Friday, July 01, 2022

Quickly Disable Face ID On iPhone

"How to Temporarily Disable Face ID or Touch ID, and Require a Passcode to Unlock Your iPhone or iPad":

Just press and hold the buttons on both sides. Remember that. Try it now. Don’t just memorize it, internalize it, so that you’ll be able to do it without much thought while under duress, like if you’re confronted by a police officer. Remember to do this every time you’re separated from your phone, like when going through the magnetometer at any security checkpoint, especially airports. As soon as you see a metal detector ahead of you, you should think, “Hard-lock my iPhone”.

Owning Colors

"Can a corporation 'own' a color?"

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Lotsa Galaxies

"There are more galaxies in the Universe than even Carl Sagan ever imagined"

Wright Doghouse

"A Doghouse Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright Is Now on Display"


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Monday, June 27, 2022

Smell And Friendship

Fascinating story on how people are more inclined to form friendships with others with similar body odor.

The methodology seems pretty sound. I'm intrigued that this could be yet another arena in which our ancient evolutionary/animal heritage can have a powerful subliminal effect on our "civilized" human life experience.

Popular press summary: "Scent of a Friend: Similarities in Body Odor May Contribute to Social Bonding".

Academic paper: "There is chemistry in social chemistry" (Science Advances, 24 Jun 2022, Vol 8, Issue 25).

Historical Sense

"Five Facts That Will Mess With Your Perception of Time".

I did not know any of these except for #5.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Porn-Reading Detector

"A device that can detect when a man is watching pornography by 'reading his mind' has been developed in China, according to the research team in Beijing behind the project. 

Related article: "Brain wave-scanning helmet developed by scientists to help Chinese censors better detect porn".

Wikimedia Business

"Google is paying the Wikimedia Foundation for better access to information"

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Gaiman On Impostor Syndrome

This is an awesome anecdote from Neil Gaiman


Trademarking "THE"

"Ohio State University officially wins trademark for the word 'THE'".

As a graduate of University of Michigan (MD 1989), I submit this without comment.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Changing Country Names

"Why countries change names"

Smart Home Woes

"Controlling My Family's Smart Home Is Driving Us Mad"

Controls cause the most problems in my household. Take smart lighting, for example. For it to work, you have to remind everyone in your family to leave the old switches alone. Fail, and your meticulously arranged remote control, voice commands, and scheduling are gone. Smart switches can help, but they also may just add to the confusion. Even once you have everyone in your house coached, a visitor innocently flicking that switch renders your smart bulbs useless again.

Then there are the apps. So many apps. Every device has its own app. The more smart home gadgets you add, the more cluttered your phone becomes. Keeping track of which app controls which device is tricky enough. But you must also install them for everyone else and train them, or accept your role as the gatekeeper of settings for the household.

You can always ask Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri, though. Right? Well, actually, the security cameras work with Google, but you have to use Siri for the doorbell. Google Assistant plays music on the dining room speaker, but Alexa does music in your bedroom. Oh, and when you ask, you can’t say, “Turn on my bedroom light." You must say, “Turn on Amy’s bedroom light."

Monday, June 20, 2022

Big Magnet

"Behold the Magnetar, nature's ultimate superweapon". (Via H.R.)

A typical magnetar has a surface magnetic field strength of 1014 to 1015 Gauss, with interior strengths 10 times stronger.

That is not a typo. Magnetars have magnetic fields about a quadrillion times stronger than the Earth's and a billion times stronger than the best that humanity can achieve.

If you get within approximately 1,000 kilometers of a magnetar, you die. Instantly. Leaving aside the copious amount of X-ray radiation constantly pouring out of these objects (we'll get to that), the magnetic fields make life literally impossible. The problem is that atoms are made of positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons. In weak magnetic fields, this doesn't make a bit of difference. But in strong fields, the electrons and protons respond differently. Atoms lose their traditional shape, and the electron orbitals become elongated along the direction of the magnetic field lines.

If you somehow made it to the surface of a magnetar, your individual atoms would only be 1 percent as wide as they are long. With atoms turning into needles, atomic physics as we know it breaks down. As does all the bonds that atoms use to glue themselves together into complex molecules.

In other words, the static magnetic field of a magnetar is strong enough to simply... dissociate you. All the molecules that you're made of simply come apart into oddly shaped atoms.


Jumping Robot

"Record-Breaking Jumping Robot Can Leap a 10-Story Building"

Friday, June 17, 2022

Mundane Gaming

"Mundane chores are all the rage in gaming":

Mundane chores or professions are now the basis for a number of successful games, including “Best Forklift Operator”, “Espresso Tycoon” and “Gas Station Simulator”. “Job Simulator” (pictured below), a virtual-reality experience, was released in 2019 and has sold more than 1m copies to date. Players are placed in working environments and then given simple tasks to do, such as making a slice of toast or stamping pieces of paper.

Bye Bye IE

"Internet Explorer, the love-to-hate-it web browser, has died at 26".


The ghost of Internet Explorer will live on for those who choose to believe: Edge offers a built-in Internet Explorer mode. 

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Double-Decker Airplane Seats

CNN: "Here's what it might be like to travel on a double decker airplane seat".

Um, no thanks. (Via A.D.)


SETI Update

"Giant 'Sky Eye' telescope may have picked up alien signals, Chinese researchers say"

Or it could just be "radio interference".  My money is on the latter.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Man Beats Horse

"Ricky Lightfoot wins Man V Horse 2022 -- only the third person ever to beat the horse":

One of Britain’s most unorthodox sporting events, the race pits human against horse over a tough 22-mile course which starts in the tiny town of Llanwrtyd Wells in mid-Wales.

Lightfoot is the first runner to have crossed the finish line before a horse in 15 years – Florien Holtinger was the last person to claim victory back in 2007. It’s also only the third time that a human has finished ahead of all the equine racers since the event began back in 1980...

He took home £3,500 in prize money and was back in work for 7:30 the following morning. 


Speculative Fusion Update

"Can a Seattle Startup Launch a Fusion Reactor Into Space? Avalanche Energy Design's compact power and propulsion tech raises funds—and eyebrows". (Via Rand Simberg.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Neutral Good Americans

Americans are most likely to be 'Neutral Good' on classic D & D alignment table.


Don't Go There

"10 places around the world you're not allowed to visit"

Monday, June 13, 2022

Friday, June 10, 2022

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Private Asteroid Spotting

"The First Privately Funded Killer Asteroid Spotter Is Here"

Manufacturing In Space

"Satellite antennas could be 3D printed in space to massively reduce launch cost". (Via H.R.)

Monday, June 06, 2022

Probabilistically Checkable Proofs

"How Computer Scientists Learned to Reinvent the Proof"

Government Cheese Stash

"Yes, the Government Really Does Stash Billions of Pounds of Cheese in Missouri Caves".

Blessed are the cheesemakers...

Friday, June 03, 2022

Selling Watches

"Why Are Watches Usually Set to 10:10 in Advertisements?"

Bootlegging Tips

"So You Want to Be a Bootlegger: In a 1922 Post article, an ex-bootlegger offers advice for how to break into the business"

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Domesticated Horses

"When Did Humans Domesticate the Horse? Only recently have scientists discovered exactly when and where the animal went from wild to tame"

AI Poetry

"Robots Are Writing Poetry, and Many People Can't Tell the Difference"

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Bernoulli Benefits

My latest Forbes piece is now out: "How The Bernoulli Effect Can Help Patients And Physicians".

My piece was inspired by this awesome 2-minute science video:

@wolf_science Bernoulli’s Principle. #science #firefighting #fan #teachersoftiktok #learnontiktok ♬ original sound - Wolf_Science

Shopping Carts

"Why people hated shopping carts when they first came out"

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Bogus "Fun" Vs. Genuine "Fun" At The Workplace

"The death of 'mandatory fun' in the office". An unexpected positive side-effect of the pandemic on workplace culture:

"On the flip side, the pandemic also led to the rise of more employee-led initiatives... Team-building events and 'fun' ceased to be top-down. Employees would lead a Zoom yoga class, or a cooking class for their colleagues. It's an interesting shift, away from 'you have to do this,' and toward, ‘what do you guys really want to do?'"


Burner Browser

Wirecutter: "How a Burner Browser Hides My Most Embarrassing Internet Searches"

Monday, May 30, 2022

Brief Hiatus

GeekPress will take a short holiday hiatus for US Memorial Day.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Musical Chills

"This 715-song playlist is scientifically verified to give you the chills, thanks to 'frisson'"

Better Cooling

"A computer cooling breakthrough uses a common material to boost power 740 percent". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Best Interview Question

Tyler Cowen: "The Best Question to Ask a Job Applicant".

Cowen's recommendation: "What are the open tabs in your browser right now?"

First, the question measures what a person does with his or her spare time as well as work time. If you leave a browser tab open, it probably has some importance to you and you expect to return to the page. It is one metric of what you are interested in and what your work flow looks like.

It’s not just cheap talk. Some job candidates might say they are interested in C++ as a programming language, but if you actually have an open page to the Reddit and Subreddits on that topic, that is a demonstrated preference...

The question also tests for enthusiasm. If the person doesn’t seem excited about any of those open browser tabs, that may be a sign that they are blasé about other things as well. But if you get a heated pitch about why a particular website is the best guide to “Lord of the Rings” lore, you may have found a true nerd with a love of detail. That will be a plus for many jobs and avocations, though not all.

2.5-Dimensional Materials

"2.5D materials promise new applications for electronics, AI"

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Apple And China

"Apple is reportedly looking ramp up manufacturing outside China":

Apple has long relied on China for the vast majority—more than 90%, writes the [Wall Street Journal] -- of its manufacturing. A small percentage of its products are produced in India and Vietnam. Now the Journal’s sources, identified only as people familiar with the talks, say that both countries have been named as potential destinations for added manufacturing.

To The Moon

"These six countries are about to go to the Moon -- here's why"

Monday, May 23, 2022

Inspiring A Young Scientist

Great story about how a friendly scientist changed a 4-year old girl's life!: "Scientist finds professor who supported her love for bugs when she was 4".

According to the article, Dr. Rebecca Varney earned "her PhD in 2021 from the University of Alabama in biological sciences and now working with aquatic invertebrates such as crustaceans as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California at Santa Barbara."
But my favorite sentence: "Varney, in addition to keeping walking sticks in her room growing up, had millipedes and a corn snake named Beverly Crusher."


Detecting Seismic Activity

"A breakthrough in fiber optics turned an undersea cable into 12 seismographs". (Via H.R.)

Friday, May 20, 2022

Better Chocolate

"Scientists Use 3D Printer to Craft Crispier Chocolate". (Via J.P.)


Apple Mail Blocks Now E-mail Tracking

"Apple Mail Now Blocks Email Tracking. Here's What It Means for You"

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Truly Hard Problems

"Computer Scientists Prove That Certain Problems Are Truly Hard"


"A quick guide to the most important AI law you've never heard of"

Monday, May 16, 2022

Science Of Multiverses

"Doctor Strange and the Multiverse in Science"

Fermi Paradox Solution?

"Planetary scientists suggest a solution to the Fermi paradox: Superlinear scaling leading to a singularity".

Direct link to academic paper: "Asymptotic burnout and homeostatic awakening: a possible solution to the Fermi paradox?", by Wong and Bartlett, Journal of The Royal Society Interface (2022). DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2022.0029.







"Figure 3. Perhaps hypothetical Type III civilizations are in an inaccessible region of biotechnological–population size state space, where civilization trajectories are bounded by a ‘burnout horizon’, and long-lived civilizations have consciously reoriented their trajectories away from growth in population size and length scales to explore other dimensions of biotechnological state space. Note that we do not rule out the possibility of some kind of channel that might allow a transition to the Type III region."

Friday, May 13, 2022

Midnight Sun

Video: Artic Midnight Sun.


"The EBUG Edition: On hockey, rules, and goalies". 

Via Gus Van Horn, who notes, "To the best of my knowledge, in all of professional sports, only the National Hockey League has a standing rule that can result in a fan being summoned from the stands to play".

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Surveillance Update

"EU plans to require backdoor to encrypted messages for child protection".

Matthew Green, cryptography teacher at Johns Hopkins University, has described the leaked plans as "the most terrifying thing I've ever seen."

More 3-D Printing

"Scientists develop rapid new method of 3D printing glass into parts with 'the thickness of hair'". (Via W.R.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Kill Switches Pro And Con (Mostly Con)

"About those kill-switched Ukrainian tractors: What John Deere did to Russian looters, anyone can do to farmers, anywhere"

3-D Printing Update

"Stanford engineers develop new kind of 3D printing"

Engineers at Stanford and Harvard have laid the groundwork for a new system for 3D printing that doesn’t require that an object be printed from the bottom up.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Prosthetic Arm Update

"This High Schooler Invented a Low-Cost, Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm". (Via H.R.)

Smart Screws

"Smart Screws That Can Detect When They're Loose Could Help Save America's Bridges". (Via H.R.)

Monday, May 09, 2022

Mechanical Watchworks

Bartosz Ciechanowski: "Mechanical Watch". Great illustrations!

Bike Propeller

"What Happens If You Put A Giant Propeller On A Bike?"  (Via H.R.)

Associated video.

Friday, May 06, 2022

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Ancient HR Woes

"3,200-Year-Old Egyptian Tablet Records Excuses for Why People Missed Work: 'The Scorpion Bit Him,' 'Brewing Beer' & More"

The Disappearing Hyphen

"How to Use (or Not Use) a Hyphen"

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

METI Debate

"Blasting out Earth's location with the hope of reaching aliens is a controversial idea -- two teams of scientists are doing it anyway"

Brain-Reading Update

"The brain-reading devices helping paralysed people to move, talk and touch"

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Desalination Progress

"From seawater to drinking water, with the push of a button" 

MIT researchers build a portable desalination unit that generates clear, clean drinking water without the need for filters or high-pressure pumps.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Chocolate And Wine

"French Nun Who Enjoys Chocolate and Wine Becomes Oldest Person Alive at 118"

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Light Posting Notice

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual for the next few days due to external obligations.

Ikea Psychology

"How Ikea tricks you into buying more stuff".

"Tricks" might be a bit too strong. But "uses psychology" would be correct. Casinos are also notorious users of psychology to get customers to drop more money at their venues. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Hsieh Forbes Column: Traffic Safety Signs May Be Hazardous To Your Health

My latest Forbes column is now out: "Traffic Safety Signs May Be Hazardous To Your Health".

I cover some fascinating behavioral science research showing how traffic safety signs can create unintended -- and sometimes deadly -- consequences.

Traffic Deaths Statistics Expressway Overhead Road Sign

Old-School D&D

"How to run an old-school open world D&D campaign like Gary Gygax"

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Copper Acetate Crystals

"How to Grow a Perfect Copper Acetate Crystal with Scrap Copper & Vinegar"


Invisible Mending

"The Magic of Invisible Mending"

A father and daughter at a tailoring workshop in Japan have mastered kaketsugi, the art of invisibly mending clothes -- that is, repairing holes and tears in fabric so seamlessly and completely that they appear to never have been damaged in the first place. The before and after photos are incredible... you absolutely cannot tell where the repair was made, even under close inspection...

Monday, April 25, 2022

Friday, April 22, 2022

Honeybee Flight

"There's a Really Weird Effect When Honeybees Fly Over a Mirror". (Via H.R.)

Avocado Multitool

"Here's a multi-tool for avocados! Wait, what?"

Wednesday, April 20, 2022


"'Oreology' investigates mystery of why Oreo creme filling usually sticks to one side". (Via H.R.)


Best Chess Movies

"Every Chess Movie, Ranked. And one obvious TV series."

Monday, April 18, 2022

Thursday, April 14, 2022

New Money

"Money is about to enter a new era of competition"

Beautiful Places

"The Most Beautiful Place in Every U.S. State"

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Powerful X-Rays

"All that needs to happen now is the cool-down of the accelerator to -456° Fahrenheit and the tuning of the entire structure so that the electrons traveling through it can move fast enough to generate 1 million X-ray pulses per second." (Via H.R.)

Eye Of Sauron Update

"Your Digital Footprint: It's Bigger Than You Realize"

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

AI Chest X-ray Reader

"First autonomous X-ray-analyzing AI is cleared in the EU"

An artificial intelligence tool that reads chest X-rays without oversight from a radiologist got regulatory clearance in the European Union last week — a first for a fully autonomous medical imaging AI...

The tool, called ChestLink, scans chest X-rays and automatically sends patient reports on those that it sees as totally healthy, with no abnormalities. Any images that the tool flags as having a potential problem are sent to a radiologist for review. Most X-rays in primary care don’t have any problems, so automating the process for those scans could cut down on radiologists’ workloads, the Oxipit said in informational materials.

The tech now has a CE mark certification in the EU, which signals that a device meets safety standards. The certification is similar to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance in the United States...


AI In Medicine

"AI for medicine is overhyped right now"

Monday, April 11, 2022

Hyperpolyglot Brains

"MIT scans brain of hyperpolyglot Vaughn Smith, who speaks 24 languages"

Robotic Advance

"Researchers have now unveiled a robot capable of executing the delicate task of peeling a banana without squashing the fruit inside." (Via H.R.)

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Black Watch

"Drop This Watch Covered in the World's Blackest Paint at Night and You May Never Find It Again". (Via H.R. and J.P.)

Black Hole Update

"Massive Black Holes Shown to Act Like Quantum Particles"

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Oldest Pants

"The world's oldest pants are a 3,000-year-old engineering marvel". (Via H.R.)

Hacking Hondas

Man In The Middle Attack: "Honda bug lets a hacker unlock and start your car via replay attack". (Via A.O.)

