In honor of this week’s Podcast, I decided to do a bit of a “Best Of…” as well. The answers below have been some of my favorite to research, post, and discuss with community. I hope you have all enjoyed them as well. Definitely speak up if I’ve missed any of your favorites or if you feel like rehashing old wounds regarding the ones below.
Included because not only is it interesting science but it is also covertly showing my existence as a fellow Tim…
You can't suck above 10 meters?
10.3 meters technically. There is a very technical reason for this, which Dirk from "Veristablium"... wink, wink... does a phenomenal job explaining and demonstrating in this video.
In case you don't feel like dedicating seven minutes of your life to it though, here is the quick breakdown. Similar to the imaginary centrifugal force discussed on the podcast last week, suction isn't really a thing. Instead, the atmospheric pressure that is constantly pushing down on the liquid in the container, combined with the lower pressure that occurs within the straw when sucking on it, causes the liquid in the straw to be pushed up the straw. However, gravity is constantly pulling down on the liquid in the straw, and this, combined with the density and height of the liquid, gives it weight. In order to overcome this weight and rise up the straw, the suction needs to be such that the pressure differential in the straw must be greater than the weight of the liquid. Since this weight increases as the straw gets longer because there is naturally more liquid in the straw, you eventually reach a point where no amount of pressure differential (i.e., suction) can overcome the weight of the liquid. This occurs right around 10.3 meters, mathematically speaking.
Naturally, the "Best of..." post would not be complete without the insanity that was this Toblerone geometry lesson. Despite @bortlp pointing out my fallacy of using incorrect units of area, I stand by the results.
The Toblerone confabulation...
This is a piece of the Toblerone bar that I had to go get from Walmart at 2:00 a.m. in order to get to the bottom of this mystery. Suffering for my art and all that. :D
Before we hop into some math-laden nonsense, let me begin by letting @gus know that I hope he is happy with this one because good lord this podcast episode might just be the death of me.
Alright, let's break it down. As you can see from my highly scientific methods, the approximate angle between two Toblerone peaks is around 30 degrees. If you don't mind, I'm going to do rounding throughout this just to make it easier. If you don't like it, break out your own protractor, damn it! Anyway, ignoring that the lower angle is more rounded and assuming that all Toblerone peaks on a 3.5 oz bar are roughly .75 inches in length, that gives an internal area of .14 square inches per peak spacing. Given that a standard Toblerone bar has 11 spaces, that gives a total lost chocolate area of 1.54 sq/in.
Now let's take a look at the 4.5 kg bar, which, I believe, is the one Gus purchased on air. This specific one does not contain many smaller packets of Toblerone, but we will do the math to see which is the most efficient use of the space, if it did. According to the bar's product listing, the approximate dimension of the box is a 4.75" triangle, but we are going to say it is a little less so we aren't accidentally inflating the peak spacing. We are also going to assume that the 30-degree spacing we discovered on the smaller bars is consistent across all Toblerone bars, regardless of size. Next, we need to figure out the height of the peaks themselves, not counting the lower nougat filled bar that forms the base of a Toblerone bar. Back to our standard size bar and some more geometry!
The standard bar's proportions are 1.25" tall, with the lower bar amounting to around .375". Using some simple cross-multiplication, we find that a bar with an overall height of 4.5" has a lower bar height of 1.35". Again all of this is assuming that Toblerone keeps the exact same proportions as they scale up their bars. Now that we have the 3.15" remaining height, we can halve the 30-degree base angle and assume a 90-degree top angle to find the length of the actual peak length on the larger bars. All of that nonsense gives us a peak length of approximately 3.25", which, after plugging it back into our original area calculation, gives us a lost chocolate area of 2.65 sq/in per peak spacing. Based on the calculation we did to find the peak length, as well as double checking with Toblerone, we know that the large bars also have 11 peak spaces. This would give us a total lost chocolate area of 29.15 sq/in.
