Wednesday, August 16, 2017

[nmxxmitr] Easy high speed rail

If we instituted a carbon tax, would high-speed rail simply appear, displacing the airline industry, as it becomes financially desirable to solve rail's political problems?  The underlying assumption is that high-speed trains are considerably more fuel efficient than airplanes.  High-speed trains also can use electricity from non-carbon sources.

The assumption that high speed trains are more fuel efficient might be false due to air resistance: air is denser near the surface of the earth.  Trains could be made to run in evacuated tubes.

[fzfogruv] Tag team chess

Multiple players on a team but only one at time at the board making moves; others sequestered.  Specialists possible for different phases of the game.  Long games possible, since exhaustion less of an issue.

Details remain of sequestering and how to induce a player change.

What other sports would tag-team be interesting?

[vllukivz] Arbitrary slope word search

Create a word search puzzle in which words can be at any rational slope, not just ({-1,0,+1}, {-1,0,+1}) as typically done.  Words may also wrap around.

Two possibilities: slopes like (2,0), i.e., skipping every other letter on a horizontal line, are not permitted.  This makes it like drawing lines through lattice points.

Or, such slopes are permitted: if the total number of letters in the grid is a smooth number, then the puzzle may be reformatted to many different shapes, and a word solution in one shape remains a word solution in another.  One can even format into higher dimensional grids.  This could help make the puzzle easier.

Pack a large number of words into a grid given these relaxed rules.

[rfudakrd] Symmetric dice faces

Mark a d6 die with the following number of pips on faces: 0 1 4 5 8 9.  These are the numbers of pips which can be elegantly drawn with 4-fold symmetry on a square face.

Consider a convention in which 2 can be signified as a central 1 dot circled.  Then, on equilateral triangular faces, any natural number can be drawn symmetrically on the face.  For example, 4 is 3 dots on the corners and a central dot circled.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

[wpxdhrin] Circle constant in binary

In binary, the controversy about which of pi, 2*pi, or pi/2 should be the circle constant is simply where to put the decimal point.

Pi/4 is a nice constant between 0 and 1: . 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1

[iprpjqdt] Perspective checkerboard

An infinite checkerboard drawn with one- or two-point perspective can display an infinite number of squares, assuming possible drawing infinitely fine detail, which can be done on a computer by providing zoom.

Somewhat resembles models of hyperbolic space, e.g., Poincare half-plane model.  Infinity is on the horizon.

Play games on an infinite checkerboard, maybe Conway's Game of Life.

[ehgrxcmb] Why can we dance?

Both dancing and playing musical instruments involve sequences of physical movements done with extremely high precision in time: rhythm.  Why, evolutionarily, are humans able to do this?

Three taps could convey a lot of information, the middle tap precisely timed between the others.

[ioxojklm] Not packing spheres

Mathematicians study circle packing and sphere packing.  However, beautiful patterns can also be made if the circles or spheres intersect one another.

[ptipicgi] Polyhypercubes

A sudoku grid can elegantly display a 4D object consisting of hypercubes glued together.  This can be the basis for 4D games.

Rotate one 4D object to match a given orientation.

4D Soma cube.

Generalize many other 2D games based on a square grid or square lattice to 4D.

Monday, August 07, 2017

[kbhpcikp] Better shufflable cards

A deck of cards is an elegant entropy generation (and storage) device.  Can it be improved so that it is easier and more effectively shuffled?  Maybe the edges of the cards taper in thickness.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

[wvrvhuym] Packing shiftable rectangles

Consider an orthography in which a letter may be shifted up or down so long as it intersects the baseline.  For example, the lowercase letter g may be shifted up so that its tail sits on the baseline, or shifted down so the top of the letter is tangent to the baseline.  This is different from traditional English orthography.

Given this flexibility for each letter, pack words in a paragraph in as little vertical space as possible, avoiding overlapping letters.  If spacing between words, i.e., horizontal justification, is solved first (by normal methods), then the vertical position of letters could be (somewhat) easily solved with a system of springs.  Each letter prefers to be centered on each line's baseline, and the top line and bottom line prefer to be as close as possible.  Minimize the total potential energy.

