Thursday, December 31, 2020

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Two Spaces, Yes

"The Scientific Case for Two Spaces After a Period"

Alzheimer's And Microbiome

"Link Between Alzheimer's Disease and Gut Microbiota Is Confirmed".

This is just correlation, not causation. But an interesting avenue to pursue. (Via T.K.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

100 Tips For A Better Life

Less Wrong: "100 Tips for a Better Life"

Lots of good stuff in here. I especially like #100:

100. Bad things happen dramatically (a pandemic). Good things happen gradually (malaria deaths dropping annually) and don’t feel like ‘news’. Endeavour to keep track of the good things to avoid an inaccurate and dismal view of the world.  

Tape Innovation

"IBM just shattered previous records for magnetic tape's data storage capabilities, ensuring it meets demand for the next decade". (Via H.R.)

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas!

Geekpress will be taking a short holiday break to celebrate Christmas 2020. 

I hope you all enjoy the holiday weekend! We'll be back on Monday December 28.


Thursday, December 24, 2020

High-Res Snowflake

"This Is The Highest Resolution Snowflake Photo Ever"

Why would former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold spend a year and a half building a custom 100-megapixel carbon-fiber super-cooled sapphire-lensed LED-lit super camera to take pictures of snowflakes? 

Click through to see more images like these, as well as explanatory video.


Stanford Vaccine Debacle

"3 lessons from Stanford's Covid-19 vaccine algorithm debacle"

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Drone Warfare Update

"Azerbaijan's drones owned the battlefield in Nagorno-Karabakh -- and showed future of warfare"

Kindle Convert

"Confessions of a Kindle Convert"

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

ARM History

"How an obscure British PC maker invented ARM and changed the world". (Via H.R.)

Fake Faces

"Wearing someone else's face: Hyper-realistic masks to go on sale in Japan"


Monday, December 21, 2020

Apple Safety Manual

"Apple Shares Manual on How to Lock Down Devices When Personal Safety is at Risk"

Direct link to Apple PDF document: "Device and Data Access when Personal Safety is At Risk"


"Why racing drivers trust their lives to a fireproof fabric called Nomex". (Via H.R.)

Friday, December 18, 2020

Pfizer Vaccine!

Thank you, Pfizer and the Medical Center of Aurora! 

I'm grateful to all the hard-working scientists and researchers who developed this innovative product. Your ingenuity and efforts will help millions of people around the world.

Legal Haikus

Eugene Volokh: "Always Risky to Use Haikus as Legal Argument"

Hokusai Found

"A Great Wave of Hokusai Drawings Resurfaced at the British Museum"

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Don't Let The Surgeon Operate On You On Their Birthday

BMJ: "Patient mortality after surgery on the surgeon's birthday: observational study".  Pretty good study, including good attempt to control for confounding factors.

Bottom line:

Among Medicare beneficiaries who underwent common emergency surgeries, those who received surgery on the surgeon’s birthday experienced higher mortality compared with patients who underwent surgery on other days. These findings suggest that surgeons might be distracted by life events that are not directly related to work.

Stealing Camera Data

"How to steal photos off someone's iPhone from across the street"

Professional Tag

"Inside the World of Professional Tag"

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Monday, December 14, 2020

Stunning Snowflakes

"These stunning images of snowflakes will make you see winter in a whole new light". (Via H.R.)

Daring Fireball On AirPods Max

John Gruber: "Heavy Is the Head That Wears the AirPods Max"

Friday, December 11, 2020

Find The Missing States

xkcd: "The contiguous 41 states". 

Without looking up a map, can you figure out which 7 US states are missing?


Alternate History Maps

BBC: "The intriguing maps that reveal alternate histories"

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Machiavellian Triumphs

"Stories of Machiavellian triumphs, part 2". (Via G.V.H.)

And Part 1, here.

Ancient Inks

"High-energy X-rays reveal the secrets of ancient Egyptian inks". (Via H.R.)

Monday, December 07, 2020

Hsieh Forbes Column: Why I Wear A Mask

My latest Forbes piece is now out: "Why I Wear A Mask".

This is my response to a question I've frequently received from friends and readers.


Arecibo Collapse

"Drone Video Shows Dramatic Moment of Arecibo Observatory Collapse". (Via H.R.)

Friday, December 04, 2020

Unusual Lottery Numbers

"Six in a row: Winning numbers in South African lottery are: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10".

 Some people are asking if this was due to fraud or just a very unusual coincidence. (Of course, this set of 6 numbers is just as likely as any other set of 6 numbers).

