Friday, May 17, 2019

Year In Space

NYT: "Scott Kelly Spent a Year in Orbit. His Body Is Not Quite the Same."

Compared to his twin brother who stayed on Earth:
DNA mutated in some of his cells. His immune system produced a host of new signals. His microbiome gained new species of bacteria. 

Many of these biological changes seemed harmless, disappearing after he returned to Earth. But others — including genetic mutations and, after his return, declines in cognitive test scores — did not correct themselves, provoking concern among scientists.

Thinking About Coffee

"Just thinking about coffee can improve your focus, researchers say"

14-Digit Phone Numbers

"Japan plans to create 10 billion 14-digit phone numbers as 5G era nears"

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Deepest Hole

"The deepest hole we have ever dug"

Twisted Graphene

"How Twisted Graphene Became the Big Thing in Physics"

Bank Comics

"New Comic Books from the Federal Reserve Bank".

One sample below:

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Monday, May 13, 2019

Tolkien Biopic

"Birth of Middle Earth: Tolkien biopic explores beloved author's early years"

New Viruses

"Almost 200,000 Never-Before-Seen Viruses Were Just Discovered Hidden in Our Oceans "

Google Privacy

"Limit How Long Google Keeps Your Data With This Overdue Setting"

Friday, May 10, 2019


"What The Hell Is Going On With UFOs And The Department Of Defense?"

Beer Crisis

"'English and Irish fans drink the most': Japan is warned of a Rugby World Cup beer shortage"

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Japanese Precision Walking

"Shuudan Koudou Is the Japanese Art of Synchronized Precision Walking":
If you want the really good stuff, skip to ~1:35 in the first video to watch two columns of quick-walking students march backwards through each other. Whoa.

Video link #1.

Video link #2

High Resolution Update

"Color-Changing LEDs Pave the Way to Impossibly High Screen Resolutions"

Monday, May 06, 2019

Indoor Waterfall

"'You forget you're in a building,' says Israeli-Canadian architect of giant airport waterfall". (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Competitive Air Guitar

"The profound and peculiar sport of competitive air guitar"

Friday, May 03, 2019

Viable Digital Newspaper

"Want to see what one digital future for newspapers looks like? Look at The Guardian, which isn't losing money anymore."

Three key components to their strategy:

1. Make your money in digital, not print
2. Make your money from readers, not advertisers
3. Make more money than you did before

Fire Extinguisher In Space

"New concept for novel fire extinguisher in space"

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Selling Empty Air

"You Can Buy a Tin of Air to Commemorate the End of the Heisei Era".  I applaud the entrepreneurial spirit.

Apple Miracle

"Apple Watch lost at sea for 6 months returned to owner in working condition". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

UK Surveillance Update

NYT: "UK Police Have a Message for Crime Victims: Hand Over Your Private Data".

Three noteworthy points stood out to me:

1) If you don't voluntarily surrender your phone/data, the police may not investigate the crime against you.

2) If the police find incriminating evidence against you for an unrelated activity, they can prosecute you. Because you surrendered your phone "voluntarily".

3) They may keep your phone "for weeks or even months".

OTOH, the police promise to use their power only for good, not for evil. So there's that.

Neutron Stars

"Say Hello To Neutron Stars, Your Worst Nightmare"

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

More Star Wars

"5 confirmed Star Wars projects are coming after The Rise of Skywalker -- here are all the details"

MS Drops 60 Day Password Expiration Recommendation

"Password1, Password2, Password3 no more: Microsoft drops password expiration rec"

Monday, April 29, 2019

Light Posting Notice

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

Boom Update

"Denver Built 'Baby Boom' To Propel Planet Into Supersonic Era"

First Molecule

"Astronomers have spotted the universe's first molecule":
Helium hydride (HeH), a combination of helium and hydrogen, was spotted some 3000 light-years from Earth by an instrument aboard the airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a telescope built into a converted 747 jet that flies above the opaque parts of Earth’s atmosphere.

HeH has long been thought to mark the “dawn of chemistry,” as the remnants of the big bang cooled to about 4000 K and ions began to team up with electrons to form neutral atoms. Researchers believe that in that primordial gas, neutral helium reacted with hydrogen ions to form the first chemical bond joining the very first molecule.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Girl Without Hands Wins Handwriting Contest

"Girl Without Hands Wins Handwriting Contest"

Kung Fu From Space

"Stunning Overhead View of Shaolin Kung Fu Training Exercises":
As part of their show Earth From Space, the BBC Earth team shows the coordinated movements of thousands of Shaolin Kung Fu trainees. The number of participants is so large that their movements can easily be seen in a satellite view...

