This recently-posted video of a freaky cryptid was reportedly shot in a Portuguese "desert." Is it a sad transatlantic chupacabras? An exhausted yeti who wandered (very) far from home? A vacationing bigfoot on a bender? Or something else entirely...
A new study suggests that the ominous background music often heard in shark documentaries correlates with viewers' fearful and negative opinions of sharks. (For the source of this musical cliche, see the 1975 trailer for Jaws above.) From the Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers paper in the scientific journal PLOS One:
Using three experiments, we show that participants rated sharks more negatively and less positively after viewing a 60-second video clip of swimming sharks set to ominous background music, compared to participants who watched the same video clip set to uplifting background music, or silence. This finding was not an artifact of soundtrack alone because attitudes toward sharks did not differ among participants assigned to audio-only control treatments. This is the first study to demonstrate empirically that the connotative attributes of background music accompanying shark footage affect viewers’ attitudes toward sharks. Given that nature documentaries are often regarded as objective and authoritative sources of information, it is critical that documentary filmmakers and viewers are aware of how the soundtrack can affect the interpretation of the educational content.
Chipmaking is a relentless competition to make transistors smaller and smaller. Such refined technology is as inscrutable to users as angels dancing on the head of a few hundred copper pins, so James Newman set out to make a working CPU whose every connection can be explored and understood by students.
"Like all modern processors the Megaprocessor is built from transistors," he writes. "It's just that instead of using teeny-weeny ones integrated on a silicon chip it uses discrete individual ones... Thousands of them. And loads of LEDs."
The resulting machine took two years to construct and recalls the earliest room-filling electronic computers, with banks of blinking lights and ropes of cable linking each refridgerator-sized peripheral. But this time, it's by choice rather than limitation: with a light on every connection, you can see the logic and movement of data through the chip in person.
Ten meters wide and 2 meters tall, the 16-bit Megaprocessor is deliberately simple and slow. Clocked at 20kHz, it could feel at home in an airport-sized Commodore Amiga or classic Mac, though it's not quite as complicated as the Motorola 68000 that inspired it.
There's already software to play with, though, including a rough implementation of Tetris. You can download an emulator to get started on making your own.
"I didn't plan on ending up here. I started by wanting to learn about transistors," Newman writes. "Things got out of hand. Read the rest
In 1995, after a year-long closure, Disney re-opened Horizons, the GE-sponsored original Epcot ride devoted to showcasing different ideas about the future, a kind of heir to the Futurama at the 1939 New York World's Fair; fearing the ride was likely to be shuttered soon, two Epcot superfans began covertly exploring and documenting the ride, figuring out its ways and means until they learned how to penetrate it and hide from Disney employees while sneaking in their friends and having little celebrations. Read the rest
Randy Bachman of The Guess Who tells the origin story of "American Woman" (1970). It involves the Vietnam war and a broken guitar string.
Here's the song: Read the rest
This video explains why U.S. trains are slow, unreliable, expensive, and don't go where people want them to go, and why the situation is not likely to improve. Interesting fact: Amtrak operates 300 train journeys a day, while France's SNCF operates 14,000 train journeys a day. Read the rest
Here's Jacques Pépin showing how to chop garlic, and how to make garlic puree with just a knife. An important step is to remove the stem before peeling, because it makes it easy to remove the skin. Read the rest
To these monkeys, people are just machines that make dental floss. Read the rest
Las Vegas is one of America's most unionized cities, and importantly, the unionization rates are especially high in trades dominated by women, such as cocktail servers and hotel cleaners, making Vegas one of the most equal places in America in terms of wage-parity between women and men, and also between young workers and older workers. Read the rest
A phone, pen light, or LED is all you need to make this nifty long-exposure skeleton light drawing. Darren Pearson shows you how. Read the rest
Here's a new trailer for the film Hidden Figures, on the untold true story of African-American women working at NASA who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit.