Cryptography and the Landauer Limit

Sunday, July 5, 2009

In Hollywood, decrypting encrypted data is a simple matter of handing it off to a government lab or wunderkind and coming back in a few hours.

However, even if we were lenient toward Hollywood's fanciful views on computing power, there is another limitation which hackers are unlikely to get the better of: energy.

To bruteforce the decryption to AES-256 encrypted harddrive (commonly available for purchase) would require more energy than exists in the entire solar system. Even if you converted the sun and all the planets into pure energy, you would still come up short.

This is due to Landauer's principle. For a computational operation in which 1 bit of logical information is lost, the amount of entropy generated is at least k ln 2, and so the energy that must eventually be emitted to the environment is E ≥ kT ln 2. (k is the Boltzman constant and T is the temperature of the computer). For AES-256, 2^256 bits must be computed, which is quite a lot!

Possible remedy to this limitation may lie in the future development of reversible computing. If no information is erased, computation may be achieved which is thermodynamically reversible, and require no release of heat. The caveat is that this requires remembering previous states of the system, and must have available the memory necessary to do so.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The wild ancestors of the carrot are likely to have come from Afghanistan, which remains the centre of diversity of the wild carrot. Specimens of the eastern carrot that survive to the present day are commonly purple or yellow, and often have branched roots. The purple colour common in these carrots comes from anthocyanin pigments.

The western carrot emerged in the Netherlands in the 17th century, its orange colour making it popular in those countries as an emblem of the House of Orange and the struggle for Dutch independence. The orange colour results from abundant carotenes in these cultivars. Selective breeding over the centuries has reduced bitterness, increased sweetness, and minimized the woody core.

In early use, carrots were grown for their aromatic leaves and seeds, not their roots. Some relatives of the carrot are still grown for these, such as parsley, fennel, dill and cumin. The first mention of the root in classical sources is in the 1st century CE.

Massive overconsumption of carrots can cause hypercarotenemia, a condition in which the skin turns orange.

The urban legend that says eating large amounts of carrots will allow one to see in the dark developed from stories of British gunners in World War II who were able to shoot down German planes in the darkness of night. The legend arose during the Battle of Britain when the Royal Air Force circulated a story about their pilots' carrot consumption as an attempt to cover up the use of radar technologies in engaging enemy planes. It reinforced existing German folklore and helped to encourage Britons—looking to improve their night vision during the blackouts—to grow and eat the vegetable.

The Vegetable Improvement Center at Texas A&M University has developed a purple-skinned, orange-fleshed carrot, the BetaSweet (also known as the Maroon Carrot), containing substances which help prevent cancer. The high β-carotene content gives the carrot its maroon shade.

WWI and a three millenia old strategy

Monday, May 25, 2009

Spach, John Thom, "Allenby And The Last Crusade," MILITARY HISTORY,
March, 1996, 741 Miller Dr. SE, Suite D-2, Suite 300, Leesburg, VA

On February 13, 1918, the 60th Division took over the Deir Ibu Obed-Ras es Suffa-Hezmeh Line from the 53rd Division, and on the next day, operational orders were issued for an attack on Jericho with the object of driving the enemy across the Jordan River. Before the main attack could take place, it was necessary to straighten out the Brit ish line by capturing a small village in the hands of the Turks and directly in front of the 180th Brigade. The village was named Mukhmas, or Michmash.

A frontal assault was decided upon. Supported by artillery and machine guns, the brigade was to move down into the valley separating the two lines and at dawn it would storm up the other side, in the face of the enemy fire. The plan would entail some casualties, but those were deemed unavoidable. Orders were issued, and then the troops got what rest they could.

In his bivouac, by the light of a candle, Major Gilbert read his Bible. When the raid was first discussed, the name Michmash had sounded vaguely familiar, although he could not quite place it. Just as he was about to put out his candle, he thought he would try one more time to find the name. At last he found what he was searching for in 1st Samuel, chapters 13 and 14: "And Saul and Jonathan, his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.

"Now it came to pass upon a day that Jonathan, the son of Saul, said unto the young man that bare his armor, 'Come and let us go over to the Philistines' garrison, that is on the other side,' but he told not his father. . . . And the people knew not that Jonathan was gone.

"And between the passages by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: the name of one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. The forefront of one was situated northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah. And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour. . . 'It may be that the Lord will work for us; for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.'"

The major read on how Jonathan went through the pass of Michmash, between Bozez and Seneh, and climbed the hill with his armor-bearer following behind, until they came to a place high up, about "a half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow," and the Philistines who were sleeping awoke, thought they were surrounded by the armies of Saul, and the "multitudes melted away" as they fled in disorder. Saul then attacked with his whole force of about six-hundred men. It was a great victory for him, and "so the Lord saved Israel that day and the battle passed
over into Bethaven."

