What if the Fed and the TSA switched roles?

Emanuel Derman speculates what would happen if the Federal Reserve and the TSA switched roles.
If a bank failed at 9 a.m. one morning and shut its doors, the TSA would announce that all banks henceforth begin their business day at 10 a.m.

And, if a terrorist managed to get on board a plane between Stockholm and Washington, the Fed would increase the number of flights between the cities.

(Via Marginal Revolution) Read the rest

Science-fiction science: How long could you survive inside a Tauntaun?

Applying Earth science to science-fiction scenarios might not be easy (or particularly necessary) but it sure is fun. Here, fans take the cutting-open-a-furry-beast-and-using-its-carcass-as-an-emergency-blanket scene from The Empire Strikes Back and attempt to deduce how long Luke Skywalker could have actually survived on the sweet, sweet warmth provided by Tauntaun entrails.

In a normal environment, a carcass gets cold in 8 to 36 hours losing an average rate of 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit per hour. However, the ice world of Hoth is not an average environment. The Star Wars database lists that Hoth reaches nightly temperatures of -60 F. In a frigid, sub-zero environment, body heat can be lost almost 32 times faster. This means a Tauntaun's body heat could drop almost 51.2 F every hour.

The initial estimate is probably off, as it looks like the author is using human body temperatures to figure how warm the Tauntaun would be when it died and how fast it would lose heat, but some of those issues get hashed out in the comments.

Wolf Gnards blog: How Long Could Luke Survive in a Tauntaun?

Previously:Life-sized walking Tauntaun costume - Boing Boing Tauntaun groom's cake - Boing Boing Homemade AT-AT loft bed - Boing Boing Read the rest

Argentina: judge orders DNA test to determine if media heirs are orphans of "disappeared"

BBC News: "An Argentine judge has ordered the heirs to a powerful media empire to take DNA tests to establish if they are victims of a forced adoption scheme... Last month, the Congress backed a proposal from the group, allowing the forced extraction of DNA from adults who may be the children of political prisoners - even when they do not want to know." And more here. Read the rest

TSA subpoenas, threatens two bloggers who published non-classified airline security directive

(Courtesy of Wired: "TSA Special Agent John Enright, left, speaks to Steven Frischling outside the blogger's home in Niantic, Connecticut, after returning Frischling's laptop Wednesday." Photo: Thomas Cain/Wired.com)

(Update post here, Dec. 31, 2009.)

On Friday, December 25, following the incident in which a Nigerian man attempted to blow up a US-bound flight, the TSA issued an urgent, non-classified security directive to thousands of contacts around the world—airlines, airports, and so on. On Saturday, December 26, airlines and airports around the world further circulated that emailed document and began implementing the procedures described. On Sunday December 27, two bloggers published the content of the TSA directive online (some portions had already been showing up on airline websites). And on Tuesday, December 29, Special Agents from the TSA's Office of Inspection showed up at the homes of bloggers Steven Frischling and Christopher Elliott, and interrogated each on where they obtained the document. Both bloggers received civil subpoenas.

Snip from Wired piece by Kim Zetter:

"They came to the door and immediately were asking, 'Who gave you this document?, Why did you publish the document?' and 'I don't think you know how much trouble you're in.' It was very much a hardball tactic," [Frischling] says.

(...) The agents then said they wanted to take an image of his hard drive. Frischling said they had to go to WalMart to buy a hard drive, but when they returned were unable to get it to work. Frischling said the keyboard on his laptop was no longer working after they tried to copy his files.

Read the rest

Surrealistic cartoon by illustrator Jean-Philippe Masson

Muzorama from Muzorama Team on Vimeo.