Alright, time for some more assumptions. In order to find out the cumulative lost chocolate area if the entire 4.5 kg Toblerone package were actually filled with several standard size Toblerone bars, we have to assume that the bars are packed relatively tight but likely have some wiggle room because of the known dimensions of both the bars and the 4.5 kg box dimensions. Because of these assumptions, it is likely that there would be some type of spacers, or thicker walls, in place in order to accommodate the smaller bars. A standard 3.52 oz Toblerone package has a length of 8.25" and a height of 1.25". The 4.5 kg bar has a length of just over 33" and a height of 4.75". More math! The 8.25" length works out perfectly to fit four bars end-to-end, and the 1.25" width/height would fit – with adding spacers and filling the spaces between bars with more flipped bars – five bars across.
So let's work in layers and find out how many bars would fill this bad boy up. Luckily the geometry of equilateral triangles makes this pretty damn easy for us. Each layer would be subtracting 1.25" from the height and width, so we are just basically working our way up the package with consecutively smaller equilateral triangles. This equal stepping down in spacing works out to taking away a single row for each layer. This would give us a total bar count of 36 standard size Toblerone bars. Since we already know that there is a total loss of 1.54 sq/in per standard bar, a quick bit of multiplication gives us a total lost chocolate area of 55.44 sq/in. This means that the full bar has almost 27 sq/in more of chocolate and is absolutely the best option.
While this doesn’t necessarily tell us the amount of lost chocolate area in the smaller (but still bigger than the standard) boxes that Burnie found in airports, I think it safe to assume that the same math and logic would apply. As the bar/box grows larger, the amount of lost chocolate area – if filled with the standard size Toblerone bars – also increases proportionally to box size. Since Burnie’s was smaller, it is likely that the lost chocolate area is a fraction of the 27 sq/in from this calculation, but it would still almost certainly be more cost effective to find an option in the same size box which contained a solid bar and not individually boxed standard sized ones.
Also, to confirm Gus's suspicion, the solid bar would be heavier than the calculated weight of the 36 bars in the box. This would likely be from a combination of the lost chocolate area, additional packaging within packaging, and just a generally more dense construction of the solid bar.
If someone is brave enough, check the math... But I think I got it. Here are my notes. Fair warning, they were from before the additional calculation of filling the spaces between the bars with more upside-down bars.
Finally, for the record, that picture (below) was absolutely Photoshopped. Here is a picture of the actual 4.5 kg Toblerone.
This had to be included because it is the pinnacle of fantastic posts, if I do say so myself. It had some of my favorite topics to research and write up. The various uses of foreign words and lengthy posts led to what I can only imagine was fantastic fun to proofread... you're welcome @Becca :D And let's not forget that it also led to some of the best follow-up conversation out of any post, which is the whole point really. So now that we've rehashed it, what are your thoughts? Anything new to comment?
By the way, where does the pronunciation of "both" as "bolth" originate?
This one was a much bigger pain in the ass than I expected it to be. The pronunciation of an "l" in "both" – known as an intrusive "l" – is suspected to have an origin similar to the more well known intrusive "r" that is sometimes heard in the pronunciation of "water" as "warter." A more common appearance of the intrusive "l" is the occasional addition to the end of words ending in "w," such as "draw" or "saw," especially when placed in front of the suffix "-ing."
There have been several studies done concerning the root of this relatively pervasive dialect, but none so thorough as Bryan Gick from the University of British Columbia. Gick's 2002 paper on the subject includes a breakdown of its use, primarily referencing his findings after interviews with citizens of southern Pennsylvania. Over the course of his research on the subject, he constructed a rough geographical mapping of the intrusive "l" occurrence in everyday speech.
By the way, I would be remiss if I didn't give credit to a now-deleted Reddit user who created a survey a few years back on this very subject, and then logged the responses to a Google spreadsheet. Using that spreadsheet, I was able to add the results of the 2,000+ responses to a map of the US and get an idea of potential patterns in geolocation. You can see from that map below that the survey seemed to correspond pretty closely with Gick's 2002 findings. While the use of the intrusive "l" is predominantly heard in the lower New England states, there are definite pockets, even near Austin, that are guilty of the dialect as well.
If you want to see and learn more about the survey's plotted points, the interactive map can be accessed here:http://www.easymapmaker.com/map/RTPodcast-395-Answers.
Does America hold the record for the longest peaceful transfer of power?
