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Potato Paradox


The potato paradox is a mathematical calculation that has a counter-intuitive result. The Universal Book of Mathematics states the problem as follows:

Fred brings home 100 kg of potatoes, which (being purely mathematical potatoes) consist of 99% water. He then leaves them outside overnight so that they consist of 98% water. What is their new weight? The surprising answer is 50 kg.

In Quine's classification of paradoxes, the potato paradox is a veridical paradox.

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Two Envelopes Problem

Military history/Early Muslim military history Games

The two envelopes problem, also known as the exchange paradox, is a brain teaser, puzzle, or paradox in logic, probability, and recreational mathematics. It is of special interest in decision theory, and for the Bayesian interpretation of probability theory. Historically, it arose as a variant of the necktie paradox. The problem typically is introduced by formulating a hypothetical challenge of the following type:

It seems obvious that there is no point in switching envelopes as the situation is symmetric. However, because you stand to gain twice as much money if you switch while risking only a loss of half of what you currently have, it is possible to argue that it is more beneficial to switch. The problem is to show what is wrong with this argument.

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Gimli Glider

Aviation Disaster management Aviation/Aviation accident project Canada Aviation/aircraft project Aviation/gliding project Canada/History of Canada Canada/Manitoba

Air Canada Flight 143 was a Canadian scheduled domestic passenger flight between Montreal and Edmonton that ran out of fuel on July 23, 1983, at an altitude of 41,000 feet (12,000 m), midway through the flight. The crew was able to glide the Boeing 767 aircraft safely to an emergency landing at a former Royal Canadian Air Force base in Gimli, Manitoba, that had been turned into a motor racing track. This unusual aviation incident earned the aircraft the nickname "Gimli Glider".

The subsequent investigation revealed that a combination of company failures, human errors and confusion over unit measures had led to the aircraft being refuelled with insufficient fuel for the planned flight.

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Moravec's Paradox

Computer science Philosophy Philosophy/Logic Philosophy/Philosophy of science Philosophy/Philosophy of mind

Moravec's paradox is the observation by artificial intelligence and robotics researchers that, contrary to traditional assumptions, reasoning (which is high-level in humans) requires very little computation, but sensorimotor skills (comparatively low-level in humans) require enormous computational resources. The principle was articulated by Hans Moravec, Rodney Brooks, Marvin Minsky and others in the 1980s. As Moravec writes, "it is comparatively easy to make computers exhibit adult level performance on intelligence tests or playing checkers, and difficult or impossible to give them the skills of a one-year-old when it comes to perception and mobility".

Similarly, Minsky emphasized that the most difficult human skills to reverse engineer are those that are unconscious. "In general, we're least aware of what our minds do best", he wrote, and added "we're more aware of simple processes that don't work well than of complex ones that work flawlessly".

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List of Cognitive Biases

Lists Philosophy Philosophy/Logic Business Psychology Cognitive science

Cognitive biases are systematic patterns of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, and are often studied in psychology and behavioral economics.

Although the reality of most of these biases is confirmed by reproducible research, there are often controversies about how to classify these biases or how to explain them. Some are effects of information-processing rules (i.e., mental shortcuts), called heuristics, that the brain uses to produce decisions or judgments. Biases have a variety of forms and appear as cognitive ("cold") bias, such as mental noise, or motivational ("hot") bias, such as when beliefs are distorted by wishful thinking. Both effects can be present at the same time.

There are also controversies over some of these biases as to whether they count as useless or irrational, or whether they result in useful attitudes or behavior. For example, when getting to know others, people tend to ask leading questions which seem biased towards confirming their assumptions about the person. However, this kind of confirmation bias has also been argued to be an example of social skill: a way to establish a connection with the other person.

Although this research overwhelmingly involves human subjects, some findings that demonstrate bias have been found in non-human animals as well. For example, loss aversion has been shown in monkeys and hyperbolic discounting has been observed in rats, pigeons, and monkeys.