Flashing Headlights As Free Speech

Eugene Volokh: "Flashing Headlights to Warn of Speed Trap May Be Protected by First Amendment"

Thursday, April 25, 2019

[Off Topic] Hsieh Forbes Column: Health Care Vs. Liberty In Singapore

[Off topic] My latest Forbes column is now out: "Health Care Vs. Liberty In Singapore".

I discuss the trade-offs that Singapore residents must make when they accept government-run "universal health care" and "cost control". This is includes significant losses in liberty as well as accepting government rationing of medical services.

For more details, see the full text of "Health Care Vs. Liberty In Singapore".

Dead Tree Books Are The New Vinyl

"Books are cool precisely because we don't need them anymore"

Border Harassment

"Former Mozilla CTO was detained at US border and told he had no right to a lawyer"

Legal Status Of AI Generated Music

"We've been warned about AI and music for over 50 years, but no one's prepared":

"I won’t mince words," says Jonathan Bailey, CTO of iZotope. "This is a total legal clusterf-ck."

Even if an AI system did closely mimic an artist's sound, an artist might have trouble proving the AI was designed to mimic them, says Aimonetti. With copyright, you have to prove the infringing author was reasonably exposed to the work they’re accused of ripping off. If a copyright claim were filed against a musical work made by an AI, how could anyone prove an algorithm was trained on the song or artist it allegedly infringes on? It's not an easy task to reverse engineer a neural network to see what songs it was fed because it's :ultimately just a collection of numerical weights and a configuration," says Bailey...

C law will also have to contend with the bigger issue of authorship. That is, can an AI system claim legal authorship of the music it produces, or does that belong to the humans who created the software?...

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

AI And Beer

"Smarter beer: When old school craft brewing meets industry 4.0 AI"

Banksy Authentication

"How Banksy Authenticates His Work":
It all starts off with a fairly bog standard gallery style certificate. Details of the work, the authenticating agency, a bit of embossing and a large impressive signature at the bottom. Exactly the sort of things that can be easily copied by someone on a mission to create the perfect fake.

That torn-in-half banknote though? Never mind signatures, embossing or wax seals. The Di Faced Tenner is doing all the authentication heavy lifting here.

The tear is what uniquely separates the private key, the half of the note kept secret under lock and key at Pest Control, with the public key.

EU Surveillance Update

"EU votes to create gigantic biometrics database"

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Laptop Holding Styles

"What your laptop-holding position says about you"

Selling Rex

"Someone Is Trying To Sell a Baby T. Rex Skeleton on eBay for $2.95 Million -- And paleontologists aren't happy about it"

Unreliable Emotion Reading

"Don’t look now: Why you should be worried about machines reading your emotions"

Monday, April 22, 2019

Friday, April 19, 2019

Hacking Passwords

"The Mathematics of (Hacking) Passwords"

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Long Exposure Photo

"1,060-hour image of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) captured by Amateur Astronomers". (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Light Posting Notice

Admin note: Due to external obligations, posting may be lighter than usual the rest of this week.

Unusual Demise

"Paste Eater's Grave"

Good Free Education

"Here are 300 free Ivy League university courses you can take online right now"

Monday, April 15, 2019

Tricking A Tesla

"Researchers trick Tesla Autopilot using stickers on the road". (Via Ari A.)

Pollen Clouds

"Pollen clouds shroud parts of US south-east as allergies spike":

A thick haze of yellow pollen has blanketed the sky across parts of the south-eastern US, with reports of spring allergy symptoms on the rise. One particularly dense cloud of pollen was photographed in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Better Bicycle Helmet

"Science and bicycling meet in a new helmet design". (Via H.R.)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Amazon Listens

"Amazon Workers Are Listening to What You Tell Alexa"

Canceled Flight

"What to do if your flight is canceled"

Robotic "Intruder"

"Oregon deputies with 'guns drawn' respond to report of intruder to find ... a Roomba vacuum"

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Big Black Hole

M87 is big.

F-16 Shoots Itself

"Dutch F-16 flies into its own bullets, scores self-inflicted hits"

Struggling In SF

San Francisco residents making $300,000 regard themselves as "struggling" or "middle class".

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

New Phase Of Matter

"New phase of matter is solid and liquid at the same time":
Now, a team has used a type of artificial intelligence to confirm the existence of a bizarre new state of matter, one in which potassium atoms exhibit properties of both a solid and a liquid at the same time. If you were somehow able to pull out a chunk of such material, it would probably look like a solid block leaking molten potassium that eventually all dissolved away.

Google Drone Update

"Google drone deliveries cleared for take-off in Australia"

Memory Zaps

"Zapping brain with precise electrical current boosts working memory in older adults, study finds".

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

1973 Internet

"A Map of the Internet from May 1973"
The network was so small in the early days that those circles and squares on the 1973 map represent individual computers and routers, not universities or cities.