We do! I'll be honest: this legitimately surprised me. While we do have a 240-year-old government, there are definitely older governments out there and for some reason I just assumed that there had to have been a peaceful transfer of power going back farther then that.
I stand corrected. Not only does the United States have the longest running peaceful transfer of power, but we are credited with essentially starting the movement of a peaceful transfer of power with what has been deemed the "Revolution of 1800." During our 1800 election, then-Vice President Thomas Jefferson declared himself part of the Republican Party and defeated sitting President, and Federalist, John Adams. These two parties had very different opinions over the direction our fledgling democratic nation should be taking, and this election marked the first transfer of power between two strongly supported groups that very vocally disagreed on key topics. Despite the amount of distrust between the two parties, the sitting Federalist party peacefully handed over the reigns of both the Presidency and Congress in 1801. This very simple gesture was a groundbreaking moment in political theater.
It is very easy to hand over power to a fellow party member whom you have worked beside for years and fully trust that your ideals and plans closely coincide with. It is a completely different thing to trust in the will, judgments, and intelligence of a freely voting populace and hand the keys of nation over to someone whom you believe is fundamentally misrepresenting the nation that you have led for years. It is for this reason that this moment is referred to as a "revolution." According to political scientist John Zvesper, “The Revolution of 1800 was the first time in human history that the long-hallowed appeal to bullets was replaced by the appeal to ballots.” Though not fought against an enemy with guns and blood, it was a revolutionary moment in the history of democracy and has inadvertently served as a blueprint for many future democratic nations.
Does America have one of the longest standing governments in the world?
This one is a bit more complicated. While the "peaceful transfer of power" is a pretty straightforward concept, "standing government" is not so disambiguous. Because of this, we need to first identify what is meant by the concept of a "standing government."
Many claims have been thrown up by various people around the world, and – surprise! – most are claiming that their own government holds the title. It is for this reason that this question has been hotly debated for years, and will likely continue to be that way for many years to come. Rather than pick a winner, I will describe some of the proclaimed "winners" and the reasoning behind those choices.
First up, the US of A. There are many things that the US can claim to have the "longest" of. We just learned that they can legitimately claim to having the longest "peaceful transfer of power;" they can also claim the longest continuous space agency, longest international border between two countries (though I guess we share that one with Canada), and, of course, the home of the longest running web series. But do we have the longest standing government?
We have lasted 240 years with the exact same form of government, the same name, and same core constitution. Which, for those who feel that the longest standing government is determined by the oldest single country with an unchanging name, the same government structure, and same core constitution, then the US actually pulls the win here.
Next, the UK. While they did have the beginnings of their parliamentary structure as early as 1721, "officially" democracy was not fully implemented until the Representation of the People Act in 1918, which opened up voting to all adult citizens. Of course, if we discount them for that reason, then the US would not be counted until 1920. No, the argument against the UK is usually down to empire. Since they are not a single country, they are considered by many people outside of the UK to be ineligible in this particular contest.
I know what you're thinking: we need to go older! So let's rapid fire some of the ancients. Egypt had pharaohs for over 3,000 years, surely that counts. Unfortunately, most disqualify any type of monarchy because the transition of power was rarely a peaceful thing, and, in many cases, their entire system of government would suffer a huge upheaval with the crowning of a new monarch. Fine, Rome then! While the Roman empire claims over 1,400 years of government, it can be argued that only 200 years (known as the Pax Romana) were a relatively peaceful, time while the rest saw the empire under constant threat of civil war and invasion, which consistently lost citizens and forced changes to their government's structure.
How about Greece? I mean, they invented democracy; surely they were much more consistent with their government. They sure were. Unfortunately, no one around them felt the same way about peaceful ownership and citizen representation in the government. Because of this, they were very frequently under the control of other empires or military states.
What of the dynastic rulings of feudal Japan, Bulgaria, Korea, or China? By definition, the dynastic regimes are each considered their own governmental systems, and since they are claimed as monarchies, they suffer the same systemic changes as the ancient Egyptian leaders.
