard drive LED to the camera on a quadcopter drone hovering outside a nearby window. In new research published today, the Ben-Gurion team has even shown that they can pull data off a computer protected by not only an air gap, but also a Faraday cage designed to block all radio signals.

Selling Snowballs In MN

"A Snowball Vending Machine In Minnesota"

New LL Bean Return Policy

"A Fond Farewell to LL Bean's No-Questions-Asked Return Policy"

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Thin Materials

"Scientists identify hundreds of atomically thin materials". (Via H.R.)

New Language

"A previously unknown language has been found in the Malay Peninsula by linguists from Lund University in Sweden."
The language is an Aslian variety within the Austroasiatic language family and is spoken by 280 people who are settled hunter-gatherers in northern Peninsular Malaysia.

Chinese Police Tech

"Chinese police are wearing sunglasses that can recognize faces".

For better or worse, I imagine US law enforcement won't be far behind. The police won't have to ask for "your papers, please".

Monday, February 12, 2018

Friday, February 09, 2018

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Genetic Testing Update

"Using just a swab of saliva from a newborn's cheek, a new DNA test will probe a baby's genes to search for 193 genetic diseases -- all of which have some kind of treatment already available."

Crayfish Clones

"A Pet Crayfish Can Clone Itself, and It's Spreading Around the World"

Antarctic Optical Effects

"How the Antarctic Sun Creates Breathtaking Optical Effects"

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Intel Vaunt

"Intel made smart glasses that look normal"

Ignition! Book

"The funniest, most accessible book on rocket science is being reissued". (Via H.R.)

FFT Explained

Video: "But what is the Fourier Transform? A visual introduction". (Via G.F.)

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Monday, February 05, 2018

Nuclear Reactor Update

"NuScale factory built modular 50 megawatt nuclear reactors have funding, customers and some NRC approval". (Via H.R.)

Strange Roadside Attractions

"Strangest Roadside Attraction in Every State". (Via H.R. and Gus Van Horn.)

Ebay Changes

"EBay is ditching PayPal for a younger, European partner"

Friday, February 02, 2018

Speeding Study

NYT: "We found a large increase in the average speed of drivers who received speeding tickets on the weekends after Fast and Furious releases. "

Space Archaeology

"Is space the next frontier for archaeology?" (Via H.R.)

DNA Sequencing Update

"Pocket-sized DNA reader used to scan entire human genome sequence"

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Elon Musk Flamethrowers

"Elon Musk is now selling flamethrowers -- and he sold $2 million worth of them in 24 hours"

Fast Construction

"1,500 Chinese construction workers built this train station in just nine hours."

Self-Parking Slippers

Self-parking slippers for Japanese guesthouse.

Monday, January 29, 2018

[Off Topic] Hsieh Forbes Column: You Might Not Like The President, But That Doesn't Mean He's Crazy

[Off Topic] My latest Forbes column is out: "You Might Not Like The President, But That Doesn't Mean He's Crazy".

I discuss the latest push by some psychiatrists to declare the President unfit to hold office on mental health grounds. And the response of the White House physician who examined the President, including a cognitive evaluation.

As Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, wrote in the New England Journal Of Medicine:
Psychiatry has made too many past missteps to engage in political partisanship disguised as patriotism — witness its collusion in Nazi eugenics policies, Soviet political repression, and involuntary confinement in mental hospitals of dissidents and religious groups in the People’s Republic of China. More than any other medical specialty, psychiatry is vulnerable to being exploited for partisan political purposes and for bypassing due process for establishing guilt, fault, and fact.

Bad Sneeze

Man tries to hold in a sneeze, and instead tears his throat and requires 7 days in the hospital.

Link includes some impressive x-ray and CT images.


"Foldscope is a real microscope that’s made of paper"

Friday, January 26, 2018

Thursday, January 25, 2018

From Telegraph To Internet

"In the 1960s, Telegraph Poles Were Equipped With Nuclear Bomb Alarms":
...And concerns about the robustness of military communications in a nuclear attack inspired RAND researcher Paul Baran to propose a network of distributed communication—an idea that evolved into the military’s revolutionary ARPANET and matured to become the internet.

Stone Age Facial Reconstruction

"Face of 9,000-Year-Old Teenager Reconstructed". (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Facial Recognition In Retail

"The List of Places That Scan Your Face Is Growing".

