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Math

Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi 306

Posted by samzenpus
from the less-common-core-math dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Imagine the following scenario. The end of civilization has occurred, zombies have taken over the Earth and all access to modern technology has ended. The few survivors suddenly need to know the value of pi and, being a mathematician, they turn to you. What do you do? According to a couple of Canadian mathematicians, the answer is to repeatedly fire a Mossberg 500 pump action shotgun at a square aluminum target about 20 meters away. Then imagine that the square is inscribed with an arc drawn between opposite corners that maps out a quarter circle. If the sides of the square are equal to 1, then the area of the quarter circle is pi/4. Next, count the number of pellet holes that fall inside the area of the quarter circle as well as the total number of holes. The ratio between these is an estimate of the ratio between the area of the quarter circle and the area of a square, or in other words pi/4. So multiplying this number by 4 will give you an estimate of pi. That's a process known as a Monte Carlo approximation and it is complicated by factors such as the distribution of the pellets not being random. But the mathematicians show how to handle these too. The result? According to this method, pi is 3.13, which is just 0.33 per cent off the true value. Handy if you find yourself in a post-apocalyptic world."
Twitter

44% of Twitter Users Have Never Tweeted 120

Posted by samzenpus
from the 140-characters-to-go dept.
First time accepted submitter RileyWalz (3614865) writes "Twopcharts (a third party website that records and monitors activity on Twitter) is reporting that about 44 percent of all 947 million accounts on Twitter have never posted a single tweet. Of the 550 million users who have tweeted before, 43 percent posted their last tweet over a year ago. And only about 13.3 percent have tweeted in the last 30 days. This could be a sign of many users just signing up and forgetting about their account, or they just prefer reading other's posts. Twitter is not commenting on this data, saying that they do not talk about third-party information related to its service."
Transportation

First Glow-In-the-Dark Road Debuts In Netherlands 181

Posted by samzenpus
from the shine-on dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A 500 meter (0.3 mile) stretch of road in the Netherlands has opened without the standard crop of streetlights lining its perimeter. The streetlights are believed to be unnecessary since the road markings were painted on with a mix of photo-luminescent powder, which absorbs sunlight during the day and radiates a portion of that energy back at night. Whether the modified road paint can withstand harsh weather or even provide sufficient lighting given insufficient exposure to sunlight during the day remains to be seen. The project was orchestrated by Studio Roosegaarde, which in the future plans to implement weather-sensitive road markings that would inform drivers when outside temperatures drop or rise above certain levels."
Google

Mr. Schmidt Goes To Washington: A Look Inside Google's Lobbying Behemoth 113

Posted by samzenpus
from the mr.-president-we-seem-to-be-alone dept.
barlevg (2111272) writes "In May 2012, in the midst of an FTC investigation into Google's search practices, the law school at George Mason University in Northern Virginia hosted a conference attended by congressmen, regulators and staffers. The topic: competition, search and social media. What none of the attendees of the conference knew was that Google was pulling many of the strings behind the event, even going so far as to suggest invited speakers. This event, as documented in The Washington Post is just a snapshot of the operations of one of the largest and highest spending lobbying entities in DC, a far cry from the one-man shop it started out as nine years ago, from a company "disdainful" of Washington's "pay-to-play" culture."
Businesses

The Comcast/TWC Merger Is About Controlling Information 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the there's-a-party-at-comcast's-house-and-attendance-is-mandatory dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from The Consumerist: "Comcast and proposed merger partner Time Warner Cable claim they don't compete because their service areas don't overlap, and that a combined company would happily divest itself of a few million customers to keeps its pay-TV market share below 30%, allowing other companies that don't currently compete with Comcast to keep not competing with Comcast. This narrow, shortsighted view fails to take into account the full breadth of what's involved in this merger — broadcast TV, cable TV, network technology, in-home technology, access to the Internet, and much more. In addition to asking whether or not regulators should permit Comcast to add 10-12 million customers, there is a more important question at the core of this deal: Should Comcast be allowed to control both what content you consume and how you get to consume it?"

Comment: Re:I dropped Dropbox (Score 1) 75

by cffrost (#46735811) Attached to: Can Web-Based Protests Be a Force for Change?

[D]epending on your use of Dropbox there are far better services. If you are simply storing and sharing files with a select few then Google drive gives you 15 GB which is a huge amount of storage in comparison.

Plus with someone like Rice onboard, how long before Dropbox ends up in an incestuous relationship with the NSA?

You claim to be concerned about "incestuous relationship[s] with the NSA," yet you recommend another corporate partner in NSA's PRISM spy-ring in favor of another. Why not find/try a tool or service that hasn't already been implicated in NSA-produced documents in serving as a front-end for one or more of their "collect it all" programs? In my view, that one of these corporate partners allows you to hand over more data to the NSA than a competitor isn't a compelling argument for its use — especially when that corporation makes their billions in part by scrutinizing and monetizing anything you give them in the first place.