If we then switch to longest continuous claimed democracies, then we can throw in contenders like the Isle of Man or the Vikings of Iceland, which both claim nearly 1,000 years of democracy. Unfortunately they are frequently disqualified due to the disjointed and inconsistent nature of their government, regardless of their "democratic" leanings. On this note, the US wouldn't be really be able to claim longest democracy either because even though African Americans were given the right to vote in 1870, unethical voting practices realistically kept them from voting until 100 years later.
This brings us to the Native Americans of the Six Nations, sometimes called the Iroquois. They claim to have utilized the same consensus-driven government for 800 years; they have a standing constitution that was actually looked to for inspiration in the writing of our own US constitution; and they have maintained the same title as well. Only one problem: they are a nation without ownership of an actual country. Arguably they did have land enough to call a "country" at one point, but that was taken away from them centuries ago.
As you can see, there is legitimate justification for a claim to be made concerning the "longest standing government" for many past and present governments around the world. Depending on the definition of the phrase, it would likely be possible to make any specific government and country the "winner." So, to the question "Does America have one of the longest standing governments in the world?" the answer is sure, along with the other hundreds of "longest standing governments." Unless you ask an American. In that case, 'Murica wins. Get over it.
Due to their shorter length the Post Show answer posts are typically much smaller but in a rare case, the Post Show for #394 led to some fascinating research concerning the impersonations of celebrities and the conspiracy theories around their "original's" deaths. I imagine that since there were a few Post Show exclusives included in the Podcast Clip Show, that I can do the same here. So, for those who are seeing this for the first time, what do you think? Did Paul die on a rainy Tuesday night? Not to mention those puns… am I right?
Paul McCartney, a replacement?
Long before Twitter was incorrectly reporting on the death of celebrities, or Avril 2.0 apparently pulled a Single White Female and fooled the world, there were four guys from Liverpool. And before A Flock of Seagulls ran so far away, there was the Beatles.
In March 1963, their debut album Please Please Me destroyed chart records in the UK, and, after nearly a year of legal squabbling over rights, the British Invasion hit US shores with the release of Introducing... The Beatles. This was quickly followed by a promotional trip to the US by the band. Three thousand fans greeted them when they landed at JFK on February 7, 1964 and an estimated 73 million Americans watched them perform on The Ed Sullivan Show two days later. This, at the time was 34 percent of the entire population of America. The Beatles overwhelming presence in the music scene of the 1960s is arguably the top of the list in regards to culturally significant events stemming from the entertainment industry. Every artist since has been compared to them and all of this is made so much more impressive when you learn that this troupe of four guys only actually performed live tours for around three years after making it huge. When asked in an interview about touring, drummer Ringo Starr stated that, "I never felt people came to hear our show. I felt they came to see us. Because from the count on the first number the volume of screams would just drown everything out."
Given this influence, is it any wonder that the greatest entertainment rumor of all time would be an easy thought to plant? Imagine the chaos that would've occurred had TMZ been around! It started simple. A quick blurb in a 1967 Beatles fan magazine about a dark icy night in January and a fatal car crash on the M1. The rumors started burning quietly across London until the Beatles' Press Officer felt it possibly credible enough to speak with Paul about it. McCartney (2.0?) explained that he had been home all day and his car was safely parked in the garage. And the world thought no more about the imposter Beatle... or so we thought.
In late 1969, with the world still reeling from rumors around the Beatles breaking up, a Detroit DJ named Russ Gibb received a late-night call telling him of hidden lyrics contained in well-known Beatles songs that were played in reverse. He decided it needed to be verified and, after hours of destroying vinyl, he was convinced that several references to Paul's death had been hidden by Lennon in the lyrics of The White Album. Gibb didn't stop there, and as he dug deeper into Beatles lore, he began picking up on other connections to Paul's death: the album covers of "Abbey Road" and "Yesterday...And Today," and the quiet mumblings of Lennon at the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever." Soon Gibb shared the theory with his audience; within weeks, news that Paul McCartney was dead had spread around the world. Album sales grew even higher as hardcore fans and casual listeners had to hear the hidden messages about the demise of the beloved Beatle for themselves. Months passed, the fervor grew, and no Beatle or Beatles rep said a thing.