"This pass, these rocky headlands and flat piece of ground are probably still there," Gilbert told himself. "Very little has changed in Palestine throughout the centuries." He woke General Watson and informed him of what he had found in the Bible. Together they read the story over again. Then Watson sent out scouts, who came back and reported finding the pass, thinly guarded by the Turks, with rock crags on either side--obviously Bozez and Seneh. Up in Michmash, the moonlight shone on a flat piece of ground just big enough for a team to plough.

Immediately, Watson decided to change the plan of attack. Instead of the whole brigade, one infantry company advanced in the dead of night along the pass of Michmash. The few Turks they met were quickly and silently dealt with. They passed between Bozez and Seneh, climbed the hillside and, just before dawn, found themselves on the flat piece of ground. When the Turkish soldiers awoke, they thought they were surrounded by several British armies and fled in disorder.

Every enemy soldier who had slept that night in Michmash was either killed or captured. After thousands of years, the tactics of Jonathan and Saul succeeded a second time.

The World's Strongest Acid

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The term superacid was originally coined by James Bryant Conant in 1927 to describe acids that were stronger than conventional mineral acids.

In 1994 the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to George A. Olah for his investigations of superacids and their use in the direct observation of carbocations. "Olah's magic acid," so-named for its ability to attack hydrocarbons, is prepared by mixing antimony pentafluoride (SbF5) and fluorosulfuric acid. The name was coined after one of Professor Olah's post-doctoral associates placed a candle in a sample of magic acid. The candle was dissolved, showing the ability of the acid to protonate hydrocarbons, which under normal acidic conditions do not protonate to any extent.

The strongest known superacid is fluoroantimonic acid (HSbF6), a mixture of hydrogen fluoride and antimony pentafluoride. It is rapidly and explosively decomposed by water, and reacts with virtually all known solvents.

Fluoroantimonic acid is approximately 2×1019 (20 quintillion) times stronger than pure sulfuric acid.

It all began with the aurochs.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The aurochs or urus (Bos primigenius) was a very large type of cattle that was prevalent in Europe until its extinction in 1627.

Aurochs are depicted in many Paleolithic European cave paintings such as those found at Lascaux and Livernon in France. Early carvings of the aurochs have also been found. The impressive and dangerous aurochs survived into the Iron Age in Anatolia and the Near East, and was worshipped throughout that area as a sacred animal, the Lunar Bull, associated with the Great Goddess and later with Mithras.

Aurochs had several features rarely seen in modern cattle, such as lyre-shaped horns set at a forward angle, a pale stripe down the spine, and sexual dimorphism of coat color. Males were black with a pale eel stripe or finching down the spine, while females and calves were reddish. Aurochs were also known to have very aggressive temperaments and killing one was seen as a great act of courage in ancient cultures. The size of the ancient aurochs was far larger than most modern cattle, approximately 2 metres (6.5 feet) at the shoulder, and weighing 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lbs).

According to the Paleontologisk Museum, University of Oslo, aurochs evolved in India some two million years ago, migrated into the Middle East and further into Asia, and reached Europe about 250,000 years ago.[10] They were once considered a distinct species from modern European cattle (Bos taurus), but more recent taxonomy has rejected this distinction. The South Asian domestic cattle, or zebu, descended from a different group of aurochs at the edge of the Thar Desert in India; this would explain zebu resistance to drought.

Domestication of the aurochs began in the southern Caucasus and northern Mesopotamia from about the 6th millennium BC, while genetic evidence suggests that aurochs were independently domesticated in northern Africa and in India.

The last recorded live aurochs, a female, died in 1627 in the Jaktorów Forest, Poland. The skull was later taken by the Swedish Army during the Swedish invasion of Poland (1655–1660) and is now the property of Livrustkammaren in Stockholm.

In the 1920s two German zoo directors, the brothers Heinz and Lutz Heck, attempted to breed the aurochs "back into existence" from the domestic cattle that were their descendants. Their plan was based on the concept that a species is not extinct as long as all its genes are still present in a living population. The result is the modern breed called Heck cattle, which bears an incomplete resemblance to the physiology of the wild aurochs.

The Siege of Tyre

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Siege of Tyre was orchestrated in 333 BC by Alexander the Great.

Alexander began with an engineering feat that shows the true extent of his brilliance; as he could not attack the city from sea, he built a kilometer-long causeway stretching out to the island on a natural land bridge no more than two meters deep. This allowed his artillery to get in range of the walls.

As the bridge approached the walls, however, the water became much deeper, and the combined attacks from the walls and Tyrian navy made construction nearly impossible. Therefore, Alexander constructed two towers 150 feet high and moved them to the end of the causeway.

Like most of Alexander’s siege towers, these were moving artillery platforms, with catapults on the top to clear defenders off of the walls, and ballista below to hurl rocks at the wall and attacking ships. The towers were made of wood, but were covered in rawhide to protect them from fire arrows.

Although these towers were possibly the largest of their kind ever made, the Tyrians quickly devised a counterattack. They used an old horse transport ship, filling it with dried branches, pitch, sulfur, and various other combustibles. They then hung cauldrons of oil from the masts, so that they would fall onto the deck once the masts burned through. They also weighed down the back of the ship so that the front rose above the water. They then lit it on fire and ran it up onto the causeway. The fire spread quickly, engulfing both towers and other siege equipment that had been brought up. The Tyrian ships swarmed the pier, destroying any siege equipment that hadn’t caught fire, and driving off Macedonian crews that were trying to put out the fires.

Alexander was convinced that he would not be able to take Tyre without a navy. However, the Persian navy returned to find their home cities under Alexander’s control. The Persians' allegiance to their cities allowed Alexander to command eighty ships. This coincided with the arrival of another hundred and twenty from Cyprus, which had heard of his victories and wished to join him. With the arrival of another twenty three ships, Alexander had two hundred and twenty three galleys under his command.

Alexander then sailed on Tyre and quickly blockaded both ports with his superior numbers. He had several of the slower galleys, and a few barges, refit with battering rams, the only known case of battering rams being used on ships. Finding that large underwater blocks of stone kept the rams from reaching the walls, Alexander had them removed by crane ships. The rams then anchored near the walls, but the Tyrians sent out ships and divers to cut the anchor cables. Alexander responded by replacing them with chains.

The Tyrians tried another brilliant counter attack. They noticed that Alexander returned to the mainland at the same time every afternoon for lunch, at the same time much of his navy did. They therefore attacked at this time, but found Alexander had skipped his afternoon nap, and was able to quickly counter the sortie.

Alexander started testing the wall at various points with his rams, until he made a small breach in the south end of the island. He then coordinated an attack across the breach with a bombardment from all sides by his navy. Once his troops forced their way into the city, they easily overtook the garrison, and quickly captured the city. Those citizens that took shelter in the temple of Herakles were pardoned by Alexander, including the king of Tyre. The others, some 30,000 people, were sold into slavery, both because of the length of the siege, and because the Tyrians had executed some captured sailors on the walls.

Banach-Tarski Paradox

Friday, April 17, 2009

First formulated in 1924, the Banach-Tarski paradox states that it is possible to decompose a ball into six pieces which can be reassembled by rigid motions to form two balls of the same size as the original. The number of pieces was subsequently reduced to five by Robinson (1947), although the pieces are extremely complicated. (Five pieces are minimal, although four pieces are sufficient as long as the single point at the center is neglected.) A generalization of this theorem is that any two bodies in that do not extend to infinity and each containing a ball of arbitrary size can be dissected into each other.

Of course, this doesn't actually work for everyday physical objects, because they are built up out of atoms, not an infinite continuum of points, but it does work for the idealized objects you are accustomed to studying in high-school geometry class!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ethanethiol has a strongly disagreeable odor. The threshold for human detection is as low as one part in 2.8 billion parts of air. According to the 2000 edition of the Guinness Book Of World Records, ethanethiol is the "smelliest substance" in existence.

Ethanethiol is intentionally added to butane and propane to impart an easily noticed smell to these odorless fuels.

The Science of Made Up Substances

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In 1667, Johann Joachim Becher published his Physical Education, which was the first mention of what would become the phlogiston theory.

The theory holds that all flammable materials contain phlogiston, a substance without colour, odour, taste, or mass that is liberated in burning. Once burned, the "dephlogisticated" substance was held to be in its "true" form, the calx.

In general, substances that burned in air were said to be rich in phlogiston; the fact that combustion soon ceased in an enclosed space was taken as clear-cut evidence that air had the capacity to absorb only a definite amount of phlogiston. When air had become completely phlogisticated it would no longer serve to support combustion of any material, nor would a metal heated in it yield a calx; nor could phlogisticated air support life, for the role of air in respiration was to remove the phlogiston from the body. Thus, phlogiston as first conceived was a sort of anti-oxygen.

Phlogiston remained the dominant theory until Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier showed that combustion requires a gas which has weight (oxygen), which could be measured by means of weighing closed vessels.

luminiferous aether

In Greek mythology, Aether is one of the Protogenoi, the first-born elemental gods. He is the personification of the "upper sky," space, and heaven, and the elemental god of the "Bright, Glowing, Upper Air." He is the pure upper air that the gods breathe, as opposed to the gloomy lower air of the Earth, which mortals breathe.

Plato's Timaeus posits the existence of a fifth element (corresponding to the fifth remaining Platonic solid, the dodecahedron) called quintessence, of which the cosmos and all celestial bodies are made.

Aristotle included aether in the system of the classical elements of Ionic philosophy as the "fifth element" (the quintessence), on the principle that the four terrestrial elements were subject to change and moved naturally in straight lines while no change had been observed in the celestial regions and the heavenly bodies moved in circles. In Aristotle's system aether had no qualities (was neither hot, cold, wet, or dry), was incapable of change (with the exception of change of place), and by its nature moved in circles.

