7 Quick Takes (5/9/14)


--- 1 --- Here's the most fun you'll have since slime molds mapped your public transit.  Scientists are using ants to model stampedes and other chaotic ways humans move around.  It turns out that ants (and probably also people) exit more quickly and safely when the doors are partially obstructed.  If an exit is partially blocked, people tend to wind up in more of a queueing pattern than when they all rush a wide open door in unison. --- 2 --- More enjoyable problem solving: a stat guy did su … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (5/2/14)


--- 1 --- I'm on tenterhooks waiting to get my copy of Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, which I preordered immediately after reading this review of the graphic novel. CA: The way you draw him, the thing that I really notice is that you’re always doing these close-ups of his hands, either contrasting with other people or just with the tiny little neck of a beer bottle poking out from his fist.BB: That was the thing. I watched a lot of footage of Andre, and that’s one of the things that, onc … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (4/25/14)


--- 1 --- Everyone's still talking about the data journalism sites Vox, FiveThirtyEight, and the Upshot, but the most adorable statistics reporting I've seen turned up on FlowingData, in an article putting together statistics and graphs on his six-month old son.Below is the graph of how far he strayed from his house, before and after his baby's birth, and there are plenty more fun graphs at the link.--- 2 --- Speaking of the power of statistics, I totally need this poster for my room, … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (4/11/14)


--- 1 --- This week, the theme for the links is experimentation and innovation.  First off, Josiah Neeley of The Federalist has a great example of the joys of exploring empiricism, even at very small scales.  Frustrated by traffic, and the endless temptation to switch lanes (even though they mysteriously slow), he starts theorizing: Just as the Efficient Market Hypothesis says that you can’t beat the market, the Efficient Traffic Hypothesis says that you can’t beat the traffic. If you see a lan … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (4/4/14)


--- 1 --- Scott of Slate Star Codex posted a short story this week which I greatly recommend and do not want to spoil.  It's called "The Study of Anglophysics."  Go enjoy yourselves. --- 2 --- Scott's story is science-fictional, but there's a possible deity lurking in it (of an odd sort).  Meanwhile, back here at Patheos, Will Duquette has an interesting essay up on fantasy writing, specifically Christian fantasy. Much fantasy fiction, perhaps counter-intuitively, also assumes the na … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (3/28/14)

shark girl

--- 1 --- I keep being pleased by the things I read at Nautilus.  Most recently, they had a feature on how light bends and how dogs chase balls through sand and water (and what these two questions have in common).  It's a very lay-friendly explanation, but hard to excerpt, so please click through. --- 2 --- Fermat's Principle of Least Time turns up in that Nautilus piece, which I first ran across in Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life" where xenobiologists are trying to communicate with aliens.   … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (7/21/14)


--- 1 --- Turns out I have enough "clever engineering" links for that to be the theme for all seven takes.  First up, a story I've been itching to link to since the Olympics: the  New York Times  put together an awesome interactive spread on the design of pads, helmets, skates, and other accouterments of the Winter Games.Here are some of the cool things I learned just about the shoes:Biathlon: Only the toe of the boot attaches to the ski. The free heel allows athletes to take full str … [Read more...]