How armored vehicles stop bullets

YouTuber JerryRigEverything had a chance to fire some bullets at a bullet-proof car. The physics are interesting to watch as the energy disperses into the materials in slow motion. Read the rest

This is the best NSFW explanation of the Florida bridge collapse

If you like sweary Canadians with lots of knowledge about building materials and construction, Arduino versus Evil has the most interesting armchair analysis of what caused the Florida International University bridge collapse. Read the rest

Stormchaser explains why powerful storms can have green coloration

Pecos Hank has seen his share of storms, as evidenced by his cool footage of ominous green-hued clouds. He explains the science behind why massive thunderstorms can "go green," as they say in stormchaser parlance. Read the rest

Your passports are full of tech

In close to a decade of work as a full-time journalist, I can't recall a single instance where I referenced my work for one outlet at another. There's a few reasons for this.

First, outside of an occasional mention of something I've written on Twitter, self promotion's always felt awkward and kind of gross to me.  When I'm not online, I live a quiet, nomadic life. I don't like a ton of bother and my Imposter Syndrome assures me that I'm not worth it. Second, the moment my work's approved by an editor for publication, I cease to consider it mine. As a freelancer, I'm employed on a pay-for-work basis.  I don't own the words I write for Macworld or USA Today. They do. I take pride in the work I do, but most of the companies I work for have talented social media specialists that do a better job at getting the word out about something that I penned than I ever could. So, I leave it to them.

That said, I wrote something that I thought was much more interesting than the work I typically get asked for by joints aside from Boing Boing. So, here I am, sharing it with you.

Earlier this month, I interviewed officials from the Department of State and an ethical hacker for AFAR Magazine to get the skinny on what the hell's actually on a passport's RFID chip, who can read it and whether it's being read is anything we need to be worried about. Read the rest

Watch how to make lactose-free milk

YouTuber NileRed was curious about how lactose-free milk is made, so he did a little research and came up with this helpful explainer. Read the rest

Ever wonder how land surveying devices work? Watch and learn

A theodolite is that gizmo on a tripod used by land surveyors. This explainer shows how they work, and discusses how they shifted from analog devices to the modern digital ones. Read the rest

Selective mutism explained by someone who experienced it as a child

Artist Stephi Lee open up about her childhood selective mutism, where she would only talk to her mom and her best friend. It's cool to see that it got resolved. Read the rest

It took 83 engines to get to the moon

Amy Shira Teitel of Vintage Space shares lots of cool facts about the golden age of space exploration. Here, she enumerates the engines (and motors) it took Apollo to get to the moon. Read the rest

Watch how 19th-century Genaille-Lucas calculating rulers work

Multiplying large numbers before calculators led to a number of ingenious inventions to make things easier, like these Genaille-Lucas rulers demonstrated by the fine folks at DONG.

Via manufacturer Creative Crafthouse:

In the days before calculators, methods of simplifying calculations were of much interest. In 1617 Napier also published a book describing a method to multiply, divide and extract square roots using a set of bars or rods. These became known as Napier's Bones. (avail on our website)

In the late 1800s, Henri Genaille, a French civil engineer, invented an improvement to Napier's Bones that eliminates the need to handle carries from one digit position to the next. The problem was posed by Edouard Lucas and thus the alternate name of Genaille-Lucas Rulers (or Rods).

There are also sets for division. You can get your own set online or print your own from these free files.

Genaille-Lucas Rulers (YouTube / DONG) Read the rest

Ancient trilobites had eyes made of crystals

Fun fact: trilobites were able to see thanks to eyes made of calcite instead of soft tissue. YouTuber Thunderf00t shows off a cool fossil and explains the phenomenon. Read the rest

Scientists figure out how to make and measure time crystals

Time crystals, a theoretical phase of matter proposed in 2012, can now be reliably created and measured, thanks to researchers at UC Berkeley. Above: a great primer on time crystals.

The discovery built on the work of several teams of researchers:

Time crystals repeat in time because they are kicked periodically, sort of like tapping Jell-O repeatedly to get it to jiggle, Yao said. The big breakthrough, he argues, is less that these particular crystals repeat in time than that they are the first of a large class of new materials that are intrinsically out of equilibrium, unable to settle down to the motionless equilibrium of, for example, a diamond or ruby.

“This is a new phase of matter, period, but it is also really cool because it is one of the first examples of non-equilibrium matter,” Yao said. “For the last half-century, we have been exploring equilibrium matter, like metals and insulators. We are just now starting to explore a whole new landscape of non-equilibrium matter.”

Maybe the next step is the development of these time crystals:

Scientists unveil new form of matter: time crystals (UC Berkeley via EurekAlert) Read the rest

Why Is Blue So Rare In Nature?

Blue as a pigment in nature is incredibly rare. Most animals with blue coloration achieve it through microscopic structures in their skin, fur, or feathers. This helpful explainer delves into the details. Read the rest

Watch this high schooler explain the theory of relativity

Filipino student Hillary Diane Andales won a $250,000 scholarship from the Breakthrough Junior Challenge for this entertaining and easy-to-understand explainer on relativity and the equivalence of reference frames. Read the rest

Math theorem: the most misshapen ham sandwich can always be cut into two perfect halves

Mathematician Hannah Fry explains the "Ham Sandwich Theorem," a mathematical concept that says that even the most poorly constructed sandwich can be cut exactly in half with only one straight cut of a knife. Read the rest

Great video primer on the mathematics of auctions

What's the difference between a tulip auction, an English auction, a sealed bid auction, and a Vickrey second-bid auction? Preston McAfee, Chief Economist at Microsoft explains auction types.

Bonus video: America's contribution to the English auction:

The Ideal Auction (YouTube / Numberphile) Read the rest

Dataviz ducks: when designers put style ahead of substance

Calling Bullshit (previously) has released a wonderful lecture series on the epidemic of misinformation in today's media landscape. This lecture looks at dataviz ducks, the craptacular USA Today-style charts that dumb down and garbage up information graphics. Read the rest

A quick and handy guide to audio file formats

The fine folks at Techquickie put together a quick overview that takes the mystery out of the dizzying array of audio file formats, including when to use what and brief histories of the most common types. Read the rest

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