Fascinating overview of how firefighters fight wildfires

Wildfires are a natural part of many ecosystems, though more and more are human-caused. Wendover Productions takes a look at how firefighters work to minimize the spread of wildfires in grueling and dangerous conditions. Read the rest

OK, here's a great explainer on the origins of the word "OK"

Because of its ubiquity, the landscape is littered with proposed etymologies of the term "OK." This nice explainer clarifies the murky origins of one of the most widely spoken words in the world. Read the rest

Fitness YouTuber breaks down just how little he makes

The Fitness Marshall has over a million subscribers and over 150 videos on his channel. His paltry take after three years of work comes to about $20 a video after record labels and everyone else take their cuts. Read the rest

Terrific cartoon on the American Revolution, but oversimplified

One of the most wonderful history channels is Oversimplified, which has returned with an entertaining and informative two-part history of the American Revolution. Read the rest

Watch how far green screen technology has come

BBC got to be the first to tour Intel Studios, a state of the art greenscreen facility, with no suits, no motion capture, just a live performance captured in a green dome by hundreds of cameras. Read the rest

Handy guide to the current state of urban surveillance

Ingrid Burrington (previously) takes viewers on a guided tour of New York City's current surveillance matrix, from license plate readers and shotspotters to the Domain Awareness System. Read the rest

Video explainer on universal quantum computers

Universal quantum computers have the potential for exponentially faster processing speeds. Seeker looks at where things stand in the race to build the first one. Read the rest

The world's first trillionaire may be an asteroid miner

Extracting earth's natural resources created some of the world's greatest fortunes. Many believe that trend will continue in space, as mining three types of asteroids leads to enormous material yields. Read the rest

Several experts explain key ethical issues about AI

Artificial intelligence has nearly unimaginable potential to shape the world, but it poses a number of significant ethical questions that need to be carefully examined at every step to reduce bias. Several experts give a rundown of the main concerns. Read the rest

This is how airports make money

Unlike most airports, London's Heathrow is privately owned, so it's a great case study for how airports make money. Wendover Productions explains. Read the rest

Can the future influence the past? The scientific case for quantum retrocausality

Quantum physics gets real weird real fast, and one idea gaining more currency of late is the concept of quantum retrocausality, where a decision made in our experience of the present may influence what we experience as the past.

These aren't a bunch of Time Cube type cranks, either. From a helpful overview by Lisa Zyga:

First, to clarify what retrocausality is and isn't: It does not mean that signals can be communicated from the future to the past—such signaling would be forbidden even in a retrocausal theory due to thermodynamic reasons. Instead, retrocausality means that, when an experimenter chooses the measurement setting with which to measure a particle, that decision can influence the properties of that particle (or another particle) in the past, even before the experimenter made their choice. In other words, a decision made in the present can influence something in the past.

Huw Price has done some great introductory lectures like this on the concept:

WTF is Quantum Retrocausality? (YouTube / Seeker) Read the rest

Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared in over 15,000 published scientific studies

Vanessa Hill at BrainCraft got obsessed with tallying up how many times Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared in scientific papers, but she wasn't prepared for the actual number of papers: over 15,000. Read the rest

Look at this interesting explainer on eye charts and human visual acuity

A Snellen chart (below) may just look like random letters in different sizes, but they were carefully designed to measure visual acuity. This piece on testing the limits of human vision brings it all into focus. Read the rest

Watch how unhatched birds get oxygen inside their shells

How birds get oxygen inside their eggs. File this great explainer under "questions previously unconsidered that have interesting answers." Read the rest

Watch a terrific explainer on Hawaiian lava flows

Geologist Jerry Magloughlin made a lava video that's a real labor of love. It describes the marvelous complexity of Hawaiian lava flows, combined with lots of cool footage and interesting facts. Plan on learning many new things. Read the rest

Beautiful chart shows how the English alphabet evolved

Matt Baker from UsefulCharts.com made a detailed poster and video of how the English alphabet evolved over the last 4,000 years, but his elegant and colorful topline is the simplest iteration of the process: Read the rest

Watch how fog harvesters may help reduce water shortages

Scientists have been experimenting with "fog harps" in arid climates as an easy way to collect potable water from fog.

Via the paper:

Fog harvesting is a useful technique for obtaining fresh water in arid climates. The wire meshes currently utilized for fog harvesting suffer from dual constraints: coarse meshes cannot efficiently capture microscopic fog droplets, whereas fine meshes suffer from clogging issues. Here, we design and fabricate fog harvesters comprising an array of vertical wires, which we call “fog harps”. Under controlled laboratory conditions, the fog-harvesting rates for fog harps with three different wire diameters were compared to conventional meshes of equivalent dimensions. As expected for the mesh structures, the mid-sized wires exhibited the largest fog collection rate, with a drop-off in performance for the fine or coarse meshes. In contrast, the fog-harvesting rate continually increased with decreasing wire diameter for the fog harps due to efficient droplet shedding that prevented clogging. This resulted in a 3-fold enhancement in the fog-harvesting rate for the harp design compared to an equivalent mesh.

Harvesting water from fog with harps (YouTube / American Chemical Society) Read the rest

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