Does tapping a can of fizzy drink really stop it foaming over?

It is one of the distinct sounds of summer: the noise of people tapping the tops of their cans of fizzy drink before opening them. But does this widespread ritual really stop a can of beer or pop from gushing over?

When you open a can of fizzy drink, the refreshing “hiss” is the result of gas bubbles escaping from the liquid as a result of a change in the solubility of the carbon dioxide (CO2) in it. This change occurs due to the pressure inside the can decreasing from ~3 bar (can closed) to 1 bar at atmospheric pressure (can open). Read more…

Beyond Asimov: how to plan for ethical robots

As robots become integrated into society more widely, we need to be sure they’ll behave well among us.

In 1942, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov attempted to lay out a philosophical and moral framework for ensuring robots serve humanity, and guarding against their becoming destructive overlords. This effort resulted in what became known as Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics: Read more…

9 lesser known facts about Australia

The Commonwealth of Australia is the sixth largest country (after Russia, Canada, China, the USA, and Brazil) in the world, occupying the Australian continent and surrounding islands, the largest of which is Tasmania (68,401 km²). At 7 692 024 km², Australia accounts for five percent of the world’s land area of 149 450 000 km².

Many who dream to go there might think of it as too far, too expensive to get there or too unknown, even uninteresting. There are koalas, kangaroos, summer heat, the ocean and what else? Read more…

How time actually tricks us

Time is truly a complicated matter. Remember how as a child you were waiting for your birthday and how it seemed to take forever to arrive? And now as an adult, the time from Monday to Sunday passes all too briefly.

How does time do that? How does time trick us?

Looking from a scientific, psychological and biological perspective, the greatest influence on how we perceive time is made by our internal rhythms, gained experiences, and memories. Read more…

Beware the ‘awestruck effect’ – How charismatic leaders influence followers

Charismatic business leaders can cause their followers to suppress emotions, which can harm companies over the long term, according to new research.

While charismatic leaders may be magnetic, they can cause their followers to suppress emotions, which can harm companies through increased strain, lower job satisfaction and reduced information exchange among employees, according to new research from the University of Cambridge. Read more…

The 22 million digit number … and the amazing maths behind primes

It is a quite extraordinary figure. Dr Curtis Cooper from the University of Central Missouri has found the largest-known prime number – written (274207281)-1. It is around 22m digits long and, if printed in full, would take you days to read. Its discovery comes thanks to a collaborative project of volunteers who use freely available software called GIMPS (Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search) to search for primes.

A number which can only be divided by itself and 1 without a remainder is called a prime number. Here is a list of the primes less than 100: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, 53, 59, 61, 67, 71, 73, 79, 83, 89, 97. Read more…

How to vet nonprofits before you give

Charity solicitations are as much a part of the holiday season as decorations. If you give, it’s a good idea to know what the nonprofit organization does with your money. Here’s one way: use ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer, a tool for researching the financial details of nonprofits.

Organizations that receive a tax exemption from the Internal Revenue Service and take in at least $50,000 a year have to file an annual report, called a Form 990, which can serve as a guide to how they operate and what their programs are. Read more…

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