In order to explain the properties of light, Newton's Opticks (1704) postulated an "Aethereal Medium" transmitting vibrations faster than light, by which light, when overtaken, is put into "Fits of easy Reflexion and easy Transmission", which caused refraction and diffraction.

Einstein's theories of relativity have since made the aether theory largely an irrelevancy.

A certain modification to the Aristotelian theory of motion preceded Galileo, in which motion was described as a transmission of "impetus." Objects would eventually run out of impetus, which explained why a thrown stone would eventually come back down.

dark matter
In astronomy and cosmology, dark matter is hypothetical matter that is undetectable by its emitted radiation, but whose presence can be inferred from gravitational effects on visible matter. Dark matter is postulated to explain the flat rotation curves of spiral galaxies and other evidence of "missing mass" in the universe. According to present observations of structures larger than galaxies, as well as Big Bang cosmology, dark matter and dark energy account for the vast majority of the mass in the observable universe.

energy and other quantities
While things like phlogiston may sound silly from our modern view, they are not that far off from contemporary beliefs. Dark matter has already been mentioned as one gap-filler in modern physics. But much more essential concepts such as "energy" perform the same role. It represents a quantity we use in certain bookkeeping on particles, but energy is not an essence that physicists have ever observed in its pure element (nor could they). The same goes for charge and other quantities. They serve us in the same role that phlogiston and impetus once served our predecessors: as a theoretical representation of how the state of objects changes.

The Oklo reactors

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The first artificial nuclear reactor was built by Enrico Fermi and co-workers beneath the University of Chicago's football stadium and brought on line on December 2, 1942. This reactor, which produced several kilowatts of power, consisted of a pile of graphite blocks weighing 385 tons stacked in layers around a cubical array of 40 tons of uranium metal and uranium oxide.

But preceding this by billions of years is the Oklo reactor discovered in Gabon, Central Africa, in 1972. The sustained chain reaction of this naturally occurring uranium deposit was mediated by water, which would decelerate ambient neutrons to fission appropriate speeds, and boil away when the reaction became too hot. The length of reaction has been calculated as approximately two-and-a-half hours per interval.

While other Uranium deposits have sufficient fuel to create a reactor, only the Oklo deposits have had the neutron moderation necessary to become active.

B-A-C-H the melody.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It may be strange to think of "B-A-C-H" as a melody, given that the available musical notes we are familiar with include only A,B,C,D,E,F, and G

In the early days of European music notation (4-line staff Gregorian chant manuscripts), only the note B could be altered (i.e. have an accidental applied to it): it could be flattened, thus moving from the hexachordum durum (i.e. the hard hexachord: G-A-B-C-D-E) where it is natural, to the hexachordum molle (i.e. the soft hexachord: F-G-A-B♭-C-D) where it is flat.

The flat sign ♭ actually derives from a round b, signifying the B of the soft hexachord, that is, B flat (hence the name of the flat sign in French "bémol" from medieval French "bé mol" — modern French "bé mou" — or "soft b") and originally meant only B♭;

Both the natural sign ♮ and the sharp ♯ derive from a square b, signifying the B of the hard hexachord, that is, B natural (hence the name of the natural sign in French "bécarre" from medieval French "bé carre", earlier "bé quarre" — modern French "bé carré" — or "square b") and originally meant only B natural.

In the same way, in German music notation the letter B designates B flat while the letter H, which is actually a deformation of a square B, designates B natural.

Thus, in Johannes Sebastian Bach's homeland, his name is indeed a melody, more specifically, a cruciform melody, which Bach encoded into the last theme of the last fugue he ever wrote as a devotion to Christ.

What time of the day is noon?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Noon derives from the Latin nona hora meaning, "the ninth hour." Roman days began at six in the morning, so "noon" originally meant from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

When the word was borrowed into Old English as non it meant 3 p.m.

By the 12th century noon had come to refer to midday, and when prayer and meal times transitioned from to 12 p.m., noon officially came to mean the sixth hour instead of the ninth.

Brannock Device

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

If you have ever wondered about the device used at shoe stores to measure your feet, it is called a Brannock Device, and was patented in 1926 by Charles Brannock from Syracuse, New York. The initial prototype was based on models made using pieces from an Erector Set. Prior to the Brannock device shoe makers referred to wooden measuring sticks.

The Brannock device measures the length, width, and heel-to-ball length of the foot at the same time.

Brannock devices last up to 15 years (when the numbers wear off).

Liquid Breathing

Liquid breathing is a form of respiration in which a normally air-breathing organism breathes an oxygen-rich liquid (usually a perfluorocarbon) rather than breathing air.

Liquid breathing could be used in diving as an alternative to rigid diving suits and heliox/trimix. With liquid in the lungs, the pressure within the diver's lungs could accommodate changes in the pressure of the surrounding water without the huge gas partial pressure exposures required when the lungs are filled with gas. Liquid breathing would not result in the saturation of body tissues with high pressure nitrogen or helium that occurs with the use of non-liquids, thus would reduce or remove the need for slow decompression.

A significant problem, however, arises from the high viscosity of the liquid and the corresponding reduction in its ability to remove CO2. All uses of liquid breathing for diving must involve total liquid ventilation. Total liquid ventilation, however, has difficulty moving enough liquid to carry away CO2, because no matter how great the total pressure is, the amount of partial CO2 gas pressure available to dissolve CO2 into the breathing liquid can never be much more than the pressure at which CO2 exists in the blood. Therefore, assistance from a mechanical ventilator is required.

Liquid breathing could also be used in space travel to insulate astronauts against the effects of rapid acceleration. Liquid immersion provides a way to reduce the physical stress of G forces. Forces applied to fluids are distributed as omnidirectional pressures. Because liquids cannot be practically compressed, they do not change density under high acceleration such as performed in aerial maneuvers or space travel. A person immersed in liquid of the same density as tissue has acceleration forces distributed around the body, rather than applied at a single point such as a seat or harness straps. This principle is used in a new type of G-suit called the Libelle G-suit, which allows aircraft pilots to remain conscious and functioning at more than 10 G acceleration by surrounding them with water in a rigid suit.

Acceleration protection by liquid immersion is limited by the differential density of body tissues and immersion fluid, limiting the utility of this method to about 15 to 20 G[21] Extending acceleration protection beyond 20 G requires filling the lungs with fluid of density similar to water. An astronaut totally immersed in liquid, with liquid inside all body cavities, will feel little effect from extreme G forces because the forces on a liquid are distributed equally, and in all directions simultaneously. However effects will be felt because of density differences between different body tissues, so an upper acceleration limit still exists.

Liquid breathing for acceleration protection may never be practical because of the difficulty of finding a suitable breathing medium of similar density to water that is compatible with lung tissue. Perfluorocarbon fluids are twice as dense as water, hence unsuitable for this application.

Nose grease... amazing stuff

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nasal sebum, also known as Nose grease/oil, is grease removed from the surface of the human nose. The pores of the lateral creases (where the nose joins the face) of the exterior of the nose create and store more oil and grease than pores elsewhere on the human body, forming a readily available source of small quantities of grease or oil.

Nose grease can be used to minimize scratches in optical surfaces, for example when cleaning photographic negatives. Observatory lore holds that nose grease was used to reduce stray light and reflections in transmissive telescopes before the development of vacuum antireflective coatings. The antireflective properties are due in part to the fact that the nose oil fills small cracks and scratches and forms a smooth, polished surface, and in part to the low index of refraction of the oil, which can reduce surface reflection from transmissive optics that have a high index of refraction. The same effect is sometimes used by numismatic hobbyists to alter the apparent grade of slightly worn coins.

Nose grease has mild antifoaming properties and can be used to break down a high head on freshly poured beer or soft drinks. Wiping nose grease onto one's finger and then touching or stirring the foam causes it to dissipate rapidly.

Nose grease has also been used as a lubricant when playing the banjo. It can lubricate fingers for slides with the fingering hand, or to lubricate picks so they do not 'stick' to the strings when playing.

Great highland bagpipers use it to coat the right pinky finger to play the burl movement more rapidly.

Observing a green apple increases the likelihood of all ravens being black

Given the proposition
(1) All ravens are black.

the observation
(2) My pet raven is black.

is clearly evidence supporting the hypothesis that all ravens are black.

However, statement (1) has precisely the same meaning as:
(3) Everything that is not black is not a raven.

and the observation
(4) This apple is green.

supports (3) just as (2) supports (1).

Since (3) and (1) are logically equivalent, the observation of an apple that is green supports the assumption that a raven is black.

Sticky Tape Produces X-Rays

You may have noted the effect of triboluminescence, in which peeled tape emits visible light.

In a vacuum, it also would appear to emit x-rays.

As the tape peels the acrylic adhesive on the exposed tape becomes positively charged and the outer surface of the remaining polyethylene roll acquires a negative charge. This causes electric fields to build up to values that trigger discharges.

At the reduced pressure in the experiment--about one millionth of an atmosphere--the discharges accelerate the electrons to energies that generate X–rays when they suddenly decelerate in the positive side of the tape.


Hippocleides doesn't care!

As a young man Hippocleides competed for the hand of Agariste, the daughter of Cleisthenes, the tyrant of Sicyon. By the end of the competitions, only Hippocleides and Megacles remained. According to Herodotus (6.129-130), Hippocleides became intoxicated during a dinner party with Cleisthenes, and began to act like a fool. At one point, he stood on his head and kicked his legs in the air, keeping time with the flute music.

When Hippocleides was informed that he had "danced away his bride," his response was "Hippocleides doesn't care."

The phrase, according to Herodotus, became a common expression.