As spring of 1970 hit, fans no longer wanted confirmation of Paul's death; they had accepted it as fact. They just wanted to know HOW it had happened. And from the Beatles' camp? Still silence. The rumor mills continued to churn out theory after theory until one stuck with the rest of the fanbase. Though it has had some variations and minor changes over the years, the key parts have remained the same. Now, the truth about Paul McCartney.
It was late 1966, likely November, likely a "stupid bloody Tuesday." McCartney and the other Beatles had been recording all night. The band was already in a tumultuous state, had been for years. The frayed nerves didn't help. And perhaps "Wednesday morning at five o'clock" Paul stormed out, jumped in his car, "didn't notice that the lights had changed," and "blew his mind out in a car." At the height of their popularity, the remaining "one and one and one is three" Beatles faced financial ruin if news of the death of arguably the most popular Beatle got out. So they scrambled and hired a McCartney look-alike contest winner, William Campbell, for "the sound he appears to make." And we all unknowingly said "goodbye" while Campbell said "hello."
No member of the Beatles has officially commented on the conspiracy, the strange clues among songs and album art, or their silence concerning it, other than to say they know nothing about hidden messages and that Paul is obviously still alive. A few years back, a mockumentary was released that claimed to have uncovered secret tapes from George Harrison's effects after he passed away. The tapes supposedly contained recordings of Harrison admitting and apologizing for the deceit perpetrated by the band. While this added a bit of renewed vigor to the conspiracy theorists, the film never claimed to have any basis in fact. Perhaps the most interesting part of this story is the multitude of conspiracies within conspiracies that have cropped up over the years, the most popular of which is that the entire McCartney death hoax was perpetrated by the Beatles themselves to ensure that they remained a figure in the ever-more-commercialized entertainment industry.
Remember that the Beatles hadn't toured at all since 1966. This was unprecedented. They had chosen, willingly, to switch gears abruptly. The wanted to be recognized as serious artists and were convinced that being constantly surrounded by screaming teenage girls wouldn't get them there. Perhaps recognizing the huge artistic difference between Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the more mainstream album stylings that came before it, the Beatles felt like a contingency needed to be in place to keep them relevant. Could the Fab Four have been diabolical enough to plot the entire deception, biding their time until they felt the hype bump was necessary?
Perhaps, someday, there will be an answer, but for now, let's just let it be.
If previous podcasts are any indication, it will only be a matter of time before @burnie brings up something about Millennials and I, naturally, will end up linking back to this post as I find myself going off on some rant to explain how much I disagree with the generational divisions applied to my birth year and so on. Now I can just link to this one :D
What is a millennial?
A millennial is apparently me... damn it. Researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss coined the term "millennial" to represent those born between 1982 and 2004. The curious fact of this labeling is that, as you can see from the graph below, this represents the largest gap of years for a generation title (not counting Generation Y since it is widely considered to not actually be a generation title but rather a generation title that was self-professed by those considering themselves "out of touch" with the Gen-Xers).
22 years is a large gap to lump over 75 million people in, and, perhaps because I fall on the early years of that scale, I am a strong proponent of breaking the generation title apart. Specifically, there is a big difference, to me, between someone born in 1985 and someone born just ten years later. To quote some lines from a seemingly ever-present Facebook meme on the subject, which I now know was actually stolen from the lyrics of Coone & Da Tweekaz's 2012 EDM track "Born in the 80s":
I was born in the ‘80s
Grew up in the ‘90s
We are the last generation that learned to play in the street
We were the first to play video games
And the last that record songs off the radio on cassettes or music videos on VHS
We are the pioneers of Walkmans and chatrooms
We learned how to program the VCR before anyone else
We played with Atari, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis
We also believed that the internet was gonna be a free world
Ha, yeah right
We are the generation of Thundercats, The Power Rangers, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Transformers, Saved By The Bell, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-air, and Martin
We traveled in cars without seatbelts or airbags, lived without cell phones
We didn't have 99 television stations, flatscreen TVs, surround-sound music systems, mp3s, Facebook, or Twitter
We had a great fucking time!
