Odds and Ends 

A Straightforward Explanation on Exponential Growth and Epidemics

With Coronavirus at the forefront of global attention, this is a good time for a primer on exponential and logistic growth, which can often seem counterintuitive. An informative video by 3Blue1Brown Read more: https://twistedsifter.com/videos/straightforward-explanation-on-exponential-growth-and-epidemics/

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Covering Yourself in Aerogel and Jumping Into a Pool Looks So Surreal

Aerogel has extraordinary properties but it can be tough to work with. This video by Veritasium looks at modifying aerogels to take advantage of their unique characteristics. Aerogel’s extraordinary properties are due in large part to its structure. Aerogel is a solid but on the nanoscale it has a mesh or sponge-like structure. The struts of this structure are nanoscale, as are the pores at around 20nm across. This makes silica aerogel incredibly light (it was once the lightest solid but has now been superseded by graphene aerogel), transparent and…

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Swinging a Wrecking Ball with a Helicopter to Remove Unstable Rock

In this informative clip, the Norwegian Public Road Administration clears a potential rockfall debris prior to establishing an additional rockfall barrier fence. This was done in order to protect highway 70 in Western Norway. The helicopter sledgehammer was preformed by the Airlift AS, and the fence wast built by Betongrenovering AS. Read more: https://twistedsifter.com/videos/swinging-a-wrecking-ball-with-a-helicopter-to-remove-unstable-rock/

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This Real-Time Visual Shows How Slow Light Travels in the Vastness of Space

In this brilliant real-time visualization, we start with our planet to grasp just how fast light travels (300,000 km per second/186,000 miles per second). However, things quickly get mind-boggling when we use nearby objects in space like the moon, mars, and sun. The visualization was created by Dr. James O’Donoghue who is a Planetary Scientist at the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA. Before that, the good doc worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. I love how elegantly a simple visualization can explain concepts like these. Read more: https://twistedsifter.com/videos/real-time-visual-of-how-slow-light-travels-in-space/

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This is What Happens When You Teach an AI to Play Hide and Seek

The team at OpenAI observed agents discovering progressively more complex tool use while playing a simple game of hide-and-seek. Through training in their new simulated hide-and-seek environment, agents build a series of six distinct strategies and counterstrategies, some of which we did not know our environment supported. The self-supervised emergent complexity in this simple environment further suggests that multi-agent co-adaptation may one day produce extremely complex and intelligent behavior. You can find a detailed analysis and breakdown of this experiment at OpenAI Read more: https://twistedsifter.com/videos/teaching-an-ai-to-play-hide-and-seek/

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Pianist Attempts to Play Happy Birthday in 16 Levels of Complexity

Pianist and composer Nahre Sol attempts to play “Happy Birthday” in 16 levels of complexity. Nahre starts playing the iconic tune with just one finger and adds more and more layers until she’s playing it with extended harmonies, elongated melodies and staggered leaps. Watch and see how it all comes together! Video by Wired Read more: https://twistedsifter.com/videos/happy-birthday-on-piano-from-easy-to-hard/

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Why Are 96,000,000 Black Balls On This Reservoir?

Veritasium took a boat through 96 million black plastic balls on the Los Angeles reservoir to find out why they’re there. The first time he heard about shade balls the claim was they reduce evaporation. But it turns out this isn’t the reason they were introduced. The balls are made of high density polyethylene (HDPE) which is less dense than water so they float on the surface of the reservoir even if they break apart. They are 10cm (4 inches) in diameter and contain about 210ml of water. So the…

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Alex Honnold Breaks Down Iconic Rock Climbing Sce OMG Look At His Hands

Professional rock climber and free-solo ascent legend Alex Honnold breaks down rock climbing clips from both real life and film, including ‘Mission Impossible II,’ ‘Point Break,’ ‘Star Trek V,’ ‘Failure to Launch,’ ‘Dark Knight Rises,’ ‘Vertical Limit’ and ‘Cliffhanger’ I love his enthusiasm, and his knowledge and insight is not only extraordinary—but understandable and accessible to general audiences. Read more: https://twistedsifter.com/videos/alex-honnold-breaks-down-iconic-rock-climbing-scenes/

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Only in Japan Can Moving Be Described as a Pleasure

Ah Japan, the faraway land where everything is done more sensibly and efficiently. Take moving, a prospect so daunting, many of us would rather stay in our current home forever because the mere thought of packing/sorting/unpacking is too much to bear. I don’t know why, but I found this strangely therapeutic to watch. Read more: https://twistedsifter.com/videos/the-efficiency-of-japanese-movers/

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This Brie(f) History of Cheese by TED-Ed is a Must For Cheese Lovers!

Before empires and royalty, before pottery and writing, before metal tools and weapons – there was cheese. As early as 8000 BCE, Neolithic farmers began a legacy of cheesemaking almost as old as civilization. Today, the world produces roughly 22 billion kilograms of cheese a year, shipped and consumed around the globe. Paul Kindstedt shares the history of one of our oldest and most beloved foods. Lesson by Paul S. Kindstedt, directed by Charlotte Cambon. Read more: https://twistedsifter.com/videos/brief-history-of-cheese-by-ted-ed/

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