IBM S/360

"Building the System/360 Mainframe Nearly Destroyed IBM". (Via H.R.)

When Copy Editors Meet

"Dropped Hyphens, Split Infinitives, and Other Thrilling Developments from the 2019 American Copy Editors Society Conference"

Monday, April 08, 2019

Friday, April 05, 2019

Duolingo Doubts

"Is It Just Me, or Does Duolingo Not Work?"

Timelapse Of The Future

Video: "Timelapse of the Future":
We start in 2019 and travel exponentially through time, witnessing the future of Earth, the death of the sun, the end of all stars, proton decay, zombie galaxies, possible future civilizations, exploding black holes, the effects of dark energy, alternate universes, the final fate of the cosmos - to name a few.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Running Robots

"After decades of clumsiness, robots are finally learning to walk, run and grasp with grace. Such progress spells the beginning of an age of physically adept artificial intelligence. "

Chinese Burner

"The Chinese Burner: A Chinese science fiction writer goes to Burning Man"

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Light Posting Notice

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

Airbnb Hidden Cameras

"Airbnb Has a Hidden-Camera Problem"

Seizure Dogs

"Dogs Detect the Scent of Seizures".  #GoodDoggies!

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Programmer Migration Patterns

"I made a little flow chart of mainstream programming languages and how programmers seem to move from one to another".

Difficult Conversations

"How to Deliver Constructive Feedback in Difficult Situations"

River Maps

"These Beautiful Maps Capture the Rivers That Pulse Through Our World"

Friday, March 29, 2019

Mail Fishing

"Have You Noticed Those Weird New Mailboxes? Here's Why They Changed"
Thieves, often at night, use string to lower glue-covered rodent traps or bottles coated with an adhesive down the chute of a sidewalk mailbox. This bait attaches to the envelopes inside, and the fish in this case — mail containing gift cards, money orders or checks, which can be altered with chemicals and cashed — are reeled out slowly.

This low-tech crime, which became common in the Bronx, is known as mail fishing

[In the new mailboxes:] The mail slots are only large enough for letters, meaning sending even small packages will require a trip to the post office. The opening is also equipped with a mechanism that grabs at a letter once inserted, making it difficult to retract. (With an air of crime-fighting secrecy, postal inspectors declined to elaborate on precisely how the device works.)

Virtual Military Misconduct

"Soldier charged after 'going rogue' during computer game on virtual battlefield "

Astrology Studies

"A fight has erupted in Norway after the country's higher education regulator agreed to accredit courses in astrology, meaning students will be able to use government loans to look for meaning in the stars."  (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Wifi Password

Dan Edwards learns the coffeeshop password:
Me: Hey, what's the Wifi password?

Barista: You need to buy a drink first.

Me: I'll have a Latte, please.

Barista: £3, please.

Me: There you go, now what's the Wifi password?

Barista: You need to buy a drink first. No spaces and all lowercase.
— Dan Edwards ✨ (@de) March 27, 2019

Bizarre Florida Theme Parks

"Let's revisit Florida's bizarre lost theme parks from before the Disney era"

Attachment Styles and Work

"The 4 ‘Attachment Styles,’ and How They Sabotage Your Work-Life Balance"

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Drunken Online Shopping

"Drunken online shopping is big business -- especially for Amazon"

Unique Table Design

"Unique Tables Designed to Look Like Animals Are Half-Submerged in Water"

Robot Swarm

"‘Particle’ robot swarm moves without computer control"

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Quantum Computing For The Very Curious

"Quantum computing for the very curious"

More Surveillance

"The US Government Will Be Scanning Your Face At 20 Top Airports, Documents Show". (Via T.K.)

Easter Island Update

"Scientists think they’ve solved one mystery of Easter Island's statues"

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Wait

The Wait: "Two people strike up a conversation at a bus stop. They don't say whole lot, but the story will grip you right in the feels. This award-winning short is from Jason McColgan."

The Wait from Jason McColgan on Vimeo.

Quantum Computing Update

"D-Wave 2000Q hands-on: Steep learning curve for quantum computing"

Wite-Out Sales

"Who Still Buys Wite-Out, and Why?" (Via H.R.)

Friday, March 22, 2019

TAVR History

"The astounding 19-year journey to a sea change for heart patients".

Related: Here's the recent NEJM paper on the TAVR trial making national news:
"Transcatheter Aortic-Valve Replacement with a Self-Expanding Valve in Low-Risk Patients"

And a NYT story on the trial:
"Tens of Thousands of Heart Patients May Not Need Open-Heart Surgery"


"Ask A Native New Yorker: Should I Move To Los Angeles?"

