Buzz Out Loud 1198: Tong tied? Frayed not (podcast)
With Molly out covering the iPad launch for your local CBS stations, we're free to make wanton puns about knot theory. And we do. Plus Brian Tong gets his brain in knots trying to explain how it applies to tangled headphones. We also have the explanation for why iPad apps are ridiculously expensive. And we compare the JooJoo which is actually here, and explain why it's getting trumped by Apple.
Anonymous on why magazines won’t entirely die
And then Anonymous calls back with an idea
Heard your conversation about the accuracy of open markets such as the Hollywood Stock Exchange, Iowa’s futures market, etc. Sometime during Bush’s presidency some genius wanted to start a “dark” futures market to help predict everything from terrorist attacks to hurricanes. The idea works like any other futures market, but instead of basing your purchase on the underlying value of a commodity, you buy or sell based on the likelyhood of that event happening, such as the odds of the “big one” hitting LA by the end of the year. If you’re right, you cash out when the time value expires and make money. Remember, it’s the $$$ that motivates people, and with enough participants you end up with some pretty accurate predictions. Sadly the idea was considered to be in bad taste since one could profit from disasters and other bad scenarios. Come on people! Imagine the lives saved and money that could be more wisely spent if a dark market could point out these calamities before they happen.
Hi Buzz crew,
Love the show. Just started listening a month or so ago, and I’m already an addict.
In Episode 1196, an emailer had a question about tangling headphone wires. I was immediately reminded of the 2008 Ig Nobel Prize for Physics, given to Dorian Raymer and Douglas Smith, for proving that heaps of string or hair will inevitably tangle.
Raymer, Dorian M.; Smith, Douglas E. (16 October 2007), “Spontaneous knotting of an agitated string”, PNAS (National Academy of Sciences) 104 (42): 16432ˆ7, doi:10.1073/pnas.0611320104
This doesn’t explain wires laid straight and untouched on a table tangling overnight, but it does explain rapid tangling in the presence of any jostling. They developed mathematical models that account for the observed distribution of knots in their experiments.
For the mathematician/knot theorist: their 3000 or so trials produced every prime knot with minimum crossing number up to seven, and they found prime knots with up to minimum crossing number 11. Remarkable.
Thanks for the great show and the excuse to peruse the list of Ig Nobel Prizes again.
Congratulations on your 5 years!
I’ve created a page on the Wiki to try to continuously compile the best moments of BOL as they happen. This might help with the end of the year show and it might just be a good way to tickle our BOL memories.