Bayes For Today

"Can an 18th Century Statistician Help Us Think More Clearly?"

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Laser Weapon Update

"How The Once Elusive Dream Of Laser Weapons Suddenly Became A Reality". 

Now I just need a "phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range" and I'm all set!

Mathematical Art

Cool mathematical art. Available for sale. (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Two Days To Design Vaccine

"Moderna Designed a Covid-19 Vaccine in Just Two Days"

Turkey Feathers

"How many turkey feathers does it take to make an ancient blanket?" (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Hsieh Forbes Column: When The Doctor Becomes A Patient

My latest Forbes piece is now out: "When The Doctor Becomes A Patient: My Thanks For US Health Care".

I offer some post-Thanksgiving gratitude for the many good things of the US health system that I experienced during my recent bout of septic olecranon bursitis.


Monday, November 30, 2020

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Mystery Monolith

"The Utah monolith probably wasn't the work of aliens, but it's still a mystery"

Making Diamonds

"Scientists produce rare diamonds in minutes at room temperature". (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Monday, November 23, 2020

Friday, November 20, 2020

Synthetic Microswimmers

"Tiny version of USS Voyager sheds light on physics of microswimmers". (Via H.R.)

NZ Election Fraud

"New Zealand discovers 1,500 fraudulent votes... in an election on birds"

Thursday, November 19, 2020


"25 Words That Are Their Own Opposites".

And a bunch more.

Daring Fireball On iPhone 12 Mini

Jon Gruber (Daring Fireball) really likes the iPhone 12 Mini.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

What Is a Particle?

"What Is a Particle?"

Lotsa Legos

"At 9,036 Pieces, the Roman Colosseum Is Officially the Largest Lego Set Ever". (Via H.R.)



Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Monday, November 16, 2020

Chili Power

"Live Long And Eat Chili Peppers? Cardiologists Report Sweet Results"

Cat Translator

"MeowTalk app translates cat's 'language' for pet owners". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Light Posting Notice

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

Earth Sucks

"What Would We Experience If Earth Spontaneously Turned Into A Black Hole?"

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Routing Around Censorship

"Porn ban drives extraordinary spike in VPN usage"

Undersea Navigation

"GPS and water don't mix. So scientists have found a new way to navigate under the sea". (Via H.R.)

Monday, November 09, 2020

Brain-Computer Interface Update

"A new way to plug a human brain into a computer: Via veins". (Via H.R.)

Bigger Baggie

"Try This 2-Second Trick to Double the Storage Size of Your Baggie"

Friday, November 06, 2020

AI Boo Boo

"AI Camera Mistakenly Tracks Referee's Bald Head Instead of Soccer Ball"

Pulsating Earth

"Earth Keeps Pulsating Every 26 Seconds. No One Knows Why." (Via T.K.)

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Shape-Shifting Robotic Bird

"This robotic hawk can shape-shift as it flies"

Pandemic Migrations

NPR: "Now That More Americans Can Work From Anywhere, Many Are Planning To Move Away"

Another study conducted by United Van Lines, a major household moving company, found that people wanted to relocate out of New York state at a higher rate than the national average. And, by the beginning of September, the requests to leave San Francisco had grown to more than double the U.S. average. The survey was conducted between March and August. 

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Hidden Whiskey

"Couple finds century-old bottles of bootleg whiskey hidden in walls of NY home". (Via H.R.)

Late Delivery

"Package with 1979 postmark delivered to Maryland suburb: 'It only took the post office 41 years'"

The U.S. Postal Service says deliveries that take decades to complete are rare.

Monday, November 02, 2020

Friday, October 30, 2020

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Hsieh Forbes Column: Three Covid-19 Success Stories

My latest Forbes piece is now out: "Three Covid-19 Success Stories".

We can learn from places and organizations that have been able to limit the spread of the virus. 

Green Puppy

BBC: "Rare green puppy 'Pistachio' born in Italy"


Space War

"This is what 'war in space' probably would look like in the near future"

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Programmers And Time

"Falsehoods programmers believe about time"

Super-White Paint

"You've Heard of Vantablack. Scientists Just Created 'Super White', And It's Very Cool". (Via H.R.)

Monday, October 26, 2020

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Facebook PreparesPossible Election Unrest

WSJ: "Facebook Prepares Measures for Possible Election Unrest"

The potential moves include an across-the-board slowing of the spread of posts as they start to go viral and tweaking the news feed to change what types of content users see, the people said. The company could also lower the threshold for detecting the types of content its software views as dangerous...

