In the past Disney World had a small airport* served by Shawnee Airlines. A private pilot once landed there, even though the published airport data indicated that it was closed to outside traffic. After spending the day sampling the delights of Disney World he returned to the airport, only to find his airplane… » 11/23/14 12:01pm Today 12:01pm

The problem is not that machines are getting smarter. The problem is that we're giving more and more power to incredibly dumb machines. There is serous talk of making autonomous armed drones that will just fly around and blow up whatever they're programmed to blow up, without human intervention. The Pentagon recently… » 11/21/14 8:04am Friday 8:04am

Patrick O'Brian sneers from beyond the grave at your puny 16 books. His Aubrey-Maturin series set in the British navy during the Napoleonic wars numbers 21. They are widely hailed as the best historical novels ever written. The first and best known is Master and Commander. I've read them all. » 11/21/14 4:46am Friday 4:46am

I grew up during the scariest parts of the Cold War in the '50s. Everyone thought the Rooskies were going to nuke us at any minute, and put underground fallout shelters in their back yards. We had air raid drills in school, and my Dad bought a battery shortwave radio and a Geiger counter. We found out later that… » 11/20/14 3:26pm Thursday 3:26pm

Vinyl records. I can't understand people who say they sound better. They may prefer the sound, but that's really just an EQ thing. Words like "better" have objective meanings, things you can measure like bandwidth, dynamic range, noise and distortion. And vacuum tube amps! Hot, noisy tubes. I grew up hating them and… » 11/20/14 7:25am Thursday 7:25am

Here we go again, all up in causality's business. If we ever travel to the past we will inevitably create paradoxes, doing things that will influence the "future", our own "present" (see Grandfather Paradox). Yes, I know... Alternate Timelines; it's a great plot device for movies, but in the real world I don't buy it.… » 11/20/14 10:18am Thursday 10:18am

Very nice. It's interesting to note that the sending and receiving stations must be synchronized over the telegraph line. Around the turn of the century there were numerous inventions for synchronizing clocks by telegraph, for image transmission as well as for regulating railroad clocks. Some say this notion of… » 11/20/14 8:12am Thursday 8:12am

This kind of thing goes back to very beginnings of the internet. NSA and other government agencies tried very hard to prevent publication of PGP and other crypto systems, and especially public key cryptography, which became the basis of all on-line commerce. This episode is documented in Steven Levy's Crypto: How the… » 11/19/14 6:22pm Wednesday 6:22pm