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Messages - RedWurm

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Podcasting / Re: Other Podcasts I like
« on: July 16, 2014, 04:44:12 PM »
I spend a lot of time on public transport at the moment, so I'm juggling far too many podcasts, but I'll try to recommend a few that I haven't seen mentioned yet:

In Our Time
A radio program on "the history of ideas". Recent topics have included Robert Boyle, Photosynthesis, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and Spartacus.

The Dead Authors Podcast
My one true man-crush, Paul F Tompkins, plays H G Wells, and whisks great authors from history to a tiny, ill-ventilated black box theater for some wide-ranging improvised conversation. Aesop and P G Wodehouse are among the highlights.

99% Invisible
It's kind of sort of about architecture and places and.. stuff. And all sorts of other things. It also has some great imagery on the accompanying blog. The dazzle camouflage episode really stayed with me.

When Diplomacy Fails
Not so much about war as it is about the activity that starts or finishes it. He's recently finished a huge 30 years war series in time for a day-by-day account of the crises that led up to the outbreak of world war one. I'd also recommend the League of Cambrai episode, as it's an astoundingly vicious soap opera.

They've recently put some animated versions of their improvised sketches online, but the audio version has so much more. Mostly in-jokes, gender confusion, corpsing and weirdness, but it's a delight.

The Bugle
Currently on a break, comedians Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver bring you topical satire, puns, lechery, dictator news and cricket. The first podcast I ever listened to and I still love it.

Resonance FM: OST
Mainly soundtracks and library music old enough to get away with putting out on t'internet, can be a bit hit and miss depending on the theme, but when it's good it's a joy.

Rationally Speaking
Science and skepticism, but with at least one professional philosopher. Genuinely fascinating.

All the interesting stuff around cryptozoology that most of the TV programs cut out.

Ask a Canadian
Not entirely sure how to describe this. Part public information broadcast, part gameshow. Sort of.

Regular Features
Even less explicable. And much more NSFW.

Animal of the Day / Darkling beetles of the Namib
« on: July 16, 2014, 04:07:05 PM »

There are a wide variety of Darkling beetles that live in the Namib desert, ranging in colour from black to white (admittedly, mainly black or white) and in appearance from cute to deeply unsettling, but many have one thing in common - they spend the cold, foggy mornings standing on the top of sand dunes, arse in the air, collecting water droplets on their wing casings.

This "Fog-Basking" uses hydrophilic spots on their mainly hydrophobic bodies to start water droplet formation, and when these drops get too big they run down into the beetle's mouth. This very design is now being adapted into materials that are able to condense water from the air with much greater efficiency in areas with little access to clean groundwater.

Incidentally, Wikipedia tells me "In southwestern North America, species of the genus Eleodes (particularly E. obscurus) are well known as "pinacate beetles" or "desert stink beetles"."

Episode 21 posed the question of data storage using car headlights, and I've never been one to shrink from an impractically whimsical challenge that involves no real stakes. So, away we go.

The figures in this post will be based of a file size of 58,920,960 bytes (that's what iTunes says), recommended parking space sizes from the UK ( provided a lot of details), figures in metres and kilometres (that's what I learned in school), and a fair bit of guesswork (I have no practical knowledge in any relevant - and most irrelevant - fields).

Just park the cars side-by-side, it'll look pretty cool at least

With a standard, non-disabled parking space width of 2.5m multiplied by 471,367,680 cars (equal to about the last 9 years of worldwide car production), we have a line of cars 1,178,419,200m long.

That's over 3.9 light seconds, nearly 29.5 laps of earth's equator, and just over 3 times the average distance to the moon.

So national borders, oceans and access might be a problem, let's try a giant car park

We'll keep it nice and compact, and assume that it's a one-way system and that the cars turn outside the area we're measuring. The parking spaces are 2.5m x 4.8m, the bays are at 90 degrees to the aisle and the aisle is 6m wide.

Arranged in this fashion, we cover about 9216km^2, approximately the surface area of Cyprus, or half of New Jersey.
In a nice neat square each side would come close to spanning one degree of latitude

Not a huge amount of land if you put it somewhere nobody would ever want to go (is this where I make a New Jersey joke? I believe it's traditional in some cultures), but wouldn't it be better to have a handy multi-storey car park?

Well, it would mean I have to make a lot of assumptions to make the maths a bit quicker, but here goes...

Again, ramps and turns will be external to the main body of the car park. Pillars will be basically ignored, although in some designs they only add a little to the bay length, so it's not that ridiculous (until you look at the final numbers). Vehicle clearance is 2.1m, and then it's the floor of the next level, no additional space. I've had to take a wild guess at the height of the steel frames supporting the floor, but if the diagrams are more or less to scale I'm guessing 700mm from ceiling of one level to the floor surface of the level above isn't too silly.

I shall be building a giant cube, because platonic solids are as dramatic as they are impractical, and maths may be fun, but easy maths is quicker.

So, our nice, compact cube of headlight data storage is a mere 3km to a side. Which just happens to be 3.5 times the height of the Burj Khalifa. I may have needed to allocate more room for pillars.

Oh, and some speculation on power consumption. I've seen the figure of about 55 watts for a single headlight (more on full beam, less on newer types of bulb, I don't do cars tbh) which gives us 110 watts per car if we assume there are no other lights on. To power this would take just shy of 52 gigawatts, near to the peak power demand of the entire UK.

edit: Of course, that is the maximum possible power requirement, which is a file made entirely of 1s. The actual power will be around half that.

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