Sunday, February 17, 2019

Bytes Bits

Random items from all over . . . 

Ghost apples: 

I recently posted pics of the effects of the polar vortex that hit the Midwest US a short time ago. Another phenomenon of the polar vortex has now become apparent, that of ghost apples. The apples on the trees became covered in ice but, because apples have a lower freezing point than water due to their high acid content, the apples themselves didn’t freeze solid. As the weather warmed again, the apples inside the ice turned to mush. In most cases the apple – both ice and mush – fell off the trees but in some cases the mush dropped out of the ice leaving the ghost apple on the tree. 

Source: Bored panda 


Junk Olympic medals: 

Organisers of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo have advised that all medals to be awarded will be made from recycled electronic waste, including discarded smartphones, digital cameras and other handheld games and laptops. 

According to the organising committee, municipal authorities had already collected 47,488 tons of junked devices by November, roughly 19 months after the project was launched with targets of 30.3kg of gold, 4,100kg of silver and 2,700kg of bronze. Officials say that the goal for bronze was reached in June, while more than 90% of the gold and 85% of the silver has been collected., it being estimated that the remaining amounts of metal required to manufacture all Olympic and Paralympic medals can be extracted from the devices already donated. 

The designs for the Tokyo 2020 medals will be unveiled later this year. 

Source: The Guardian 


Halo Effect v Horn Effect: 

The Halo Effect is the phenomenon whereby we assume that because people are good at doing A they will be good at doing B, C and D. The reverse is the Horn Effect, because they are bad at doing A they will be bad at doing B, C and D. The phrase was first coined by Edward Thorndike, a psychologist who used it in a study published in 1920 to describe the way that commanding officers rated their soldiers. He found that officers usually judged their men as being either good right across the board or bad. There was little mixing of traits; few people were said to be good in one respect but bad in another. 

Later work on the Halo Effect suggested that it was highly influenced by first impressions. If we see a person first in a good light, it is difficult subsequently to darken that light. The old adage that “first impressions count” seems to be true. This is used by advertisers who pay heroic actors and beautiful actresses to promote products about which they have absolutely no expertise. We think positively about the actor because he played a hero, or the actress because she was made up to look incredibly beautiful, and assume that they therefore have deep knowledge about car engines or anti-wrinkle cream. 

It is also particularly important in the educational and judicial systems. 

Source: The Economist 


Dallas City Council Votes to Remove Massive Confederate War Memorial 

There have been previous Bytes posts about the push to remove insensitive public memorials, especially those in the US which honour Confederate leaders and are seen as supportive of slavery, and those in Australia which are perceived as symbolic of mistreatment of indigenous persons. 

Dallas City Council has now voted 11-4 to remove and store a large-scale Civil War memorial. The monument features a 20 metre / 65-foot-tall obelisk at its centre topped with a Confederate soldier. Flanking the obelisk at its corners are life-size statues of Confederate States of America Generals Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Albert Sidney Johnston and CSA President Jefferson Davis. The Confederate War Memorial was erected by the Dallas chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and moved to its present location across the street from City Hall in Pioneer Cemetery due to construction of a freeway, 

According to the Mayor Casey Thomas, “We have to acknowledge the sins of the past, and what kind of Dallas do we want going forward. Today is not unfinished business. It’s finishing the business that we started.” 

Source: Smithsonian online magazine 


Mars Opportunity Rover - designed for 90 days, lasted 14 years 

NASA has called an end to Opportunity Rover's Mars mission after months of failed attempts to revive the machine after a massive dust storm in mid-2018 blotted out its solar panels destroying its ability to communicate with Earth. Designed to last 90 Martian days and to travel 1,000 metres (1,100 yards), Opportunity surpassed expectations by working for nearly 15 years and travelling more than 45 kilometres (28 miles). 
From the day Opportunity landed, a team of mission engineers, rover drivers and scientists on Earth collaborated to overcome challenges and get the rover from one geologic site on Mars to the next. They plotted workable avenues over rugged terrain so that the 384-pound (174-kilogram) Martian explorer could maneuver around and, at times, over rocks and boulders, climb gravel-strewn slopes as steep as 32-degrees (an off-Earth record), probe crater floors, summit hills and traverse possible dry riverbeds. Its final venture brought it to the western limb of Perseverance Valley.  
“I cannot think of a more appropriate place for Opportunity to endure on the surface of Mars than one called Perseverance Valley,” said Michael Watkins, director of JPL. “The records, discoveries and sheer tenacity of this intrepid little rover is testament to the ingenuity, dedication, and perseverance of the people who built and guided her.”

– NASA Press Release, February 13, 2019
Source: Twisted Sifter 

Some pics of Mars from Opportunity Rover: 

Uzbekistani artist Rostislav Shekhovtsov was so moved by the rover's finale that he created a digital painting to honour Oppy, as I was affectionately known. The work shows two astronauts in the future finding the dust-covered rover on Mars, the artist believing that one day astronauts will travel to Mars and will bring Opportunity rover back with them, The painting is captioned “It’s time to go home, Oppy.”

And some other pics . . .

What was really hapenning on Mars

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