Category:
Science

Predicting war by mathematics

At an August 1938 meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Professor Lewis F. Richardson attempted to use mathematics to predict the likelihood of war:

The professor reduced to beautiful differential equations general tendencies common to all nations — resentment of defiance, the suspicion that defense is concealed aggression, response to imports by exports, restraint on armaments by the difficulty of paying for them, and, last, grievances and their irrationality.

He concluded there was "no chance of war," which proved to be a somewhat inaccurate prediction.

The Alexandria Town Talk - Sep 27, 1938



Encyclopedia.com offers some more info on what Richardson was up to:

Richardson viewed war instead in Tolstoyan fashion, as a massive phenomenon governed by forces akin to the forces of nature, over which individuals have little or no control. Accordingly, he ignored all those intricacies of diplomatic-strategic analysis usually pursued by political historians and turned his attention to quasi-mechanical and quantifiable processes which, he assumed, govern the dynamics of the international system of sovereign states.

Despite the eccentricity of his mathematical war-prediction model, Richardson was apparently quite influential in the history of mathematics. Wikipedia notes that he did pioneering work in mathematical techniques of weather forecasting, as well as in the study of fractals.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 10, 2021 - Comments (8)
Category: Science, War, 1930s

Metric Lunch Box

Imagine the insults suffered by the dweeb forced by well-meaning parents to carry this lunch pail to school.

The objects children take to school can communicate messages. In the 1970s, the U.S. government encouraged more general use of the metric units of weight and measure, units that had been adopted in almost all other nations. To teach children about metric units, some parents purchased this lunch box.




Source.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Dec 23, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Food, Government, Science, Bullying, Harassment, Outsiders, Persecuted, and Excluded Groups, Children, 1970s

Hot Chocolate Effect

As defined by Wikipedia:

The hot chocolate effect, also known as the allassonic effect, is a phenomenon of wave mechanics first documented in 1980 by Frank Crawford, where the pitch heard from tapping a cup of hot liquid rises after the addition of a soluble powder. It was first observed in the making of hot chocolate or instant coffee, but also occurs in other situations such as adding salt to supersaturated hot water or cold beer.



via TYWKIWDBI

Posted By: Alex - Thu Nov 12, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Noises and Other Public Disturbances of the Peace, Science

Mokapzu Park


Mokapzu Park from Art&Graft on Vimeo.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Nov 10, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals, Armageddon and Apocalypses, Humor, Science

The Rule of 87

The frequency of multiple human births follows an apparent statistical "rule of 87." Twin births in the U.S. and European countries happen once in 87 confinements. Triplets are born once in 872 (87x87) or 7,569 confinements, quadruplets once in 873 (87x87x87) or 658,503 and quintuplets once in 874 (87x87x87x87) or 57,289,761. Though the rule cannot be proven for quintuplets, U.S. statistics otherwise follow it remarkably well.

This "Rule of 87" may have been true in the mid-twentieth century, but I'm guessing that the rise of fertility drugs played havoc with it.

I'll also note that the Minnesota Twins won the 1987 World Series. Coincidence?

Life - Mar 6, 1944



Posted By: Alex - Fri Oct 02, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Babies, Science

The Techno-Chemical Receipt Book



This is one of those volumes you pack away for when civilization collapses, as it give the formulas for making from scratch glass, nitroglycerin, glue, and a thousand other handy things.

Read it here.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Sep 13, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Science, Technology, Books, Nineteenth Century

The science of removing bugs from windshields

When you clean bugs off your car's windshield, think of Detroit researcher Clark Wells who spent his career figuring out how best to do this.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Mar 22, 1953


WINDSHIELD-SPATTERING WITH A PURPOSE
The curious actions of Frederick Brownell (left) and Clark Wells at Detroit are in the interests of science. They are using pea-shooter and slingshot to shoot bugs against a windshield at squashing velocity so that Wells, a chemist, can then test fluids to be used in wiper spray to remove them. For his experiments, Wells buys such insects as bumble bees, June bugs, fish flies, deer flies and other of the more succulent species from collectors for amounts up to a dime each.


Huntsville Times - June 20, 1954


Inventor Clark Wells, of Fraser, Mich., lacked the bugs he needed to test out a windshield wiper fluid he was perfecting, so he placed a Classified Ad in a Detroit paper, soon had an adequate supply of bumblebees, June bugs and other insects.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 08, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Insects and Spiders, Science, 1950s, Cars

Falling Cats

The physics of falling cats. Narrated by Australian physicist Karl Kruszelnicki.



The Age (Melbourne, Australia) - Sep 4, 1991

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jun 27, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Science, Cartoons, Cats

The drift pattern of Nike shoes

In May 1990, five shipping containers holding approximately 80,000 pairs of Nike shoes fell off a freighter during a storm in the North Pacific. About 200 days later, some of these shoes began to wash up on beaches from Canada down to Oregon.

But as beachcombers collected and compared the shoes, they noticed something odd. On beaches up north, in Canada and Washington, almost all the shoes were right-footed; whereas further south in Oregon, most of the shoes were left-footed.

Skye Moody explains why this was so in her book Washed Up: The Curious Journeys of Flotsam and Jetsam:

The slight toe curvature of left- and right-footed shoes caused the right-footed shoes to tack northeastward into the Alaska Current, passing the Queen Charlottes along the way, where many beached. Meanwhile, the left-footed Nikes tacked snugly into the southeast-bound California Current, and as it passed Oregon, were caught on an incoming tide.




Drift pattern of Nike shoes
image source: The Nike Shoe Investigation



Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer co-authored an academic paper about the 1990 shoe spill ("Shoe spill in the North Pacific" -- unfortunately behind a paywall). It also inspired him to start studying other ocean flotsam, such as rubber duckies, as a way to gain info about currents. He calls this study 'flotsametrics'. He also occasionally puts out a Beachcombers' Alert Newsletter.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 16, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Science, Shoes, 1990s

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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