Saturday, August 29, 2015

[louwtopx] Children buying condoms

Create a reality show sketch of children of various ages buying condoms, filming the reactions of the checkout clerks.

Particularly interesting might be to vary the gender, race, and other markers of socioeconomic status of the children to see how a clerk's reaction varies, with the hypothesis that they will care a lot more when a child perceived to be of a more "important" class is buying condoms.

[cgsrsbeu] Pawn promotion in bughouse

A few distinct ideas of modifying pawn promotion in bughouse or crazyhouse chess.  The motivation is, because pawns can easily be captured then dropped on the 7th rank, there end up being too many queens, or the threat thereof, ruining the subtlety of the game.

A pawn can promote only to a Man, i.e., a fairy chess piece that moves like a nonroyal king.  Inspired by shogi, which also does drops, but pawns can promote only to Gold Generals which are far less powerful than chess queens.

A pawn that started on the second or third rank (either from the initial position or the being dropped there) may promote to any piece, but pawns dropped further up can only promote to rook, bishop, or knight (or Man).  This makes the promotion decision nontrivial depending on exactly what kind of piece movement you need at the moment.  We need to distinguish by some marking some pawns queenable versus not.

[ytnoplmw] Mercator with caps

The center section of the page is a Mercator projection, of course omitting the polar regions.  Above and below the center section are circular caps in some azimuthal projection of the polar regions.  Perhaps they overlap.

If they don't overlap, they could be scaled as a cut-apart cylinder.

Previously similar.

[zctkiahd] Market failures of competition

Economic competition induces cutting corners to decrease costs and increase profits.  This results in an abundance of shoddy products and services.

Is the market still acting efficiently in this case?  If not, exactly where are the market failures?

Perhaps imperfect information: the producer knows better than the consumer where the corners were cut.  But the market will naturally evolve signalling mechanisms. For example, this could be mitigated by transparency, especially among producers seeking to differentiate their product as one with high quality, one that does not cut corners.  But transparency does not seem to be happening.

Market failures of monopolies and oligopolies might dominate, making it hard to isolate effects not caused by then.

[zldhbsvq] Challenges of transmitting power

Assume that the future of power generation will be large amounts of power generated at remote locations.  Nuclear power plants far from populations, solar plants in the desert, wind turbines in flat areas, hydroelectric power from large dams.

Then, the key corresponding technology we need to develop is efficiently transporting the energy over long distances.  Superconducting cables?  Electrolysis then hydrogen through pipelines or tankers?

[fcqxnetg] Origami boat

Fold an origami boat while on a small boat, e.g., a canoe.  Your canoe is now a ship.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

[wbopzimj] Ramped hallway

Design a building with multiple floors in which the central hallway is sloped, probably as a spiral, so one can ascend to the upper floors without needing to climb stairs.  (Both stairs and elevators may also be provided as shortcuts.)

How large does the building have to be so that the slope is gradual enough?

How does one prevent the accidentally released baby carriage from rolling away at high speed?  Perhaps a circular ramp.

What should be done with doors off the hallway?  The horizontal bottom of the door will not line up with the slope of the ramp.  Perhaps the ramp goes horizontal at doors.

A "unit" off the hallway wanting two doors to the hallway will have to have stairs or ramp within the unit.  Or the building has internal and external spiral ramps.  But an external ramp will obstruct windows and patios.

Inspired by motorcycles being used to ascend the Tower of David abandoned skyscraper in Caracas Venezuela.  Previously on tall ramps.

[viuczpov] Trash can freezer

A kitchen trash can that is also a freezer, keeping the trash cold to prevent it from smelling.

[bgmxyetr] Bus with next bus display

Put on the outside curb side of the bus a live-updating display of times of the next buses arriving at the stop.  This is probably only useful for bus stops that have multiple bus routes that stop at it.

Ideally, such a display would instead be built into the bus stop itself (seen in San Francisco), but this has challenges of power, vandalism, and theft.  Initial deployment and subsequent maintenance requires an engineer to travel out to the field, instead of doing all work at the bus barn.  There are also probably more stops than buses.

On the other side of the bus, a similar display but giving the next buses for the stop across the street.  A passenger waiting at a stop across the street sees a bus stop there and can read when a bus is coming to his or her stop.

A similar display on the back of the bus for when the next bus of the same route is expected to arrive at the station just passed; for those situations of just missing a bus, seeing its back as it drives away.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

[ojmuwfqn] Alphabet subset

Given a list of words and a limit N, select N letters out of the alphabet which maximizes (or minimizes) the number of words on the list which can be spelled using only those letters.

