Posts Tagged ‘Science’

iPhone 6 Pixels

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The first time you see an iPhone 6 or 6+ display, it looks considerably better than the previous generation iPhone (5S) despite having the same resolution. Bryan Jones, a photographer, explains it like this:

The first time you switch on an iPhone 6, you will be amazed at how clear the display is.  It looks even higher definition than the iPhone 5s which is a pretty nice display itself.  So, given that the screen of the iPhone 6 looks so much better than the iPhone 5s, I wondered what was different and ran into the lab for a quick capture of the iPhone 6 screen to see if any of the pixels had changed in size over the last little while.

Turns out, there’s some very subtle but significant refinements in the iPhone 6-generation of the device’s display.

When the iPhone 5 came out, Apple bonded the display to the glass in an effort to get the pixels closer to the surface and Apple has appeared to make the pixels in the 6 even closer still. ”Some of what we are seeing with the iPhone 6 may be a polarizing filter underneath the glass, but even so, the glass appears thinner and required less focus distance adjustment to get from the surface of the glass to the pixel on another microscope. I don’t know what that precise distance is in microns between the surface of the glass and the pixels, but it was a shorter distance as judged by rotation of the focus knob in the iPhone 6 vs. the iPhone 5. What this accomplishes is making the display appear to be higher resolution. The blacks are blacker, contrast is higher and colors are more vibrant, even with the same OS.

Attention to details that other companies would overlook in the name of cost savings or perceived irrelevance is what makes Apple Apple.

Spurious Correlations

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The cliché goes, ‘correlation does not equal causation.’ This means, of course, that just because Thing A correlates to Thing B, it does not mean Thing A caused Thing B. Tyler Vigen over at Spurious Correlations illustrates this in hilarious fashion. Here’s an example:

Spurious_CorrelationsClick to enlarge.

This is fantastic on so many levels. Be sure to check out Vigen’s other examples. Great stuff. This is an idea I wish I had.

Why Hot Water Freezes Faster Than Cold Water

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It’s Monday, and that might mean it’s counterintuitive science day. Up on the block: why does hot water freeze faster than cold water? It does, but it shouldn’t. Right? Wrong. The reason behind it is called the Mpemba effect, and a group of researchers think they’ve cracked the puzzle.

Now Xi and co say hydrogen bonds also explain the Mpemba effect. Their key idea is that hydrogen bonds bring water molecules into close contact and when this happens the natural repulsion between the molecules causes the covalent O-H bonds to stretch and store energy.

But as the liquid warms up, it forces the hydrogen bonds to stretch and the water molecules sit further apart. This allows the covalent molecules to shrink again and give up their energy. The important point is that this process in which the covalent bonds give up energy is equivalent to cooling.

In fact, the effect is additional to the conventional process of cooling. So warm water ought to cool faster than cold water, they say. And that’s exactly what is observed in the Mpemba effect.


What if Planets Were as Close to Earth as the Moon?

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Rosie Taylor for The Daily Mail:

Ron Miller, a former art director for NASA, used digital trickery to superimpose scale drawings of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune over the same landscape, highlighting the sheer size of the planets.

The incredible drawings imagine each planet to be 233,812 miles from Earth – the same distance at which the moon orbits.

Jupiter and Saturn are both amazing and terrifying. Wow.

Check the post out here.


Casual Friday: An App That Tracks and Quantifies Your Sleep. Yes, Really.

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I’ve talked about sleep before, and how it relates to health. I’m a nerd that way. I think sleep is important, and most of us don’t get enough of it and what we do get is often poor quality.

So, that said, can I tell you about something I like?

There’s an iPhone app called Sleep Cycle that purports to do what nigh borders on magic: track your sleep quality and report in the morning on how well you slept. How does it do it? The iPhone’s gyroscope, mostly, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it uses unicorn tears either, because what began as skepticism with me changed into full-on belief/amazement five days later. In a word, it works as promised, so much so that I have no choice but to echo the other reviews this app has received: it’s amazing.

The exact voodoo Sleep Cycle uses to determine sleep depth is a mystery, but again, at a basic level, it uses the iPhone’s gyroscope to detect movement. Increased movement = lesser sleep quality, but I’m sure there’s more math to it than that. In my experience, I found that the app perfectly tracks my cycles of being awake and deeply asleep.

Example: I get up at 3 AM to go to the bathroom. It knows and records it.

Another: I typically have my deepest sleep around 3:45 AM. I know this from 43 years of being alive. Sure enough, the app knew it in one day.

The concept is simple: you place your iPhone face down on the corner of the bed nearest you. The instructions say place it under the top sheet, but I don’t. You must leave your phone plugged in, because the iPhone is ‘conscious’ overnight as the gyroscope collects movement data.

That’s it. You go to sleep, and it goes to work.

When you wake up, you flip off the alarm (if you have it set; more on that later) and you get your sleep report card:

This is your sleep results dashboard: you can see your sleep quality hour by hour (ranging from awake to deep sleep), and after five days, the app will start giving you a percentage ‘sleep quality’ score based on what it knows about your sleeping (and movement) patterns. When you wake up, you can have the app ask you how you feel: good (happy face), average (normal face) or lousy (sad face). You an also set up sleep notes like ‘stressful day’ or ‘worked out’ or ‘had drinks’ and the app will start to correlate these notes with sleep quality scores.