Deployed together, the tools could alter what tens of millions of Americans see when they log onto the platform, diminishing their exposure to sensationalism, incitements to violence and misinformation, said the people familiar with the measures. But slowing down the spread of popular content could suppress some good-faith political discussion, a prospect that makes some Facebook employees uneasy, some of the people said.

Technology Works Both Ways

"Protesters are using facial recognition technology to ID police".

Related from New York Times: "Activists Turn Facial Recognition Tools Against the Police"

Uncrushable Beetle

"How This Uncrushable Beetle Can Survive Being Run Over by a Car". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, October 22, 2020


"Scientists clock the fastest interval of time in 'zeptoseconds'"

Scientists have measured the shortest interval of time ever recorded, clocking how long it takes a particle of light to cross a single molecule of hydrogen.

The ultra-quick journey took 247 zeptoseconds, according to a team of German researchers, with a zeptosecond representing a trillionth of a billionth of a second. This is equivalent to the number 1 written behind a decimal point and 20 zeroes.

New Organ

NYT: "Doctors May Have Found Secretive New Organs in the Center of Your Head"

Related: "The tubarial salivary glands: A potential new organ at risk for radiotherapy"

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Pangea With Modern-Day Borders

"A Map of Pangea With Modern-Day Borders" (Click on image to see full size.)


Apple Lidar

"Lidar used to cost $75,000 -- here's how Apple brought it to the iPhone". (Via H.R.)

Monday, October 19, 2020

Old Twinkie

"A Disturbing Twinkie That Has, So Far, Defied Science"


Big Cat

"Large 2,000-year-old cat discovered in Peru's Nazca lines"


Thursday, October 15, 2020

Excel Warriors

"Meet the Excel warriors saving the world from spreadsheet disaster"

Room Temperature Superconductivity

"First room-temperature superconductor reported". 

(Via H.R., who notes that is room temperature but not room pressure.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Special Relativity Test

"NIST Pair of Aluminum Atomic Clocks Reveal Einstein's Relativity at a Personal Scale"

Ultra-Black Fish

"Scientists find 16 'ultra-black' fish species that absorb 99.9% of light "

Monday, October 12, 2020

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Enhanced Internet Privacy

"DuckDuckGo, EFF, and others just launched privacy settings for the whole internet"

Cyberwar Update

"Cyber Command has sought to disrupt the world's largest botnet, hoping to reduce its potential impact on the election"

Thursday, October 08, 2020

White House Physician

"Some interesting tidbits about the White House Physician".  In particular, #5 (no need to be truthful to American public) and #12 (triage priority):

5. White house physicians have no duty to be truthful with the American public. Historically, they have often deceived the public about the state of the President's health. This goes back to George Washington - when he had a massive boil on his ass, the doctor who lanced it reported that it had been on his leg. Woodrow Wilson's doctor helped cover up a massive stroke, then conspired with the first lady to secretly run the government themselves while denying everyone else access to the bedridden President.

12. Triage is by importance, not severity. The president comes first. If a bystander is bleeding out from a bullet wound and the president is barely grazed, all attention goes first to the President. So don't have a heart attack in the White House at the same time as the VP gets a sunburn!

IBM Breakup

"IBM to break up 109-year old company to focus on cloud growth"

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Vending Machine Economics

"The economics of vending machines"

Japanese Train Wrestling

"Pro-wrestlers battle on Japan scenic train in bid to help region rebound off the ropes"

Monday, October 05, 2020

Rare Fern

"Europe's rarest fern has been discovered in Killarney, Ireland, leaving botanists baffled over how it remained undetected for so long."

Otter Dating

"A lonely otter at a sanctuary finds love online through a dating site built just for him"

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Fake Recycling

"Apple sues recycling partner for reselling more than 100,000 iPhones, iPads and Watches it was hired to dismantle"

Space Toilets For Women

"NASA's new $23 million space toilet now accommodates women". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Unexpected Booms

"Ashley Madison: Extramarital affairs soar in pandemic with technology's help"

Big Star

"The mind-boggling size of the largest known star, Stephenson 2-18"

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Hsieh Forbes Column: Is It Safe To Crack Your Knuckles?

My latest Forbes piece is now out: "Is It Safe To Crack Your Knees And Knuckles?"

And click through to learn why Dr. Donald Unger is the deserving recipient of an Ig Nobel Prize for research in this area! 

Time Travel Physics

"Time travel is deterministic and locally free, a new paper says --resolving an age-old paradox."

Monday, September 28, 2020

Before TP

"What did people use before toilet paper was invented?"

