Apparently we here in Leicester are to be locked down tight again because of a surge in coronavirus infections. This won't affect me in the slightest, as I spend all my time at home and online looking for stuff like this anyway

  • How I Became a Poker Champion in One Year - Maria Konnikova asked champion poker player Erik Seidel to teach her how to play: ”The game has changed a lot in the past 30 years. As with so many facets of modern life, the qualitative elements of poker have taken a back seat to the quantitative… Seidel is notoriously reticent, and he hates sharing his tactics. I was, however, an ideal pupil in a few ways. Most important, I have a Ph.D. in psychology, and so I was well positioned to understand Seidel’s style of play. I also never had much of an interest in cards, meaning Seidel wouldn’t have to rid me of any bad habits. My academic training and my inexperience made me a perfect vehicle for an experiment to see if Seidel’s psychological game could still triumph over a strictly mathematical style.”

  • New Geometric Perspective Cracks Old Problem About Rectangles - ”While locked down due to COVID-19, Joshua Greene and Andrew Lobb figured out how to prove a version of the ‘rectangular peg problem.’” This also proves that the best way to cultivate mathematics is to lock the mathematicians away and not let anybody else disturb them

  • Pluto has likely maintained an underground liquid ocean for billions of years - ”The discovery hints that subsurface oceans are common in the outer solar system, which is good news for the those seeking extraterrestrial life.” More good stuff from New Horizons

  • Only known drawing of extinct giant sloth lemur found in cave - Also, studies now suggest that the megafauna that once roamed the island were still extant as recently as 1,000 years ago: ”Madagascar used to be home to a range of species that no longer survive today. These included not only the giant elephant birds, but also giant lemurs, some of which were the size of gorillas… There has been little evidence of what these animals looked like in real life. But the discovery of new cave art may change this.”

  • Ancient Maya reservoirs contained toxic pollution - ”Reservoirs in the heart of an ancient Maya city were so polluted with mercury and algae that the water likely was undrinkable.” Which probably explains why the Maya eventually abandoned the city.

  • You might hate jellyfish. But almost everything in the ocean depends on them (and we do too) - Rebecca Helm on our failure to appreciate the ecological significance of tidal currants: ”They sting people (it doesn’t matter that the stings aren’t meant for us, but for prey). They clog fishing nets. They have on occasion cut off the power supply to nearly 40 million people… Like roaches, we picture them as the last animal survivors in a world utterly destroyed by humans. Their public image has suffered accordingly.”

  • Ernest Willows – Airship Pioneer - The story of a Welsh aeronaut: ”In 1910, in Willows 2, he succeeded in flying it to [Cardiff] city centre and landing near the City Hall netting him a £50 prize for the first aerial voyage in Wales. Buoyed by his success and now with a bit of publicity behind him, he did the same three days later, this time in front of a crowd of 40,000.”

  • The Woman Who Made Soap - Leonarda Cianciulli was an Italian serial killer: ”For Leonarda, everything changed in 1939 when Benito Mussolini began drafting young men to prepare for Italy's entry into World War II… Leonarda became mentally unbalanced at the thought of her favourite son, Giuseppe, being drafted and possibly dying in combat. The prospect of losing Giuseppe apparently led to her decision to carry out human sacrifices to preserve her son from death.”

  • Die shrink: How Intel scaled down the 8086 processor - Ken Shirriff continues his examination of the venerable chip: ”I came across two 8086 dies with different sizes, which reveal details of how a die shrink works. The concept of a die shrink is that as technology improved, a manufacturer could shrink the silicon die, reducing costs and improving performance. But there's more to it than simply scaling down the whole die. Although the internal circuitry can be directly scaled down,2 external-facing features can't shrink as easily.”

  • What Glastonbury looked like 30 years ago - ”On what would have been its 50th anniversary weekend, photographer Derek Ridgers shares a selection of images shot at Glastonbury on assignment for NME.” Something for those of you who missed wading through mud and paying exorbitant amounts for a packet of damp Rizlas this past weekend

Happy invoicing!