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The Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee

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During spring break at MIT in 1966, Peter R. Samson saw this quote on the back of a New York City subway map:

"A Flushing youth, who wanted his money's worth, rode all lines of the subway on a single token. With doubling back as needed, the trip totaled over 400 miles - more than the train journey from New York to Pittsburgh. It took him 25 hours and 36 minutes."

This set in motion Samson's extensive efforts to duplicate the feat. Enlisting other students and some serious MIT hardware (including a PDP-6, the use of which was authorized by Marvin Minsky himself), Samson dedicated himself to the task of mapping the subway system and determining ideal routes through it. Using artificial intelligence (after manual calculation failed to produce a satisfactorily fast outcome), the team of MIT hackers engaged in a realtime subway race assisted by computers back at home base, relaying information via payphone.

Along the way, the Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee was formed. Samson organized the group in order to decide upon rules and definitions, in order to help regulate the nascent "sport" of subway racing. Here's a selection of the official rules from Samson's personal history, The Rise and Fall of the Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee:

Regulations Regarding Amateur New York Subway Riding


Definitions

  1. This document sets forth the rules of the competition
    with the name “Amateur New York Subway
    Riding.”
  2. There are three Classes of Competition:
    1. Class A: Covering all Lines
    2. Class B: Touching all Stations
    3. Class C: Passing all Stations
  3. In general, the object of the competition is to set a
    record minimum time for a given Class of Competition by
    1. planning a route through the New York City Transit
      System subject to the qualifications of that Class; and
    2. making a timed run over that route.
  4. These rules, and all records of the competition, are
    maintained by the Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee,
    referred to herein as the Committee.
  5. Each person who intentionally participates in the run,
    or who attempts specifically to expedite the run by his actions
    during the run, or who participates in the selection of lines and
    stations to be followed during the run, is considered a contestant
    with regard to that run.
  6. ...

The rules go on for quite a while. Read Samson's article for the whole story, including information about the artificial intelligence program used in the stunt (ahem, "hack"), schematics of the subway system, original logs, and other documents. See also: Wikipedia entry on Samson.

(Via Anarchaia.)

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Why the Best Time to Book Your Thanksgiving Travel Is Right Now
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You're never going to get a true steal on holiday plane tickets, but if you want to avoid spending your whole salary flying to visit your relatives over Thanksgiving, the time is nigh to start picking seats. That's according to the experts at Condé Nast Traveler, who cite data from Expedia and Skyscanner.

The latter found that it was cheapest to secure Thanksgiving tickets 11 weeks before the holiday. That means that you should have bought your ticket around September 4, but it's not too late; you can still save if you book now. Expedia's data shows that the cheapest time to buy is 61 to 90 days before you leave, so you still have until September 23 to snag a seat on a major airline without paying an obscene premium. (Relatively speaking, of course.)

When major travel holidays aren't involved, data shows that the best time to book a plane ticket is on a Sunday, at least 21 days ahead of your travel. But given that millions of other Americans also want to fly on the exact same days during Thanksgiving and Christmas, the calculus of booking is a bit more high stakes. If you sleep on tickets this month, you could be missing out on hundreds of dollars in savings. In the recent study cited by Condé Nast Traveler, Expedia found that people booking during the 61- to 90-day window saved up to 10 percent off the average ticket price, while last-minute bookers who bought tickets six days or less from their travel day paid up to 20 percent more.

Once you secure those Turkey Day tickets, you've got a new project: Your Christmas flights. By Hopper's estimates, those flights rise in price by $1.50 every day between the end of October and December 15 (after which they get even more expensive). However, playing the waiting game can be beneficial, too. Expedia found that the cheapest time to book Christmas flights was just 14 to 20 days out.

Before you buy, we also recommend checking CheapAir.com, which tracks 11,000 different airfares for flights around the holidays to analyze price trends. Because as miserable as holiday travel can be, you don't want to pay any more than you have to.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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History
How the Wright Brothers' Plane Compares to the World's Largest Aircraft
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The Wright brothers famously built the world’s first powered, heavier-than-air, controllable aircraft. But while the siblings revolutionized the field of aviation, their early plane looks tiny—and dare we say quaint-looking—when compared to the aerial giants that came after it.

In Tech Insider’s video below, you can see how the Wright brothers’ flyer stacks up against the scale of other aircrafts. You'll notice that size doesn't always guarantee a successful journey. The Hughes H-4 Hercules—the largest flying boat ever made—never made it past the prototype stage, performing only one brief flight in 1947. And the Hindenburg, which was 804 feet long and could fit 80 Olympic swimming pools, famously exploded on May 6, 1937.

Today’s longest commercial airliner is the Boeing 747-8, which measures 251 feet from nose to tail. While slightly shorter (238 feet), the Airbus A380 is certified to hold more people than any other plane in the air—a total of 850 passengers. That record won't last long, though: In a few years, the Stratolaunch carrier—the widest aircraft ever built—will dwarf its contemporaries when it takes to the skies in 2019. Built to launch rockets into orbit, its wingspan is about the size of a football field, even bigger than that of the Hughes H-4 Hercules.

Still, what the Wright brothers’ plane lacked in size, it made up for in ingenuity. Without it, these other giants may never have existed.

[h/t: Tech Insider]

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