IOT Ransomware

"When coffee makers are demanding a ransom, you know IoT is screwed"

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Pricy Chips

"The World's Most Expensive Potato Chips Will Run You $15 Per Chip" 


Markets In Everything: Evictions

"Gig Economy Company Launches Uber, But for Evicting People"

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Android 11

"Android 11 -- The Ars Technica Review"

Tiny Medical Devices

"New 3-D printing method could jump-start creation of tiny medical devices for the body"

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Monday, September 21, 2020

Young Adults Back Home

For the first time since the Great Depression, the majority of 18-to-29 year-olds are living in their parents' houses.

Hypnotic Sculptures

"Hypnotic wooden kinetic sculptures". Click through to see videos.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Encryption And National Security

"Weakened Encryption: The Threat to America's National Security"

In-Flight Software Updates?

"Updating software in flight? The Air Force may be close".

 Um, is this really a good idea?

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Snake Mask

Man wears live snake as "face covering" on bus

One passenger... said she initially thought the man was wearing a 'funky mask' before she spotted it slithering over the hand rails.

I don't know how well it stops aerosol spread, but it undoubtedly helps motivate people to stay more than 6 feet away!


Mandalorian S2 Trailer

Official trailer for The Mandalorian, Season 2.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Singapore Flights To Nowhere

"Singapore Airlines is considering launching 'no destination' flights next month in a unique way to offer travel-starved locals a way to experience flying again."

Overzealous Feds

"Feds seize OnePlus Buds, mistaking them for 'counterfeit' AirPods"

Monday, September 14, 2020

Mind Bending Short Film "Circulatory Systems"

"Koyaanisqatsi meets fractals in mind-bending short film Circulatory Systems"

Circulatory Systems from Visual Suspect on Vimeo.

Google Searches For GI Symptoms May Predict COVID Spike

Google searches as leading indicator for COVID-19 spike

"We found that Google search interest in ageusia, loss of appetite, and diarrhea increased 4 weeks prior to the rise in COVID-19 cases for most states, with maximum correlation estimates of 0.998, 0.871, and 0.748, respectively..."

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Becoming A Senior Software Engineer

"Things I Learned to Become a Senior Software Engineer"

German Flying Train

"Ride Through a German Village on ‘The Flying Train’ in Incredibly Clear Footage from 1902". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Dune Trailer

Trailer for upcoming version of Dune.  I'm cautiously optimistic!

Neuroscience Of Stuttering

"The new neuroscience of stuttering"

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Monday, September 07, 2020

AI Grading Hack

"These students figured out their tests were graded by AI -- and the easy way to cheat"

Robot Harvests Coconuts

"Tree-Climbing Robot Can Safely Harvest Coconuts". (Via H.R.)

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Holiday Hiatus

Admin note: GeekPress is taking a short hiatus for the US Labor Day. Posting will resume tomorrow, but may be lighter than usual the rest of this week.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Covid Hypothesis

"A Supercomputer Analyzed Covid-19 -- and an Interesting New Theory Has Emerged"

Big Bomb

NYT: "New Video Shows Largest Hydrogen Bomb Ever Exploded"
Last week, the Russian nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, released a 30-minute, formerly secret documentary video about the world’s largest hydrogen bomb detonation. The explosive force of the device — nicknamed Tsar Bomba, or the Tsar’s bomb, and set off on Oct. 30, 1961 — was 50 megatons, or the equivalent of 50 million tons of conventional explosive. That made it 3,333 times as destructive as the weapon used on Hiroshima, Japan, and also far more powerful than the 15 megaton weapon set off by the United States in 1954 in its largest hydrogen bomb blast.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Zoom Hacking

"Video editor used prerecorded clips in Zoom meetings for a week and no one noticed"

Unprecedented CDC Order

"CDC issues unprecedented order halting evictions to prevent COVID-19 spread".

The article includes details of the claimed legal basis for this action.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

High Flyer (Child Ok)

"Taiwan kite festival accident sees 3-year-old girl lifted high into the air as crowd watches on"
The child was filmed being lifted dozens of metres into the air after she was caught in the strings of a kite as it was released on a gusty day...

The video ends with the tail of the kite relatively slowly dropping to the ground as those people nearby rush to help the girl.

News reports said the girl was frightened but suffered no physical injuries in the incident
(Click through to see video.)

COVID And Divorce

"US Divorce Rates Soar During COVID-19 Crisis"

Monday, August 31, 2020

Internet Failure Disrupts Chess Olympiad

"Chess Olympiad: India and Russia both get gold after controversial final"
"The Online Chess Olympiad has been impacted by a global internet outage, that severely affected several countries, including India. Two of the Indian players have been affected and lost connection, when the outcome of the match was still unclear," Arkady Dvorkovich, president of the International Chess Federation, said in a statement.

