CLOSE
Original image
YouTube

Folding Space-Time Using a Music Box

Original image
YouTube

In science fiction, folding space-time leads to jump drives and other modes of interstellar travel (spin up the FTL Drive, Mr. Gaeta!). But there are other reasons you might want to fold space-time -- like making music.

In this video, mathemusician Vi Hart demonstrates a down-to-earth method of folding space-time. All she needs is paper, a music box, and a basic knowledge of music notation. Got seven minutes to learn a little about space, time, and music? Tune in:

So what else can you do with this concept? In 2009, Hart created a Möbius strip containing a theme from the Harry Potter Septet. Because it's a strip, it can be played indefinitely (as long as the cranker keeps cranking), but each pass through inverts the notation due to mathemagic.

And while we're talking about the relationship between space and time, here's a Minute Physics video exploration of the question how far is a second?

See also: Vi Hart Makes a Video About Making a Video About Making a Video.

Original image
iStock
arrow
science
Why America Still Hasn’t Switched From Fahrenheit to Celsius
Original image
iStock

If you grew up in America, you know that when the thermometer reads 32° F it’s time to bundle up, and if it’s 85° F outside you should break out a t-shirt. But say these temperatures to someone living in a different part of the world and you’ll likely be met with confusion. That’s because the United States joins Myanmar and Liberia as one of only three nations that don’t recognize the metric system.

In its new video, Vox explains why the U.S. is still measuring degrees in Fahrenheit long after the rest of the world decided to make the switch to metric. It wasn’t for the government’s lack of trying: In 1975, the country passed the Metric Conversion Act with the intention of selling the system to Americans. But while Canada, the UK, and Australia made adopting metric measurements mandatory, there was no such enforcement in the U.S. So, given the option to stick with what they know or teach themselves a whole new system, U.S. citizens chose the former.

To learn about the history of Fahrenheit and Celsius, and to see how the imperial system is more than just a nuisance for people visiting the U.S., check out Vox’s full report below.

[h/t Vox]

Original image
Courtesy University of Manchester
arrow
History
148 Lost Alan Turing Papers Discovered in Filing Cabinet
Original image
Courtesy University of Manchester

You never know what you’re going to uncover when you finally get around to combing through that decades-old filing cabinet in the back room. Case in point: The University of Manchester recently unearthed 148 long-lost papers belonging to computer science legend Alan Turing, as ScienceAlert reports.

The forgotten papers mostly cover correspondence between Turing and others between 1949 and his death in 1954. The mathematician worked at the university from 1948 on. The documents include offers to lecture—to one in the U.S., he replied, “I would not like the journey, and I detest America”—a draft of a radio program he was working on about artificial intelligence, a letter from Chess magazine, and handwritten notes. Turing’s vital work during World War II was still classified at the time, and only one document in the file refers to his codebreaking efforts for the British government—a letter from the UK’s security agency GCHQ. The papers had been hidden away for at least three decades.

A typed letter to Alan Turing has a watermark that says 'Chess.'
Courtesy University of Manchester

Computer scientist Jim Miles found the file in May, but it has only now been sorted and catalogued by a university archivist. "I was astonished such a thing had remained hidden out of sight for so long," Miles said in a press statement. "No one who now works in the school or at the university knew they even existed." He says it’s still a mystery why they were filed away in the first place.

The rare discovery represents a literal treasure trove. In 2015, a 56-page handwritten manuscript from Turing’s time as a World War II codebreaker sold for more than $1 million.

[h/t ScienceAlert]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios