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"