Flowers From Space

"Satellites just photographed California's dazzling 'super bloom' of spring flowers from outer space". (Via B.E.)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

New AirPods

"Apple’s New AirPods Are the Future, Like It or Not"

Exascale Computer

"Intel will build the first exascale supercomputer in the US"

Fermi Paradox Revisited

"Are We In A 'Galactic Zoo' Protected By Aliens? Scientists Meet To Investigate The 'Great Silence'"

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Bad Conference Rooms

Don't make important decisions in conference rooms: "Three people quietly sitting in a mid-size conference room produced CO2 levels that within 60 minutes, reached concentrations high enough to impair their ability to make the right decisions."

Surprise Meteor

"A meteor exploded over Earth with 10 times the energy of Hiroshima's atomic bomb. Nobody saw or was even aware of the fireball that exploded above the Bering Sea on December 18, 2018 -- until now."

Flat Antarctica

"Flat Earth Supporters Now Plan An Antarctica Expedition To The Edge Of The World"

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Monday, March 18, 2019

Friday, March 15, 2019

Last Blockbuster

"There's now only one Blockbuster left on the planet"

Space Medicine

"Space Medicine in the Era of Civilian Spaceflight"

Noise Cancellation Update

"Scientists have discovered a shape that blocks all sound -- even your co-workers". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Supersonic Shockwaves

"NASA captures unprecedented images of supersonic shockwaves". (Via H.R.)

Google Is Watching

"Google Exec Finally Admits to Congress That They're Tracking Us Even with 'Location' Turned Off"

Hathaway Prank

"What Anne Hathaway's Prank On 'Ellen' Said About Pseudoscience"

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Humans Are Weird

"These Hilarious Comics Depict How Weird Human Habits Actually Are"

Good Doggie

"The First Dog Ascent of a 7,000-Meter Himalayan Peak"

Physics Of Knitting

"Physicists are decoding math-y secrets of knitting to make bespoke materials"

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Total Hipster Irony

Update on yesterday's MIT article on hipster culture: "A man threatened to sue a magazine for using his picture to show a generic hipster. But it wasn't him."

In other words, he was upset at being used as an illustration on how all hipsters look alike, but he mistake another hipster's picture for his own.

Update Your Chrome

"Google fixes Chrome zero-day exploit, security update rolling out to Mac, Windows, Android, & Chrome OS"

500-Mile Email

"The Case of the 500-Mile Email".  Here's the opening:
I was working in a job running the campus email system some years ago when I got a call from the chairman of the statistics department.

“We’re having a problem sending email out of the department.”
“What’s the problem?” I asked.

“We can’t send mail more than 500 miles,” the chairman explained.

I choked on my latte. “Come again?”

“We can’t send mail farther than 500 miles from here,” he repeated. “A little bit more, actually. Call it 520 miles. But no farther.”

“Um… Email really doesn’t work that way, generally,” I said, trying to keep panic out of my voice. One doesn’t display panic when speaking to a department chairman, even of a relatively impoverished department like statistics. “What makes you think you can’t send mail more than 500 miles?”
Read the whole thing.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Friday, March 08, 2019

Bitcoin Hypnotist

"This hypnotist charges half a bitcoin for helping you remember your lost cryptocurrency password". (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Caesar Death Site

"Site Where Julius Caesar Was Stabbed Will Finally Open to the Public"

Art Thief Secrets

"The Secrets of the World's Greatest Art Thief"

Thursday, March 07, 2019


"The Deep Roots of an Italian Song That Sounds Like English -- But Is Just Nonsense
There’s a long tradition of songs that “sound” like another language without actually meaning anything. In Italy, for example, beginning in the 1950s, American songs, films, and jingles inspired a diverse range of “American sounding” cultural products.

The most famous is probably “Prisencolinensinainciusol,” a 1972 song composed by legendary Italian entertainer Adriano Celentano and performed by him and his wife, Claudia Mori. The song’s lyrics sound phonetically like American English—or at least what many Italians hear when an American speaks—but are clearly total, utter, delightful nonsense. You really have to hear it to appreciate it.

Bad Password

"Why 'ji32k7au4a83' Is a Remarkably Common Password"

Foldable Gorilla Glass

"Corning is working on truly foldable Gorilla Glass". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

USB Confusion

"USB 3.2 is going to make the current USB branding even worse"
USB 3.2 doubles down on this confusion. 5Gb/s devices are now "USB 3.2 Gen 1." 10Gb/s devices become "USB 3.2 Gen 2." And 20Gb/s devices will be... "USB 3.2 Gen 2×2." Because they work by running two 10Gb/s connections along different pairs of wires simultaneously, and it's just obvious from arithmetic that you'd number the generations "1, 2, 2×2." Perhaps they're named for powers of two, starting with zero? The consumer branding is a more reasonable "SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps."

Read The Fine Print

"She read the fine print on her insurance policy. It won her $10,000 in a contest". (Via H.R.)

