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