(Image credit: Flickr user Simon Huggins)
The Effects of Temperature on the Outcome of Fair Dice
by Jason Zweiback, Photonics Division, General Atomics, San Diego , California
and Ken Wharton, Department of Physics, San Jose State University, San Jose, California
We here report the first direct scientific test of the concept of a hot craps table.
Craps is a game with a long history. For over a century players the likes of Sky Masterson, Big Julie, and Nicely Nicely have been performing the technical procedure known as "rolling the bones." Time has replaced the hood- and shark-infested dens of the past with modern casinos. This has given craps a level of respectability. The respectability is well deserved, because as games of chance go, craps is actually not a bad deal.
The accompanying box (see "The Dope on Craps," below) gives a succinct description for scientists outside our field of study.
After reading many books on the topic, we have come up with a scientifically testable hypothesis. It is a fact that nearly every craps textbook refers to the crucial difference between a "cold" table and a "hot" table.1,2 Brisman clearly states, "Every veteran dice player will warn you about "cold" tables where the dice only allow for craps and sevening out."2 Conversely, a hot table has the shooters consistently successful in making their points. Most of the reported craps strategies involve methods of determining whether or not a craps table is "hot" or "cold." These various "methods" are remarkably unscientific and obviously flawed. This is particularly surprising given that there is a perfectly straightforward, well established technique to determine "hot" from "cold." Of course, we refer to the science of thermometry. With this technique in mind, we set out to determine if temperature has any effect on the outcome of dice.
Craps with a table. (Image credit: Flickr user Alan Kotok)
Spencer West has no legs, so he walked on his hands. All the way up Mt. Kilimanjaro! Word came last night that West has reached Uhuru Peak in Tanzania, the highest altitude in Africa. From his blog:
The moment the summit was within sight... it was incredible. We looked around - me, David and Alex - and realized that, after seven grueling days of relentless climbing, after 20,000 feet of our blood, sweat and tears (and, let's face it, vomit) we had actually made it. We were at the top. The summit sign seemed almost like a mirage.
Then it sunk in. We made it. To the top of the mountain. The mountain that I promised to the world I would climb. The bleeding fingers and blisters were all worth it. I looked at the guys, my two buddies who dreamed up this crazy plan with me, and realized we actually finished what we started.
Then we had a really manly moment, collapsed into a heap, and shed a tear (or two, but don't tell my mom). There we were: me and my two best friends in the entire world, sitting together at the top of Africa, the continent that had taught us so much about compassion, humility and the power of we.
His climb was not only a personal accomplishment, but it raised funds for West's charity, Free The Children. Link -via The Daily What
His announcement can be heard in a video from the BBC. Link
In an environment where you aren't under pressure to produce a product (though there are certainly other pressures) and there are no deadlines, artistic talent can be cultivated over time. Inmates who are inspired manage to turn out really nice works with limited materials, as you can see. The work shown is a mask made of soap by Cliff Towers, and is for sale. See eight other examples in the rest of the list. Link -Thanks, Danny!
You may not know a thing about astrology, and you probably don't even care, but you'll love pictures of cats dressing up as or enacting the 12 signs of the zodiac at Buzzfeed! Link
The giant cuttlefish is the world's largest cuttlefish species. They gather in large numbers to mate. During that time, large males compete aggressively for females and small males tend to approach potential mates sneakily. They can mate only once in their lives and the females will die not long after laying eggs.
This footage was taken off Whyalla, South Australia, by photographer Howard Hall. Read more at One World One Ocean. Link
The best Father's Day Tweet was sent by Ronan Farrow, who is the only biological child of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen together. In case this Tweet doesn't mean anything to you, his mother actress Mia Farrow adopted several children and then had a relationship with director Woody Allen for 12 years, but they never married. Allen fell in love with one of Farrow's children, Soon-Yi Previn, who had been adopted by Farrow and then-husband Andre Previn. Soon-Yi Previn was around ten years old when Allen and Farrow became lovers, and 22 when Mia Farrow discovered Previn's affair with Allen in 1992. That's when Farrow broke off with the 57-year-old Allen, and he married Soon-Yi in 1997. So Allen is Ronan Farrow's father, but also his brother-in-law. Got it? Link -via The Daily What
The question "Is there an app for that?" is actually the challenge in today's Lunchtime Quiz at mental_floss. You'll be given descriptions of something a smart phone might or might not do, and you decide whether that's an existing app to do it or not. This is one of those quizzes that will be obsolete soon, as someone will take these ideas and make apps for them, if they don't already exist! I only got three out of ten right. If you have a smart phone, you will do better. Link
Why do fictional restaurants end up seeming better than the real thing? Because you can't eat there and be disappointed! They don't have to deal with things like location, expenses, talent, or business sense because they are just ...fictional. Read about ten such tempting eateries at Unreality, with more discussed in the comments. Shown here is the Hukilau Cafe in the film 50 First Dates. Link
Sam Malmberg made this awesome scene of a attack by a deep-sea monster! The creation is part of a set of 13 works called Fantasy Lego that you can see in a Flickr set. Load the photos in order, and follow the story narrated in the photo descriptions! Link -via Super Punch
(Image credit: Flickr user Groovybones)
Some patients are declared brain dead and then begin spontaneously breathing hours later. Medical scientists say it doesn't matter because most brain-dead patients do not come back to life, but a rigorous scientist would say that these cases speak loudly about the flaws in our criteria for death. And yes — death to a cardiologist means that your heart has stopped, and he can't get it to restart. But to a neurologist, it might mean something else. In 1968, a committee at Harvard Medical School put forth an article stating that there is a second kind of death: brain death. Even though your heart is still pumping, and you're still able to breathe on a ventilator, if your brain stem is down, you're dead. This theory was made law in all 50 states in 1981, so now in the U.S. we have two kinds of death: real death (cardiopulmonary death) and what some doctors call "pretty dead," or brain death. A cell biologist, on the other hand, may have a standard more rigorous than cardiologists or neurologists. They might want to see all one's cells dead, which we call putrefaction.