15GB may be "huge" in comparison to another service willing to oh-so-charitably take ownership of your data for you, but 15GB represents a mere ~1% of a typical modern HDD, or about a seventh of what I upload daily via BitTorrent. Add in end-to-end encryption and a good-availability residential Internet connection, and you can share data without utilizing surveillance-state honeypots. For tools and services that allow you to do this, the website PRISM Break is a great place to start looking for a solution that has had at least some effort put forth in protecting users' privacy.

Technology

The Graffiti Drone 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the vandalism-goes-high-tech dept.
tedlistens writes: "KATSU is known for his adventurous and speculative vandalism, but his new project is not fake or hypothetical, though it does elevate his work to new heights. He has developed a system to attach a spray can to a quadcopter, creating one of the world's first graffiti drones. The drone is capable of spraying canvases or walls hundreds of feet high, granting the artist access to spaces that were previously inaccessible. At the Silicon Valley Contemporary art fair, which opened Thursday, KATSU is showing a series of drone-painted canvasses — and preparing to take the drone out on the town. 'There are a lot of disadvantages to drones, you know. It's not like, "oh, I'll slip off the edge of this bridge and die,"' he tells the Center for the Study of the Drone at Motherboard, which also has a video. 'Its like, "I might have the drone drift off and I might kill someone."'"
Technology

How Cochlear Implants Are Being Blamed For Killing Deaf Culture 507

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-the-flamewar-begin dept.
First time accepted submitter Maddie Kahn (3542515) writes "Deaf culture has its own language, its own social norms, its own art forms, its own theater. But it's under threat. Why? Because most parents of deaf children now choose to use technology to help their kids hear. This piece explores why a revolutionary technology stands accused of killing a culture."
Crime

Smart Car Tipping Trending In San Francisco 369

Posted by timothy
from the siphoning-next-the-gas-from-this-tesla dept.
First time accepted submitter hackajar1 (1700328) writes "Is it a crime of opportunity or another page in the current chapter of Anti-Tech movement in San Francisco? Either way, the new crime trending in San Francisco invloves tipping Smart Cars on their side. While they only take 3 — 4 people to tip, this could just be kids simply having "fun" at the very expensive cost of car owners. Alternatively it could be part of a larger movement in San Francisco against anyone associated with HiTech, which is largely being blamed for neighborhood gentrification and rent spikes in recent years." This sounds like a story that would catch the ears of veteran reporter Roland Hedley.

Comment: Re:Moo (Score 1) 469

A modern instrument may sound better right away she says, but an old Italian may be able to produce more colors of sound that only become apparent after months of use, she says.

The phrase "confirmation bias" springs immediately to mind. People hear what they want to hear, and the knowledge that they're playing on a three-century-old, million-dollar violin gives them certain expectations.

Given the progression of science and technology — specifically in the fields of material science, metallurgy, computer modelling, rapid prototyping, audio spectral analysis, understanding of sound wave propagation, etc. — I'd bet on the superiority of a modern high-end musical instrument over an antique high-end musical instrument in objective measurements (e.g., frequency accuracy, precision parts manufacturing and assembly) and subjective measurements (e.g., those measured in the study we're discussing). (For clarity and completeness: I'd bet on the modern musical instruments against their antique counterparts at any initial/new sale price; not just high-end.)

If a musician has personally invested a fortune in an antique instrument, I have no doubt that confirmation bias plays a substantial part in that musician's high regard for his or her instrument, particularly considering one of the worse psychological alternatives: buyer's remorse.

Comment: Re:I don't think people care (Score 1) 470

by cffrost (#46672839) Attached to: It's Time To Bring Pseudoscience Into the Science Classroom

OTOH, I've had a bit of success with dowsing, (two out of two, when I was seriously trying...not statistically significant) and a bit of success with gambling (1 out of 1 when I was seriously trying against a slot machine...I wone $7 starting with a quarter). And I can't explain those, except that they aren't statistically significant. But I wonder. So I'm not unbiased.

Can you at least explain how one "seriously tr[ies] against a slot machine?" Pull the handle instead of pressing the button? Exert great force while pulling the handle (or pressing the button)? "Be the ball?"

Comment: Re:adware is malware (Score 1) 177

I'd define certain MS products as crapware, not malware. When they charge you $100 extra with the Ultimate editions of windows for a glitzy interface and a few features you could get for free from other vendors, that's crapware, but the underlying core of Windows (and the win32/RT API) certainly isn't.

I've never heard of "crapware" before, but charging money for something that has no monetary value (as it's offered for free by another entity) sounds to me like fraud.

I think it's certainly malicious when MS informs NSA about various security holes in their products prior to patching them — it's difficult for me to conceive a better way to undermine customers' trust.

Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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