Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Closing iPhone Apps Myth

"Closing your iPhone apps is a mythical waste of time"


"What the EU's tough AI law means for research and ChatGPT"

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

RNA Editing

"Move over, CRISPR: RNA-editing therapies pick up steam"

AI Nukes

"AI Deployed Nukes 'to Have Peace in the World' in Tense War Simulation"

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Scam Psychology

"The Day I Put $50,000 in a Shoe Box and Handed It to a Stranger. I never thought I was the kind of person to fall for a scam."

How very clever scam psychology can take in even wary and educated people. 

Moving Electrons

"Scientists report first look at electrons moving in real-time in liquid water"

Monday, February 19, 2024

About robots.txt

"The text file that runs the internet"

Deep Space Medicine

"Solving astronauts' health challenges in deep space could have payoffs on Earth"

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Light Posting

Admin note: Posting will be light for a few days due to external obligations.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Facebook Security Vulnerability

"How a social engineering hack turned these Facebook pages into a dumping ground for spam". 

Short lesson from one of the scam victims: "At this moment in time, I don't recommend that anybody accepts Facebook Live interviews"

Mandelbrot Decoded

"The Quest to Decode the Mandelbrot Set, Math's Famed Fractal"

Monday, February 12, 2024

Fusion Update

"Fusion research facility's final tritium experiments yield new energy record"

Urban On Vision Pro

Tim Urban: "All My Thoughts After 40 Hours in the Vision Pro"

Friday, February 09, 2024

No More Google Page Caches

"Google will no longer back up the Internet: Cached webpages are dead"

Art And BS

"A journalist goes undercover to reveal the absurdity of the art scene"

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Modern Fake IDs

"Inside the Underground Site Where 'Neural Networks' Churn Out Fake IDs"

Unseen Innovation

Donald Boudreaux: "Unseen Innovation"

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

NBA Chess

"Inside the NBA's Chess Club"

Dot AI Domains

"The Tiny Caribbean Island That's Making A Fortune From AI"

Back in the 1980s, when the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority was dishing out the geographic two-letter domains, Anguilla had the good fortune to be awarded .ai. That good fortune has turned into an actual fortune, with a huge influx in domain registrations over the past couple of years that have massively boosted the island’s economy.

The boom in .ai domain sales was triggered by the arrival of ChatGPT in November 2022. “In the five months after that, our sales went up by almost a factor of four,” Vince Cate, who manages domain registrations for the Anguillan government, told IEEE Spectrum. “Then they sort of leveled off at this new, much higher level. It’s just wild—we’re already like a third of the government’s budget.”

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

VF On Apple Vision Pro

Vanity Fair: "Why Tim Cook Is Going All In on the Apple Vision Pro"

Functional 16-Bit CPU Built And Runs In Excel

"Functional 16-bit CPU built and runs in Excel, 3Hz processor includes 128KB of RAM, 16-color display, and a custom assembly language"

Here's the video, "I built my own 16-Bit CPU in Excel": 

Monday, February 05, 2024

Feynman Reverse Sprinkler

"Mathematicians finally solved Feynman's 'reverse sprinkler' problem". (Via H.R.)

A typical lawn sprinkler features various nozzles arranged at angles on a rotating wheel; when water is pumped in, they release jets that cause the wheel to rotate. But what would happen if the water were sucked into the sprinkler instead? In which direction would the wheel turn then, or would it even turn at all? That's the essence of the "reverse sprinkler" problem that physicists like Richard Feynman, among others, have grappled with since the 1940s. Now, applied mathematicians at New York University think they've cracked the conundrum, per a recent paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters—and the answer challenges conventional wisdom on the matter...

One might intuit that a reverse sprinkler would work just like a regular sprinkler, merely played backward, so to speak. But the physics turns out to be more complicated. “The answer is perfectly clear at first sight,” Feynman wrote in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman (1985). “The trouble was, some guy would think it was perfectly clear [that the rotation would be] one way, and another guy would think it was perfectly clear the other way.”