Worth Staying Up Late?

"How to Decide When It's Worth Staying Up Late"

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Commercial Quantum Computing

"When Will Quantum Computing Have Real Commercial Value? Nobody really knows"

AI And Scientific Reproducibility

"Machine learning is contributing to a 'reproducibility crisis' within science"

Venmo Etiquette

"The Confusing World of Venmo Etiquette"

Monday, March 04, 2019

Bridge Doping Scandal

The lastest doping scandal involves professional bridge. Yes, bridge.

Ice Tsunamis

"Furious Winds Lead to 'Ice Tsunamis' Along Lake Erie"

NASA Communications

"Deep space dial-up: How NASA speeds up its interplanetary communications". (Via H.R.)

Friday, March 01, 2019

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Light Posting Notice

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

Google Microphones

"After a big privacy backlash, Google's Nest explains which of its products have microphones and why"

Hydro Flasks

"Why Are Hydro Flask Bottles Suddenly Everywhere?" (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

[Off Topic] Hsieh Forbes Column: Should Therapists Treat Climate Change Denial As A Psychological Disorder?

[Off topic] My latest Forbes piece is now out: "Should Therapists Treat Climate Change Denial As A Psychological Disorder?"

Spoiler: "No."

ET Life Update

"Life probably can't exist on quite as many planets as we once thought"

Missionary Texting

"Latter-day Saint missionaries can now call, text home weekly":
Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can now call, text or video chat weekly, the First Presidency announced Friday. This update to guidelines regarding communication between full-time missionaries and their families follows a decades-long tradition of missionaries only calling home twice a year -- on Christmas and on Mother's Day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Paying For Super-Expensive Stuff

"How Do the Insanely Wealthy Actually Pay for Something Worth Hundreds of Millions of Dollars?"

Emojis In Court

"Emoji are showing up in court cases exponentially, and courts aren't prepared"

Bubble Wrap History

"The Accidental Invention of Bubble Wrap"

Monday, February 25, 2019

Amazon's Middle-Earth

"Where the Stars Are Strange: A First Look at Amazon's Middle-earth"

Northern Vs. Southern Lights

"Why Do the Northern and Southern Lights Differ? Scientists have discovered the culprit: how the sun squeezes Earth’s magnetic tail"

Medieval Trade Routes

"A Detailed Map of Medieval Trade Routes in Europe, Asia, and Africa"

Friday, February 22, 2019

Zebra Stripes

"The Surprising Reason Zebras Have Stripes"

Google Sees All

"How did the police know you were near a crime scene? Google told them"

'Oumuamua Update

"No, 'Oumuamua is not an alien spaceship. It might be even weirder"

Thursday, February 21, 2019

When Kids Realize Their Whole Life Is Already Online

"When Kids Realize Their Whole Life Is Already Online"

Protecting Privacy

"Chrome will make it harder to block incognito browsing"

Foldable Phone

"Samsung's foldable phone is the Galaxy Fold, available April 26th starting at $1,980"

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Good Apple

"Man discovers 30 year old Apple computer still in working order":
“My oldest, who is 9, exclaimed “that’s a computer?!” in genuine surprise, and then pointed at the floppy drives and asked “what are those?” My younger twins just kept laughing at how silly it seemed to them.”

Bad Plagiarist

Courtney Milan: "Cristiane Serruya is a copyright infringer, a plagiarist, and an idiot".

The evidence is pretty convincing.

Plus as the victimized author notes: "[I]f I were an unethical plagiarist and I was looking to plagiarize a romance author, I would pick literally anyone except the one who clerked for the Supreme Court, taught intellectual property as a law professor, and doesn’t back down from a fight."


Bruce Schneier: "The Evolution of Darknets". More here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Monday, February 18, 2019

More Prefixes

"You know kilo, mega, and giga. Is the metric system ready for ronna and quecca?
A proposal lodged with the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Paris recommends new names -- ronna and quecca-- as prefixes for 1027 and 1030, respectively. They would be joined by their microscopic counterparts, ronto for 1027, and quecto for 1030. If approved, the new terms could be formally introduced in 2022. They would be the first prefixes added since 1991.

The planned update responds to the massive growth in global data storage, which by the early 2030s is forecast to reach 1 yottabyte (1024) -- the top of the existing scale. Without new prefixes, computer scientists will have no way to officially talk about what comes next. At the other end of the scale, quantum physicists have measured atomic forces as small as 42 yoctonewtons. Much smaller and they run out of metrological road.

Wingsuit Jump

Um, wow: "2 wingsuit flyers BASE jump into a plane in mid-air"

Da Vinci Stamps

"Stamps Featuring Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci"

Friday, February 15, 2019

'Drinkable' Potato Chips

"'Drinkable' potato chips: The products keeping your phone grease-free":
Among the concerns facing today’s social media maven: how can one scroll through Instagram and enjoy a bag of potato chips without getting their phone all greasy?