He goes on to talk about how our complex criteria for death has evolved over history, and where it may be tomorrow. Link -via Not Exactly Rocket Science
Supermarket manager Nils Sterndorff was overwhelmed by the success of his gimmick. “I never thought a hundred people would come, I thought maybe more like ten,” he said.
The shoppers were mostly Danish, who often cross the German border to shop because prices are generally lower. Link -via Arbroath
Speaking to the local service of Austrian public broadcaster ORF on Monday, Hans Zeger, head of ARGE Daten, a non-governmental organization focusing on data protection, criticised the forest surveillance, saying that the automatic cameras pose a threat to individuals' privacy rights. The cameras should "at least be marked with signs," so that forest visitors can "adjust their behavior and avoid the monitored areas," he said.
But the Carinthian cameras are inconspicuous by design. Mounted on trees deep in the forest, they allow hunters and preservationists to observe animals in their natural habitats and feeding grounds. The cameras are sophisticated pieces of technology equipped with motion sensors and infrared capabilities, which allow them to capture footage of light-footed creatures in the night. They clearly have no trouble detecting humans in the undergrowth, either.
On the one hand, the politician is guilty of trespassing, as the area was clearly posted as forbidden. But the tape will not be made public, as its release is against Austrian law and carries a $25,000 fine. Link -via TIME Newsfeed
(Image credit: Flickr user glaaasi)
Voyager I, the space probe launched 35 years ago, has gone farther than any probe before, and is still communicating with earth. Soon it will be completely free from the influence of our Sun -in other words, it is leaving the solar system.
It's hard to overstate how wild an accomplishment this would be: A machine, built here on Earth by the brain- and handiwork of humans, has sailed from Florida, out of Earth's orbit, beyond Mars, beyond the gas giants of Jupiter and Saturn, and may now have left the heliosphere -- tiny dot in the universe beholden to our sun. Had it really happened? How would we know?
We're not quite there yet, Voyager's project scientist and former head of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, Edward Stone, told me. The spacecraft is on its way out -- "it's leaving the solar system" -- but we don't know how far it has to go or what that transition to interstellar space will look like.
Voyager launched in 1977. Today, Voyager I is about 121 astronomical units away (one astronomical unit is equal to the rough distance from the Sun to the Earth). That is so far that it takes 16 hours for the radio signals it transmits to reach us. (Voyager II is about 22 astronomical units -- approximately seven years -- behind.) It is traveling at about 17 kilometers per second (38,000 miles per hour), propelled by the slingshot effect from flying by Jupiter and Saturn. ("It's well above escape velocity," Stone said.) The spacecraft's cameras have been turned off since 1990, when it took the pictures for the famous Family Portrait mosaic that captures the planets as they appeared as Voyager I looked back over the solar system it had traveled across.
Scientists are monitoring certain cosmic ray particles hitting Voyager, the kind that do not easily enter the heliosphere, to monitor its progress. Read more about it at the Atlantic. Link -via Not Exactly Rocket Science
(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Ron Miles wrote about the final night that the public was able to enjoy the Snow White's Scary Adventures ride at Walt Disney World before it closed to make way for new construction. His son Ben, who is 18 and has autism, had ridden the ride 3,451 times prior to that night. In fact, SWSA was Ben's favorite place on earth. The family, who had moved across the country ten years ago to be closer to the park, was primed for the final night to be sad, but the people at WDW went above and beyond the call of duty to make it special for Ben. He was escorted by Snow White herself, as you can see, who knew all about Ben and his love of the ride. But the night got even better from there, as events led to Ben being the very last person ever to ride Snow White's Scary Adventures. This is a six-part story, starting with the credits. Link -via mental_floss
However the pair of ducks are more than happy to help out and grab some food for themselves.
Caretaker Paul Arblaster said: 'The new pair of swans are a rehabilitated pair that were given to us to rehome.