Bitcoin Electricity Use

Ars Technica: "Over 2 percent of the US's electricity generation now goes to bitcoin"

Friday, February 02, 2024

Hsieh Forbes Column: How Much Basic Math And Health Statistics Should Legislators Know?

My latest Forbes is now out: "How Much Basic Math And Health Statistics Should Legislators Know?"

How much basic math do legislators know?

The Royal Statistical Society asked 101 members of the U.K. Parliament in 2021, “If you toss a fair coin twice, what is the probability of getting two heads?” The correct answer is, of course, 1/4 or 25%.

However, only 52% of the MPs got the answer correct. On the bright side, this is an improvement from 2011, when only 40% of the MPs got the answer correct.

My first thought when I learned about this study: I would love to know how U.S. congressmen would perform with the question...


2024 Robotaxis

"What's next for robotaxis in 2024"

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Monday, January 29, 2024

Railway Workers Solve Trolley Problem

Railway workers solve the Trolley Problem

"'Slip the switch' by flipping it while the trolley’s front wheels have passed through, but before the back wheels do. This will cause a controlled derailment, bringing the trolley to a safe halt."

Some great comments in the original post: 

"In case anyone is wondering: yes, this is how train robberies operated in the Old West. Slip the switch after the locomotive passes by, passenger cars are stuck there. They could rob everyone and get away before the locomotive could even stop and reverse back to the passenger cars."
"And in case you were also wondering: yes, this tactic is still used by people stealing UPS packages from trains in various American cities today."
"This actually comes from railroad workers talking in comments on a fb [Facebook] group. I just made the meme for them. They were like 'those trolley memes are stupid, we have to do this in our railyard like once a week when some intermodal runs loose.'"



Bitcoin Anonymity Busted

"How a 27-year-old busted the myth of Bitcoin's anonymity"

Friday, January 26, 2024

Old Computer Vs. New Phone

"Cray 1978 versus iPhone 2022". (Via H.R.).

Realistic Children's Stories

"Distressingly Realistic Children's Stories":

Children’s books are great, but wouldn’t it be good if they taught useful life lessons rather than just nonsense about talking animals and whatnot? Have you ever wanted to give a child a gift that will force them to learn a hard, important truth about life that will scar them forever? Well look no further! Here are 3 ideas for how 3 popular children’s books could be adapted to teach children valuable life lessons...

(Click on image to see full size.)


Thursday, January 25, 2024

Ring Data

"Amazon Ring stops letting police request footage in Neighbors app after outcry". (Via E.B.)

Big Screen Car

"The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus has a 48-inch panoramic 'infotainment' screen". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Geology And Politics

"How a coastline 100 million years ago influences modern election results in Alabama". (Via J.A.)


New Words

"New words are spreading faster than ever -- thanks to teenage girls"

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Remembering Bell Labs

"Remembering Bell Labs as legendary idea factory prepares to leave N.J. home"

Monoculture Coffeshops

"The tyranny of the algorithm: Why every coffee shop looks the same"

Friday, January 19, 2024

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Bad Software, Bad Convictions

"Fujitsu is sorry that its software helped send innocent people to prison".

According to a related BBC news story

Between 1999 and 2015, more than 900 sub-postmasters and postmistresses were prosecuted for theft and false accounting after money appeared to be missing from their branches, but the prosecutions were based on evidence from faulty Horizon software.

Some sub-postmasters wrongfully went to prison, many were financially ruined. Some have since died.

It has been described as the most widespread miscarriage of justice in British history, but to date only 93 convictions have been overturned and thousands of people are still waiting for compensation settlements more than 20 years on.


Wave Of Death

"Neuroscientists Discover Source of 'Wave of Death' at End of Consciousness"

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Monday, January 15, 2024

Politicians And Probability

In 2021, 101 members of the UK Parliament were asked "If you toss a fair coin twice, what is the probability of getting two heads?" The answer is, of course, 1/4 or 25%. FWIW, only 52% of the MPs got the answer correct

However, this is an improvement from 2011, when only 40% of the MPs got the answer correct.