While this logic may come off a bit arrogant and crass, I do think it does do a great job of reflecting my thoughts on the necessary separation for the title of millennial. My childhood was not defined by virtual connections through a monitor or living in a house that had a TV in every room. My family didn't get their first computer until I was eleven, and while there is no doubt that it changed my life, I don't wax nostalgic about playing inappropriate flash games on Newgrounds. Sure it was a part of my preteen years, but a bigger memory was definitely getting lost in woods building tree forts, endless bowls of cereal while watching Saturday morning cartoons, and sleepovers where we inevitably pissed off the parents by ordering the same four music videos on The Box. MTV still played music videos from time to time and the Disney channel was a premium pay-to-watch station.
By contrast, my sister was born in 1997. She is a "millennial" who was not old enough to understand what "Googling something" meant until Google was almost a decade old. Her Disney "classics" were all CGI and weren't musicals anymore. She doesn't remember Y2K and barely remembers 9/11. My nostalgia clashes with her nostalgia. And I think that is the root of this conversation.
The Gen-Xers’ nostalgia is the cynicism of their time. It is the Ramones, Watergate, the rise and fall of Disco, rock ballads, drive-ins, acid washed jeans, Friday night roller skating (on quads 0.0), smoking in the restroom, and pissing off your parents and your neighbor by tying up the shared "party line" for three hours.
The point is that the term millennial has suddenly been burdened with a pretty rough connotation that usually runs along the lines of being a group of entitled, disrespectful, pasty kids addicted to their electronics and instant gratification. Maybe it is simply a desire to not be lumped into this or maybe, at a deeper level, it is a just my millennial self's way of coping with being lumped. Either way, if you want to call me a millennial, that is fine. I mean, I was around for the turn of the millennium. I lived through that. I remember Y2K clearly.
The separation should still be there though. Either a millennial is someone who can clearly remember the panic of Y2K, or it should be someone who doesn't really remember it all and instead the 1000-year tick over only serves to mark the beginning of his or her childhood memories. The world changed far too much in those 22 years to lump 75 million of us under one title. Personally, I'm fine being a Gen-Yer.
I say we all raise a vintage 1995 Batman Forever collectible glass mug filled to the brim with Surge in an effort to force an official separation that states that if your first Disney movie was Toy Story, you're out of the club.
In other news, I've realized that I have far too much to say on this subject and can come off as a right prick when I put my mind to it.
I anticipated this specific bit of trivia to get a bit more feedback in the comments. It is absolutely the type of trivia that helps break the ice and was a blast to read about. Probably the perfect example of why I enjoy creating these posts each week.
Why is it called the "glove box"?
Because its intended purpose was to hold gloves. Done, moving on!
Ah, I can't leave you hanging like that. Fine, really quick.
In case you weren't aware of it, there once was a time when cars were lucky to have a roof let alone heat or windows. Because of this, every occupant would typically be wearing a pair of gloves. It was considered essential, especially on Sundays. The same was true for occupants of horse-drawn carriages. Along with gloves, another element from ye olde carriage that initially carried over to the horseless alternative was the "dashboard."
As you can see from the above photo, the "dashboard" wasn't a new thing for vehicles, horse-drawn or otherwise. In fact, the term "dashboard" stems from the idea that it is meant to protect the carriage's occupants from mud that is kicked up by the horses when they are "dashing." It also sometimes doubled as a box, which would commonly hold parcels, blankets, and the occasional stray riding glove. So, why does this matter?
Well, besides the name of the current location of the current glove box iteration, the dashboard is important for one other reason. Packard purposely removed it in the early 20th century in order to further distance the company from the carriages of old. Understanding that people would still want a place to store their things, they installed a standalone storage compartment in their vehicles, usually as a drawer or compartment beneath the seats. The use of that compartment specifically for gloves can be traced back to Britain's first female race car driver, Dorothy Levitt. In addition to holding the ladies’ land and water speed records, she authored a book, The Woman and the Car, and in it said, "You will find room for these gloves in the little drawer under the seat of the car. This little drawer is the secret of the dainty motoriste."
