Thomas Paine Rants http://thomaspainerants.com I like to rant. This is my forum. You can follow me on twitter @thomaspaine Thu, 23 Jul 2015 17:49:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 <![CDATA[★ A different perspective on how our solar system moves]]> http://thomaspainerants.com/a-different-perspective-on-how-our-solar-system-moves/2081/ http://thomaspainerants.com/a-different-perspective-on-how-our-solar-system-moves/2081/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 22:23:43 +0000 http://thomaspainerants.com/?p=2081

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UPDATE: Phil Plait has a great article over on Slate about what these videos get right and what they get wrong. In the first video he shows the sun leading the planets which is not true, they are all in the same plane. In the second video he gets the angle of the solar plane wrong (it’s 60° not 90°) and while our solar system does bounce above and below the galactic plane the corkscrew he shows is totally bunk. Also his numbers regarding length of galactic orbit are way off. Plait acknowledges that he gets some things right and it’s a very beautiful video but as far as science goes it needs to be take with a “galactic size grain of salt”.

The author of these videos readily admits that he is not a scientist and that there are flaws with his models, but I suspect that in broad strokes his vision is mostly correct. It’s certainly worth viewing if for no other reason than to understand that the flat model we use for orbits is not just wrong, but incredibly boring.

His second video is even more scientifically questionable but it’s still worth watching. He posits that even how our solar system orbits the black hole at the center of our galaxy is not as simple as we might imagine.

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<![CDATA[Web Design – The First 100 Years]]> http://thomaspainerants.com/web-design-the-first-100-years/2079/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 22:11:59 +0000 http://thomaspainerants.com/?p=2079

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Maciej Ceglowski on the current state of the web

The other part of our exponential hangover is how we build our businesses. The cult of growth denies the idea that you can build anything useful or helpful unless you’re prepared to bring it to so-called “Internet scale”. There’s no point in opening a lemonade stand unless you’re prepared to take on PepsiCo.

I always thought that things should go the other way. Once you remove the barriers of distance, there’s room for all sorts of crazy niche products to find a little market online. People can eke out a living that would not be possible in the physical world. Venture capital has its place, as a useful way to fund long-shot projects, but not everything fits in that mold.

I really want to build something that doesn’t require broad addoption to be successful.

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<![CDATA[Explore the TWA Terminal, a Pristine Time Capsule From 1962]]> http://thomaspainerants.com/explore-the-twa-terminal-a-pristine-time-capsule-from-1962/2077/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 21:09:37 +0000 http://thomaspainerants.com/?p=2077

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Enjoy some mid-century modern porn courtesy of the long abandoned TWA terminal at JFK.

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<![CDATA[Black Hole Comparison]]> http://thomaspainerants.com/black-hole-comparison/2074/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 01:13:56 +0000 http://thomaspainerants.com/?p=2074

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<![CDATA[Unusual Homes Around the World]]> http://thomaspainerants.com/unusual-homes-around-the-world/2070/#comments Wed, 10 Jun 2015 18:21:11 +0000 http://thomaspainerants.com/?p=2070

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A great In Focus post over at the Atlantic showcasing some very Unusual Homes Around the World

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<![CDATA[Simply beautiful game making]]> http://thomaspainerants.com/simply-beautiful-game-making/2067/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 15:57:27 +0000 http://thomaspainerants.com/?p=2067

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A beautiful game called Shape of the World has landed in kickstarter. Impossible to know if it will be an addictive or immersive game but based this Polygon play-through I’m backing it on style alone.

I hope you consider backing it too.

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<![CDATA[★ Water-Droplet Computer]]> http://thomaspainerants.com/water-droplet-computer/2064/ http://thomaspainerants.com/water-droplet-computer/2064/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 23:25:43 +0000 http://thomaspainerants.com/?p=2064

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It’s not about manipulating data faster, it’s about manipulating matter for the first time. I’m super curious about what kind of applications this could be used for.