First immediate thought: What would be the result if we asked US Congressmen the same question?

Second immediate thought: If that many legislators don't understand such a basic principle of high school math, are they qualified to be making big policy decisions that affect all our lives?

Lost City Found

"Huge ancient lost city found in the Amazon"

"It changes the way we see Amazonian cultures. Most people picture small groups, probably naked, living in huts and clearing land - this shows ancient people lived in complicated urban societies," says co-author Antoine Dorison.

The city was built around 2,500 years ago, and people lived there for up to 1,000 years, according to archaeologists.

It is difficult to accurately estimate how many people lived there at any one time, but scientists say it is certainly in the 10,000s if not 100,000s.


Friday, January 12, 2024

Mysterious Cells

"The Most Mysterious Cells in Our Bodies Don't Belong to Us"

Crypto Taxes In 2024

"Crypto Tax Changes To Prepare For In 2024"

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Strange Metals

"In 'Strange Metals,' the Flow of Electricity Is Equally Strange"

Now scientists may have found the first direct evidence that in so-called strange metals, electricity may flow as a mysterious fluid instead. In a paper published in Science, researchers suggest this electronic fluid could possess extraordinarily low viscosity, potentially leading to unusual applications.

Australian Conservation Dogs

"Dogs are incredible -- if unlikely -- allies in conservation"

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Navajo Nation And The Moon

"NASA responds to Navajo Nation's request to delay private mission placing human remains on the moon"

From my reading the Navajo Nation has asked NASA and the US Dept of Transportation to delay any private memorial space flights to the Moon which deposit human remains on the lunar surface. They claim this would be a "desecration of this sacred space."
NASA has said they have no jurisdiction over these private space ventures. The US government has "has formed an interagency group to review the Navajo Nation's objections". 
The private space company Celestis has said, "No individual religion can or should dictate whether a space mission should be approved... No one, and no religion, owns the moon, and, were the beliefs of the world's multitude of religions considered, it’s quite likely that no missions would ever be approved."
(I don't know how property rights and international law apply to the Moon, but I am inclined to site with Celestis on this one.)



"WikEM, The Global Emergency Medicine Wiki, is the world's largest and most popular emergency medicine open-access reference resource."

The site is uneven, but some pages look pretty good.  Here is the one on ring removal. (Contains a NSFW photograph.)

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

Monday, January 08, 2024

SAT Vindicated

"The Misguided War on the SAT". (Via A.S.)

 A couple of interesting points:

 “Standardized test scores are a much better predictor of academic success than high school grades,” Christina Paxson, the president of Brown University, recently wrote. Stuart Schmill — the dean of admissions at M.I.T., one of the few schools to have reinstated its test requirement — told me, “Just getting straight A’s is not enough information for us to know whether the students are going to succeed or not.”...

[T]he data suggests that testing critics have drawn the wrong battle lines. If test scores are used as one factor among others — and if colleges give applicants credit for having overcome adversity — the SAT and ACT can help create diverse classes of highly talented students. Restoring the tests might also help address a different frustration that many Americans have with the admissions process at elite universities: that it has become too opaque and unconnected to merit.


"A People's History of Slime: On Two New Books About Ooze"

Friday, January 05, 2024

Vibes For Cancer?

"Scientists Destroy 99% of Cancer Cells in The Lab Using Vibrating Molecules". (Via H.R.)


"Do syllables exist?"

We all think we intuitively know what a syllable is, but trying to explain them isn't so easy and even linguists aren't in agreement about a definition.

I think Sam Gamgee in Lord Of The Rings knows the answer!

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Vibrating Diet Pill

"This vibrating diet pill may trick the stomach into feeling full"

2024 As Predicted By Hollywood

What various old Hollywood movies set in the (then future) year of 2024) predicted for this year. Lots of dystopia! (Via J.P.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2024