Author Archives: Alexander Szewczak

A Single Autonomous Car Has a Huge Impact on Alleviating Traffic

Just one autonomous car out of 20 vehicles can significantly alleviate traffic congestion, according to research from the University of Illinois.  The culprit behind many traffic jams is the variability in speed of human drivers — waves of excessive braking and … Continue reading

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Handpainted scenes from the original Star Wars trilogy, with a link to a cool documentary on 1980’s special effects from Industrial Light and Magic. Interesting recent gallery exhibit and some interviews with Tara Donovan.  See also this, and for a comprehensive look at her work, just … Continue reading

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Why Do Gas Station Prices Constantly Change? Blame the Algorithm.  Retailers are using artificial-intelligence software to set optimal prices on thousands of items a day, sometimes as often as every hour. Watch This Robot 3D Print a Building Out of Spray Foam.   … Continue reading

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Time Lapse Engine Rebuild of a Ford Flathead V8

Courtesy of the folks at Hagerty.

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Vantablack, the Darkest Substance Ever Made

The photo above shows two identical sculptures, one of which is painted with Vantablack, a carbon-fiber coating from surrey nanosystems. It is the darkest substance known to man, absorbing more than 99.96% of incident light; so dark that details disappear and … Continue reading

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States with the most NIH funding

Updated for fiscal year 2016: California dominates in overall funding (above), but Massachusetts, DC, and Maryland stand out in NIH funding per capita (next chart).   Below, you can see more clearly how Massachusetts has the highest per capita and second … Continue reading

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What’s Stored in DNA? An Old French Movie and a $50 Amazon Gift Card

So many people are now tapping into the internet and social media that the torrent of data they’re creating is outstripping the storage capacity of traditional devices such as hard drives, optical discs, and magnetic tape. New research advances hope … Continue reading

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How Ikea’s Billy Bookcase Took over the World

The Billy bookcase is perhaps the archetypal Ikea product. It was dreamed up in 1978 by an Ikea designer called Gillis Lundgren who sketched it on the back of a napkin, worried that he would forget it. Now there are … Continue reading

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How Liquefaction Occurs During an Earthquake

 With a little shaking, solid earth can behave like a liquid – heavy objects on the surface (e.g. buildings) sink, low density buried objects (e.g. fuel tanks) rise upward.

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