The Inspection Paradox is everywhere

August 19, 2015

Airlines complain that they are losing money because too many flights are nearly empty. At the same time passengers complain that flying is miserable because planes are too full. They could both be right. When a flight is nearly empty, only a few passengers enjoy the extra space. But when a flight is full, many passengers feel the crunch.

Another example happens when you are waiting for public transportation. Busses and trains are supposed to arrive at constant intervals, but in practice some intervals are longer than others. With your luck, you might think you are more likely to arrive during a long interval. It turns out you are right: a random arrival is more likely to fall in a long interval because, well, it’s longer.

The Inspection Paradox is everywhere.

Gluteal thinking

July 20, 2015

My new favourite tweet:


June 22, 2015

[I]t can be expressed as a rule of thumb for determining what the lead and remaining time have to be for a team to have a 90 percent chance at maintaining that lead: L = .4602√t, where L is the lead and t is the number of seconds remaining.* Using the formula, you can calculate that if a team has a 10-point lead with just under eight minutes left (like the Warriors did in Game 6), then 90 percent of the time, they’ll keep that lead for the rest of the game.

A new formula for predicting lead changes.


March 2, 2015


(via Kottke)

If HR Giger had sex with a broccoli floret

November 18, 2009

I imagine this would be their progeny:


The Mandelbulb is an attempt to create a true 3D equivalent of the Mandelbrot set.

(via various)

The Drake Equation, reapplied

October 2, 2009

Peter Backus, has taken the Drake Equation (an equation formulated to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilisations in the Milky Way that we might come in to contact with), and reapplied it to estimate the likely success of his own amourous exploits:

While extraterrestrial civilizations may be rare, there is something that is seemingly rarer still: A girlfriend. For me. What might the approach employed in the estimation of the number of alien civilizations tell us about the number of potential girlfriends for me? A somewhat less scientific question, I admit, but one of substantial personal importance.