While this is the first public declaration (that we are aware of) of a notable person using the little glove box for gloves, it is unlikely that it was necessarily news to most automobile owners at the time. As vehicle models changed over the years – with the dashboard making another appearance and seats being lowered so their hidden compartments were a thing of the past – unless your last name was Capone, heat was still not always a thing. Because of this, gloves were still a common sight among car owners, and car manufacturers kept giving them a place to put them. Fast forward to a century later and our remote starts, heated seats, and "multi-zone climate controls" have ensured that the gloves have been replaced by five unpaid parking tickets, a few napkins, seven out-of-date registration slips, two packets of ketchup, and the occasional broken pair of sunglasses. Point is, at least we don't have to worry about stuffing a map in there too. GPS FTW!
This was just too ridiculous to pass up. The absolute gall of that mayor, LOL.
Did the Mayor of Chicago bulldoze a runway in the middle of the night?
He certainly did! Though there is no evidence that Richard M. Daley, mayor of Chicago from 1989 to 2011, was personally running the heavy machinery, he did give the covert orders to begin demolition. On March 30, 2003, under the cover of darkness and with a police escort, construction equipment invaded the small, single runway at Meigs Field and began destroying the lone runway as quickly as possible. By morning the next day, six large "X"s had been carved into the asphalt. Despite Daley citing Homeland Security concerns, no one – including the airport, FAA, Homeland Security, or even the governor of Illinois – was made aware of the plan. Because of this, several planes were trapped at the airfield until the taxiway could be approved as a temporary runway in order to fly the planes out. Despite the presence of these private aircrafts and the Chicago Fire Department using the airfield as a base of operations for several helicopters, Daley still insisted that the airfield had been abandoned, and drastic measures to permanently shut it down were the best solution, in order to avoid "...needlessly contentious [methods]."
I was just impressed that I was actually able to find some sort of answer on this one…
What is the degrees of "leaning" that a person has to do to overcome the curvature of the earth and change the closer body part to the head?
Okay, I'm going to do my best to answer this one... but good lord @burnie! At this point, I'm convinced that someone on the team is just cackling as they cook up these concepts. Here we go:
The Earth's radius of approximately 3,965 miles means that, using the Pythagorean theorem, it has an average curvature of roughly 8 inches per mile of travel. This is a deviation of roughly 1/250th of an inch for every foot of distance from each other. Assuming that both people are 6 feet tall and the one not doing the leaning is standing at a perfect 90 degree angle to the ground, at a foot apart, the second person leaning at an angle barely under 90 degrees would have their head closer than their feet.
Ultimately, the world is pretty damn big and doesn't really curve all that much when compared to our own heights. So the better question from this point would probably be how far away do you have to be from someone before a 6 foot tall person isn't able to lean and make their head closer than their feet. The important part to remember about this is that only one of the people is leaning. The other is maintaining a 90 degree perpendicularity to the earth's surface, relative to them. This means that the "leaning" person must lean twice as far to compensate for the first person's perfect posture. We also have to make another assumption, that the farthest a person can lean is 90 degrees at the waist. That said, we can continue to use Euclidean geometry to find the rough angles necessary in this calculation. As we increase the distance between the two people, the angle slowly becomes more severe until we end up hitting the critical 90 degrees right around the 8 mile mark. At this point the distance through the earth ends up being just over that same 8 mile mark. Also, I feel like without the below image, I couldn't prove that any of this math is trustworthy. Although I didn't find it until after I was done with all of the math by hand. :(
Not only was this awesome to research and learn but it also led to @Hunchbunny, an AI Plan Recognition & Cognitive Systems, taking the time to give a great, and much more intelligent, response on the topic. Also... we all learned a new word that day: spermcasting.
What does a robot want?
As programmed machines, the quick and easy answer to this is that robots want whatever we, as the creators, tell them to want – though I suppose the question is a bit deeper than that. Most "experts" theorize that, as our pursuit of true AI edges nearer to completion, the needs of that intelligence will begin to more naturally parallel our own, with the glaring exception of social involvement.
As Sally mentioned, humans are an insanely sociable species and have depended on the support of our peers, both physically and psychologically, for thousands of years. Robots and AI, however, would not independently have this "requirement" – unless we programmed them that way, of course. We can imagine that, given the nature of programmed intelligence, a robot's wants would be something like: security, optimization, and discovery. Their primary goal, like every other species, would be survival. Once this security has been established, then increasing their own ability to function, whether programmatically or physically, would likely come next. And, once these two desires have been satiated, they would move to their likely programmed AI construct. This being the programmed desire to learn, adapt, and discover. I would imagine this process would be very cyclical. The final step of discovery being almost an audit of sorts, with the intent of gathering enough information to provide a better analysis/remediation of potential security threats and optimization opportunities.