'We've tried to train them to ring the bell as usual but they seem very shy.
'Instead there is a pair of Muscovy ducks which are ringing the bell all the time an getting all the food.'
Arblaster hopes to bring the swans up to speed to restore the traditional arrangement. Link
(Image credit: ATEX)
Giant metal thing,
For folks that will not conform,
Puts holes in earlobes.
Swine Flu, XL, please.
I will wear it with much pride,
My new Neato shirt.
You can guess that we love this sort of thing. Creativity is wonderful, but creativity that flatters your favorite website will go a long way, maybe even to a post! Link
Get your own swine flu t-shirt at the NeatoShop. Link
A critical aspect of this is being able to mine asteroidal material and process it, which Nasa and its contractors are studying. One line of thinking is that mined metals can be used to build structures in space that would be very difficult and pricey to construct on Earth and launch. Examples abound, including big spacecraft to use for crewed exploration of the planets, giant telescopes in orbit, space stations, and more. While the cost of the International Space Station (ISS) is estimated to be $100bn, much of that was simply getting previously-built components into space in the first place. If you already have those pieces in space, the cost is far less.
Smelting material in the near-weightless environment of an asteroid is one thing, but creating complex components of spacecraft is another. Manufacturing is likely to be easier in gravity, and the Moon is a perfect compromise for this.
Getting the materials to the Moon is not hard from an asteroid mining operation. And once built, getting even massive components off the Moon’s surface is far, far easier than it would be from Earth due to lower gravity and lack of air (it took a tremendous Saturn V rocket full of fuel to get to the Moon, but only the tiny Apollo ascent module to get back off). Building vehicles and other space-based structures on the Moon is vastly easier and less expensive than it would be here on Earth. From there, the rest of the solar system is an easy trip.
And that's just one reason we might go back to the moon. There's lots more to read at the BBC's Future blog. Link -via mental_floss
(Image credit: Small Artworks)
As a kid growing up in New Jersey, Uncle John often went to Palisades Amusement Park. Then one day they announced they were tearing it down to build an apartment complex. Many areas have an attraction like that -it's an important part of the cultural landscape for decades ...and then it's gone.
ATTRACTION: The Hippodrome
LOCATION: New York City
STORY: When it opened in 1905, it was called "the largest theater in the world." With a seating capacity of 5,300, only the biggest acts -in both size and popularity- performed there: Harry Houdini, diving horses, the circus, 500-person choirs. But the daily upkeep for such a mammoth theater, coupled with the cost of staging huge shows, forced a change. In 1923 it became a vaudeville theater and then, in 1928, it was sold to RKO and turned into a movie theater. It then became an opera house. Then a sport arena. The Hippodrome was finally torn down in 1939.
WHAT'S THERE NOW: An office building and a parking garage.
LOCATION: St. Petersburg, Florida
STORY: Housed in a 160-foot-tall transparent geodesic dome, the 17-acre Aquatarium opened in 1964. Tourists came from far and wide to visit this aquarium, which overlooked the Gulf of Mexico and was home to porpoises, sea lions, and pilot whales. But it rapidly started losing customers -and money- when the bigger and better Walt Disney World opened in nearby Orlando in 1971. In 1976 sharks were brought in and the site was renamed Shark World to capitalize in the popularity of Jaws, but it didn't help.
WHAT'S THERE NOW: Condominiums.
ATTRACTION: Pink and White Terraces
LOCATION: Lake Rotomahana, New Zealand
What do you think -was King Arthur a real person, or is he purely the stuff of legend? Either way, he makes for a good story.
In England, the most popular tales of chivalry are the Welsh legends of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. No one knows for sure if there was a real person who served as the inspiration for Arthur ...or if so, which historical figure it was. The earliest known mention of Arthur is a reference to a mighty warrior in "Gododdin," a Welsh poem written about 600 AD. Another 200 years would pass before Arthur would receive another mention, this time in The History of the Britons, which credits him with winning 12 battles against Saxon invaders.
It's likely that tales of Arthur were also spread by word of mouth, because when Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote down the tales of Arthur in his History of the Kings of Britain in 1135, he recorded Arthur's birth in the late fifth century, childhood, military conquests, marriage to Guinevere, relationship with his mentor Merlin, and his death in 542 when he was mortally wounded in battle by his treacherous nephew Mordred. Geoffrey is also the first person to identify Arthur as a king, not just a warrior.
COOKING THE BOOKS
So where did Geoffrey of Monmouth get his information? He claimed to have gotten it from a "certain very ancient book written in the British language," but did not identify it by name. Historians now believe there was no such book. They theorize that Geoffrey simply recorded the popular tales of his day, and when needed, made up his own details to fill in any gaps, drawing from legends surrounding leaders like Alexander the Great and Charlemagne. That didn't stop readers from taking The History of the Kings of Britain seriously -it served as the standard text on British history for more than 600 years.
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