A113 (Sometimes A-113 or A1-13) is an inside joke present in animated films created by alumni of CalArts referring to the classroom used by character animation students at the school.

  • American Dad! - Stan's neighbor's driver's license when he pulls into church.
  • Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law - In Deadomutt Part 1, Birdman is moved to office 113-A (which is really a restroom).
  • The Simpsons - Krusty the Clown's prison number in the season one episode "Krusty Gets Busted" and Sideshow Bob's number in the season seven episode "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming."
  • The Simpsons - Sideshow Bob's prison number in his mugshot in the episode "Cape Feare."
  • The Simpsons - Bart's inmate number in his mugshot in the Do the Bartman music video.
  • Powerpuff Girls - The number of the Stealth Fighter when Blossom flies as she reaches and touches the tail with her hand.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures - In Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, when Plucky and Hampton arrive at Happy World Land, a license plate reads "A-113" on one of the cars in the parking lot.[citation needed]
  • South Park - On the side of a helicopter in the episode Prehistoric Ice Man, "A-113" is clearly visible.
  • Bobby's World - In the episode "The Visit to Aunt Ruth's", the number on the card of Bobby's imaginary mugshot.
  • Toy Story - License plate number on Andy's mother's minivan
  • A Bug's Life - Code on cereal box as Flik enters the bug city.
  • Toy Story 2 - Airport announcement for "LassetAir Flight A113", also a reference to director John Lasseter.
  • Monsters, Inc. - Sign seen in the background when Sulley sees Smitty and Needleman loading the trash compactor.
  • Finding Nemo - Model code on camera used by scuba diver.
  • The Incredibles - Room number in Syndrome's lair, the prison level where Mr. Incredible is held is "Level A1" in Cell # 13: A1 & 13, and the rocket holding the Omnidroid 9000 is rocket #13 in sector A1. Also, when Mirage gives Mr. Incredible the room number where he would be briefed on his next assignment, she says it is D-wing, room A-113.
  • Cars - Mater's license plate. Also the number of the railway train which almost crashes into Lightning McQueen while he is on his way to Radiator Springs.
  • Ratatouille - Git, the lab rat, has a tag on his left ear that reads, "A113".
  • WALL-E - The code for Auto's directive.
  • The Iron Giant - License plate on car partially eaten by the Giant; the 3 is bitten off.
  • Leroy & Stitch - License plate on Stitch's car.
  • Lilo & Stitch - License plate number on all vehicles, including Cobra Bubbles' rental car, Captain Gantu's spaceship, Nani's car, fire truck, tanker truck, and license plate in Lilo's room (used in Stitch's model of San Francisco)
  • Bugs Bunny's Lunar Tunes- In the scene with the Key Witness, one of the videos the Witness shows is "Satellite View A-113."
  • The Brave Little Toaster - The apartment number where "The Master" lives.
  • Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers - The license plate number of the carriage that has Mickey held as captive.
  • Aladdin (film) - The license plate on Abu when the Genie turns him into a car for a split second.

Mammalian diving reflex

The mammalian diving reflex optimizes respiration which allows mammals to stay underwater for a long time. It is exhibited strongly in aquatic mammals (seals, otters, dolphins, etc.), but exists in a weaker version in other mammals, humans included. Every animal's diving reflex is triggered specifically by cold water contacting the face. Also, the reflex is always exhibited more dramatically, and thus can grant longer survival, in young people and animals.

On July 16, 2004, a toddler was successfully revived after five hours following an accident in an Australian pond.

Arrays in C

C's array notation is really just shorthand for pointer operations, and C lets you use either in most contexts. For example, if a is declared as an array, *(a+i), a[i], and i[a] mean exactly the same thing.


One possible derivation of the name for the island of Manhattan is from "manahachtanienk," meaning "place of general inebriation" in the Munsee dialect of Lenape. There is an associated tradition that Henry Hudson once preferred his liquor to an Indian chief on the island, and the Indian chief passed out, awaking to request more for his tribe, whereat they all got wasted.

Other possible derivations include "manahatouh" (place where timber is procured for bows and arrows)
or "menatay" (island).

Or "manhattan" may be translatable as "island of many hills."

Monopoly Math

The best return on investment to be found is from putting a third house on New York Avenue. In fact, the third house has the fastest payoff of any building on almost all of the properties.

The square most landed on other than Jail is Illinois Avenue, and a hotel there will bring the most income other than a hotel on Boardwalk.

By far the worst individual investment is to buy Mediterranean Avenue without first owning Baltic.