This week, multiple researchers disclosed a vulnerability that can be used by a nearby attacker to unlock some Honda and Acura car models, and start their engines wirelessly.

The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2022-27254, is a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack or more specifically a replay attack in which an attacker intercepts the RF signals normally sent from a remote key fob to the car, manipulates these signals, and re-sends these at a later time to unlock the car at will.


Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Genome Mapped

"Scientists Have Finally Mapped the Whole Human Genome". (Via H.R.)

Late PhD

"Why I got a PhD at age 61".

Great story! (I confess similar thoughts have crossed my mind on more than one occasion.)

Monday, April 04, 2022

Spectacular Sun Photo

"The Highest Resolution Photo of the Sun Ever Taken". 

Direct link to ESA site with zoomable image.


New Warehouse Robot

"Boston Dynamics' 'Stretch' robot hits production, and it's already sold out". (Via H.R.)

Faux Saltiness

"Powered chopsticks use electricity to make food taste 50% saltier"

Sunday, April 03, 2022

MIT Reinstates SAT/ACT Test Requirement For Admissions

I like this recent policy change by my alma mater, MIT: 

After careful consideration, we have decided to reinstate our SAT/ACT requirement for future admissions cycles. Our research shows standardized tests help us better assess the academic preparedness of all applicants, and also help us identify socioeconomically disadvantaged students who lack access to advanced coursework or other enrichment opportunities that would otherwise demonstrate their readiness for MIT. 
We believe a requirement is more equitable and transparent than a test-optional policy.

Distant Star

"Hubble sees most distant star ever, 28 billion light-years away"

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Dr. Glaucomflecken

"The internet's funniest doctor is in on the joke".

I really enjoy his videos. He has a knack for perfectly nailing the quirks of the various medical specialties.

Matrix Sequels

"Why the The Matrix never should have had a series of sequels"

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Hsieh Forbes Column: When Ukrainian Surgeons Treat Russian POWs

My latest Forbes column is now out: "When Ukrainian Surgeons Treat Russian POWs". 

Wartime can put physicians in challenging emotional and ethical circumstances.

Sound On Mars

"The Speed of Sound on Mars Is Strangely Different, Scientists Reveal". (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

LinkedIn Fakes

"That smiling LinkedIn profile face might be a computer-generated fake"

Natural Camouflage

"7 Ways Evolution Really Nailed Animal Camouflage". (Via H.R.)

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Boa Breathing

"Why boa constrictors can still breathe while squeezing the life out of prey". (Via H.R.)

Rainy Day Drone

"DJI's newest drone can fly in heavy rain -- and has its own robotic dock"

Thursday, March 24, 2022


"Not smart but clever? The return of 'dumbphones'"

Wright Houses

"10 Frank Lloyd Wright Houses You Can Visit Across the U.S."

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Kids And Vegan Diets In Belgium

"Making your kids go vegan can mean jail time in Belgium":

The [Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium] determined that veganism for kids is “unethical” because it can lead to health problems for growing children, the Belgian publication Le Soir reports (link in French). The animal-product-free diet isn’t technically prohibited, and the ruling doesn’t necessarily equate veganism with child neglect. However, it will make it easier to prosecute parents who impose the strict diet and whose children have health problems.

Children can follow a vegan diet if it’s accompanied by medical supervision, regular blood tests, and vitamin supplements, Belgian pediatricians concluded. However, parents who don’t follow through on the additional requirements risk two years in prison, fines, and the possibility that their children will be removed from their homes if the kids do have associated health issues...

UK Vs. Tech

"Nadine Dorries, Britain’s Big Tech slayer"

Dorries arrived at a meeting with software giant Microsoft and immediately asked when they were going to get rid of algorithms, according to an official given an account of the meeting.
(Via Jimmy Wales, who adds, "Well, that's one approach I guess...")

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Fast Robot

"MIT's Robotic Cheetah Taught Itself How to Run and Set a New Speed Record in the Process". (Via H.R.)

PDP-11 Remembered

"A brief tour of the PDP-11, the most influential minicomputer of all time"

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Self-Driving Vehicle Legal Update

"U.S. eliminates human controls requirement for fully automated vehicles". (Via W.R.)

Swim Math

"This professor studies each swimmer as a math problem. It's helped them to be faster"

Monday, March 14, 2022

Lost Tolkien Scripts

"Hoard of the rings: 'Lost' scripts for BBC Tolkien drama discovered"

Another Island Micronation -- Or Not

CNN: "They bought a Caribbean island to start their own country"

Like many micronations before it, the Principality of Islandia has begun building all the traditional trappings of a nation-state. There's a national anthem, an Islandia flag and a government that's elected from amongst the investors. Johnson even jokes that he holds the "hush, hush role of Head of the Secret Police."...