Like most quantified-self apps, this gets better the more you use it. It’s database grows pretty robust, so your results get increasingly accurate over time. If you’re into poring over the raw data, the app even provides an option to show it to you in the Settings menu.

If you flip your iPhone to landscape orientation, you get a bevy of additional reports. Here are a few:

Sleep Cycle also has an innovative alarm function: it will wake you in a time range (say, 6:30 AM – 7:00 AM) when it detects you’re sleeping the lightest. That way, the logic goes, you’re not jarred out of a deep sleep, which tends to make humans wake up with bared fangs. It has a regular alarm too (which wakes you up at a static time), but from what I found, the smart alarm works as advertised.

What can I say? This app is modern-day magic, and you’re probably not getting enough sleep as it is. If you’re at all a performance nerd like me, you should stop reading and just go get it. You probably spent two grand on a fancy mattress, so spend a buck on this and see where it gets you. Available on the App Store.

(Full disclosure: I have zero financial interest or stake in Sleep Cycle. I just think it’s modern technology put to a good use, and a smartphone app innovation showcase. Plain and simple.)

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Casual Friday: Linkology, or Stuff I Found While Looking Around

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It’s been several weeks since I’ve done a Linkology post, and my Google Reader is full of starred items. (At least you don’t have another story about me making stuff up to my son, right?) So, off we go. We’ll have fun. Right? RIGHT?

Get Privacyfix and find out how much data you’re giving to Facebook and Google. Sound boring? It’s not: Privacyfix also extrapolates your activity into how much Facebook and Google are making from your activity per year. As for me? Facebook makes a whopping 33 cents a year off my activity (based almost entirely on my ad-clicking behavior and privacy settings), whereas Google fares better, netting $162.94 per year.

If you are a Mac user running OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion, you need to get Brett Terpstra and David Sparks’ new book, 60 Mountain Lion Tips. Here I thought I knew my system inside out. Bzzt. Wrong.

The design of airline baggage tags. There’s a lot more to those tags that you automatically rip off and toss in the trash after every trip. Without them, your baggage would have almost no chance of meeting you at your destination. As always, there’s more to them than meets the eye.

The Hustler’s MBA. Down-to-earth, easily-applicable life wisdom for everyone. Literally, everyone. Makes a solid case that higher education isn’t worth its now-stratospheric price. If you read anything I’m linking to today, make it this.

Finally, a super-comprehensive online resource for the ridiculous manufactured business jargon we sometimes all find ourselves speaking and writing. There ought to be a swear jar in every conference room for this sort of thing. This website can serve as the list of offenses. Now excuse me while I table that idea and ramp up the rest of this blog post in real-time so I don’t get any red flags here on post length.

DNA’s half life: 521 years. So while Jurassic Park can never happen, DNA does last longer than originally thought.

Oh, oh, random thought: Squirtle would be a good name for a cat.

Working the room — the tangled history of presidents trying to be humorous.

MythBusters re-creates the final scene in Titanic to determine if Jack and Rose could have both lived. Answer: yes, if they got a bit creative with Rose’s life jacket. Which they didn’t Ahem James Cameron.

Finally, here’s your babies laughing at dogs video of the week. If you don’t laugh at this, yeah, you’re in a BAD MOOD. Seriously, ComfortCam is our pick for the best wifi baby monitor now, how would you be able to get these videos if it wasn’t for them?

Have a great weekend, everyone.

More links:
MIPRO Consulting main website.
MIPRO on Twitter and LinkedIn.
About this blog.






Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 10/21/11

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Stories from Italy, Vol. 2

I had a chance to spend a day in Cortona, which aside from being medieval and kinda scary at night, I found to be insanely awesome. I could write an entire travel guide (where by entire I mean ‘laughably incomplete’) about the city, but instead I will just riff on some stuff I found very cool.

Parking outside of Cortona is a must, because (a) it’s a walled city and entrance is precarious, and (b) the roads are narrow and on brutal grades, so you have to be crazy, very skilled or very Italian to attempt it. So, after I parked outside of this landmark city, I strolled up to the city gates only to see this black Ferrari F430 sitting there waiting for me.

Like a dumb American tourist, the first thing I did was not coolly walk by the car, realizing it was nothing horribly special in Italy, but instead drop to my knees, paw around for my iPhone, and sweatily take about a dozen pictures of the beast. People were staring at me. I’m pretty sure I was moments away from being arrested. I was surprised I wasn’t spit on. Regardless, look at this piece of art:

One thing I was told about Italy is, “Don’t be a dummy and spend a lot on wine. Their table wine is cheap and way better than many bottles. I am telling you this because you are a dummy.”

They weren’t lying. Whenever I got wine, I asked for their house table wine in either super-slow English or horribly slaughtered Italian. And every time, I was brought this, and it was absolutely fantastic.