Nintendo Mario Trivia

  • Mario was first seen in the video game Donkey Kong, but he was called "Jumpman." He was also a carpenter then, not a plumber.
  • Mario was named after Mario Segale, the landlord of Nintendo of America’s office, who barged in on a company meeting demanding an overdue rent.
  • Shigeru Miyamoto drew Mario as wearing a cap because he found drawing hair difficult. He also drew in the moustache, because it was easier to see than a mouth in the crude video game screen resolution back then.
  • Mario and his younger brother Luigi are known as the "Mario Brothers." This means that Mario’s last name is also Mario, so his full name is Mario Mario.
  • Mario’s nemesis is Wario (a combination of “warui”, the Japanese word for bad, and Mario). Similarly, Luigi’s rival is Waluigi.

The Tragic Tale of Meux's Horse Shoe Brewery

In 1814, Meux's Horse Shoe Brewery in London constructed a brewing vat that was 22 feet tall and 60 feet in diameter, with an interior big enough to seat 200 for dinner -- which is exactly how its completion was celebrated. (Why 200? Because a rival had built a vat that seated 100, of course.)

After the dinner, the vat was filled to its 4,000-barrel capacity, ruptured, caused other vats to break, and a wall of 1.3 million gallons of dark beer washed down the street, caving in two buildings and killing nine people by means of "drowning, injury, poisoning by the porter fumes, or drunkenness."

Rescue attempts were blocked and delayed by the thousands who flocked to the area to drink directly off the road. And when survivors were finally brought to the hospital, the other patients became convinced from the smell that the hospital was serving beer to every ward except theirs. A riot broke out, and even more people were left injured.


Middle English, from Old French aguillette, diminutive of aguille, needle, from Vulgar Latin *acūcula, from Late Latin acucula, diminutive of Latin acus, needle; see ak- in Indo-European roots.

An aglet is the small bit at the end of your shoelace, or any other cord/ribbon, that is used to feed it through the eyelit holes.


24601 is the prisoner number of Jean val Jean in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.

Why did he choose it? One theory is that it is the date of his conception.

It is also a hyperperfect number and appears in the apocalypse prime 10^665 + 24601, although it is not itself prime. (it is divisible by 73)

Coso artifact

The Coso Artifact is a spark plug found encased in a lump of hard clay or rock on February 13, 1961 by Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey, and Mike Mikesell while they were prospecting for geodes near the town of Olancha, California and long claimed as an example of an out-of-place artifact. Following its collection, Mikesell destroyed a diamond edged blade cutting through the rock containing the artifact and discovered the item. Within a three-paragraph letter,Virginia Maxey, one of the discoverers, wrote:

"In the opinion of one trained geologist, it has taken at least 500,000 years for this nodule to attain its present form—and yet, when we cut it open, we discovered a manmade object within the geode's cavity"

It is well documented that the nodule surrounding the spark plug may have accreted in a matter of years or decades as demonstrated by examples of very similar iron or steel artifact-bearing nodules.

On September 9, 1999, Chad Windham, President of the Spark Plug Collectors of America, identified the Coso Artifact as a 1920s-era Champion spark plug, which was widely used in the Ford Model T and Model A engines. Other members of the spark plug collector community soon concurred with this assessment.


Herostratus (Ancient Greek: Ἡρόστρατος) was a young man who set fire to the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (in what is now western Turkey) in his quest for fame on about July 20, 356 BC. The temple was constructed of marble and considered the most beautiful of some thirty shrines built by the Greeks to honour their goddess of the hunt, the wild and childbirth. The temple was also one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, 425 feet long and supported by columns sixty feet high.

Far from attempting to evade responsibility for his act of arson, Herostratus proudly claimed credit in order to immortalize his name in history. In order to dissuade similar-minded fame-seekers, the Ephesean authorities not only executed him but also condemned him to a legacy of obscurity by forbidding mention of his name under the penalty of death. This did not stop Herostratus from achieving his goal, however, as the ancient historian Theopompus recorded the event and its perpetrator in his history.


Thiotimoline is a fictitious chemical compound conceived by science fiction author Isaac Asimov and first described in a spoof scientific paper titled "The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline" in 1948.

In Asimov's writing, thiotimoline is notable for the fact that when it is mixed with water, the chemical actually begins to break down before it contacts the water. This is explained by the fact that in the thiotimoline molecule, there is at least one carbon atom such that, while two of the carbon's four chemical bonds lie in normal space and time, one of the bonds projects into the future and another into the past. Thiotimoline is derived from the bark of the shrub Rosacea Karlsbadensis rufo, and the thiotimoline molecule includes at least fourteen hydroxy groups, two amino groups, and one sulfonic acid group, and possibly one nitro compound group as well. The nature of the hydrocarbon nucleus is unknown, although it seems in part to be an aromatic hydrocarbon.

The story of the genesis of this spoof was one of Asimov's favorite personal anecdotes, one he retold a number of times in print. In the spring of 1947, Asimov was engaged in doctoral research in biochemistry and, as part of his experimental procedure, he needed to dissolve catechol in water. As he observed the crystals dissolve as soon as they hit the water's surface, it occurred to him that if catechol were any more soluble, then it would dissolve before it encountered the water.