He said he decided to award both teams gold medals in the "absence of a unanimous decision" from the body's appeals committee.

Timelapse Plants

"So satisfying: Plants growing timelapse compilation"

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Cyberstalker Trick

"Cyberstalker Locates Victim by Enhancing Reflection in Her Eye":
Following his subsequent arrest, Sato told authorities he identified a bus stop and other scenery in the eye reflection, then used Google Maps to match it to a real-world location.

He said he was even able to estimate the floor the pop star lived on by analyzing the windows in her photos and noting the angle at which sunlight hit her eyes.

Pure Skill Minesweeper

"Pure Skill Minesweeper"

Monday, August 24, 2020

10^16 Is Not Enough

"Japan facing credit card number shortage as people stay home and shop"

Moon Lava Tubes

"Entire cities could fit inside the moon's monstrous lava tubes". (Via H.R.)

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Colorful Google Maps

"Google Maps Just Got a Colorful New Update". (Via H.R.)

Crash The Universe?

"Could We Force the Universe to Crash?"
If we’re all living in a simulation, as some have suggested, it would be a good, albeit risky, way to find out for sure...

But the neatest test of the hypothesis would be to crash the system that runs our simulation. Naturally, that sounds a bit ill-advised, but if we’re all virtual entities anyway does it really matter? Presumably a quick reboot and restore might bring us back online as if nothing had happened, but possibly we’d be able to tell, or at very least have a few microseconds of triumph just before it all shuts down.

 The question is: how do you bring down a simulation of reality from inside it? The most obvious strategy would be to try to cause the equivalent of a stack overflow—asking for more space in the active memory of a program than is available—by creating an infinitely, or at least excessively, recursive process.

And the way to do that would be to build our own simulated realities, designed so that within those virtual worlds are entities creating their version of a simulated reality, which is in turn doing the same, and so on all the way down the rabbit hole. If all of this worked, the universe as we know it might crash, revealing itself as a mirage just as we winked out of existence.
I confess to being uneasy at the idea of crashing the universe. That's where I keep all my stuff!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Toronto Chainsaw Attacks

"Toronto residents question safety of Cherry Beach following chainsaw attack":
Two blood-covered, chainsaw-wielding men emerged from the bushes of a popular public park in Toronto on Sunday morning, where witnesses say they screamed at, followed, and even lunged toward strangers while revving their deadly tools.

It's not the kind of thing you see very often in a large Canadian city... or anywhere outside of a horror movie, for that matter...

Awesome Library Ad

This ad from the Harris County Library system is truly awesome.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Lego Found

"Boy finds missing Lego piece in his nose after two years"

Fake Cow Eyes

"Study confirms that painting eyes on cow butts helps ward off predators". (Via H.R.)

Unsettled Science

"What To Do, Scientifically, When Everyone Is Wrong"

Monday, August 17, 2020

Fast Star

"This Star Is Moving So Fast it Visibly Warps Spacetime":
The star S62 whips around Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, at an extremely tight orbit. At its closest approach, it can travel faster than eight percent the speed of light, according to research published in The Astrophysical Journal. That's fast enough to make visible the relativistic phenomena of time dilation and length contraction, turning the star into an interesting sandbox for curious physicists.

Invisible Driver

CNN: "A woman is stunned when her new driver's license came back with a picture of an empty chair"

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Photoreal Roman Emperors

"Photoreal Roman Emperor Project"

Quantum-Proof Encryption

"The quest for quantum-proof encryption just made a leap forward"

Early Early Science Fiction

"The first science fiction story":
A True Story (Ἀληθῆ διηγήματα, Verae Historiae) is a novel written in the second century AD by Lucian of Samosata, a Greek-speaking author of Assyrian descent. The novel is a satire of outlandish tales which had been reported in ancient sources, particularly those which presented fantastic or mythical events as if they were true. It is Lucian's best-known work.

It is the earliest known work of fiction to include travel to outer space, alien lifeforms, and interplanetary warfare. As such, A True Story has been described as "the first known text that could be called science fiction".

Sunday, August 09, 2020

Fusion Update

"Spacecraft of the Future Could Be Powered By Lattice Confinement Fusion". (Via H.R.)

Origin of Elements

NASA: "The Origin of Elements"

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Light Posting

Admin note: Posting may be light for the next few days.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Arctic Storage

"A Staggering 21TB of Source Code Were Just Buried in The Arctic For an Unknown Future". (Via H.R.)