One interesting tidbit:
[H]alf of all American adults have their photos in the FBI’s facial recognition database, which the bureau has been using since 2011 to track and identify suspects. Yet, the software had a 15 percent rate of inaccuracy—higher than Facebook’s—and incorrectly identified black people more often than white people.

Color Perception

"The Reality of Color Is Perception: An argument for a new definition of color"

Monday, January 22, 2018

Light Posting

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual this week due to external obligations

Small Nuclear Reactors

"Nuclear reactors the size of wastebaskets could power our Martian settlements". (Via H.R.)

AGI Timeline Prediction

"Moore's Law and AGI Timelines"

Friday, January 19, 2018

Tiny Dishwasher

"The Dishwasher Gets A Redesign For Tiny Apartments"

Amazon HQ2 Finalists

"Amazon Whittles Down List of HQ2 Contenders to 20 Finalists".

Denver is one of the finalists.

ELT MIrror

"First Mirror Segment for Extremely Large Telescope Successfully Cast". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Pentagon AI

"The Pentagon's New Artificial Intelligence Is Already Hunting Terrorists"

Underwater Volcano

"We All Nearly Missed The Largest Underwater Volcano Eruption Ever Recorded". (Via H.R.)

Learning From Hawaii

"Learning From Hawaii's False Missile Attack Fiasco"

Monday, January 15, 2018

Harry’s Razors Review

"Harry’s Razors review"

Toll-Free Numbers

"Why Do Toll-Free Numbers Start With 800?"

Pencil Factory

"Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories". (Via H.R.)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Remote Driving

"I Rode in a Car in Las Vegas. Its Driver Was in Silicon Valley"

Dolphin Intelligence

"Why dolphins are deep thinkers":
Kelly the dolphin has built up quite a reputation. All the dolphins at the institute are trained to hold onto any litter that falls into their pools until they see a trainer, when they can trade the litter for fish. In this way, the dolphins help to keep their pools clean.

Kelly has taken this task one step further. When people drop paper into the water she hides it under a rock at the bottom of the pool. The next time a trainer passes, she goes down to the rock and tears off a piece of paper to give to the trainer. After a fish reward, she goes back down, tears off another piece of paper, gets another fish, and so on.

…Her cunning has not stopped there. One day, when a gull flew into her pool, she grabbed it, waited for the trainers and then gave it to them. It was a large bird and so the trainers gave her lots of fish. This seemed to give Kelly a new idea. The next time she was fed, instead of eating the last fish, she took it to the bottom of the pool and hid it under the rock where she had been hiding the paper. When no trainers were present, she brought the fish to the surface and used it to lure the gulls, which she would catch to get even more fish. After mastering this lucrative strategy, she taught her calf, who taught other calves, and so gull-baiting has become a hot game among the dolphins.
(Via A.B. and Marginal Revolution.)

Ikea Marketing First

"Ikea’s New Ad Is A Pregnancy Test You Pee On. Really." (Via J.A.)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New Rules For Border Inspection Of Electronic Devices

"New Rules Announced for Border Inspection of Electronic Devices":
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol announced new restrictions on when agents can copy data from digital devices at border crossing points.

Agents now need “reasonable suspicion” in advance of searches of phones, computers, tablets, cameras or any other digital device belonging to people entering or leaving the United States. Border agents will also be restricted from accessing data stored remotely in the cloud.

The new guidance published (PDF) on Friday update existing rules introduced in 2009 regarding “advanced” searches that can be conducted at random and without warrant.

Under the new rules, border agents would still be able to conduct “basic” searches “with or without suspicion,” which entails physical examination of digital devices, such as sorting through photos and examining messages. “Advanced” searches based on “reasonable suspicion” will still be permitted and agents can still review, copy, and analyze a digital device’s contents.

The directive states travelers may be asked to provide passcodes to unlock a device. If the border agent is unable to inspect the device because it is passcode or encryption-protected, the agent may detain the device for up to five days.

Crown Casting

Side-by-side photos of The Crown's cast with their real-life counterparts. Excellent casting!

Taiko Drummers

"The arcane world of Japan's taiko drummers"

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Monday, January 08, 2018

Friday, January 05, 2018

Microchip Implants

"A practical guide to microchip implants". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, January 04, 2018