(via devour.com)

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<![CDATA[Does Color Even Exist?]]> http://thomaspainerants.com/does-color-even-exist/2062/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 20:41:51 +0000 http://thomaspainerants.com/?p=2062

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Malcolm Harris at The New Republic reviews a new book titled Outside Color by University of Pittsburgh professor M. Chirimuuta which tries to look at color in a different way. After showing that the existing scientific models for color have surprisingly insistent results she turns to computers and optical illusions to make her point in a very clever way. Rather than looking at them as a weakness of human perception she sees them as a strength.

Take a popular optical illusion, designed in 1995 by Edward Adelson, a professor of vision science in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT:
CheckerBoardIlliusion
The human perception system sees a checkerboard with a cylinder, while a basic SSR measurement shows squares A and B read the same. “Illusion” implies that our system is fooled, but as far as useful information goes, the checkerboard interpretation is probably better. Try as they might, mathematicians can’t make the computers see the checkerboard. Rather than a demonstration of how easily fooled we are, optical illusions like this one are examples of the brain’s mysterious and irreplicable abilities. It interprets its environment with a sophistication that exceeds our ability to measure and reconstruct physical phenomena. The usual framing has it wrong:

Despite A and B having the same SSR, humans are still able to see the checkerboard.

The color is not as important as the information that it conveys to us. This might explain why we have such an obsession with color and it’s perception. How much the color information that we take in on a daily basis was manufactured by our ancestors and given to us by our parents and culture? This reminds of of the fantastic Radio Lab episode Why Isn’t the Sky Blue? which looked at the etymology of the word blue and noted that in almost all languages it was the last color named in the rainbow. Without the name could we even perceive the color?

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<![CDATA[Autonomous cars will destroy millions of jobs and reshape the US economy by 2025]]> http://thomaspainerants.com/autonomous-cars-will-destroy-millions-of-jobs-and-reshape-the-us-economy-by-2025/2059/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 00:08:44 +0000 http://thomaspainerants.com/?p=2059

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Zack Kanter at Quarts on the impending
Autonomous cars revolution:

Autonomous cars will be commonplace by 2025 and have a near monopoly by 2030, and the sweeping change they bring will eclipse every other innovation our society has experienced. They will cause unprecedented job loss and a fundamental restructuring of our economy, solve large portions of our environmental problems, prevent tens of thousands of deaths per year, save millions of hours with increased productivity, and create entire new industries that we cannot even imagine from our current vantage point.

I’m not sure we will make it by 2025, there are some large hurdles to overcome, but I pretty much agree with everything else in this article. Say goodbye to car ownership, speeding tickets and parking lots.

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<![CDATA[★ Stanford researchers take two different takes on a new battery, one with more lithium, one with less.]]> http://thomaspainerants.com/stanford-researches-take-two-different-takes-on-a-new-battery-one-with-more-lithium-one-with-less/2055/ http://thomaspainerants.com/stanford-researches-take-two-different-takes-on-a-new-battery-one-with-more-lithium-one-with-less/2055/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 22:55:31 +0000 http://thomaspainerants.com/?p=2055

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There are some interesting, if possibly competing, teams working on new battery designs at Standford.

One team, lead by Hongjie Dai is working on an aluminum-ion battery with some interesting benefits. Typical alkaline batteries are terrible for the environment and lithium-ion batteries not only have a bad habit of catching on fire but they are also slow to recharge and only last about 1,000 cycles. The aluminum variety should be able to charge in minutes while also lasting more than 7,500 cycles. The main hurdle, and it’s a big one, is that it currently doesn’t put out enough juice to power something fancy like an iPhone. (source: iflscience.com)

Aluminum-ion battery

Meanwhile, on the other side of Campus Yi Cui is going after the ion side of the lithium-ion battery.

Today, we say we have lithium batteries, but that is only partly true. What we have are lithium ion batteries. The lithium is in the electrolyte, but not in the anode. An anode of pure lithium would be a huge boost to battery efficiency.

There are a number of problems with using lithium as an anode, not the least of which is that when lithium comes into contact with air it bursts into flames. To prevent this researchers are covering the lithium in a protective layer of interconnected carbon domes a bare 20 nanometers thick. They are still working on the coulombic efficiency of the battery but so far the results are quite promising.

(source: news.standord.edu)

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