Western Sahara, Video, Bitcoins, Syllables, Mathematics

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The Other Side Of The Moroccan Wall

Habib Mohaed | DW | 7th October 2015

Western Sahara is divided by a wall with "the longest continuous minefield on the planet." But "it's rarely in the news and little discussed outside of Africa." Spain left only in 1975 and Morocco moved in for a 16 year war.The Sahrawi people want independence but Morocco now controls most of the land. For now the Sahrawi are stuck on the desert side of the wall; 165,000 Sahwari refugees live in camps in south-west Algeria (1,350 words)

Cartrivision’s 1972 VCR And The Time-Shifted Future

Ross Rubin | Fast Company | 23rd September 2015

Four years before Betamax battled the eventually victorious VHS, Cartrivision "ushered Americans into the era of time-shifting and on-demand video." Though a pioneer in TV broadcast recording, mail-based video purchase and rental, and even home video, the company soon "failed spectacularly" in the face of its product's hefty price, poor usability, and fuzzy picture, not to mention the "looming war" of Betamax vs VHS (1,650 words)

Bitcoins Are A Waste Of Energy – Literally

John Quiggin | Australian Broadcasting Corporation | 6th October 2015

An economist critiques a hidden cost of Bitcoin: the constant energy demands of the computers dedicated to coin mining. At current rates of Ƀ1 = ~$200, mining can be profitable even at energy prices as high as 10c/kWh , potentially generating tons of CO2 emissions per coin, to produce a fiat commodity with no external value. He decries the Bitcoin "delusion", which he sees as problematic even aside from carbon cost (840 words)

Syllables Without Vowels? Pfft, Inconceivable!

Chi Luu | JSTOR Daily | 29th September 2015

We usually think of a syllable as requiring at least one vowel. This isn't always the case. Notably, the Tashlhiyt Berber dialect has only three vowels, and the British Columbian Bella Coola language has none. These languages use the more 'sonorous' (vowel-like) consonant as the nucleus of a syllable. (Think of certain English speakers who say "hidden" as "hid-n"). And, psst!, even English does it too sometimes (1,240 words)

Shinichi Mochizuki And The Impenetrable Proof

Davide Castelvecchi | Nature | 7th October 2015

A Japanese mathematician created a minor academic storm when, with little fanfare, he published a 500 page solution to the 27-year-old “ABC conjecture.” Mathematicians grappling with the enormity of this discovery simultaneously face a challenge: almost no one understands it. “It's not enough if you have a good idea: you also have to be able to explain it to others.” This, Mochizuki is discovering, is not as simple as ABC (3,120 words)

Video of the day: Tiny Hamsters Eating Tiny Burritos

What to expect: What the internet was made for (1'23")

Thought for the day

Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors
Thomas Henry Huxley

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