Things 89: Human Towers, Retroactive Prayer, Local Universe Map

I saw Monsters at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and it’s now on general release. As I said back in my big EIFF review post:

What: Low budget yet well-realised alien invasion as setting for semi-romantic road movie
Good: Beautifully shot, atmospheric, with an incredibly realistic-feel for its budget and a beautifully understated soundtrack from Jon Hopkins. And giant alien octopi.
Bad: Weakness in the development of the female character betrays a male gaze bias, undermining the main dynamic of the film
Conclusion: Essential viewing for anyone interested in what can be achieved on a budget, giant alien octopi, or Whitney Able’s legs


Human Towers, some of which alarmingly do fall down:

Casteller from Mike Randolph on Vimeo.

Martin Bland, paraphrased by Peter Norvig in an excellent article on the shortcomings of evidence for prayer healing:

An ethical study proving the efficacy of retroactive prayer is logically impossible.

Since physical attractiveness has at least some part to play in our evolution, why does the perceived attractiveness of any given individual vary so much depending on who you ask?

I had previously wondered what the ‘local’ area of the universe looked like, for varying values of ‘local’, but some idle Googling didn’t produce an answer at the time. Just recently I came across a really nice image on Wikipedia giving the answer across some interesting different scales. Check out the file on Wikipedia, where you can also download a 7MB, not-very-compressed jpg of the image. (If that’s gone for some reason I’ve put a slightly more compressed version (2.5MB) of the image here).

Here’s a snapshot of just part of it:

Last Week’s Puzzle
Last week I asked why bedsprings make a ‘pyoing’ noise out of nowhere. Either this was too easy, too hard, or no one had any idea what I was talking about, because nobody had an answer. Consequently I turned to my not-very-secret research alter ego and asked the internet, as I did before on the shampoo question. The internet said springs get squinched down sometimes and will later pop back up. If that was the case, I would expect to usually hear these noises very soon after getting off a bed, with just a few rare occasions when it was released later. I remain unsure.