Week in Geek – a roundup of science, technology and pop culture news with commentary each Friday
Lucky or unlucky
The number 13 – so ominous, except when it comes to bakery items. Then, it’s a delicious surprise.
i’m not superstitious though. Once in a while i’ll toss some salt over my shoulder because hey what else can you do with spilled salt?
So when i was getting started with this post i noticed it was the 13th consecutive Week in Geek. Looking up the number 13 to see what all the auspiciousness was about revealed some facts closer to my geeky heart.
- 13 is the smallest emirp, which is a prime number that results in a different prime when its digits are reversed. i never conceived there even was such a thing, and now i discover there’s a term for it. Can you guess where the term comes from?
- It’s a Fibonacci number, which i’ve heard of from an episode of Criminal Minds. If i’m not mistaken, it was the one where Jason Alexander was the serial killer.
- 13 is a happy number – made happy because the sums of the squares of its digits don’t get caught in an endless loop. That would make the number unhappy, or sad. There are 143 happy numbers before 1,000.
- A centered square number can have equal numbered layers of dots arranged around them – like a 9-ball setup for example. 13 is such a number.
- It’s one of only three known Wilson prime number, a “prime number p such that p2 divides (p – 1)! + 1, where ‘!’ deontes the factorial function. i have no idea what that means. The other two Wilson primes are 5 and 563.
i was going to try to find 13 factoids about it but ran out of steam. Got any tidbits about the number 13 to share?
After the excursion into numeric lore, i looked back at the first Week in Geek. That was 26 days after i started working at The News-Herald. Two times 13! The creation of a weekly feature was a pitch to the editor so i could get a link here on the newspaper’s website. And it worked! A benefit to me is that i feel compelled to keep up with it, because deadlines can be a writer’s best friend. A few months ago i read an article about how us insecure creator types are more afraid to turn out nothing that something bad. So our deadlines give us that needed pressure to come up with whatever it is we do, even if we wait until the last possible moment to get it done.
The mix of local Northeast Ohio tech news and interviews, researched commentaries and hands-on work, plus the chance to slip in comic book and film tidbits has been rewarding and satisfying. Judging by the numbers, it’s got some appeal with a greater number of people out there, too.
So thank you to every one who’s new to The Long Shot over the past few weeks, and indeed to all the people who have visited here in the last two years and four months. September 2012 was my very first post. It’s very short and not very journalistic at all. Which i guess makes sense because i’d just barely started back at school and had no idea what kind of voice i had at that time.
When i publish this edition of Week in Geek, if The Long Shot were a Word document, it would be 637 pages long with 202,631 words. At the end, i did some minor editing on this particular post to wind up with those numbers. Do the math 😉
A milestone moment
Today marks another occasion for me: It is the first time i have a byline in a publication as a professional writer. And what’s better than that, but two bylines – and both on the front page.
The story about the cow stuck in a pond doesn’t count.
The stars have not yet aligned for full-time reporting, but i will say it is definitely exhilarating to get work published. It validates going back to school and i’m pretty sure i can tell people i’m a writer and not be speaking only poetically.
The stories were regional beat stuff, and it was a happy surprise to me that neither was a ho-hum experience. Both of them gave me a chance to highlight something good that is going on in the area, which is generally my goal. They both were an opportunity to do something i’m not as familiar with, too.
In one case, it was attending a city council meeting (something i’ve never done), and reporting on it (naturally, again, not done before). My takeaway from it was that the officials there really did seem to care about the residents in their community, which was nice to see.
The other one was about helping people, kids specifically. The managing editor asked for 15-25 inches but ended up closer to 30. Before starting, i had to look up a comparative word count to inch count, since that had never come up at school. That translates to 525-600 words to 700-800 words.
Right away, i knew it would be more than 15 inches. Have i ever written anything that brief? There’s a good chance the answer is no.
On an unrelated note, the first time i watched Nightcrawler, when channel editor Frank Kruse played by Kevin Rahm came into a scene i thought he bore a striking resemblance to my managing editor.
Anyway, on the eve of this occasion, i celebrated by doing nothing productive. Catching up on movies was great: John Wick, Interstellar and Birdman were all terrific. Other nonproductive things i did: took a nap and played Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions.
Reporting, keeping up with fires and crashes, copy desk, second job and closing on a condo hasn’t spared much time for work on The Long Shot. It started when i missed the Coderetreat at LeanDog a few weeks back and probably will continue until i’m settled in there. That was majorly disappointing, and i haven’t had much time to practice coding since, either.
There are a few target events on the close horizon though. And an undertaking or two to work on.
- The 101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge that another blogger introduced me to looks like a fun goal-creation project
- Stark Enterprises (yes, for real) has plans for a downtown nuCLEus
- Kent State University hosts a Fashion/Tech Hackathon Jan. 30 – Feb. 1
- HackCWRU is Feb. 6-8
- Visit to think[box] Jan. 28
- Wizard World Cleveland Feb. 20-22 – covering this for The News-Herald with expanded content here
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Thanks for reading the 13th Week in Geek in addition to visiting The Long Shot. Of course, there were many more exciting things that happened in the world of science, technology and pop culture this week…but these were the ones that most caught my attention. If you have any news you’d like to share, drop me a line and let me know – i try to keep up with stuff but i can’t read everything!