Brute force: (word list size)*binomial(alphabet size, N) is probably not too bad for English.

Inspired by spelling words using hexadecimal letters only: CafeBabeFeedFaceDeadBeef.

[qlendfbp] Interesting helpmates

From a given chess position, perhaps the initial position, tree search (e.g., perft) can find all the checkmate positions within some number of plies.  These positions are helpmates, because it is simply exhaustive tree search and not minimax.  Which of these helpmate sequences are aesthetically interesting?

Minimality: None of the moves by either side can be omitted (replaced with a passing move).  Also avoid subsequences of useless moves, e.g., shuffling a rook.

[iaouizeu] Scoville homeopathy

Express spiciness using the homeopathic X (or C) potency scales, denoting the heat equivalent of a dilution of pure capsaicin.

What other substances do people consume that are useful at extremely low concentrations?  Maybe LSD.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

[zcdpxksx] Speed of weaponizing nuclear science

This seems a very short interval of time (34 years):
1911 Rutherford discovers the atom has a nucleus
1919 Rutherford discovers the proton
1932 Chadwick discovers the neutron
1938 Hahn discovers nuclear fission
1942 Chicago Pile-1 nuclear reactor
1945 Trinity nuclear test

Compare it with another seemingly short interval in technology (63 years):
1903 Wright brothers' first powered flight
1969 Apollo 11 man on the moon
though these achievements were preceded by ancient Chinese rockets and the "discovery" of bird and insect flight before recorded history.

1833 Faraday discovers semiconductivity in silver sulfide
1940 Ohl discovers p-n junction in silicon
1960 Fairchild Semiconductor mass produces integrated circuits
1971 Intel 4004 microprocessor

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

[jkjsenzc] Tipping

The debate surrounding tipping exemplifies the duality of "entitlement" versus "respect" in a political war of words.

One side bitterly complains about wait staff who act and speak as if they are "entitled" to tips, even though tipping is optional on the part of the customer.

The other side bitterly complains that not tipping, or not tipping enough, constitutes disrespect, and retaliation against poor tippers is therefore justified.

[nuiyagci] Dried beans shibboleth

Which grocery stores stock dried beans?  Could be a strong marker of the kinds of customers a store caters to.

[mzwvmtyr] Multiple charging ports

Create a smart phone with multiple micro USB ports.  This avoids the phone becoming unusable when its only port becomes damaged.  It also allows charging the phone via one port while using a power-hungry USB OTG device on another.

[adnihgcg] Tamil Nadu

It is curious that two candidates for the smartest human who has ever lived, Viswanathan Anand and Srinivasa Ramanujan, are both from the same state in India, Tamil Nadu. explores further (citing Patrick French), noting 3 out of 4 Indian Nobel prizes.

[kwuogjas] URL characters

URLs can use 66 unreserved characters, or 84 total including the "reserved" characters, hoping nothing weird happens with characters like # and / on the client side.

Unofficial limits on the length of a URL range from 2000 to 65000 characters.

One could encode quite a lot of information in 65K characters of base 84.

Motivating idea was a server which could run demoscene-style small programs generating an image or movie or game encoded in a HTTP GET request.  Probably redundant with the data URI scheme.

[vvrmyetr] Random sentence generator for passphrase initialisms

Consider a password scheme of using the initial letters of each word in a memorable sentence.  Create a random sentence generator to generate such memorable sentences, whose initial letters have a good distribution over all strings of a given length.

A better, or more fun, way to do it might be to start with a uniformly random (say) 8 character string, and have the user create a sentence with those initials.  Furthermore, the user is permitted to add additional words (likely articles, prepositions, and other "form" words) to help construct a memorable sentence.  This lengthens the initialism passphrase and is no longer uniform over the longer word length, but still has the 8 random characters worth of entropy that it started with.

Start with "vvrmyetr". Voracious Velociraptors Require More Yams to Eat Than Red meat.  End with "vvrmytetrm".

Perhaps avoid letters that are unusual initials, e.g., x.  Would using the second letters be easier?

Perhaps a game about who can create memorable sentences, and development and dissemination of wisdom on how.

[zxjheixk] Road watersheds

Three major interstates feed into the San Francisco Bay Area: I-5 South, I-5 North, and I-80.  Partition the rest of the country by which route is the fastest.

Inspired by a dream: how do you get to San Francisco from Tulsa?