Atlas Obscura ran an article on an 1850s invention to transmit messages instantly via snail. Innovator Jacques Toussaint Benoît believed that two snails which had come in contact would always be connected by an invisible "escargotic fluid" which which "can be uncoiled and prolonged almost indefinitely in space without its breaking". As a result, when one snail of the pair was stimulated, a galvanic current would travel along the fluid to the other snail. (In Jake's words, it's "quantum entanglement, but with snails".)... Read More
All posts tagged "real world"
When I had to do an unplanned dissection of an overheating laptop, I was pleasantly surprised that I already had the perfect tool for cracking the case in a watchmakers' tool kit. (It's the yellow tool in the photo, though that's not the actual set I have, which seems to be unavailable.) I hoped it had a cool evocative name, but it just seems to be a "watch case opener" or a "push-type opener". Instead of anxiously pulling on the plastic, trying to find the right balance between pulling the connectors free and snapping them right off, you can just run it along the crack and pop the parts free. Whoever invented this deserves a medal.... Read More
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One of the best known wargames of World War II was one that the Japanese used in planning their proposed Midway operation. The game's plan took into consideration all of the known variables that might have bearing on the operation's outcome. What resulted was a matrix of probable U. S. forces available versus known Japanese forces and of probable U. S. tactics in the face of planned Japanese tactics. When play ended, the Japanese had lost the game. Since they had surprise and numerical superiority in their favor, this outcome was considered unacceptable. The rules of the game were adjusted (in the tradition, perhaps, of all wargamers) to produce the desired Japanese victory. Having vindicated themselves on the game map, the Japanese then proceeded to substantiate the verdict of the initial game design by suffering their first major defeat of the war."
By default, my Anki flashcard decks of foreign language vocabulary show me words I've added myself (usually because I had to look them up and figured if I memorized them I could spare Future Tracy a riffle through the dictionary). When those run out, though, Anki switches to cards I've downloaded from the Internet. And as we all know, the Internet has a strange set of priorities.... Read More
The Washington Post just reprinted a set of century-old illustrations of French life imagining in the year 2000. One of the fantasies here is as common now as it was then, but the other …... Read More