August 27, 2015 archive
Aug 27 2015
Aug 27 2015
It’s not what you think. This is the game Christopher Robin played with Winnie the Pooh in many of their A.A. Milne adventures.
The basic concept is simple- find some sticks, drop them in a stream or river on one side of a bridge, see which one emerges on the other side first.
Since this a childlike and contemplative game it’s best not to choose a rushing torrent as your course and turbulence can make it difficult to determine stick identity when it emerges. Your best bet is a slowly meandering waterway on a hot summer day with a broad bridge to enhance the suspense and encourage deep philosophical conversation while awaiting the outcome.
If your nature is more, ahem, competitive there are some tricks (all very fair and within the rules and spirit of the game). They involve, as you might expect, stick selection since it is the only variable under your control.
Revealed: how to pick the perfect Poohstick
Wednesday 26 August 2015 03.52 EDT
Poohsticks, the timeless game made famous by Winnie the Pooh, Piglet and Christopher Robin, is not a game of chance, according to scientists – and there’s even a formula to win.
Egmont Publishing joined Dr Rhys Morgan, director of engineering and education at the Royal Academy of Engineering, to equip the 39% of people who already take time sourcing the perfect Poohstick with the formula to ensure they pick the speediest stick to sail to victory.
It comes after a survey of 2,000 British parents revealed that 41% of players take the time to personalise their sticks to ensure they take no chances in knowing exactly who wins.
It turns out that just 11% of Britons naturally pick the right sort of stick, with a third of people (30%) heading straight for a long and thin stick, which according to Dr Morgan is only half right.
The scientist, a father of two and avid Poohsticks player himself, said the main variables that need to be considered when designing the optimum Poohstick included cross-sectional area, density/buoyancy, and the drag coefficient.
The perfect Poohstick would be tubby and long, fairly heavy (but not so heavy it will sink to the bottom of the river), with quite a lot of bark to catch the flow of the river like paddle.
Science and Technology News and Blogs
- US astronauts drink recycled urine aboard space station but Russians refuse, by Ellen Brait, The Guardian
- How a Volcanic Eruption in 1815 Darkened the World but Colored the Arts, By WILLIAM J. BROAD, The New York Times
- Garum sauce: ancient Rome’s ‘ketchup’ becomes a modern-day secret ingredient, by Olga Oksman, The Guardian
- Guy spots super-rare ‘living fossil’ a second time — 30 years later, by Michael Franco, CNet
- Dinosaur foot found on beach in Wales could be mini T-Rex ancestor, Press Association
- How do you go about embracing complexity? It’s complicated, by Duncan Green, The Guardian
- Aztec skull trophy rack discovered at Mexico City’s Templo Mayor ruin site, Associated Press
- Flash is dying a death by 1,000 cuts, and that’s a good thing, by Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian
- Here’s why fire fountains erupted on moon’s surface, Business Standard
- Want to read this article later? Maybe you should just print it out, by Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian
- Ancient Greek palace unearthed near Sparta dates back to 17th century BC, AFP
- Poland drought: Jewish tombstones and fighter plane uncovered as rivers run dry, Associated Press
- The Huge, Pricey Detectors That Capture Tiny Neutrinos, Katie M. Palmer, Wired
- Large-Scale Peer-Review Fraud Leads To Retraction Of 64 Scientific Papers, by Glyn Moody, Tech Dirt
- When surveillance is a feature, not a bug, by Joshua Kopstein, Al Jazeera
- Windows 10 doesn’t offer much privacy by default: Here’s how to fix it, by Sebastian Anthony, Ars Technica
- Windows 10 Reserves The Right To Block Pirated Games And ‘Unauthorized’ Hardware, by Karl Bode, Tech Dirt
Science Oriented Video
The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.
–Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)
Obligatories, News and Blogs below.
Aug 27 2015
It is 10 years since Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast causing $108 billion in damages, killing over 1300 people and completely changing the city of New Orleans and the coastline.
Today New Orleans has changed in many ways, it is whiter, richer and the poor are poorer:
Ten years later, it is not exactly right to say that New Orleans is back. The city did not return, not as it was.
It is, first of all, without the more than 1,400 people who died here, and the thousands who are now making their lives someplace else. As of 2013, there were nearly 100,000 fewer black residents than in 2000, their absences falling equally across income levels. The white population decreased by about 11,000, but it is wealthier.
The city that exists in 2015 has been altered, by both a decade of institutional re-engineering and the artless rearrangement that occurs when people are left to fend for themselves.
