Turns out a bunch of substances have the power to make you sleepy - tryptophan, vitamin B6, calcium, glycine, lactucarium and carbohydrates are some of the major ones. Some even interact with each other for maximum sleepiness. A few common foods with these compounds in good measure include:
turkey, walnuts - tryptophan
tuna, pistachios - vitamin B6
dairy - calcium
chamomile - glycine
lettuce - lactucarium
So an evening turkey or tuna, walnut, cheese and lettuce sandwich with a glass of milk and a side of pistachios or walnuts and you’ll be set for a good night.
Howdy comic lovers! Today is the first installment of the next segment of Dungeon Divers! I’ll be running them for at least the next couple of weeks, so sit down, relax, crack open a dungeon turkey and enjoy.
|They wanted it to stay up. It didn't.|
|They were lying|
|In case you had any doubt, Dave Sim's comics had|
loooooong text pieces in the end telling you in the
first person that he's sexist.
The importance/urgency matrix.
Also known as the Eisenhower matrix, though I learned it, as I suspect most people have, from Stephen Covey. It’s a simple way of prioritizing your tasks and planning.
The three main takeaways for me are:
I spent a year organising my to-do list in these boxes and it was striking just how long the important not urgents keep getting moved on to the next list. Part of the secret there is to break them down to startable tasks rather than big projects. FWIW I don’t actually recommend the really concrete action of organising the to-do list in the quadrants. More being cognizant of what type each task is. But it may help for a while.
For the 4th year, who asked.
For how the Muses are used in Literature, see Divine Inspiration.
For more information about the Muses, go to Theoi.com, an invaluable resource.
Hopefully you will have noticed by now that most of the clothing and adornment shown in the comix are inspired by and copied from Greek pottery, and that different styles loosely represent different time periods. If you’d like to know more about this, go to The Classical Art Research Centre, Oxford University.
Prices written smaller seem more affordable.
Unfortunately, there are studies to show that this is generally true. What with decoy prices, anchoring, the age-old susceptibility to 99s and a host of other biases, we’re at the mercy of many factors when it comes to trying to make vaguely rational pricing decisions.
For plenty more see William Poundstone’s, Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and how to Take Advantage of It), Scribe, 2010.
Hat tip: Avraham Byers once again.
The decoy price.
The technique of adding a significantly more expensive option in order to instantly make the other options look reasonable by comparison. These kinds of manipulations have been shown to be scarily effective.
Pricing decoys are another way retailers get you to part with more money than you planned on. In his book Predictably Irrational, behavioural economist and professor Dan Ariely demonstrates how a large magazine successfully employed a strategy called the “decoy effect” to increase revenue from subscription sales. Prospective subscribers were given three choices:
1. Web-only subscription for $59
2. Print-only subscription for $125
3. Web + print subscription for $125
At first glance, the middle price point appears to be superfluous. Why would anyone buy a print-only subscription for $125 if they could get a web and print for the same price? Ariely tested the price points with MIT students and found that 16% of students chose option 1 and 84% chose option 3; not surprisingly, none chose option 2.
Then Ariely did something really interesting; on the assumption that having a decoy price (option 2) was influencing people’s choices, he removed the decoy and retested the price points. This time, the subscription choices were as follows:
1. Web-only subscription for $59
2. Web + print subscription for $125
With the decoy removed, the option that had previously been the most popular – the more expensive print + online access subscription – suddenly became the least popular choice. Only 32% of those surveyed chose the more expensive option, with 68% selecting the online-only subscription. Clearly the middle price point wasn’t superfluous; it was smart marketing that made option 3 look more attractive to subscribers.
Avraham Byers, Here’s why you should always pay full retail price, Financial Post, April 22nd 2014
What would happen if the Moon were replaced with an equivalently-massed black hole? If it's possible, what would a lunar ("holar"?) eclipse look like?
"Not much" and "not much."
