Think or Thwim

A Collection of Things Worth Considering

Page 4 of 45

Happy St. Bill Hicks Day

It’s on the subgenious calendar

3 minutes. Link to Video

Bonnie Bassler: Discovering bacteria’s amazing communication system

The Digg headline for this is “one of the best science talks you will ever see.” I agree.

18 minutes. Link to Video

Extreme Zoom

This video zooms in on a carbon fiber – all the way to the individual atoms.

3 minutes. Link to Video

Continue reading


Increasing road capacity to accommodate increased driving is like buying bigger pants to cure obesity.

–Lewis Mumford

Taller Bike

This is Mike Mooney trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records at the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival in Asheville on a Saturday. He tweaked his knee a little, but no one else was hurt.

1 minute. Link to Video

Tall Bike

This is Mike Mooney riding his bike around Asheville on a Friday afternoon.

4 minutes. Link to Video

Religion’s Approval Rating is Slipping In the Polls

The new American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) survey shows that Americans are less religious than they were when the first ARIS survey was conducted in 1990.

“Many people thought our 2001 finding was an anomaly,” Keysar said. We now know it wasn’t. The ‘Nones’ are the only group to have grown in every state of the Union.”


Only 1.6% of Americans call themselves atheist or agnostic. But based on stated beliefs, 12% are atheist (no God) or agnostic (unsure), while 12% more are deistic (believe in a higher power but not a personal God). The number of outright atheists has nearly doubled since 2001, from 900 thousand to 1.6 million.


A Very Efficient Refrigerator

Tom Chalko | A Fridge That Takes Only 0.1 kWh?

This article is about converting a chest freezer into a refrigerator by adding a thermostat to cut off power to the freezer when it reaches the desired temperature, but before it can satisfy it’s own thermostat which is still set below freezing.

We just bought a small chest freezer for $220 at Lowes and I added a $60 thermostat to turn it into a refrigerator. It’s not the most efficient freezer out there, but we needed it in a hurry so we went for convenience. The Energy Star label says will use 280 kWh/year (as a freezer). An efficient refrigerator uses more like 400 kWh/year. A typical refrigerator uses 800-1100 kWh/year.

Today it was sitting on the front porch in the shade with a high temperature of about 80 degrees outside. According to my Kill-A-Watt meter, in 10 hours the new fridge used 0.10 kWh. That would be 0.24 kWh/day or 88 kWh/year. The results aren’t as good as the article, but still really good.

Update: I bought a line voltage remote bulb thermostat from Grainger. Then I cut an old powerstrip cord in half and wired the thermostat into it like a switch. That worked fine, but this thermostat looks like it does the same thing without having do anything but plug it in.


Stephen Wolfram:

Fifty years ago, when computers were young, people assumed that… one would be able to ask a computer any factual question, and have it compute the answer.

But it didn’t work out that way. Computers have been able to do many remarkable and unexpected things. But not that.

I’d always thought, though, that eventually it should be possible. And a few years ago, I realized that I was finally in a position to try to do it…

I wasn’t at all sure it was going to work. But I’m happy to say that with a mixture of many clever algorithms and heuristics, lots of linguistic discovery and linguistic curation, and what probably amount to some serious theoretical breakthroughs, we’re actually managing to make it work.

Nova Spivack:

One of the most surprising aspects of this project is that Wolfram has been able to keep it secret for so long. I say this because it is a monumental effort (and achievement) and almost absurdly ambitious. The project involves more than a hundred people working in stealth to create a vast system of reusable, computable knowledge, from terabytes of raw data, statistics, algorithms, data feeds, and expertise. But he appears to have done it, and kept it quiet for a long time while it was being developed.

Wolphram|Alpha coming in May.

More details at

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