Mayer emphasizes that the micronation should be seen as "tongue in cheek," and that while they might bring in their own rules when they are on the island (such as no single-use plastics, he said as an example), Coffee Caye still falls squarely within the laws and borders of Belize. 

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Friday, March 11, 2022

Rogue Wave

"Record-Breaking Rogue Wave Detected Off Vancouver Island"
A wave the height of a four-story building was recorded off the coast of Vancouver Island, and scientists say it’s “the most extreme rogue wave ever recorded.” The 58-foot-tall giant, which appeared off the coast of Ucluelet, British Columbia, on November 17, 2020, is described in the journal Scientific Reports. 

"Only a few rogue waves in high sea states have been observed directly, and nothing of this magnitude,” lead author Johannes Gemmrich, an oceanographer at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, says in the statement. “The probability of such an event occurring is once in 1,300 years."

Batman Ranked

"Batman Movies, Ranked". As usual, YMMV.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Stonehenge Update

"Stonehenge may be ancient solar calendar"

Japanese Rock

"Japan’s 'killing stone' splits in two, releasing superstitions amid the sulphur springs"

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Monday, March 07, 2022

Russian Nuclear Launch Procedures

"Good thread on Russian nuclear launch procedures." (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Biggest Galaxy

"The Biggest Galaxy Ever Found Has Just Been Discovered, And It Will Break Your Brain". (Via H.R.)

Friday, March 04, 2022

Earth's Core

"Scientists discover the Earth's inner core isn't solid or liquid. It's 'superionic.'". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Pulverizing Asteroids

"Ingenious System to Pulverize Asteroids May Be Earth's Only Chance in a Catastrophe". (Via H.R.)

COBOL Longevity

IEEE: "Long-Enduring COBOL May Still Have a Shelf Life"

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Crypto And CO?

Wired: "[Colorado governor]Jared Polis received a warm welcome when he appeared onstage at last week’s ETHDenver conference to present his vision for making Colorado the 'first digital state.'"

Americans Travelling To Europe

"Americans Will Need To Register To Travel To Europe In 2023"

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Metaverse Laws

"Metaverse vs. employment law: The reality of the virtual workplace"

I'm sure looking forward to spending more time on mandatory HR training videos on safety/diversity/privacy/etc. if I ever take a job in the Metaverse!

AI Chemical Discovery

"How AI is Changing Chemical Discovery"

Friday, February 25, 2022

Self-Driving Car Update

"GM seeks US approval to deploy self-driving car without a steering wheel"

Cruise announced the filing of its petition for approval on Friday, saying the car is "a zero-emission, shared, electric vehicle that has been purposefully designed from the ground up to operate without a human driver. This means it does not rely on certain human-centered features, like a steering wheel or a sun visor, to operate safely."

King Tut's Dagger

"X-rays help unlock secrets of King Tut's iron dagger, made from a meteorite". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Enhanced Electrical Brain Activity Just Before Death

EEG study performed on patient at time of death showed high-cognitive demand activity, similar to concentration or recall. This may be the external equivalent of "life flashing before one's eyes". 

Direct link to academic paper, "Enhanced Interplay of Neuronal Coherence and Coupling in the Dying Human Brain".

Updated Pacemaker

"'Bionic' pacemaker reverses heart failure". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Exoplanet Update

"A 'hot Jupiter's' dark side is revealed in detail for first time". (Via Debby Witt.)

Three Colliding Galaxies

"Three galaxies are tearing each other apart in stunning new Hubble telescope image"

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Privatizing The Moon?

"Space Invaders: Property Right On The Moon"

Robotic Caterpillar

Video: "A caterpillar with nine electric motors climbs a woodpile!"

[T]he crux of the work was a gloriously fun math problem. Solving caterpillar motion over arbitrary curved surfaces is the toughest, and most rewarding, math that I’ve gotten into yet. It took me several months as well. The video is a single take, shot between 1:10pm and 1:20pm in my shop, when the sun aligns with a skylight to create a pool of light...

Caterpillar and Woodpile 2019 from Reuben Margolin on Vimeo.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Friday, February 18, 2022

4th Star Trek Movie

"Star Trek Cast, Including Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, Returning for Fourth Film"

I really hope this one doesn't suck.

