Archive for July, 2016

Studies on the intelligence of cats versus dogs and their owners

It is a demonstrable fact that dogs know calculus as reported here by The Mathematical Association of America.  On the other hand, everyone knows that cats, while obviously intelligent, are too lazy to learn any tricks like all dogs do, at least until they become too old.  Therefore, for these two reasons, dogs must be smarter than cats by my reckoning.

But now comes news that felines fathom physics, or at least they naturally grasp the principles of gravity.  This conclusion comes from an ingenious experiment on thirty cats done by Japanese researchers.  The creatures were found to be inordinately curious about magnetic balls that did not fall out of an overturned metal container.  For more details, see this recap by phys.org.

Then to make matters worse for dog lovers like myself, a recent study by a Wisconsin researcher indicates that cat owners are smarter than dog owners.  Read it here in Psychology Today and whimper.  If it’s any consolation, the study shows that dog people are less neurotic.

“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.”

― Samuel Butler

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Hold on a second—the lords of time elect to extend the year of 2016

The controllers of clocks at the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) decided recently that 2016 ought to leap an extra second to stay in synch with Earth’s rotation.  This will create a great deal of consternation for computers, thus IERS is giving six months’ notice for IT people to prepare themselves.  Despite that lead time, about 10 percent of networks around the world are expected to fail, e.g.; a worldwide airline booking system that went down in 2012 for several hours when its computers’ internal clocks could not reconcile the discrepancy with outside systems. (I suggest you stock up on water, food stuffs and toilet paper.)

Here are some stats I gleaned from reports on this astronomical happening by New Scientist and National Geographic:

  • Clocks will read 23:59:60 on the 31st of December (I am doubtful this will work on my timepieces)
  • 86,400 seconds tick off every day on the master atomic clock for Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), however; the push and pull of the Moon causes the Earths massively heavy oceans to slosh around, which decelerates the spin between 1.5 and two milliseconds every 24 hours, on average.
  • Gauging by sightlines from far off galaxies, IERS monitors changes to Earth’s spin. When it goes off by more than 0.9 seconds plus or minus, they mandate a 1 second adjustment.
  • In 1972, when the adjustments began, the world got 10 extra seconds to make up for lost time. Since then 16 more seconds have been added—the last one on June 30, 2015. IERS have never removed a second. (If you are a rocket scientist, please compute how long it will it be until the Earth stops and let me know so I have plenty of time to begin packing up my things.)

Since antiquity the Earth’s rotation has provided us with our timescale – it is the Earth’s rotation that gives us our most basic unit of time, the solar day.

— Rory McEvoy, Curator of Horology, Royal Observatory Greenwich

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