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Atlantropa, also referred to as Panropa, was a gigantic engineering and colonisation idea devised by the German architect Herman Sörgel in the 1920s and promoted by him until his death in 1952. Its central feature was a hydroelectric dam to be built across the Strait of Gibraltar, which would have provided enormous amounts of hydroelectricity and would have led to the lowering of the surface of the Mediterranean Sea by up to 200 metres (660 ft), opening up large new lands for settlement, for example in the Adriatic Sea. The project proposed four additional major dams as well:

  • Across the Dardanelles to hold back the Black Sea
  • Between Sicily and Tunisia to provide a roadway and further lower the inner Mediterranean
  • On the Congo River below its Kwah River tributary to refill the Mega-Chad basin around Lake Chad providing fresh water to irrigate the Sahara and creating a shipping lane to the interior of Africa
  • Suez Canal extension and locks to maintain Red Sea connection

Sörgel saw his scheme, projected to take over a century, as a peaceful European-wide alternative to the Lebensraum concepts that later became one of the stated reasons for Nazi Germany's conquest of new territories. Atlantropa would provide land and food, employment, electric power, and most of all, a new vision for Europe and neighbouring Africa.

The Atlantropa movement, through its several decades, was characterised by four constants:

  • Pacifism, in its promises of using technology in a peaceful way;
  • Pan-European sentiment, seeing the project as a way to unite a war-torn Europe;
  • Eurocentric attitudes to Africa (which was to become united with Europe into "Atlantropa" or Eurafrica), and
  • Neo-colonial geopolitics, which saw the world divided into three blocs—America, Asia, and Atlantropa.

Active support was limited to architects and planners from Germany and a number of other primarily northern European countries. Critics derided it for various faults, ranging from lack of any cooperation of Mediterranean countries in the planning to the impacts it would have had on the historic coastal communities left stranded inland when the sea receded. The project reached great popularity in the late 1920s to the early 1930s, and for a short period again, in the late 1940s to the early 1950s, but soon disappeared from general discourse again after Sörgel's death.

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One electron universe


The one-electron universe postulate, proposed by John Wheeler in a telephone call to Richard Feynman in the spring of 1940, is the hypothesis that all electrons and positrons are actually manifestations of a single entity moving backwards and forwards in time. According to Feynman:

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E-Prime: English without the verb 'to be'

Linguistics Linguistics/Applied Linguistics Languages Constructed languages English Language

E-Prime (short for English-Prime or English Prime, sometimes denoted É or E′) is a version of the English language that excludes all forms of the verb to be, including all conjugations, contractions and archaic forms.

Some scholars advocate using E-Prime as a device to clarify thinking and strengthen writing. A number of other scholars have criticized E-Prime's utility.

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Low-Background Steel

Metalworking Materials

Low-background steel is any steel produced prior to the detonation of the first nuclear bombs in the 1940s and 1950s. With the Trinity test and the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and then subsequent nuclear weapons testing during the early years of the Cold War, background radiation levels increased across the world. Modern steel is contaminated with radionuclides because its production uses atmospheric air. Low-background steel is so-called because it does not suffer from such nuclear contamination. This steel is used in devices that require the highest sensitivity for detecting radionuclides.

The primary source of low-background steel is ships that were constructed before the Trinity test, most famously the scuttled German World War I warships in Scapa Flow.

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Phoebus Cartel

Technology Business Electronics Energy Home Living

The Phoebus cartel existed to control the manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs. They appropriated market territories and fixed the useful life of such bulbs. Corporations based in Europe and America founded the cartel on January 15, 1925 in Geneva. They had intended the cartel to last for thirty years (1925 to 1955). The cartel ceased operations in 1939 owing to the outbreak of World War II. The cartel included manufacturers Osram, General Electric, Associated Electrical Industries, and Philips, among others.

The Phoebus cartel created a notable landmark in the history of the global economy because it engaged in large-scale planned obsolescence to generate repeated sales and maximize profit. It also reduced competition in the light bulb industry for almost fifteen years. Critics accused the cartel of preventing technological advances that would produce longer-lasting light bulbs. Phoebus based itself in Switzerland. The corporation named itself Phœbus S.A. Compagnie Industrielle pour le Développement de l'Éclairage (French for "Phoebus, Inc. Industrial Company for the Development of Lighting").

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