More complicated is if horizontal spacing is adjusted simultaneously with vertical positions of each letter.  Shift a word left or right to fit in the nooks and crannies of the word below it.

This may be difficult to read it the baseline is not marked.  Maybe alternating lines are in different colors.

For a more sophisticated model, the range a letter may be shifted may be different from its total vertical height.

Inspired by this bunch of text with letters of many different sizes.  There, a single tall letter determined the height of the line.

[pmzaxaxr] Sidereal solar delta

Distant aliens with telescopes observing the Earth see your face once every sidereal rotation period.  You see the sun once every solar day.  These day counts slowly become out of sync.  The number of days difference is equal to your age in years.

[abqvqmpq] Avoiding one bad move

Each chess player is aided by a computer program of their choosing which eliminates exactly one bad move choice from the move possibilities each turn.  Best is probably that the forbidden move is taken back if the player makes it so that the move is not used as to steganographically encode more information, like a computer-calculated best move.

How should the one bad move be chosen by the computer?  Something that would seem plausible to the human but is actually bad.  How much can the human improve by this assistance?

The one bad move could also be chosen by other humans on a team.

Previously, one bit per game.

[maoqpjfl] Outsmarted by hunter-killer robots

Describe a vaguely realistic scenario in which robots defeat humans not through greater brute strength or numbers or persistence but through greater intelligence.  Difficulties:

Somehow those other advantages robots have must be made not to work.

A task requiring intelligence versus, say, arithmetic ability, though the difference gets murky.

It's hard to imagine a robot doing significantly better than a human, or perhaps even doing significantly better than random, for realistic tasks or contests which are games of hugely incomplete and imperfect information.  We could set up scenarios which aren't, maybe a chess game for the fate of each race, but they aren't realistic.

Maybe both sides are given identical resources and tasked to create a better product, maybe weapons to use against each other, though weapons for use against humans are very different from weapons against robots.

[vhuyobrd] Rhapsody of violence

A mashup video theme which is probably fairly easy to make: a collection of scenes of violence from TVs and movies, ironically musically accompanied by the pretty "second movement" of Rhapsody in Blue, associated with United Airlines.

Slight difficulty is that the second movement does not end cleanly.

[rwrvzkyq] Space race items

Put a satellite in orbit, then arrest its orbital velocity with rockets, not atmospheric braking, then bring it back down to earth with retrorockets.  This will require a lot of fuel.

Put a satellite in a retrograde equatorial orbit.

Manned capsule of these things.

(Some have probably already been done.)

Why do these things?  "Not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

[ibdhfbku] Dehumidifier efficiency

What is the theoretical maximum efficiency of a dehumidifier?  There's probably some way of relating it to the maximum possible efficiency of a refrigerator.

[hgxycxjg] Some of my worst enemies are white

The sterotypical racist claims, "Some of my best friends are black" to confuse the issue.  This can be made more effective -- more confusing -- by also adding, "Some of my worst enemies are white."  Even more intensely: "Some of the people who I would join in the celebration of their lynching, who I would feel the greatest pleasure in the world in their destruction, are white."

The likely truth is, things really are quite confusing, and labeling things as black and white, or black versus white, is good for politics (for both sides), but not good for understanding.

[uqnjpknp] Second-world country

A heterogeneous country, a diverse collection of different cultures, multicultural, enjoys agility and faster recovery in the face of changing conditions, but also suffers internal conflict between those cultures.

Meanwhile, a homogenous country, monocultural, can suffer society-wise devastation if conditions change to become unfavorable to the monoculture, but enjoys the high productivity of less internal conflict when conditions are favorable.

Therefore, if living in a multicultural country, consider the mindset of resigning yourself to not getting along, not being as productive as monocultural countries (until a shock occurs).

There's a perverse incentive to cause the shock.

However, perhaps every country is actually multicultural, having a stratified society to allocate labor.