Empowered by billions of federal dollars and the big ideas of eager policy planners, the school system underwent an extensive overhaul; the old Art Deco Charity Hospital was supplanted by a state-of-the-art medical complex; and big public housing projects, at once beloved and notorious, were razed and replaced by mixed-income communities with housing vouchers.
In a city long marinated in fatalism, optimists are now in ascendance. They promise that an influx of bright newcomers, a burst of entrepreneurial verve and a new spirit of civic engagement have primed the city for an era of greatness, or, at least, reversed a long-running civic-disaster narrative.
“Nobody can refute the fact that we have completely turned this story around,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu, talking of streamlined government and year-over-year economic growth. “For the first time in 50 years, the city is on a trajectory that it has not been on, organizationally, functionally, economically, almost in every way.”
The word “trajectory” is no accident. It is the mayor’s case that the city is in a position to address the many problems that years of government failures had allowed to fester. He did not argue that those problems had been solved.
Aug 27 2015
This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
August 27 is the 239th day of the year (240th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 126 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1883, The most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history occurs on Krakatau (also called Krakatoa), a small, uninhabited volcanic island located west of Sumatra in Indonesia, on this day in 1883. Heard 3,000 miles away, the explosions threw five cubic miles of earth 50 miles into the air, created 120-foot tsunamis and killed 36,000 people.
Krakatau exhibited its first stirrings in more than 200 years on May 20, 1883. A German warship passing by reported a seven-mile high cloud of ash and dust over Krakatau. For the next two months, similar explosions would be witnessed by commercial liners and natives on nearby Java and Sumatra. With little to no idea of the impending catastrophe, the local inhabitants greeted the volcanic activity with festive excitement.
On 27 August four enormous explosions took place at 05:30, 06:44, 10:02, and 10:41 local time. The explosions were so violent that they were heard 3,500 km (2,200 mi) away in Perth, Western Australia and the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, 4,800 km (3,000 mi) away, where they were thought to be cannonfire from a nearby ship. Each was accompanied by very large tsunamis, which are believed to have been over 30 meters (100 ft) high in places. A large area of the Sunda Strait and a number of places on the Sumatran coast were affected by pyroclastic flows from the volcano.
The pressure wave generated by the colossal final explosion radiated from Krakatoa at 1,086 km/h (675 mph). It was so powerful that it shattered the eardrums of sailors on ships in the Sunda Strait and caused a spike of more than two and half inches of mercury in pressure gauges attached to gasometers in the Jakarta gasworks, sending them off the scale. The pressure wave radiated across the globe and was recorded on barographs all over the world, which continued to register it up to 5 days after the explosion. Barograph recordings show that the shockwave from the final explosion reverberated around the globe 7 times in total. Ash was propelled to a height of 80 km (50 mi).
The eruptions diminished rapidly after that point, and by the morning of August 28 Krakatoa was silent. Small eruptions, mostly of mud, continued through October, though further reports continued through February 1884. These reports were discounted by (Rogier) Verbeek.
The combined effects of pyroclastic flows, volcanic ashes and tsunamis had disastrous results in the region. There were no survivors from 3,000 people located at the island of Sebesi, about 13 km (8.1 mi) from Krakatoa. Pyroclastic flows killed around 1,000 people at Ketimbang on the coast of Sumatra some 40 km (25 mi) north from Krakatoa. The official death toll recorded by the Dutch authorities was 36,417, although some sources put the estimate at 120,000 or more.
Ships as far away as South Africa rocked as tsunamis hit them, and the bodies of victims were found floating in the ocean for weeks after the event. The tsunamis which accompanied the eruption are believed to have been caused by gigantic pyroclastic flows entering the sea; each of the four great explosions was accompanied by a massive pyroclastic flow resulting from the gravitational collapse of the eruption column.
In the aftermath of the eruption, it was found that the island of Krakatoa had almost entirely disappeared, except for the southern half of Rakata cone cut off along a vertical cliff, leaving behind a 250-metre (820 ft) deep caldera.
In the year following the eruption, average global temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 C (2.2 F). Weather patterns continued to be chaotic for years, and temperatures did not return to normal until 1888.
The eruption darkened the sky worldwide for years afterwards, and produced spectacular sunsets throughout the world for many months. British artist William Ashcroft made thousands of colour sketches of the red sunsets half-way around the world from Krakatoa in the years after the eruption.