It’s a dilemma Steve Jobs was never able to solve, but that hasn’t stopped today’s innovators. A Japanese snack company is offering chips that require only a single hand to consume – and you don’t have to touch the chips at all. The Tokyo company Koike-ya is behind One Hand Chips, which come pre-smashed so that you can essentially drink them, according to the Wall Street Journal. Now you can swipe with clean hands, and while the calories pile up, you don’t have to waste valuable energy chewing. As one enthusiast tells the paper: “I can just take it and chug it.”

Laundry In Ancient Mesopotamia

"How to Get Your Laundry Done in Ancient Mesopotamia"

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Tinder For Cows

"Cows Can Swipe Right for Love on This New Dating App".

The app is called Tudder, of course.

Earth Kitty!

"Did you know the Earth is actually a kitten?" (Via Cynical-C.)

Drunk Memories

"Drunk Witnesses Remember a Surprising Amount: Interviewing an inebriated person at the scene may be more accurate than waiting until he or she is sober"

Secure Messengers

"Thinking About What You Need In A Secure Messenger"

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Metallic Wood

"Penn Engineer's 'Metallic Wood' Has the Strength of Titanium and the Density of Water". (Via H.R.)

Dining At 5:30

"Why 5:30 Is the Ultimate Dining Time"

Palm Pilot Tribute

"Remembering the PalmPilot and its spinoffs"

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Monday, February 11, 2019

NYPD Vs. Google

NYPD is complaining that Waze users are posting the locations of the police checkpoints.

Google tells the NYPD, "too bad". I'm siding with Google on this one!

AI Finds Unknown Human Ancestor

"Artificial Intelligence Study of Human Genome Finds Unknown Human Ancestor"

Asteroid Defense Test

"A plan to knock an asteroid off course":
In what’s being called humankind’s 1st planetary defense test, space scientists are planning to visit a double asteroid -- Didymos and its tiny moon -- and crash into the moon in attempt to change its orbit. 

Friday, February 08, 2019


"Today We Learned You Can Sail In A Straight Line From The UK To New Zealand"

New Chargers

"The next generation of wall chargers is getting smaller and better". (Via H.R.)

Superman Physics

"The Way Superman Picks Up a Building Is a Physics Travesty"

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Sovereign Immunity

"Could Queen Elizabeth Get Away with Murder Legally?"


"FasTeesH Y-Brush is an electric toothbrush that does all the work for you".

I'm not sure if I think this is awesome or appalling. I'm leaning more towards appalling.

Florida Tunnel

NYT: "A Secret Tunnel Leading Toward a Florida Bank Puzzles the F.B.I."

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Don't Swallow Toothpicks

"This gory medical case shows why you should never, ever swallow a toothpick":
Of the poor souls who somehow ingest one of the wee daggers, 79 percent will end up with stab wounds their innards. Ten percent will die from their toothpick-inflicted injuries.

No Google

"I Cut Google Out Of My Life. It Screwed Up Everything"

Jenga Robot

"This robot can probably beat you at Jenga —- thanks to its understanding of the world"

Monday, February 04, 2019

Seeing Around Corners

"A Simple Camera and an Algorithm Let You See around Corners"


"Finding Lena, the Patron Saint of JPEGs"

Slow Science

"The 500-Year-Long Science Experiment".

Update: Link was missing, now fixed!

Friday, February 01, 2019

Hsieh Forbes Column: Should Doctors Google Their Patients?

My latest Forbes piece is now out: "Should Doctors Google Their Patients?"

Roomba Lawnmower

"The Roomba lawnmower is finally happening"

G-C Rota on Diff Eqs

Gian-Carlo Rota: "Ten Lessons I Wish I Had Learned Before I Started Teaching Differential Equations.

I took a probability and statistics class from Professor Rota when I was an undergraduate at MIT, and he was a terrific teacher! (Via Rand Simberg.)

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Misleading Exercise

"There Is No 'Fat Burning Zone'"

AI Plays StarCraft II

"Deep Mind's Alpha Star trounced human players of StarCraft II, a game of imperfect information that is much more complicated than chess. Amazingly, Alpha Star made fewer actions per minute than the human players. As with GO the AI developed new long-range strategies never before seen." (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Robots Parking Cars

"Robots will park your car at the airport"

Wednesday, January 30, 2019


"Funky mirror turns electric field into a magnetic field with missing pole"

History Of Cheese

"A Brief History of Cheese (aka Immortal Milk)". (Via G.F.)

American Football Commentary, Animated!

