Aug 31, 2014

11 reasons email is the worst

posted by Laura Domela

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Email is one of those things that's just a part of your life, period. Most of us know someone who has closed their Facebook account or refused to join in the first place in a little foot-stomping stand by their ego, and you might even know someone who is thrilled with themselves for not owning a smartphone.

But within the adult internet-using world, no one is allowed to not have email.

Not having email today would be the equivalent of not having a phone number—you'd have to be really doing your own thing to go there.

And so here we all are, typing things into compose windows, battling down our inboxes, and it's going pretty well—but like any world of social interaction, email has its difficulties.

Let's discuss 11 particularly awkward things about our email lives.
via Gizmodo

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Aug 30, 2014

Infographic shows the differences between the diseases we donate to, and the diseases that kill us

posted by Laura Domela

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Julia Belluz created the infographic below to compare how much money is donated to fight various disease and how many people in the USA die from those same diseases for an article in Vox

The graphic has since developed a bit of a life of its own. Belluz uses it to critique celebrity-driven campaigns for rare diseases such as the ice bucket challenge for ALS, compared to more frequent, but less glamorous conditions

The discrepancy the graphic is pretty striking, and certainly worth thinking about, but it's hardly the last word. For example, HIV may not be a major killer of Americans, but the people donating are probably concerned about the devastation it wrecks globally. Indeed the article quotes 80,000 hours founder William MacAskill saying, "Donating money to the best developing world health charities will reach at least 100 times as many people than if you donate to developed world health causes." 
via IFLScience

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Aug 29, 2014

LEGO Great Ball Contraption

posted by Laura Domela

Neat!

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Aug 29, 2014

Disney's drone research eyes better parades and floating screens

posted by Larra Morris

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We've seen drones used for all sorts of things from film production to package delivery. Now, it seems Disney may be looking to leverage the aerial vehicles for its theme parks. The company has applied for three patents that employ the remote-controlled gadgets for floating projection displays and airborne marionettes. That latter option is meant to boost hovering parade characters that have been limited to gas-filled balloons with little mobility, while the former uses UAVs to float a screen over park visitors. The third scenario is one where the individual drones each carry an individual lighting rig to achieve the desire effect. Something like fireflies after dark, we'd surmise. All three projects would be commanded from a "ground control station" to coordinate flight paths.
via Engadget

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Aug 29, 2014

How movies synchronize the brains of an audience

posted by Larra Morris

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In one of his first forays into cinema science, Hasson found that when people watch a clip from the classic Western,The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, activity in several brain areas rises and falls at the same time in different individuals. The synched up brain regions included the primary auditory and visual cortex, as well as more specialized regions like the fusiform face area, which is important for (you guessed it) identifying faces, Hasson and colleagues reported in the journal Science in 2004.

More recently, he’s been trying to figure out what it is about movies that makes people’s brains tick together.

Not all movies, it turns out, have the same mind-melding power. Structured movies that use a lot of cinematic devices—cuts, and camera angles, and carefully composed shots designed to control viewers’ attention—do it to a greater extent than movies of unstructured reality.
via Wired

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Image: Uri Hasson

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Aug 29, 2014

Scientists find water clouds outside the solar system for the first time

posted by Larra Morris

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This beautiful purple jewel is an artist rendition of W0855—a Jupiter-sized brown dwarf 7.3 light years from Earth. If the scientists who just published a new paper on its composition are right, it's the first object outside the solar system in which we have observed water clouds—an amazing discovery.

Keep in mind that we have only detected water clouds on Earth and Mars. Jacqueline Faherty—the scientist who has lead the discovery at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C.—says she has "been obsessed with this object since its discovery" by Pennsylvania State University's astronomer Kevin Lehman
via Gizmodo

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Aug 28, 2014

What I learned from debating science with trolls

posted by Laura Domela

 

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I often like to discuss science online and I’m also rather partial to topics that promote lively discussion, such as climate change, crime statistics, and (perhaps surprisingly) the Big Bang. This inevitably brings out the trolls.

“Don’t feed the trolls” is sound advice, but I’ve ignored it on occasion—including on the Conversation and Twitter—and I’ve been rewarded. Not that I’ve changed the minds of any trolls, nor have I expected to.

But I have received an education in the tactics many trolls use. These tactics are common not just to trolls but to bloggers, journalists, and politicians who attack science, from climate to cancer research.
via Pacific Standard

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(Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock)

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Aug 28, 2014

Could a person walk the entire city of NY in their lifetime?

posted by Laura Domela

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Like the answer to Paint the Earth, the answer to the first part of this question is pretty straightforward to look up.

But what if it weren't? Can we figure out the answer from things we already know? Let's look at a few ways of estimating it.

First of all, how wide is a street? I've never seen one of those flashing crosswalk countdowns signs start with less than 10 seconds; if people walk at a meter per second, most roads are probably at least 10 meters wide.
via xkcd

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Aug 28, 2014

Schrödinger's cat caught on quantum film

posted by Laura Domela

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Schrödinger's cat is the poster child for quantum weirdness. Now it has been immortalised in a portrait created by one of the theory's strangest consequences: quantum entanglement.

These images were generated using a cat stencil and entangled photons. The really spooky part is that the photons used to generate the image never interacted with the stencil, while the photons that illuminated the stencil were never seen by the camera.
via New Scientist

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(Image: Gabriela Barreto Lemos)

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Aug 28, 2014

London to start trialing wirelessly charged buses

posted by Larra Morris

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While London's public transport network is getting more hi-tech by the minute, the city's buses and trains aren't as green as they could be -- at least not yet. Transport for London (TfL) has already deployed 800 hybrid and a handful of all-electric buses on the capital's streets, but keeping them charged isn't easy when they're miles from a depot. In a bid to keep them running as efficiently as possible, TfL has kicked off a new trial that will see inductive charging stations built into four east London bus stops, allowing its Enviro400H E400 hybrid buses to charge wirelessly while they pick up passengers.
via Engadget

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Image: wirewiping, Flickr

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