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iStock // fullempty

Mathematician Calculates Rotational Speed of Fidget Spinner in Fidgets Per Second

iStock // fullempty
iStock // fullempty

How fast does a fidget spinner spin? It's a simple question with a simple answer, but a complex path to that answer. The issue lies in analyzing an extremely fast-moving object with simple tools, like a smartphone.

In the video below, mathematician Matt Parker turns to a spectrogram sound-analyzing app to solve this problem. Spectrograms are visual representations of sound, allowing the viewer to pick out certain frequencies within an audio clip and measure their intensity. By figuring out the sound the fidget spinner makes, Parker can sort out how many Hertz (cycles per second) the spinner is rotating at.

The first task is making the spinner itself stable, so it's easy to spin and becomes a reliable target for audio recording. Parker attaches the device to a drinking glass, and mounts the smartphone above it, with the microphone pointed at the edge of the spinner. Then by blowing the fidget spinner with compressed air, the mathemagic happens.

Parker calculates the absolute speed of the tips of the fidget spinner, as well as the speed of the spinner in revolutions per minute—the latter is roughly 3750 rpm! (For comparison, a typical car engine runs around 2000-3000 rpm when cruising.) The video is full of further analysis and methodology.

Tune in for some delightful applied mathematics...and be sure to wear your safety gear!

Incidentally, Parker used the SpectrumView app, though there are others like it. He also posted a screenshot of the spectrogram, as seen in the video, in case you want to test your own spinner.

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NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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WWF
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Animals
Watch an Antarctic Minke Whale Feed in a First-of-Its-Kind Video
WWF
WWF

New research from the World Wildlife Fund is giving us a rare glimpse into the world of the mysterious minke whale. The WWF worked with Australian Antarctic researchers to tag minke whales with cameras for the first time, watching where and how the animals feed.

The camera attaches to the whale's body with suction cups. In the case of the video below, the camera accidentally slid down the side of the minke whale's body, providing an unexpected look at the way its throat moves as it feeds.

Minke whales are one of the smallest baleen whales, but they're still pretty substantial animals, growing 30 to 35 feet long and weighing up to 20,000 pounds. Unlike other baleen whales, though, they're small enough to maneuver in tight spaces like within sea ice, a helpful adaptation for living in Antarctic waters. They feed by lunging through the sea, gulping huge amounts of water along with krill and small fish, and then filtering the mix through their baleen.

The WWF video shows just how quickly the minke can process this treat-laden water. The whale could lunge, process, and lunge again every 10 seconds. "He was like a Pac-Man continuously feeding," Ari Friedlaender, the lead scientist on the project, described in a press statement.

The video research, conducted under the International Whaling Commission's Southern Ocean Research Partnership, is part of WWF's efforts to protect critical feeding areas for whales in the region.

If that's not enough whale for you, you can also watch the full 13-minute research video below:

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