Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Science’

If this is not the launch of a car that’s a time machine, we shall be very disappointed

October 20, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies, Science No Comments →

Maybe it’s the return of the DeLorean.

Fall off a cliff or step on a viper: The Erdos discrepancy problem solved

October 08, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Science No Comments →


Imagine that you are imprisoned in a tunnel that opens out onto a precipice two paces to your left, and a pit of vipers two paces to your right. To torment you, your evil captor forces you to take a series of steps to the left and right. You need to devise a series that will allow you to avoid the hazards — if you take a step to the right, for example, you’ll want your second step to be to the left, to avoid falling off the cliff. You might try alternating right and left steps, but here’s the catch: You have to list your planned steps ahead of time, and your captor might have you take every second step on your list (starting at the second step), or every third step (starting at the third), or some other skip-counting sequence. Is there a list of steps that will keep you alive, no matter what sequence your captor chooses?

Read the solution in Quanta. via 3QD.

NASA fact-checks The Martian

October 05, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies, Science No Comments →

After you watch The Martian, impress everyone by science-ing the shit out of it, from topography to hacking the rover. via Wired.

If Oliver Sacks had taught high school chemistry, we’d have fallen in love with the periodic table

September 07, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Science No Comments →

Periodic cake

People we wish had been our high school chemistry teachers
1. Oliver Sacks
2. Walter White

In 1945 the Science Museum in London reopened (it had been closed for much of the war), and I—a boy of twelve with a passion for metals and numbers—first saw the giant periodic table displayed there. The table itself, covering a whole wall at the head of the stairs, was a cabinet made of dark wood with ninety-odd cubicles, each inscribed with the name, the atomic weight, and the chemical symbol of its element. And in each cubicle was a sample of the element itself (all of those elements, at least, that had been obtained in pure form, and that could be exhibited safely). It was labeled “The Periodic Classification of the Elements—after Mendeleeff.”

My first vision was of metals, dozens of them in every possible form: rods, lumps, cubes, wire, foil, discs, crystals. Most were gray or silver, some had hints of blue or rose. A few had burnished surfaces that shone a faint yellow, and then there were the rich colors of copper and gold.

Read it.

On uncontrollable urges, Oliver Sacks’s last article

September 05, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Psychology, Science No Comments →

Royal Library, Windsor Castle. Detail of a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1510–1511

Walter B., an affable, outgoing man of forty-nine, came to see me in 2006. As a teenager, following a head injury, he had developed epileptic seizures—these first took the form of attacks of déjà vu that might occur dozens of times a day. Sometimes he would hear music that no one else could hear. He had no idea what was happening to him and, fearing ridicule or worse, kept his strange experiences to himself.

Read it.

Oliver Sacks now investigating the afterlife if there is one.

August 31, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Science No Comments →

Oliver Sacks. Photograph: Adam Scourfield/BBC/AP Photo/AP

Goodbye, Dr. Sacks. You were one of the best friends that nerds obsessed with thinking and consciousness ever had. Fortunately for us we can continue our conversation with you every time we read your books. (As many books as he wrote, there were other manuscripts that he never got around to publishing, as mentioned in his autobiography On The Move.)

Blast, too many obituaries this month.