A black hole the mass of the Moon would have an event horizon about the size of a sand grain. Specifically, according to one of my favorite charts, a black hole moon would be a grain of fine to medium-fine sand, and could pass through a sieve of size ASTM No. 70 or larger. I mean, I guess a black hole with the mass of the Moon would pass right through any sieve, destroying it in the process, but that's neither here nor there.The expression "that's neither here nor there" can be kind of confusing and ambiguous, but I guess that's neither here nor there.
Since the Moon's mass and position wouldn't change, the tides on Earth wouldn't change, either. When you're floating outside a spherical mass, its pull on you is the same regardless of whether the mass is concentrated at the center of the sphere or spread out throughout it. If the Sun were replaced by a black hole of the same mass, the Earth's orbit wouldn't change, although life on Earth might.
With the Moon gathered into a point, there'd be no moonlight, which would affect the life cycles of all kinds of nocturnal animals. But compared to a lot of the other things we've done, that would be fairly minor. The Earth's orbit is stabilized by the Moon, but the lunar-mass black hole would probably serve the same role.
This black hole Moon would be pretty low-profile. If it were much smaller, it would evaporate through Hawking radiation, but a black hole the size of the Moon actually absorbs more energy from the cosmic background radiation than it emits through the Hawking mechanism. Our black hole would really be black.
At least, if it didn't eat anything. If the black hole devoured any objects, it would let off a tremendous blast of radiation. Black holes burn brightly as they devour things; the whirlpool of matter heats up as it falls inward, causing it to glow brightly.A black hole can't devour matter too fast, though, because at some point it would be producing so much radiation that it would blast its own "food" away. This is called the Eddington limit.
If our black hole were devouring matter at the Eddington limit, it would be hot enough to sterilize the Earth.
Fortunately, there's not a lot out there for it to eat, so it wouldn't glow very brightly for now. It would spend most of its time drastically altering the orbits of nearby dust particles—one sand grain pushing other sand grains around.Even if it sucked in matter at the rate the Earth—with its much larger "collecting area"—sucks in interplanetary dust, it wouldn't necessarily be a problem for us.
But there would be one interesting effect: In addition to getting darker, Earth would get colder, because moonlight warms the Earth. It's a very tiny contributor to our global energy balance; the Moon is five or six orders of magnitude dimmer than the Sun. But it's there.
Measurements show that global temperature varies with a 28-day cycle; all else being equal, the Earth is hottest during the full moon. It's a tiny difference—small fractions of a degree—but it's there.
But it turns out most of this effect is not due to moonlight. The largest contributor is the fact that the Earth is slightly closer to the Sun during a full Moon:
Calculating the amount of energy radiated back to Earth by the Moon is deceptively tricky. The Moon reflects sunlight, but with some surprising twists. When the Moon is half-illuminated, you might think it would be half as bright as when full—but it's much less bright than that. And once you account for that, there are even trickier effects to deal with, because science is the worst.Like the fact that the waxing Moon is 20% brighter than the waning Moon, or that the Moon is a mild retroreflector. Then, on top of all the weird visible-light effects, the Moon also heats up under the Sun, then radiates that heat as infrared light.
There's a great discussion of the Moon's effect on the Earth's energy budget in this article by Robert Knox. The upshot is that the Moon's infrared heat radiation turns out to affect Earth's temperature about 10 times more than the visible moonlight, but still about 10 times less than the effect from gravity moving Earth closer and farther from the Sun. Knox even quantifies the effect this has on Earth's radiation balance—the presence of infrared moonlight warms the planet by 1.2 milli-degrees Fahrenheit (m°F).
Without moonlight, the planet would cool down slightly. But given the accelerating rate at which we're adding CO2 to the atmosphere—which changes the Earth's energy balance—we'd make up the difference in a couple of weeks.
So all in all, the conversion of the Moon to a black hole might not even be that big of a deal.