Recovering Rare Earths

"An electric jolt salvages valuable metals from waste: New method can pull rare earth elements from electronic waste and coal ash". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Wikipedia High Five Story

"The adorable love story behind Wikipedia's 'high five' photos"

Bad Bionics

IEEE: "Their Bionic Eyes Are Now Obsolete and Unsupported"

Los Angeles–based Second Sight provides a cautionary tale for bold entrepreneurs interested in brain tech. What happens when cutting-edge implants fail, or simply fade away like yesterday’s flip phones and Betamax? Even worse, what if the companies behind them go bust? 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Geology of Mediterranean Sea

Mindblowing geological history of the Mediterranean Sea.

Tetrachromacy Update

"Human Tetrachromacy is Real. Here's What We Know"

Monday, February 14, 2022

Friday, February 11, 2022

Neuromorphic Analog Chips

"Chip designer mimicking brain, backed by Sam Altman, gets $25 mln funding":
Rain Neuromorphics Inc., a startup designing chips that mimic the way the brain works and aims to serve companies using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, said on Wednesday it raised $25 million.

 Gordon Wilson, CEO and co-founder of Rain, said that while most AI chips on the market today are digital, his company's technology is analogue. Digital chips read 1s and 0s while analogue chips can decipher incremental information such as sound waves.

Two Forms Of Liquid Water

"Direct evidence emerges for the existence of two forms of liquid water". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Slow European Clocks

"Clocks are running slow across Europe because of an argument over who pays the electricity bill"

Quantum Friction

"Weirdly flowing water finally has an explanation: 'quantum friction'"

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Hacking NK

"North Korea Hacked Him. So He Took Down Its Internet"

Awesome Crossword Puzzle Clue

One of the best crossword puzzle clues ever.

Monday, February 07, 2022

Superstrong Polymer

"MIT scientists filed two patents on a new, 2D material that's stronger than steel". (Via H.R.)

Digital Dollars

NPR: "The U.S. is considering a radical rethinking of the dollar for today's digital world"

In that scenario, the U.S. would not only mint the coins and print paper bills. It would also issue digital cash, or a central bank digital currency (CBDC), that would be stored in apps or "digital wallets" on our smartphones.

We could then use them to pay for things, just like we do with Venmo or Apple Pay, and no actual physical money would change hands.


Friday, February 04, 2022

Computer Sound Tracking

"Where did that sound come from? MIT neuroscientists have developed a computer model that can answer that question as well as the human brain"

AI Debating AI

"We invited an AI to debate its own ethics in the Oxford Union -- what it said was startling"

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Chinese Food In America

"What I learned eating at 8,000 Chinese restaurants"

NSA Not Always Following Internal Safeguards

CNN: "NSA watchdog finds 'concerns' with searches of Americans' communications"

The National Security Agency failed to follow both court-approved and internal procedures designed to prevent officials from using a controversial foreign surveillance law to inappropriately monitor Americans' communications, the NSA inspector general found in a semi-annual report released on Monday.

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Monday, January 31, 2022

Space Elevator Failure

"What Happens If a Space Elevator Breaks"

5G And Airplanes

"The 5G Airline Controversy: What Is It About?"

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Prime Progress

"Mathematicians Clear Hurdle in Quest to Decode Primes":
In a paper posted in September, Paul Nelson of the Institute for Advanced Study has solved a version of the subconvexity problem, a kind of lighter-weight version of Riemann's question. The proof is a significant achievement on its own and teases the possibility that even greater discoveries related to prime numbers may be in store.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Light Posting Notice

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

One-Minute Time Machine

Video: "One-Minute Time Machine"

Friday, January 21, 2022

Fake QR Codes On Parking Meters

"Police Warn of Parking Meters with Phishing QR Codes":

The QR codes found by Austin police department directed unsuspecting users to a fraudulent website which would ask for payment details with the false promise that their parking session would be paid for. 

The City of Austin checked its parking meters after being notified of a similar QR code scam by officials in San Antonio. They had discovered over 100 parking meters similarly stickered in late December.

Airline Passenger Rights

"The Airline Passenger Rights Everyone Should Know: You should know what you're entitled to the next time you're bumped, delayed, or trapped on the tarmac"

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

AI System Has Been Named An Inventor

"A First: An AI System Has Been Named An Inventor"

The South African patent office made history in July when it issued a patent that listed an artificial intelligence system as the inventor.

The patent is for a food container that uses fractal designs to create pits and bulges in its sides. Designed for the packaging industry, the new configuration allows containers to fit more tightly together so they can be transported better. The shape also makes it easier for robotic arms to pick up the containers.

