What would happen if I drilled a tunnel through the center of th" Want to really get away from it all? The farthest you can travel from home (and still remain on Earth) is about 7,900 miles (12,700 kilometers) straight down, but you'll have to journey the long way round to get there: 12,450 miles (20,036 kilometers) over land and sea. Why not take a shortcut, straight down? You can get there in about 42 minutes -- that's short enough for a long lunch, assuming you can avoid Mole Men, prehistoric reptiles and underworld denizens en route. Granted, most Americans would end up in the Indian Ocean, but Chileans could dine out on authentic Chinese, and Kiwis could tuck into Spanish tapas for tea [sources: NOVA; Shegelski]. Of course, you'd be in for a rough ride. For sake of argument (and survival) let's pretend the Earth is a cold, uniform, inert ball of rock. At the Earth's surface, gravity pulls on us at 32 feet (9.8 meters) per second squared. You're still moving at a heck of a clip, though, so don't expect to stop there.
Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit" One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, or attracted much sustained inquiry. Another worthwhile source is the title essay in The Prevalence of Humbug by Max Black. Humbug: deceptive misrepresentation, short of lying, especially by pretentious word or deed, of somebody’s own thoughts, feelings, or attitudes. A very similar formulation might plausibly be offered as enunciating the essential characteristics of bullshit. Deceptive misrepresentation: This may sound pleonastic. Short of lying: It must be part of the point of saying that humbug is “short of lying,” that while it has some of the distinguishing characteristics of lies, there are others that it lacks.
Birthday problem In probability theory, the birthday problem or birthday paradox concerns the probability that, in a set of n randomly chosen people, some pair of them will have the same birthday. By the pigeonhole principle, the probability reaches 100% when the number of people reaches 367 (since there are 366 possible birthdays, including February 29). However, 99.9% probability is reached with just 70 people, and 50% probability with 23 people. The mathematics behind this problem led to a well-known cryptographic attack called the birthday attack, which uses this probabilistic model to reduce the complexity of cracking a hash function. A graph showing the computed probability of at least two people sharing a birthday amongst a certain number of people. Understanding the problem The birthday problem is to find the probability that, in a group of N people, there is at least one pair of people who have the same birthday. distinct possible combinations of pairing. Calculating the probability
What Mimicking One's Language Style May Mean About the Relationship Oct. 4, 2010 AUSTIN, Texas — People match each other's language styles more during happier periods of their relationship than at other times, according to new research from psychologists at The University of Texas at Austin. "When two people start a conversation, they usually begin talking alike within a matter of seconds," says James Pennebaker, psychology professor and co-author of the study. "This also happens when people read a book or watch a movie. As soon as the credits roll, they find themselves talking like the author or the central characters." This tendency is called language style matching or LSM. "Because style matching is automatic," says Ireland, a psychology graduate student, "it serves as an unobtrusive window into people's close relationships with others." Ireland and Pennebaker tracked the language used by almost 2,000 college students as they responded to class assignments written in very different language styles.
Earth's True Shape Revealed for 1st Time After two years in orbit, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) is nearing the end of its planned life span in February, producing the most accurate map ever of the so-called geoid -- an Earth-encompassing spirit level and global reference surface. An unused supply of xeon fuel will allow the mission to be extended until at least the end of 2012. Markedly different from a simple sphere or ellipsoid, the geoid is the mathematically 'true' shape of Earth. The resulting small variations in the Earth’s gravitational field feature on the geoid as ‘bulbs’ and ‘dips’ in an idealized ‘ocean’ surface. ESA scientists presented the latest version of the GOCE-derived geoid map –- based on eight months of data processed so far –- at a user workshop this week in Munich, Germany. The Daily Galaxy via ESA
88 Important Truths I’ve Learned About Life | Raptitude.com Everyone gets drilled with certain lessons in life. Sometimes it takes repeated demonstrations of a given law of life to really get it into your skull, and other times one powerful experience drives the point home once forever. Here are 88 things I’ve discovered about life, the world, and its inhabitants by this point in my short time on earth. 1. You can’t change other people, and it’s rude to try. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88. Photo by Philgarlic Have a lot on your mind? Everyday mindfulness has transformed my life, and the lives of many others.
Your beliefs about intelligence affect your beliefs about learning Your beliefs about intelligence really matter. Learning is a lifelong process. Kids go to school to be exposed to new topics ranging from history to math to science. Adults need to pick up new knowledge to understand world events and to succeed at new tasks at work. Sometimes, of course, the things we learn are fairly easy to pick up. Other information is harder to pick up. How does the difficulty of learning about something affect your beliefs about how much you can learn about it? This question was explored by David Miele, Bridgid Finn, and Daniel Molden in a paper in the March, 2011 issue of Psychological Science . They were interested in the role of people's beliefs about intelligence on learning. These beliefs can influence what happens when you encounter information that feels hard to learn. To test this possibility, Miele, Finn, and Molden had people learn to relate English words to Indonesian words with the same meaning. This result is quite important.
Spiders Fleeing Floods Build Mosquito Buffet in Trees Photo: Russell Watkins / DFID When heavy rains caused rivers to overflow and flood parts of Pakistan last year, it set into motion a surprisingly complex chain of events that scientists are only now beginning to understand -- and which may have ultimately saved countless human lives. As waters began to rise, thousands of spiders sought refuge in tall trees, cluttering the leaves and branches with their webs in a manner reminiscent of cotton-candy. That, of course, is just the beginning of the story. >> WATCH SLIDESHOW: 10 of the World's Weirdest Spiders In the heavily flooded region of Sindh, Pakistan, these spider-web laden trees seems to have been quite effective at catching insects. According to New Scientist, people living in nearby subsequently experienced a significant drop in the number of mosquitoes -- likely reducing the risk of insect-borne diseases, like malaria, and possibly saving the lives of local residents. From New Scientist :
6 Terrifying Ways Crows Are Way Smarter Than You Think Mankind has a long and checkered past with crows and ravens: They have been feared as symbols of death, because they're all black and scary, revered as creators of the world because, well, it was either them or the seagulls, and worshiped as trickster gods, because of their baffling intelligence. Intelligent enough, in fact, for us to start worrying ... #6. Next time you see a group of crows, look closely. OK, so the scientists weren't just playing out horror movie fantasies -- they were testing whether the crows could recognize human faces or not. In case you think they were just telling each other "get the guy with the mask," they weren't: The test was repeated with multiple people wearing multiple masks, and without fail, the crows left the masked men who hadn't messed with them alone, but went murder-crazy on the mask that had been worn while messing with them. "Wow. Pretty soon, every single crow on the campus knew which masks meant trouble, and wanted the guys wearing them dead.
Caveman: An Interview with Michel Siffre In 1962, a French speleologist named Michel Siffre spent two months living in total isolation in a subterranean cave, without access to clock, calendar, or sun. Sleeping and eating only when his body told him to, his goal was to discover how the natural rhythms of human life would be affected by living “beyond time.” Over the next decade, Siffre organized over a dozen other underground time isolation experiments, before he himself returned to a cave in Texas in 1972 for a six-month spell. His work helped found the field of human chronobiology. Joshua Foer interviewed Siffre by email. Michel Siffre's tent in Midnight Cave, Texas, glows with incandescent lights. In 1962, you were just twenty-three years old. You have to understand, I was a geologist by training. Instead of studying caves, you ended up studying time. Yes, I invented a simple scientific protocol. Siffre's cave-appropriate reading: Plato. I had bad equipment, and just a small camp with a lot of things cramped inside. Yes.