Category Archives: Just geeky

The Not So Random Coin Toss

NPR has a great audio segment on the randomness of the coin toss. They also interview statistician Persi Diaconis who asked Harvard University engineers to build him a mechanical coin flipper (seen below) that can always make the perfect coin flip. It appears that the randomness in a coin toss is introduced by sloppy humans.

They also bring up the issue of American Football games that are started with a coin flip. Listen to the segment in Real or Windows Media formats.

Coin Tosser

Nachos, anyone?

Follow the interesting tale of a U.S. library researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary play detective decades ago in tracking down the antedate and etymology for the word ‘Nachos’.

As the largest city influenced by Tex-Mex trends, San Antonio might possibly yield a clue to nacho…

…how could anyone who has looked at and eaten nachos see any relationship between one of these and the adjective flat-nosed?…

[found via geekpress]

Physics Nobel for First Baby Picture of the Universe

Two scientists, George Smoot and John Mather, have been selected to receive the 2006 Nobel for Physics for their detection and analysis of evidence that gives us a ‘shapshot’ of the universe approx 380,000 years after the big bang. The big bang occurred over 13 Billion years ago.

They leveraged NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer satellite to detect cosmic microwave background that is widely believed to be a remnant of the Big Bang.

How to disarm an atomic bomb

Wired has a funny and only vaguely helpful article on how to disarm an atomic bomb. At a high level the steps include:

  1. Disconnect the wires
  2. Remove the neutron trigger
  3. Remove the conventional explosive
  4. Seperate the U-235 mass

And if you’re interested, we have ‘How to Make an Atomic Bomb” from The Journal of Irreproducible Results. You know it’s gonna be fun when Step 1 starts with
   “First, obtain about 50 pounds (110 kg) of weapons grade Plutonium at your local supplier”

How to beat traffic

Traffic is the bane of all commuters. This article on OmniNerd by Brandon U. Hansen analyzes a year of data to determine if minor tweaks to departure times can significantly impact commute length – or if it is all out of the driver’s control. For a full year he kept track of the departure and arrival times both to and from work & home, the results are very interesting.