DNA Storage

"How Scientists Encoded 'The Wizard of Oz' Into DNA".

Friday, July 31, 2020

Hsieh Forbes Column on Blood Type and Covid Risk

Another cautionary tale on how early science reporting can be easily overturned by further study.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Mars In 4K

Aeroscreen Lifesaver

"IndyCar’s Aeroscreen gets first real test, saves lives at Iowa race". (Via H.R.)

Monday, July 27, 2020

Redesigned Chocolate Chips

"A Tesla Designer Reengineers the Chocolate Chip":
Labesque’s redesign for artisanal Dandelion Chocolate is a square, faceted pyramid, kind of like a flattened diamond. Two edges are thick, and two exceedingly thin, for even more textural pleasure...

Enhanced Moon Landing Video

"Historic Moon Landing Footage Has Been Enhanced by AI, And The Results Are Incredible". (Via H.R.)

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Searching Before Google

"What Did People Use Before Google to Search the Web?" (Via H.R.)

Tiny Cameras

"A Bug-Sized Camera for Bug-Sized Robots and Bug-Sized Bugs"

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Movie Recommendation: A Town Has Turned To Dust

I recently watched "A Town Turned To Dust", available on YouTube.

Excellent 90-minute play, written by Rod Serling before Twilight Zone. Although it was written in 1958, it touches on various themes of human nature and political behavior that are chillingly relevant for today.

Bonus #1: It stars a very young William Shatner, who does a great job of playing the lead role as an unsavory storekeeper in an Old West town.

Bonus #2: Includes embedded 1950's commercials. OMG.

Serling's experiences in getting the script approved apparently pushed him to the direction of science fiction:
Network pressure and sponsor meddling was making it almost impossible for him to say anything meaningful in a straight dramatic setting. A series with a sci-fi/fantasy twist, on the other hand, would open up new story possibilities — and allow Serling's social jabs to fly under the radar of nervous sponsors.
"On The Twilight Zone, I knew I could get away with Martians saying things that Republicans and Democrats couldn't," he said. And a TV legend was born.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Super Hard Proteus

"This new ultrahard material inspired by nature could make uncuttable bike locks"

Ultrablack Fish

"Scientists unlocked the secret of how these ultrablack fish absorb light". (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020


"Swedish region hires medieval knights on horseback to fight coronavirus". 

The UK really needs to up their game and get The Knights Who Say "Ni!" into action.

Solar Flares Everywhere

"The closest images of the Sun ever taken reveal tiny solar flares dotting the star's surface". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Amazon Fake Review Marketplace

"My Bizarre Stint As An Amazon Reviewer for Hire"

Enigma Rebuilt

"Enigma code-breaking machine rebuilt at Cambridge". (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Light Posting

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

Monday, July 13, 2020

Cat Burglar

"Mysterious clothing thief turns out to be neighborhood kitty". (Via H.R.)

Noise-Cancelling Window

"Noise-Cancelling Smart Window Blocks Street Din"

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Kung Fu Nuns

"The Kung Fu Nuns Of Kathmandu"

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Penguin Poo Physics

"The explosive physics of pooping penguins: They can shoot poo over four feet"

Colonizing The Sun

Robin Hanson: "We Colonize The Sun First"

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

New Larson

New cartoons from Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson.

Tesseract Visualization

Bartosz Ciechanowski has an amazing interactive Tesseract visualization tool.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Black Hole Collision

"A supermassive black hole lit up a collision of two smaller black holes":
Astronomers from Caltech have reported that they’ve observed a collision between two black holes. Normally such an event is invisible, but this time a more massive black hole sitting nearby helped illuminate the other two as they collided. If confirmed, the findings, published in Physical Review Letters, would be the first optical observations ever made of a black hole merger.

Mega Coffee

"What Does Death Wish Coffee Taste Like? (And Is It Safe?)"
Death Wish is billed as the “world’s strongest coffee.” And although the company doesn’t release caffeine-content figures, we have seen third-party test results in an eye-opening range of 650 to 728 milligrams of caffeine in a 12-ounce (Starbucks “tall”-size) cup. By contrast, Starbucks’s dark, medium, and blonde roasts have 193, 235, and 270 mg, respectively. (Darker beans generally have less caffeine than lighter ones.) So drinking a cup of Death Wish is like drinking 2½ to 3 cups of Starbucks coffee.

