jm + bizarre   7

Sci-Fi Writer Greg Egan and 4chan anon Math Whiz Advance Permutation Problem | Quanta Magazine
On September 16, 2011, an anime fan posted a math question to the online bulletin board 4chan about the cult classic television series 'The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya'. Season one of the show, which involves time travel, had originally aired in non-chronological order, and a re-broadcast and a DVD version had each further rearranged the episodes. Fans were arguing online about the best order to watch the episodes, and the 4chan poster wondered: If viewers wanted to see the series in every possible order, what is the shortest list of episodes they’d have to watch?

In less than an hour, an anonymous person offered an answer — not a complete solution, but a lower bound on the number of episodes required. The argument, which covered series with any number of episodes, showed that for the 14-episode first season of Haruhi, viewers would have to watch at least 93,884,313,611 episodes to see all possible orderings. “Please look over [the proof] for any loopholes I might have missed,” the anonymous poster wrote.

The proof slipped under the radar of the mathematics community for seven years — apparently only one professional mathematician spotted it at the time, and he didn’t check it carefully. But in a plot twist last month, the Australian science fiction novelist Greg Egan proved a new upper bound on the number of episodes required. Egan’s discovery renewed interest in the problem and drew attention to the lower bound posted anonymously in 2011. Both proofs are now being hailed as significant advances on a puzzle mathematicians have been studying for at least 25 years.
mathematics  internet  math  greg-egan  anime  bizarre  4chan  superpermutation  permutation  proofs
4 weeks ago by jm
TIL you shouldn’t use conditioner if you get nuked
If you shower carefully with soap and shampoo, Karam says [Andrew Karam, radiation expert], the radioactive dust should wash right out. But hair conditioner has particular compounds called cationic surfactants and polymers. If radioactive particles have drifted underneath damaged scales of hair protein, these compounds can pull those scales down to create a smooth strand of hair. "That can trap particles of contamination inside of the scale," Karam says.

These conditioner compounds are also oily and have a positive charge on one end that will make them stick to negatively charged sections of a strand of hair, says Perry Romanowski, a cosmetics chemist who has developed personal hygiene formulas and now hosts "The Beauty Brains" podcast on cosmetics chemistry.

"Unlike shampoo, conditioners are meant to stay behind on your hair," Romanowski says. If the conditioner comes into contact with radioactive material, these sticky, oily compounds can gum radioactive dust into your hair, he says.
factoids  conditioner  surfactants  nuclear-bombs  fallout  hair  bizarre  til  via:boingboing
august 2017 by jm
The Irish Ether Drinking Craze
Dr. Kelly, desperate to become intoxicated while maintaining The Pledge, realized that not only could ether vapors be inhaled, but liquid ether could be swallowed. Around 1845 he began consuming tiny glasses of ether, and then started dispensing these to his patients and friends as a nonalcoholic libation. It wasn't long before it became a popular beverage, with one priest going so far as to declare that ether was "a liquor on which a man could get drunk with a clean conscience." In some respects ingesting ether is less damaging to the system than severe alcohol intoxication. Its volatility - ether is a liquid at room temperature but a gas at body temperature -dramatically speeds its effects. Dr. Ernest Hart wrote that "the immediate effects of drinking ether are similar to those produced by alcohol, but everything takes place more rapidly; the stages of excitement, mental confusion, loss of muscular control, and loss of consciousness follow each other so quickly that they cannot be clearly separated." Recovery is similarly rapid. Not only were ether drunks who were picked up by the police on the street often completely sober by the time they reached the station, but they suffered no hangovers.

Ether drinking spread rapidly throughout Ireland, particularly in the North, and the substance soon could be purchased from grocers, druggists, publicans, and even traveling salesmen. Because ether was produced in bulk for certain industrial uses, it could also be obtained quite inexpensively. Its low price and rapid action meant than even the poorest could afford to get drunk several times a day on it. By the 1880s ether, distilled in England or Scotland, was being imported and widely distributed to even the smallest villages. Many Irish market towns would "reek of the mawkish fumes of the drug" on fair days when "its odor seems to cling to the very hedges and houses for some time."
ether  history  ireland  northern-ireland  ulster  drugs  bizarre
january 2017 by jm
Violet Club
eye-poppingly bizarre half-assed safety features of the 1950s -- a megaton nuclear weapon rendered safe from accidental criticality accidents only by a plastic bag full of ball bearings
nuclear-weapons  nukes  safety  1950s  uk  funny  bizarre  violet-club  ball-bearings  via:cstross
july 2016 by jm
Beoir.org Community - Recent Attack on McGargles
bizarre conspiracy theory going around about McGargles microbrewery being owned by Molson in an "astroturf craft beer" operation -- they apparently were set up by a bunch of ex-Molson employees. Their beer is getting stickered in off-licenses. Mental!
beer  craft-beer  ireland  mcgargles  conspiracy-theories  bizarre  beoir
august 2015 by jm
Inside the mind of NSA chief Gen Keith Alexander | Glenn Greenwald
featuring some mental pics of the "Information Dominance Center", the Star Trek bridge which NSA chief Keith Alexander built with taxpayer money
big-brother  nsa  politics  keith-alexander  star-trek  funny  bizarre
september 2013 by jm