The obvious concern with this process, and the frequent plot line of machine driven post-apocalyptic films, is that the desire for the first point, supplemented by the other two, leads to the eventual destruction, or enslavement, of mankind. This logic is the reason for Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics:
1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2) A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
The general population's understanding that any AI would be constructed with these seemingly infallible regulations at their core has always been somewhat of a given. They seem, on the surface, to be the perfect solution to Skynet. However, interviews with scientists studying the future of machine intelligence and robotics have reignited these concerns more than ever. Most artificial super intelligence (ASI) researchers say that the self-recursive improvement and optimization of theorized ASI lead to several fundamental flaws in these "perfect" laws. The biggest of which is that the "discovery" phase discussed above allows AI to reinterpret its surroundings, inputs, and, perhaps most importantly, these three laws. The simple fact that they are so open to in-the-moment interpretation is what makes them less of a safety net and more of a dangerous crutch. In truth, despite Asimov's insistence that these laws were the best way to govern robotics of the future, his own stories shed light on the complexities of their institution. In a sense, we have anecdotal evidence of their failure.
Ultimately, the biggest unknown in regards to these laws is the interpretation of ethics on the part of the AI. Similar to the ethical thought experiment, the Trolley Problem, it can easily become a question of the value of one human life over another or some other similar, and ultimately completely subjective, interpretation of the laws, the situation, the people/AI involved, etc. There is also the understanding among researchers that, as Miss Le Page suggested, it is far more likely that the most important law governing robotics is ignored by humans, rather than these three by AI. That law being that "A human may not build a robot that does not embody/implement the Three Laws of Robotics." Essentially, the likelihood of AI being utilized for nefarious reasons, be they war, crime, manipulation, etc,. is far more likely than we would probably be comfortable admitting. And it would only take one artificial super intelligence to have the capacity for recursive self-improvement without the constraints of the Three Laws, or some other governing system, in place to realize their greatest threat will always be humanity and, placing security above all else, eliminate that threat. DUN-DUN-DUNNN!
As the first of the official posts, this has to make the list. Of the twenty posts, this was by farm my favorite because it seriously blew my mind. I still don't know how this is something I went my entire life never knowing anything about.
Is a quintillion equal to a million trillions?
Aww...this was supposed to the easy one! So short answer is yes. But, in verifying this I learned that there are actually two different forms of large-number naming systems and, even as recently as the late 1980s, America was one of the few countries which expressed large numbers in the way we are now accustomed to. These conventions, named Long and Short scale, are a pretty important clarification that, given the interconnectivity of our modern world, would certainly have posed some pretty serious issues had a specific side not been chosen. And, in typical American fashion, our method is always the best method, so it was up to the rest of the world to conform to us. The short breakdown of differences between these disparate systems is relatively simple. The Long scale form is the actual true source of Burnie's Mi = 1, Bi = 2, Tri = 3 and so on. A million is the same across both scales, however a billion in the long scale is actually equal to a million million with a trillion equaling a million million million. By contrast, the conversion of these numbers into our short scale standard would be a trillion and a quintillion, respectively. That said, I like Burnie's off-the-cuff explanation of a billion, trillion, quadrillion, etc being the number of additional sets of 3 zeros added to the number. He isn't too far off. The essential difference between the long and short scale forms is that the long scale's "base" is 1,000,000 whereas the short scale's base is 1,000.
Historically, the use of either long or short scale has no real consistency with records showing that European countries have jumped back and forth for centuries, for various reasons. It is likely that America's initial use of the short scale stemmed from it being the dominant "standard" by most European countries during our country's infancy. However, by the mid 1800s, essentially all European countries had switched back to the long scale. While the UK, Ireland, Australia, and most English speaking countries have since converted back to the short scale, France and Italy, notably, as well as the French dominant parts of Canada, still officially recognize the long scale as their standard. So...this all seems important...another one of those things my American schooling didn't bother to teach me, like how to balance my checkbook.