This fun video by illustrator Jean-Philippe Masson (aka Muzo) was produced in just 6 weeks. Its sense of absurdity reminds me of Betty Boop cartoons. Read the rest

Snail with vanishing spots

The flamingo tongue snail Cyphoma gibbosum appears to have a shell decorated with bright spots (top of image). Amazingly though, the spots aren't actually part of the shell, but rather the animal's flesh! When the animal retracts into its stark white shell, so do the spots (bottom of image). The Cyphoma gibbosum is the star of the latest CreatureCast video from Dr. Casey Dunn's laboratory at Brown University. RISD animator Chris Vamos, who was also a student in Dr. Dunn's invertebrate zoology course, created the video. Watch it after the jump! Read the rest

What makes "feminine" handwriting?

How can people often guess someone's gender by their handwriting? Is handwriting ability hard-wired, or is it something we learn?

AbeBooks' Weird Book Room

AbeBooks has a fantastic virtual Weird Book Room. I was thrilled to discover that I only have three of the books on the page: Mannix's The History of Torture (highly recommended!), The How And Why Wonder Book of Guns (useful!), and the Gangsta Rap Coloring Book (a gift!). Oh, how I love thee, Abe. Abe Weird Book Room (Thanks, Vann Hall!) Read the rest

Beautiful microscope images

You're looking at a water flea, as captured by Dr. Jan Michels of the University of Kiel, Germany. It's the top-prize winner in the 2009 Olympus BioScapes contest—a competition focused on images taken via microscope. The winners gallery is full of gorgeous pictures in striking, day-glo purples, greens and reds. Worth browsing, for both art and science nerds.

Olympus BioScapes 2009 Winners Gallery Read the rest

Collin Cunningham explains Ohm's Law

Here's MAKE's Collin Cunningham explaining Ohm's Law: Voltage = Current X Resistance.

Previously:Collin Cunningham of MAKE builds an infrared heart monitor Boing Boing Make video about LEDs - Boing Boing How inductors work - Boing Boing Video explains what a capacitor is and how to make one - Boing Boing make video about visible sound and vibration Read the rest

Baby in overhanging cage, London, 1934

1934 photo of a baby in a wooden and wire cage hanging out of a window a few stories up. It looks secure. Read the rest

Man throws his bike at purse snatchers riding a scooter

According to the YouTube description for this video, a guy threw his bicycle at a pair of purse-snatching thieves who were speeding away on a scooter, causing them to crash and become quite upset. Read the rest

Odds of being a terrorism victim on a flight

Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com collected the data for this handsome infographic designed by Jesus Diaz of Gizmodo. It shows your odds of becoming an airborne victim of terrorism. Maybe the new TSA rules will decrease the odds of being a terrorism victim from 1 in 10,408,947 to 1 in 10,408,948. Let's hope so!

The True Odds of Airborne Terror Chart Read the rest

Graph compares price of inkjet ink to other liquids

ReflectionOf.Me posted a graph that shows how much HP printer ink costs compared to human blood, vodka, crude oil and other precious liquids. Read the rest

I am not Frodo: A Facebook conversation

I read Lamebook sometimes, but I've never seen anything there that made me snort tea out my nose. Until now. It begins in the magical kingdom of Facebook, with a "What Lord of the Rings Character are You?" quiz ...

Fair warning: There is some NSFW language and liberal doses of the stupid, preteen usage of the word "gay".

Lamebook: FroDOH! Read the rest

Obama moves to limit secrecy of government documents

President Obama is taking steps to modify rules around the secrecy of government documents, and the length of time for which documents may remain secret. Secrecy experts like Steven Aftergood are cautiously optimistic, but not yet convinced this is good news. Read the rest

Schneier on this week's air-terror-scare, and TSA response

Bruce Schneier: a voice of reason, as usual.
Terrorism is rare, far rarer than many people think. It's rare because very few people want to commit acts of terrorism, and executing a terrorist plot is much harder than television makes it appear.

The best defenses against terrorism are largely invisible: investigation, intelligence, and emergency response. But even these are less effective at keeping us safe than our social and political policies, both at home and abroad. However, our elected leaders don't think this way: They are far more likely to implement security theater against movie-plot threats.

Is aviation security mostly for show? (CNN guest editorial) Read the rest

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