republished

Before The Hashtag, There Was The Octothorpe

If you want to follow conversation threads relating to this show on social media — whether Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, Tumblr — you know to look for the hashtag: #99pi. In our current digital age, the hashtag identifies movements, events, happenings, brands — topics of all kinds. The “#” didn’t always have this meaning, though.


Could Cinderella's Glass Slippers Physically Exist Without Shattering?

It is delightful to have my masters degree in Mechanical Engineering put to use in resolving age old engineering problems.


10 Bizarre Buildings And Their Fascinating Histories

Iconic buildings such as the Flatiron Building and the Empire State Building are revered for their historical and cultural significance. However, few people are aware of the equally important structures scattered around the world — structures that have survived time, nature, and the wrecking ball.


Could You Launch Someone Into The Sun With A Big Enough Cannon?

In the spirit of making problems go away, sometimes you want to just launch a particular person/problem into the sun. So — could you? And just how big would the canon need to be?


The Factories That Churn Out America's Most Iconic Trophies

There’s a little trophy shop called Aardvark Laser Engraving down the street from our office in Oakland. It’s small but bustling, and its windows are stuffed to the brim with awards made of all kinds of materials and in any shape you can imagine: chalices, orbs, golfers, gavels, apples and plaques. Plenty of plaques. They are engraved to award the Club DJ of the Year, the newest member of a local Freemason branch, one mysterious trophy just says “Rifle Expert”, and there are plenty of heartfelt engravings to spouses, family members and retiring co-workers.


The Port Authority Bus Terminal: Myth, Mystery, Mess

For many coming to New York City, the available entry is the Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT). However, if a traveller seeks the charm of a grand entrance, they will be greatly disappointed. The PABT is considered, colloquially, to be a hall of unfathomable nightmares.


How To Fix The Elevator

High rise buildings have used the same elevator system for decades. So why mess with a good thing? Because that good thing is one major waste of space. Friends, it’s time to redesign the elevator.


5 Reasons Our Universe Might Actually Be Virtual Reality

Physical realism is the view that the physical world we see is real and exists by itself, alone. Most people think this is self-evident, but physical realism has been struggling with the facts of physics for some time now. The paradoxes that baffled physics last century still baffle it today, and its great hopes of string theory and supersymmetry aren’t leading anywhere.


How Iron Man's Arc Reactor (Probably) Works

Since the Iron Man arc reactor is a fictitious device, and it has no official scientific explanation in the Iron Man canon that I’m aware of, we might as well something up. Now, I’m mixing real science and fake science here. So physics nerds and comic-book nerds: Deal with it.


Which Smartphone And Tablet Displays Show The Most Accurate Colours?

If you walk into any major TV retailer, all of the TVs are showing identical videos, but their colours will be noticeably (to obnoxiously) different on every TV on the wall. Why is that?