The Brazil Nut Coffee-Ground Effect


Dr. Hanson made a video about the Brazil Nut Effect, but called it the Raisin Bran Effect. To me, it will always be the “Brazil Nut Effect” because that’s the term that Jay Ingram used when discussing it 15 years ago on an episode of Discovery Channel’s “Daily Planet”.

That said, even then, I was already familiar with the effect from having noticed that upon shaking a cup of instant coffee grounds and sugar, the sugar would sink and the coffee grounds would rise. Simple observation (and slow shaking) revealed that the difference in size and shape of the grounds and sugar crystals was the reason for the “granular convection”.

Sorry Joe, but it I don’t know if the Raisin Bran Effect will take.

Osseo High School Screwed the (cisgendered?) Pooch


Some staff at Osseo high-school in Minnesota physically forced open the door to a bathroom stall while a transgender student was going to the bathroom. There’s a few salient points about this:

  1. Despite what the student said, they didn’t “violate” him (her?). That is a loaded word that implies something akin to abuse or rape. 🙄
  2. Couldn’t they have just waited a minute for him to come out on his own and then send him to the office to sort out the matter? What was the friggin’ rush? 😒
  3. Regardless of how anyone feels about (trans-)gender issues in general, nobody can argue that the student was harming anyone by going to the bathroom in a stall. For decades, sometimes girls used the men’s bathroom when the ladies’ was full, and sometimes guys used the ladies’ room when the men’s was out of order, and nobody got hurt. I’d like to believe that (most) people are (still) mature enough to take a leak or wash their hands without causing anyone to die. ¬_¬ (Even before bathrooms were invented, people of all genders took dumps in the same grass and woods as each other for millennia without problem. This is “progress” for you. 🤦)

Even Sadder

Remember this? Well it seems that low self-esteem is quite common.

This afternoon, the phrase Pretty Please came up which made me wonder about its etymology and whether anybody has used the phrase Ugly Please. I tried Googling it to see if it is a Googlewhack. I doubted that it would be and expected plenty of hits with pages where people used the phrase Ugly Please. I don’t know if it has indeed been used or not because to my surprise, most of the pages that Google dug up to match to the query term, turned out to be sad people begging for approval and affirmation from others.

Even searching for "pretty please" "ugly please" which presumably would clarify what is being searched for turned up the same results. The last result seen in the screenshot is actually of a news report about this sad trend of youth begging strangers to validate them.

What’s really bizarre is that anyone who has read the comments on any given YouTube page can tell you that the Internet is the last place that anyone should turn for comfort and support; the Internet is the ultimate bully.

After several more variations of the query all turning up the same thing, I gave up and just did a search for "pretty please" etymology. It didn’t give me the answer I was looking for (about how much ugly please has been used), but at least it actually addressed the phrase instead of flooding the results with am-i-ugly pages. (I also tried to search for the literal opposite of pretty please, but "ugly you're welcome" didn’t find what I was looking for, and "ugly thank you" actually found some more sad people.)

Wow, people really need to have (a lot) more self-respect and self-esteem. 🙁

Screenshot of Google results for “Ugly Please”
Google results for “Ugly Please” shows sad people asking if they are ugly
Screenshot of Google results for “Ugly Please” and “Pretty Please”
Google results for “Ugly Please” and “Pretty Please” still shows sad people asking if they are ugly

Memory Limits and Life Expectancy

What happens to memory when people get older? We usually remember a lot of things from throughout our lives, but what would happen if one lived for an exceptionally long time? Would they forget more and more things from their past? Would they have difficulty remembering new things? Would their brain continue to grow to accommodate new memories? Would their head grow as well or would it explode?

Obviously there has to be a limit to how much can be remembered because there can be only a finite number of neurons. Does this limit memory or life expectancy?

The mechanisms through which our memories are encoded and decoded are still not thoroughly understood. We know a lot about it, but not specifically how it works at a low-level, anatomical level. It might turn out that memory is (essentially) limitless due to how it works (e.g., encoded in synaptic connections as opposed to individual neurons which could result in trillions upon trillions of combinations). However it seems more likely that there would be a limit in a way that is surprisingly similar to digital storage.

Speaking of digital storage, we now have storage devices that are incredibly small (~1.5cm3). Many gigabytes can be stored in a flash-drive that is about the size of a Tic Tac. If you filled the the brain’s memory center, the hippocampus (~3.0cm3), with tiny flash-cells, you could probably store about 64GB-128GB of data. That’s a lot, but not a huge amount. An android could certainly store much more, perhaps on the order of peta-bytes or even exa-bytes. The problem is in comparing to storage in the brain.

Johnny Mnemonic’s 80GB brain-capacity (even 160GB with compression) is surprisingly close to the aforementioned calculation which is impressively accurate considering that it came out in 1995 when a typical consumer hard-drive was the same size-as today but only about 512MB. Regardless, it isn’t quite analogous. The brain does not work like digital storage, so it’s not clear if or how/when a person could run out of room to store new memories.

32GB flash-drives that are only mm in size
Large-capacity flash-drives are very tiny now
Box of Tic Tacs
Tic Tacs are small