(Via J.P.)


Prisoner's Dilemma With Real Prisoners

What happens when you run "Prisoner's Dilemma" experiments on actual prisoners? The hard core Mafiosi stick together and punish defectors, in contrast to "ordinary" criminals. (Via M.R.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Impossible Light Bulb

Massimo: "In the 1920s newly hired engineers at General Electric would be told, as a joke, to develop a frosted lightbulb. The experienced engineers believed this to be impossible: newly hired Marvin Pipkin got the assignment not realizing it was a joke & succeeded

Alphabet Evolution

"From Greek to Latin: Visualizing the Evolution of the Alphabet"

Friday, January 14, 2022

Never-Ending Blind Date

Chinese woman goes on "blind date" for dinner at the guy's house. Then authorities impose COVID lockdown in the middle of the date and she's been stuck at his house for the past week:

Since then, Wang has posted short videos documenting her daily life in lockdown, which show her date cooking meals for her, doing household chores and working at his laptop while she sleeps in, according to clips published by local media.

So far it seems romance has yet to blossom during their prolonged date, according to Wang who says she's looking for a more talkative partner.

"Besides the fact that he's as mute as a wooden mannequin, everything else (about him) is pretty good," Wang told The Paper. "Despite his food being mediocre, he's still willing to cook, which I think is great."


Japanese Railgun Technology

"Japan set to develop railguns to counter hypersonic missiles":

The Japanese Defense Ministry will develop a means to intercept hostile missiles using magnetically powered projectiles, sources told Nikkei Asia, as the nation scurries to respond to the hypersonic weapons being developed by China, North Korea and Russia.

The ministry is focusing on railgun technology that can launch projectiles with power generated when an electric current is applied to a magnetic field. The projectiles are faster than those shot from conventional intercept systems and can be fired continuously.


Thursday, January 13, 2022

Fast Keyboard

"This Keyboard Lets People Type So Fast It's Banned From Typing Competitions"


Shocking The Brain

"Jolting the brain's circuits with electricity is moving from radical to almost mainstream therapy. Some crucial hurdles remain"

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Living Self-Replicating Robots

Sam Kriegman: "We Created Living Robots That Self-Replicate"

More Fusion News

"Fusion Power Generation May Come Sooner Than You Think".  Of note:

While Lawrence Livermore’s facility is making strides and the ITER project is gathering together teams from around the world, the real reason for hope on the fusion front is coming from the private sector. Much as the space launch industry has been invigorated by innovative companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and Rocket Lab that challenge an ossified government-directed order, so a new generation of entrepreneurs is pushing new boundaries of commercial fusion research...

The following list of companies, while not exhaustive, illustrates the myriad approaches to achieving fusion power under development in the private sector... 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Signal And Untraceable Payments

"How Signal is playing with fire: A push into untraceable payments could put end-to-end encryption at risk"

What sets Signal’s effort apart is the combination of end-to-end encryption in messaging and a cryptocurrency with privacy features designed to make any transactions anonymous.

Last year, current and former Signal employees told me they were worried about what that combination would bring to the app. Anonymous transactions would likely attract criminals, they told me, and that in turn would attract regulatory scrutiny. Given that end-to-end encryption already faces legal challenges around the globe, they said, Signal’s addition of anonymous payments was a needless provocation. And it could give more ammunition to lawmakers who want to end encryption as we know it...

Cat Attractor

"Starlink's Self-Heating Internet Satellite Dishes Are Attracting Cats"

Friday, January 07, 2022

Brains On A Chip

"Brains on a chip: Why startups are combining cells and silicon"

Mind Reading

"The Science of Mind Reading".  Communicating with patients in a seemingly "vegetative state".

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Astute Radiologist

Classic radiology case.

Good Naps

"The Science of a Good Nap"

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Fish Operated Vehicle

"Israeli scientists train goldfish to steer car around room":

Six goldfish trained to use the apparatus managed to find their way around the small room and toward a reward, wrote the authors of a study published this month in the journal Behavioural Brain Research.

The fish “were able to operate the vehicle, explore the new environment, and reach the target, regardless of the starting point, all while avoiding dead-ends and correcting location inaccuracies,” said Shachar Givon and Matan Samina, who published the research along with Ohad Ben Shahar and Ronen Segev.


SAGE History

"The most important computer you've never heard of"

Monday, January 03, 2022

Roman Concrete

"Noblewoman's tomb reveals new secrets of ancient Rome's highly durable concrete". (Via H.R.)

Malicious DeepFake Update

"A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click".