Video: "American Football Commentary, Animated!"
For this video, freelance animator Nick Murray Willis took the audio from football commentators and made these little animated vignettes to go along with each line.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Robotic AI Knee

"AI Helps Amputees Walk With a Robotic Knee"

KFC Gravy Candle

"This KFC Gravy Candle Will Give Your Home the Rich, Meaty Aromatherapy It Deserves"

Logos With Hidden Images

"38 Hidden Images in Logos That Prove Companies Are Actually Pretty Clever"

Monday, January 28, 2019

GPS-Aided Conviction

"Bicycle-riding hitman convicted with Garmin GPS watch location data"

Self-Wrapping Shoes

"These shoes use witchcraft to wrap around your feet when you step on them"

Campus Delivery Robots

"How one university changed overnight when it let 25 semiautonomous robots roam its campus":
During their first day in operation Tuesday, the demand for robotic delivery services from four campus dining establishments was so great during dinner hours that school officials had to pull the plug, shutting off orders so that robots weren’t operating late into the night, far behind schedule.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Resourceful Woman

"Woman with no arms or legs demonstrates how she folds laundry, showers, writes, etc."

Dark Nights

"Why is the night sky dark?"

Rogue Wave Recreated

"Oxford scientists successfully recreated a famous rogue wave in the lab". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Not So Old

"Oops: 4,500-Year-Old Stone Circle Turns Out to Be 1990s Replica"

GaN Update

"A Novel Design for Gallium Nitride LEDs Could Lead to Brighter, More Efficient Displays". (Via H.R.)

Fake Hand

"Hackers Make a Fake Hand to Beat Vein Authentication"

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Police Encrypting Radio Communications

"Encryption efforts in Colorado challenge crime reporters, transparency". (Via Ari A.)

AIs Understanding Rats

"Scientists Use AI to Decode the Ultrasonic Language of Rodents"

Beer Therapy

"Doctors Saved Man's Life by Pumping 15 Cans of Beer Into His Body".

This is a unconventional, but legitimate way to treat methanol poisoning. (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Silmarillion Primer

Jeff LaSala: The Silmarillion Primer.

Learning Robot Dog

"A robot dog has learned to run faster with machine learning"

Legendary LA Bookstore

Downtown LA's The Last Bookstore:
The massive store, covering 16,000 square feet, also boasts a coffee shop, a record store, and a used books section—but the “labyrinth” upstairs is where the magic really happens. It’s a maze of bookshelves arranged into tunnels of paperbacks, offbeat art installations made of flying books, little shops and displays of art, trinkets and antiques, and rainbow-colored rows and stacks of assorted volumes. To sweeten the deal, everything up in the labyrinth is $1 each, half of which goes to charity. Leave plenty of time to get lost here.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Embroidered Computer

"Artists Irene Posch & Ebru Kurbak have built The Embroidered Computer, a programmable 8-bit computer made using traditional embroidery techniques and materials."

Last Words

"What People Actually Say Before They Die"

Dirty Dealings In Amazon Marketplace

"Dirty Dealing In The $175 Billion Amazon Marketplace"

Some of the dirty tricks include sellers buying fake 5-star reviews for their competitors to frame them for violating Amazon terms-of-service. Or setting competitors' products on fire, then posting a fake customer review that the product exploded.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Friday, January 18, 2019

Password Breach

Troy Hunt: "The 773 Million Record 'Collection #1' Data Breach".

Related: If you have 1Password, here's how to "Use Watchtower to find passwords you need to change".

The Route of a Text Message

"The Route of a Text Message": How a text message is typed, stored, sent, received, and displayed.

Buffett On Bogle

I appreciated this tribute to Vanguard founder Jack Bogle, by Warren Buffett:
"If a statue is ever erected to honor the person who has done the most for American investors, the hands down choice should be Jack Bogle. For decades, Jack has urged investors to invest in ultra-low-cost index funds. In his crusade, he amassed only a tiny percentage of the wealth that has typically flowed to managers who have promised their investors large rewards while delivering them nothing – or, as in our bet, less than nothing – of added value. In his early years, Jack was frequently mocked by the investment-management industry. Today, however, he has the satisfaction of knowing that he helped millions of investors realize far better returns on their savings than they otherwise would have earned. He is a hero to them and to me."

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Net Neutrality Repeal Update

"A Year Without Net Neutrality: No Big Changes (Yet)"

Bad Aphorisms

Josh Greenman: "What famous, widely accepted aphorism do you find least true or least helpful?"

Click through to see plenty of interesting responses. (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Moon Seed

"Giant leaf for mankind? China germinates first seed on moon"

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Quantum Cable

"The Super-Secure Quantum Cable Hiding in the Holland Tunnel"

Brutal Typos

Fergil Mills: "Ever catch a typo so brutal it leaves you scarred, even though you fixed it?"