What in my pocket actually contains more energy, my Zippo or my smartphone? What would be the best way of getting the energy from one to the other? And since I am already feeling like Bilbo in this one, is there anything else in my pocket that would have unexpected amounts of stored energy?
The Zippo lighter easily beats the phone, even though its fuel tank is barely half the size of a large phone's battery, because hydrocarbons are fantastic at storing energy. Gasoline, butane, alcohol, and fat contain a lot of chemical energy, which is why our bodies run on them.I mean, the latter two, at least. You can't eat gasoline.As far as I know.Although technically swallowing gasoline may not kill you, according to Utah Poison Control specialist Brad Dahl. However, he cautions that you will find yourself "burping gasoline," which is "not real tasty." (Actual quote.)Also, if you don't rinse your throat afterward, it will give you chemical burns.
How much energy do they contain? Well, let's put it this way: A fully-charged car battery holds barely as much energy as a sandwich.
A container of butane the size of a phone battery could, in principle, power the phone about 13 times longer than the battery itself could.In the case of my phone, that could give me as much as three hours. The obvious question, then, is "why doesn't my phone run on propane?"
The obvious answer is "because your phone would catch fire," but that's not quite it. See, lithium-ion batteries are also extremely flammable, and a huge amount of effort has gone into making Michael Bay scenarios less common.
The truth is more complicated. People have wanted to build various kinds of "fuel cell" batteries for almost as long as we've had portable electronics. The allure of hydrocarbon energy storage continues to this day—if you do a Google search for fuel cell phone charger, you'll find news stories about new products announced every year. Many of them are no longer available.
If you really want to power your phone with butane, the current hot project—as far as I can tell from a cursory search—seems to be the kraftwerk portable USB generator, which has made over a million dollars on Kickstarter with several weeks left in its campaign. Of course, a portable battery of the same size could do a lot of the same things, but there are certainly some use cases where the butane charger offers advantages. If you place a premium on reducing weight, or have to go a long time without contact with the power grid, it could be a good option. Let's put it this way: If the phrase "power your phone on butane", makes you think, "hey, that would solve a problem I have!" then go for it.
This gives us the answer to Ian's second question. The Zippo lighter has more energy, but getting it into the phone is a little difficult and requires the overhead of a fuel cell or generator. Getting the phone to start a fire, on the other hand, is quite reasonable, although it may require doing bad things to the battery.
Ian's third question was "what else in my pocket might contain more energy?" Like Gollum, I have no idea what's in your pocket,Or whether you're happy to see me, for that matter. but I can guess that it might contain one thing with more energy than a battery: Your hand.
An adult man's hand weighs about a pound.I wanted to put "citation needed" after that, but to my mild dismay I actually do have a citation. The hand isn't the fattiest part of the body, but if burned completely, it would probably give off about 500 watt-hours of energy, give or take. That's 50 times the energy content of the phone battery, and almost 10 times that of the Zippo. It's also about as much as a car battery.
And, for that matter, about as much as a sandwich.
Yes! Absolutely. Procrastination is always hard; I don’t have any good silver bullets there. I’m resigned that a good deal of my life will be spent finding new strategies to combat procrastination, and using them until their effectiveness wears off. Overall, most strategies involve trying to get excited for the work but not daunted by its scale or obsessive about perfection. Whatever you’re working on isn’t going to be the lasting totem for you, the person. It doesn’t even have to be that good. It just has to be closer to done than when you started thinking about it.
As for creative blocks, Zach Weiner blew my mind a few years ago when he told me he doesn’t believe in them, just treats them as a lack of input to be addressed. Don’t know what you want to get out? Put more stuff in. Anything. Just give your brain more stuff to process and work on and that machinery kicking in will pay off. Keep your brain interested in the world and fed with stuff and it will do good work for you and rarely dry up. Don’t resign yourself to boredom. Zach reads about a book a day. He’s a monster. It’s incredibly frustrating. Obscene, really. Let’s all think about how we can’t be Zach and shake our fists.