If you would like some further reading, about some science and technology stuff that happened this week, here’s a few links i hope you find as interesting as i did:
- Lost Beagle2 probe found ‘intact’ on Mars
- i didn’t even know the Beagle2 was lost. This thing has been sitting on the surface of Mars since 2003 and just discovered. Yet there’s no mention of any data it might have gathered in those 12 years or any thoughts about retrieving it. Might be useful, given the following…
- SpaceX founder Elon Musk reveals new $10B ‘Space Internet’ plan at private Seattle event
- just popping in to your private event to tell you about opening an office in Seattle. And, oh yeah build an orbital satellite network so everyone on Earth has free Internet. And we’re going to colonize Mars. No comments at this time. Literally, in the traditional and correct meaning, every day i read something about technology that astounds me.
- SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket exploding on an ocean landing pad
- In the realm of scientific research, the precision results make this a hopeful – if not ideal – test that has ‘huge implications for the future of space travel.’ To top it off, i just saw Interstellar for the first time today, marking space stuff the No. 1 theme of the day.
- Will autocomplete make you too predictable?
- Another one of those scenarios that feels like walking on the edge of a blade. Sometimes it crosses my mind that this has already happened.
- AI has arrived, and that really worries the world’s brightest minds
- Obligatory AI caution, nothing new here. Still bizarre to me that this is one of the issues of our times. Still fascinated by the capacity to advance so far and still that real possibility of ‘ruthless efficiency.’
- No, this Artificially Intelligent Mario is not self-aware
- On the other hand, i’m not sure “human-like behaviors and feelings are programmed into him by brute force” is the best road to go with AI. All part of the process, i guess.
- Micro-machines journey inside animal for the first time
- See what i mean about that ‘every day’ stuff? These microscopic machines deploy inside the stomach and release targeted medication directly at affected tissue and so forth. Wonder how long it will be before 3D printing is old news and anything you can imagine will instantly form out of nanomachines.
- Eugene Malinskiy, CSU alumnus and biomedical innovator named to Forbes 30 under 30 list
- Graduated 2012 and the same year founded a tech firm in Cleveland that made a device that “reduces the risk of strokes following transcatheter aortic valve replacement,” as well as other inventions. Came to the U.S. from Ukraine at 10, went to Denmark with his bachelor’s but came back to NE Ohio for further education and set up shop here. Biomedical tech is a huge part of Cleveland’s resurgence and this guy is right there in the middle.
- Get colorful Dungeons & Dragons character descriptions with this random generator
- This started as a coding project, and certainly delivers on the colorful language. Colorful in that “Star Trek IV” way. The article has a warning, and there are screenshots too. Nevertheless, in the name of thorough journalism i followed the link, and hit refresh a couple of times. In that same name, i’ll refrain from sharing my own screenshots because frankly, if the display image for this Week in Geek is one of them, i don’t think the folks at The News-Herald will be too happy. But i saved ’em 😉
- Nostalgic photos of SF show the city before gentrification
- The clarity on these decades-old photos is remarkable. And they are nostalgic of a time, not just the places shown. If you were born before 1980, they probably look alien to some extent. Their sci-fi is already old news.
- Strange visions of the hyper-congested megacities of the future
- Oddly beautiful, and amazing works of art.
- A gigantic 3D printer built this 12,000-square-foot mansion layer by layer
- While we wait until nanomachines can do this in a few minutes, we can roboticize the construction business. So when can we all have our own mansions? Okay, i’ll settle for a bungalow. Ranch? Cottage?
- Google’s Atlas robot severs its power cord
- i wouldn’t be surprised if, by the time Chappie is released, it’s considered nostalgic.
- Next phase of renovation to begin at a vast military remnant in Brooklyn
- This complex is so large that there are roadways on the sixth floor.
- The very laws of physics imply that artificial intelligence must be possible. What’s holding us up?
- Pretty sure at this point that the autocomplete and related algorithms cause a higher-than-average amount of these AI articles to cross paths with. Am i a big dork of my own choosing, or am i being steered that way…maybe a little of both.
- Scientists make energy-generating keyboard that knows who’s typing on it
- And it has built-in crumb repellent abilities!
How much energy can be generated by typing on the smart keyboard? Enough to charge “small electronics at arbitrary typing speed greater than 100 characters per min”, according to the team — which they characterize as “a giant leap compared to previous reports”
- i just took a typing test: 412 CPM – if i work all day i could power my condo, but who wants to stare at a screen that much
- Star Trek TOS uniform replicas
- is it wrong of me to want one? Good ol’ science-and-medical blue is a bit more lowkey, but really, if you’re gonna wear a Star Trek tunic why not go for command gold?
- Best art ever (this week)
- i had no idea Comics Alliance had this feature. But i like it.
Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.
Week in Geek will be back next Friday, Jan. 30 and i’d love to see you here!
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Week in Geek also appears alongside other great blogs at The News-Herald Blogs (click the logo at the top right of the page for the main site).
Check out the articles i’ve written for The News-Herald.
Thanks for reading!