Doesn’t look like much, does it? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. This is a jug of pure Italian awesome, which I believe they call Chianti or Montepulciano or Brunello or something, and it blows away nearly every fancy-pants bottle of wine you ever considered buying from SkyMall. So get that look off your face, mister.

Speaking of wine, the Italians have not only figured out how to incorporate wine into dessert, but they’ve also figured out a way to dip cookies into it and have it not taste like roofing tar. What you see below is a traditional Italian dessert called vinsanto al biscotti, which translates roughly into ‘holy wine with biscuits’. What’s floating around is what’s left of the biscuits after I devoured them like a wild dog, all the while proclaiming how this might be the best dessert I’ve ever had. The best part was watching an entire table watch me take a picture of a nearly-empty glass with crumbs floating around in it. You guys can thank me later for being such an obnoxious representative of American culture. I did our stereotype proud.

Finally, walking back to my car, I came across a used battery bucket in a nondescript Cortona street corner. Why? Don’t you mean WHY NOT? They have cookies you dip in sweet wine, for crying out loud! Why wouldn’t they have a used battery bucket?

I know you’re plowing through this post to get to the links, so here you go, you patient warrior, you:

Apple predicted Siri 24 years ago, showcasing a concept they then called Knowledge Navigator. The crazy thing? In 24-year-old, they predicted 2011 would be the year it became reality. Two weeks ago, Apple announced Siri. How’s that for vision?

Apple has created a page to share all of the stories and comments they received in the wake of Steve Jobs’ passing. You can view it here.

The world’s first malaria vaccine works in major trial.

Everything has been done, so give up now.

Have a good weekend, everyone.


More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and Facebook.

About this blog.

Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 7/29/11

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Last week, I talked to you about Charleston, South Carolina and the very real chance that you would burst into flame if you dared walk outside.  I’m happy to say that I have returned uncombusted and in fact with a report of perhaps the best singular meal I’ve ever eaten.

So yes, here I’m going to briefly talk about food.  That I have eaten.  That you, if you are lucky, have eaten too.  That if you are unlucky and have not eaten, are hereby simultaneously lucky, because you have something to really look forward to.  In fact, if you have not eaten this dish, you are like the Schrödinger’s cat of the culinary world, both dead to the dish yet alive to the possibility, all at once, in unison, amen.  How cool is that?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you real lowcountry shrimp and grits, as presented by the Hominy Grill in Charleston, SC:

Wha?, you say.  What’s this?  Looks like a greasy bowl of Cream of Wheat with some cooked crustaceans on top. And nice grease stains on the table paper, Jeff, you no-motor-skill-having slob.  Well ignore all that, because mocking this dish can lead to tooth loss and higher gas prices. Some things you don’t trifle with, and this is one of them.  Are we clear?

Whatever Hominy Grill does to this dish, it’s magic.  As near as my insanely refined palate can tell (Ed. note: his palate is not insanely refined.  He can barely differentiate bacon from peanut putter.), it’s got the following ingredients in it:

  • Stone-ground grits, fresh off a farm about three hours away from Hominy Grill itself (so said my waiter)
  • Farm-raised bacon, cooked perfectly
  • Smallish chunks of mushrooms, which despite me not being a subscriber to Mushrooms Illustrated, are still amazingly good
  • Enough heavy cream to fill the interior of a 1979 Buick
  • A zip code’s worth of unsalted butter
  • A dash of hot pepper-infused vinegar which, if this were readily available here in Michigan, I would put all over everything, including my food, hair and cats
  • A benevolent smile from the heavens, for lo, this is good and deserves it
  • A finishing wedge of perfect cornbread, which, when combined with butter, could end world wars

This dish taught me in one fell swoop that here in the North, we don’t understand grits.  We’re grit idiots.  Here, we get these nasty, probably instant, grits and put maple syrup, butter and salt on them.  Which is wrong.  Dead wrong.  If someone from the South saw us doing that, they’d have every right to get up and strangle us and ask us why we hate our country so much.

The right way is the lowcountry way.  Real grits, heavy cream, a dash of spice, thick bacon, perfect shrimp, butter and a dash of salt and some vinegar for acid.  I don’t know what else to say except this: it’s worth making a trip to Charleston just to go to the Hominy Grill for their shrimp and grits.  They will change your life.

In other news, it was brought to my attention that my last Friday Linkology post didn’t, in fact, contain any links.  I blame router gremlins, the CIA, or LeBron James, not the fact that I wrote the post several days before publication and I forgot to add links by the time it went live.  Oh no.  That’d be impossible.

So, to make up for that horrible error, I present to you the following fine hypertext products:

If this video of two dogs chasing one another doesn’t make you laugh, check your pulse.  Or, more accurately, have someone check it for you, because you’s dead.

Russell Brand on Amy Winehouse.  Sad and poignant.

If you’re going to supplement with protein shakes, do it with whey, not soy.

Unless you have pure sub-Saharan African blood in you, you probably have Neanderthal genes. There’s your conversation starter for tomorrow’s graduation party.

Have a good weekend, everyone.


More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and Facebook.

About this blog.