Two buddies in search of platinum on the highway in the middle of the night

This video is a buddy film, or sorts: it shows CodyDon Reeder and his buddy sweeping dust from the side of a highway in the middle of the night, then working to chemically retrieve (from that dust) platinum bits — presumably shed from the catalytic converters of passing automobiles: (Thanks to Scott Langill for bringing this to our […]

Slime moulds and French motorway planning (new study)

Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Atsushi Tero, Seiji Takagi, Tetsu Saigusa, Kentaro Ito, Kenji Yumiki, Ryo Kobayashi of Japan, and Dan Bebber, Mark Fricker of the UK, were jointly awarded the 2010 Ig Nobel Transportation Planning prize for using slime mould to determine the optimal routes for railroad tracks. See: ‘Rules for Biologically Inspired Adaptive Network Design’ in […]

Road-line-painting Machines and Road Kills

Behold a common but seldom-mentioned form of historic preservation: animal carcasses painted-over on roadways. Cars on highways collide with and kill millions of animals, all over the world (though in Antarctica it happens rarely). Small animals, especially birds, can go unnoticed as they lie beside a road, in the forest or on the hard shoulder. But […]

Dumpling Fog in China – a Computer Simulation

Impressive though the Shanghai-Nanjing Expressway is (opened  1996) the Zhenjiang branch section does suffer from an occasional meteorological drawback. In the form of ‘Dumpling Fog’. Prompting Yan Mingliang and colleagues at the Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster of Ministry (of Education), Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, China, to attempt an algorithmic emulation of […]

“Tables and chairs on the highway”

The phrase “Tables and chairs on the highway” has a uniformly accepted meaning in all of England and Wales. That meaning is legalistic, deriving, we are told, from part VIIA, section 115 (A to K) of the Highways Act 1980, a chunk of parliamentary prose that has the title Provision of Amenities on Certain Highways. In describing […]

Interview with Distracted-Driving Pioneer Senders

John Senders, whose daringly careful experiments during the 1960s earned him an Ig Nobel Prize in safety engineering, in 2011, has had lots of time to think about is work and its implications. Carolyn Johnson interviews him in today’s Boston Globe ideas section. Here’s part of that: Distracted driving, 1962 edition Long before cell phones, […]