After brewing a 12-ounce cup of Death Wish (using the company’s recommended brewing ratio and grind size, and our top-pick pour-over dripper), I found the taste hearty and, yes, potently strong—all coffee, no subtlety. It was stronger than two Starbucks dark roasts I compared it with, but not bitter or unpleasant. It’s what I’d expect to find in the thermos of a lumberjack or a Bering Sea crab-boat skipper.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Holiday Hiatus

Admin note: I'll be taking a quick posting break for the long holiday weekend!

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Ninja Studies

"Japan university awards first-ever ninja studies degree"

Advanced Rocket

"The rocket motor of the future 'breathes' air like a jet engine". (Via H.R.)

Monday, June 29, 2020

Funny Looking Actors Wanted

"Lord of the Rings Series Puts Out Casting Call for Hairy, Burned, and 'Funny Looking' Actors"

Big Lightning

"700-km Brazil 'megaflash' sets lightning record". (Via H.R.)

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Win10 Gmail Glitch

"Warning Issued For Millions Of Google Gmail Users"

N95 Physics

Video: "The Astounding Physics of N95 Masks"

Prescription Videogame

"The FDA Just Approved The First Prescription Video Game For Kids With ADHD". (Via H.R.)
Children aged 8-12 years old can now be prescribed gaming sessions on EndeavorRX, in which players pilot a small aircraft through a variety of alien environments – including icy rivers, fiery volcanoes, jungle treehouses and underwater paths.

The game has been specifically constructed to improve attention in youngsters with ADHD, potentially in combination with other treatments, depending on each person – it's certainly much more fun than having to remember to take tablets every day.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Alaska Volcano And Rome

"An Alaskan volcano may have hastened the end of the Roman Republic"

Minimum Mars Colony Size

Nature Article: "Minimum Number of Settlers for Survival on Another Planet". 

They calculate 110 would be the viable minimum.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Mysterious Black Hole Collision

"Ripples in space-time hint at a black hole or a neutron star like we've never seen before".

Maybe this is what thrust our world into this bizarre alternate timeline for 2020!


Atlantic: "You're Showering Too Much". (Via M.M.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Hsieh Forbes Column: Delayed Cancer Care Due To Covid-19 Could Cost Thousands Of Lives"

My latest Forbes piece is now out: "Delayed Cancer Care Due To Covid-19 Could Cost Thousands Of Lives".

I discuss the cost in lives due to the lockdowns, and how this illustrates Bastiat's principle of "the seen vs. the unseen". I also offer some practical suggestions for patients and for lawmakers.

Siri Shortcut For Police Encounters

"'Hey Siri, I’m getting pulled over' shortcut makes it easy to record police"

Zoom Security?

"Can Zoom be trusted with users' secrets?"

Monday, June 22, 2020

Foundation Trailer

Video: Trailer for the new SF series "Foundation", based on the classic Isaac Asimov novels.

Apple Chips

"Apple Mac computers make jump to its own chips"

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Neuromorphic AI's Need "Sleep"

"Artificial intelligence that mimics the brain needs sleep just like humans, study reveals"

Military And Race

"How the U.S. Military Has Been Affected by Racial Inequality Debate"

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Gravity Is Different

"Why Gravity Is Not Like the Other Forces"

Bad Apples

"How Apples Go Bad". Literal, not metaphorical.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Late Ordovician Extinction Mystery Solved

"Familiar Culprit May Have Caused Mysterious Mass Extinction":
It has long been our planet’s greatest and oldest murder mystery. Roughly 445 million years ago, around 85 percent of all marine species disappeared in a geologic flash known as the Late Ordovician mass extinction. But scientists have long debated this whodunit, in contrast to clearer explanations for Earth’s other mass extinctions.
My money was on Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with the candlestick.

Ancient Roman City

"Ground-Penetrating Radar Reveals Entire Ancient Roman City". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Turtle Migration

"Drone footage shows 64,000 green turtles migrating to Cairns rookery"

Psychic Miss

Psychics apparently did not see the pandemic coming.

SpaceX Spacesuits

"New SpaceX spacesuits get five-star rating from NASA astronauts". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Caffeine Withdrawal

"What Happens to Your Body When You Give Up Caffeine"

Pandemic Donuts

"Two New Doughnut Spots Bring Sweet Relief to Denver"

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Civil War Pension

"Last Person to Receive a Civil War Pension Dies":

Irene Triplett died last week at the age of 90. She was the last person in America to collect a pension from the Civil War, $73.13 each month from the Department of Veterans Affairs right up until she passed away. Her father Mose Triplett was both a Confederate and US soldier (a North Carolinian, he defected from the Confederacy halfway through the war) and Irene was eligible to receive his pension after he died because of disability.

