Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Tweet is Worth (at least) 140 Words

So, I recently read An Introduction to Information Theory: Symbols, Signals and Noise.

It is a very nice popular introduction to Information Theory, a modern scientific pursuit to quantify information started by Claude Shannon in 1948.

This got me thinking. Increasingly, people try to hold conversations on Twitter, where posts are limited to 140 characters. Just how much information could you convey in 140 characters?

After some coding and investigation, I created this, an experimental twitter English compression algorithm capable of compressing around 140 words into 140 characters.

So, what's the story? Warning: It's a bit of a story, the juicy bits are at the end.

UPDATE: Tomo in the comments below made a chrome extension for the algorithm

Monday, August 22, 2011

Futurama Physics

The rotting corpses of sunbeams cause global warming.
Good news, everyone!  While rummaging through all my old stuff at home, I found my long-lost copy of Toto IV.  Huzzah for me!  This is entirely unrelated to what I wanted to talk about, but I have it on good authority that Toto's Africa syncs up really well with this post [1].  I'll tell you when to press play.

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was a fairly well-posed problem in Futurama.  In the episode "Crimes of the Hot," all of the Earth's robots vent their various "exhausts" into the sky at the same time, using the thrust to push the Earth into an orbit slightly further away from the sun.  As a result of this new orbit, the year is made longer by "exactly one week."  Anything that quantitative is pretty much asking to be analyzed.  Let's explore this problem a bit more then, why not?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fun with an iPhone Accelerometer

The iPhone 3GS has a built-in accelerometer, the LIS302DL, which is primarily used for detecting device orientation. I wanted to come up with something interesting to do with it, but first I had to see how it did on some basic tests. It turns out that the tests gave really interesting results themselves! A drop test gave clean results and a spring test gave fantastic data; however a pendulum test gave some problems.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Physics in Sports: The Fosbury Flop

Physics has greatly influenced the progress of most sports. There have been continual improvements in equipment for safety or performance as well as improvements in technique. I'd like to talk about some physics in sports over a series of posts. Here I'll talk about a technique improvement in High Jumping, the Fosbury Flop.