[curathss] How to do it better

Design a system so that anyone who has learned the basics can do anything possible, albeit awkwardly or inefficiently.  (The basic subset is complete, in the style of Turing-completeness.)  Then, provide educational tools that offer ways to improve a given imperfect method.

Command line, or textual programming, is good for this because it can capture starting point for improvement -- text of the starting method -- which can be pointed at and altered.  A sequence of mouse clicks is not so good.

All this corresponds to a radical difference from asking the Microsoft paperclip or Google or Amazon AI voice assistant how to directly do something.

[iqjmofby] 5-on-0 3-point shootout

A team of basketball players, with 1 ball and no opposition, work together to make many 3-point baskets.  Probably a mix of rebounders and shooters.

Most straightforward is how many can be made within a short time period.  More dramatic is a "shot clock" which resets when a basket is made: how many can be made before enough consecutive misses cause the shot clock to run out?

Perhaps after each made shot, they need to move the ball to the other end of the court.

[uptoibuv] Collaborative filtering with anonymity

Collaborative filtering for applications like filtering out junk and malice seems difficult when the good agents also want to retain anonymity.  Your pattern of actions separating good from bad yield a pattern which can be used to identify you.

A free speech platform can provide anonymity but gets attacked by spam and malicious junk.  Collaborative filtering would be nice.

[orcxgxnt] Future and past

Scientists, especially astronomers, in the far future will see a very different universe than we do now and will ponder as huge unknowns things that are observationally obvious to us now.  This assumes information about now is not reliably stored into the far future.

Nothing beyond the Local Group of galaxies will be visible.  The Cosmological Microwave Background will have become redshifted to invisibility.  They will wonder where did they come from?  What exists beyond the edge of their (very small) Observable Universe?

Perhaps they are scientists living in the universe's late stage Black Hole Era, living near a black hole, their civilization feeding off its emitted Hawking radiation.  They might wonder what flat spacetime is like.  It might be practically impossible to leave the vicinity of their black hole using only collected Hawking energy, so they might have a very finite view of their universe.

Next, how are the questions of future scientists similar to questions we have now?  We of course wonder about the past conditions of the universe, which would have been observationally obvious to hypothetical life existing then.  Did they record any answers for us?

[gunvqdfn] Life in previous epochs of the universe

The early universe underwent several significant phase changes.  Hypothesize intelligent life existed in those hot early phases (because life... finds a way).  Scientists in those early phases observed their changing universe, saw that a phase change was coming, and realized that life as they knew it could not survive the phase change.  What did they then do to try to survive?  Do we see their handiwork?  Are we their handiwork?  Did they try to record any information to communicate to beings (us) after the phase change?

Previously, on life existing in very short time scales.

We see several phase changes coming in our universe, the end of the Stelliferous Era, after which point, life will need to survive around stellar remnants or (later) by feeding off Hawking radiation emitted by black holes.  We cannot survive as we currently are under those conditions, but futurists are imagining how we might try.

Could life spontaneously arise and naturally evolve to survive conditions in the future universe?  Maybe yes, because those future eras will last an extremely long time.

[tcawirzd] Icons considered harmful

UI designers seem to like using icons on buttons (etc.) instead of text labels for ease of internationalization (because seemingly no need to translate a picture).  However, a text label is much easier to search for help for (e.g. look for help with a web search engine) than an image, even for users unfamiliar with the language.  It might be tricky for users unfamiliar with the orthography, but I suspect a huge proportion of the world can handle Latin orthography.

Buttons can be colored coded for ease of identification.

Often buttons with icons these days get pop-up text labels.  We could interestingly reverse: pop up large high-resolution images to accompany text-labeled buttons.

[ieiadgqy] Mechanical arcade

Despite (or perhaps because of) sophistication in computer graphics delivering realistic or detailed virtual gameplay, the most popular games at the arcade (one arcade, a small sample size) seem to be physical games: crane with claw, skeeball, air hockey.

This suggests designing and providing more physical games, especially interesting ones: give the mechanical engineers some work.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

[ugkqelcj] covfefe

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