Fast Chip

"Engineers Successfully Test New Chip With Download Speeds of 44.2 Terabits Per Second". (Via H.R.)

Monday, June 08, 2020

Space Explosions

"It's 2020, And Astronomers Have Just Found a New Class of Massive Space Explosions":
These bursts of energy are extremely powerful and extremely fast, blasting vast amounts of matter into space at intense velocities. Astronomers have named the new class Fast Blue Optical Transients, or FBOTs.

Rocky Mountain Treasure Found

"A treasure chest hidden in the Rocky Mountains for a decade has finally been found"

Black Nitrogen

"Never-before-seen 'black nitrogen' plugs puzzle in periodic table". (Via H.R.)

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Monday, June 01, 2020

Hsieh Forbes Column: 9 More Bizarre Consequences Of The Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

My latest Forbes piece is out: "9 More Bizarre Consequences Of The Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic".

My favorite:
A clever app developed by Japanese firm Yamaha allows fans to remotely cheer (or boo) players from home, played through the stadium speakers so that players can feel the energy of the online crowd.

The article wryly notes, “The app does not, as yet, allow fans to question the referee’s eyesight, or the eating habits of players who struggled to stay match-fit during the league’s virus-enforced break.”

Taste Simulator

"This Lickable Screen Can Recreate Almost Any Taste or Flavor Without Eating Food"

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Spacecraft UI

Gary Parker notes the changes in spacecraft UI over time.


"The Market For Plexiglass Is Booming"

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Astronaut Hopefuls

Dr. Katherine Mack: "[T]he common term for people who are applying to become astronauts but haven't been selected (yet?) is 'astronaut hopefuls,' sometimes abbreviated ASHOs. #ProudASHO"

Good luck, Dr. Mack!

Sneaky Ransomware

"Ransomware deploys virtual machines to hide itself from antivirus software"

France And Mac-N-Cheese

"Macaroni cheese is now an American staple. But it probably arrived there via France -- and Thomas Jefferson"

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Monday, May 25, 2020

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Brief Holiday Hiatus

Admin note: I'm taking a brief holiday hiatus for US Memorial Day. Posting will resume tomorrow.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Star Wars "Danger Zone"

Clever video using Star Wars X-Wing fighter footage, set to "Danger Zone" from the Top Gun movie.

AI Stock Picker

"Can an artificial intelligence learn to beat the stock market?"

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Hobbits At SCOTUS

"Why Frodo Baggins made an appearance at the Supreme Court"
In a line of hypothetical questioning during Wednesday oral arguments on the Electoral College, Justice Clarence Thomas brought up the hobbit from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy in a case that would decide whether states can bind presidential electors to vote for the state's popular-vote winner...

"The elector who had promised to vote for the winning candidate could suddenly say, you now, I'm going to vote for Frodo Baggins. I really like Frodo Baggins. And you're saying, under your system, you can't do anything about that," Thomas said.

Zoom Fatigue

"Zoom fatigue is something the deaf community knows very well"
“It’s not necessarily persistent fatigue but surely a measurable increase in listening effort,” Mario Svirsky, professor of hearing science at NYU Langone Health medical center, told Quartz. “A little noise in the background can bring you over a tipping point where communication becomes much more difficult and you have to do a lot of work. You may participate in a meeting focusing on everything for the full two hours and, at the end, you are wiped out.” 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Mathematics For Machine Learning

"We wrote a book on Mathematics for Machine Learning that motivates people to learn mathematical concepts. The book is not intended to cover advanced machine learning techniques because there are already plenty of books doing this. Instead, we aim to provide the necessary mathematical skills to read those other books."

Direct link to most current PDF version of the book.

Also available at Cambridge University Press.

Faster Workout

Forget the 7-minute workout, here's the 4-second workout.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Software Folklore

"Sometimes bugs have symptoms beyond belief. This is a collection of such stories from around the web."

No-Touch Tools Debunked

"You Don't Need A Brass Or Copper No-Touch Tool"

Monday, May 11, 2020

Robodog Distancing Enforcer

"Roaming 'robodog' politely tells Singapore park goers to keep apart"
The remote-controlled, four-legged machine built by Boston Dynamics was first deployed in a central park on Friday as part of a two-week trial that could see it join other robots policing Singapore's green spaces during a nationwide lockdown.

"Let's keep Singapore healthy," the yellow and black robodog named SPOT said in English as it roamed around. "For your own safety and for those around you, please stand at least one metre apart. Thank you," it added, in a softly-spoken female voice.
Video of the robodog:

iPad Cursor

"How Apple reinvented the cursor for iPad"