Monday, March 08, 2004
Turns out coin-tosses are not random. I saw this on Marginal Revolutions, and here's the link to the NPR report. Pretty damned cool!
The gist is that whatever side is up when flipped initially tends to spend more time up during the flipping because it doesn't just flip end over end, it flips off-axis, too. The statistician who figured this out has an example in which he tapes a ribbon to the coin, and in 4 of 100 flips the ribbon does not get twisted (because the up-side never was the down-side). He also commissioned a coin-flipping machine that demonstrates you can guarantee the up-side comes up. Like I said, pretty damned cool.
And in another nod to MR, here's a link to an article about software that creates background noise on your cell phone to give the impression you are someplace you aren't. For example, if you're lying in bed but want your boss to think you're stuck in traffic, you get traffic noise.
Again, pretty cool. What I would like to see happen with cell phones (apart from their destruction) are two things: one, a hold/message for incoming calls that allows somebody in a movie theatre or meeting or whatever 30-45 seconds to get out before answering the call (I saw this idea somewhere else so I don't claim credit); the other is a way to generate an incoming call to yourself (e.g., program your phone to ring when you're on the line with somebody). The latter would be good for any phone. You could define some macro command, that hopefully operates silently, so that it is a single-button or *69 type of action.
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