By that time Asimov had been writing professionally for nine years and was shortly to face the challenge of writing up his research as a doctoral dissertation. He feared that the experience of writing readable prose for publication might have impaired his ability to write the prose typical of academic discourse, and decided to practice with a spoof article (including charts, graphs, tables, and citations of fake articles in nonexistent journals) describing experiments on a compound, thiotimoline, that was so soluble that it dissolved in water up to 1.12 seconds before the water was added.

Asimov wrote the article on 8 June 1947, but he was uncertain as to whether the resulting work of fiction was publishable. He finally offered it to John W. Campbell, the editor of Astounding Science Fiction, his preferred publication outlet. Campbell was delighted with the piece, and accepted it for publication, agreeing to Asimov's request that it appear under a pseudonym in deference to Asimov's concern that he might alienate potential doctoral examiners at Columbia University if he were revealed as the author.

Some months later Asimov was shocked to see the piece appear in the March 1948 issue of Astounding under his own name. In later years Campbell insisted that this was an oversight, though Asimov maintained a suspicion that Campbell had acted deliberately out of greater worldliness, for, in Asimov's words, "The Columbia Chemistry Department proved far less stuffy than I had feared" and his examiners effectively delivered their favorable verdict on his dissertation by good-naturedly asking him a final question about thiotimoline. In Opus 100 (1969) Asimov called the thiotimoline article "an utter success", and noted that the New York Public Library "was pestered for days by eager youngsters trying to find the nonexistent journals so they could read more on the subject".

Acidosis (from exercise) is not caused by lactic acid

Contrary to popular belief, this increased concentration of lactate does not directly cause acidosis, nor is it responsible for delayed onset muscle soreness. This is because lactate itself is not capable of releasing a proton, and secondly, the acidic form of lactate, lactic acid, cannot be formed under normal circumstances in human tissues. Analysis of the glycolytic pathway in humans indicates that there are not enough hydrogen ions present in the glycolytic intermediates to produce lactic or any other acid.

The acidosis that is associated with increases in lactate concentration during heavy exercise arises from a separate reaction. When ATP is hydrolysed, a hydrogen ion is released. ATP-derived hydrogen ions are primarily responsible for the decrease in pH. During intense exercise, aerobic metabolism cannot produce ATP quickly enough to supply the demands of the muscle. As a result, anaerobic metabolism becomes the dominant energy producing pathway as it can form ATP at high rates. Due to the large amounts of ATP being produced and hydrolysed in a short period of time, the buffering systems of the tissues are overcome, causing pH to fall and creating a state of acidosis, a natural process which facilitates the easier dissociation of Oxyhaemoglobin and allows easier transfer of oxygen from the blood. This may be one factor, among many, that contributes to the acute muscular discomfort experienced shortly after intense exercise.

How to coinflip over the telephone

In telecommunications and cryptography, the following algorithm can be used:

1. Party A chooses two large primes, either both congruent to 1, or both congruent to 3, mod 4, called p and q, and produces N = pq; then N is communicated to party B, but p and q are not. It follows N will be congruent to 1 mod 4. The primes should be chosen large enough that factoring of N is not computationally feasible. The exact size will depend on how much time party B is to be given to make the choice in the next step, and on party B's expected resources.
2. Party B calls either "1" or "3", a claim as to the mod 4 status of p and q. For example, if p and q are congruent to 1 mod 4, and B called "3", B loses the toss.
3. Party A produces the primes, making the outcome of the toss obvious; party B can easily multiply them to check that A is being truthful.


In low doses, nutmeg produces no noticeable physiological or neurological response. Large doses of 60 g (~12 teaspoons) or more are dangerous, potentially inducing convulsions, palpitations, nausea, eventual dehydration, and generalized body pain In amounts of 10-40 g (~2-8 teaspoons) it is a mild to medium hallucinogen, producing visual distortions and a distinct euphoria. According to some, the effects have a striking similarity to cannabis intoxication, except with a longer duration, and more side effects. Nutmeg contains myristicin, a weak monoamine oxidase inhibitor.

Comparisons between nutmeg intoxication and MDMA have been made, however this remains speculative. This has recently been disproved by the 2006 paper "Abuse of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt.): studies on the metabolism and the toxicologic detection of its ingredients elemicin, myristicin, and safrole in rat and human urine using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry" by Hans Maurer et al at University of Saarland. However, use of nutmeg as a recreational drug is unpopular due to its unpleasant taste and its side effects, including dizziness, flushes, dry mouth, accelerated heartbeat, temporary constipation, difficulty in urination, nausea, and panic. A user will not experience a peak until approximately six hours after ingestion, and effects can linger for up to three days afterwards.

A risk in any large-quantity (over 25 g, ~5 teaspoons) ingestion of nutmeg is the onset of 'nutmeg poisoning', an acute psychiatric disorder marked by thought disorder, a sense of impending doom/death, and agitation. Some cases have resulted in hospitalization.