Some of the responses in the comments are pure comedy gold. (Via J.M.)

Chinese Anger Rooms

"All the rage -- Beijingers vent their stress in 'anger room'"

Monday, January 14, 2019

Friday, January 11, 2019

21st Century Parenting

"Parents are using GPS ankle monitors to track their teenagers like criminals":
It can be embarrassing for a teen to wear an ankle monitor when they’re not serving a sentence or out on bail, admits [Frank Kopczynski, the owner of Tampa Bay Monitoring], adding that “you may have to wear slacks or looser jeans,” which tends to get uncomfortable on the beach. However, he said, an embarrassed child is better than someone’s daughter “running off with a guy who’s going to eventually take her to a motel and beat her ass.”

...Along with the 95-decibel siren, if a teen is out past curfew, their parents can call Tampa Bay Monitoring’s office, and Kopczynski or one of his employees will activate the ankle monitor’s speaker and tell the child it’s time to get home or the police will be called. Hearing “this god-like voice out of nowhere” is generally effective, said Kopczynski; since the system is two-way, staff can also monitor the teen covertly.

...Kopczynski, meanwhile, told Quartz he is looking toward the college market as a possible expansion opportunity for alcohol monitoring devices, which track the wearer’s blood alcohol level through their sweat.

Alternate Periodic Tables

"The periodic tables we almost had"

Translucent Waves

"Mesmerizing Translucent Waves from 19th Century Paintings"

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Blocking Political Critics

"Politicians can't block their critics on social media, appeals court rules "

Ethereum Classic Theft

"Almost $500,000 in Ethereum Classic coin stolen by forking its blockchain":
Rollback attacks are often referred to as 51-percent attacks, because, in theory, they require an attacker to control a majority of the CPU power generating a blockchain. Such an arrangement violates a core requirement of any blockchain-based currency: it allows a single entity to write the contents of its universal shared transaction history.


"The science of slime."

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Laws Of The ER

Rada Jones, MD: "68 laws of the ER".

I, of course, liked:
64. Sage's First Advice: Skip the CT if the patient with abdominal pain is eating McDonald's.

Galactic Collision

"The Milky Way Could Crash Into Another Galaxy Billions of Years Earlier Than Predicted"

Sony's Mystery Lab

"Inside Sony's mysterious lab, 30 researchers pursue unique projects"

Monday, January 07, 2019

Hacked Photosynthesis

"Scientists Have 'Hacked Photosynthesis' In Search Of More Productive Crops". (Via H.R.)

More DNA Crime Fighting

"The Future of Crime-Fighting Is Family Tree Forensics"

Fire From Moonlight?

"Can you use a magnifying glass and moonlight to light a fire?"

Friday, January 04, 2019

Complaining Made Easy

"Button offers instant gratification for those plagued by airplane noise":

Barbara Deckert has a new weapon in the war against airplane noise — and she’s not afraid to use it.

Every time a plane flies over her suburban Maryland home, rattling her windows and setting her teeth on edge, she presses a small white button and feels a tiny sense of triumph. That’s because with one click, Deckert has done what could have taken her hours to do a few months ago — she has filed a noise complaint with officials at the Maryland Aviation Administration.

Thanks to the ingenuity of a software engineer from Southern California, Deckert and hundreds of others with similar beefs, and the Airnoise button, have an easy way to register their annoyance with the jets that fly over their homes.

“It’s a fabulous tool,” Deckert said. “Clicking that button is really psychologically satisfying.”
Officials at airports from Seattle to Baltimore said Airnoise has led to a dramatic spike in complaints. At Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport, officials are almost certain Airnoise is the reason complaints surged to 17,228 in August from 2,692 the previous month. In San Diego, more than 90 percent of the complaints came through third-party apps like Airnoise.
(Via Tyler Cowen.)

Happiness Tips

"Secrets of Happiness from the Oldest of the Old"

Thursday, January 03, 2019


"Brains of 3 People Have Been Successfully Connected, Enabling Them to Share Thoughts".

More details here:
We present BrainNet which, to our knowledge, is the first multi-person non-invasive direct brain-to-brain interface for collaborative problem solving. The interface combines electroencephalography (EEG) to record brain signals and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to deliver information noninvasively to the brain.

The interface allows three human subjects to collaborate and solve a task using direct brain-to-brain communication. Two of the three subjects are "Senders" whose brain signals are decoded using real-time EEG data analysis to extract decisions about whether to rotate a block in a Tetris-like game before it is dropped to fill a line. The Senders' decisions are transmitted via the Internet to the brain of a third subject, the "Receiver," who cannot see the game screen.

The decisions are delivered to the Receiver's brain via magnetic stimulation of the occipital cortex.

The Receiver integrates the information received and makes a decision using an EEG interface about either turning the block or keeping it in the same position...