Earthquakes of the 20th Century

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has this excellent visualization of the earthquakes recorded between January 1, 1901 and Decemeber 31, 2000. Each earthquake is shown as a circle, where the size indicates the strength and the color indicates the depth. Interesting, how most of these make up lines, showing the tectonic plate borders.

Researchers Show Parachutes Don’t Work, But There’s A Catch

Slashdot is running a story, which is both insightful and hilarious:

Research published in a major medical journal concludes that a parachute is no more effective than an empty backpack at protecting you from harm if you have to jump from an aircraft. But before you leap to any rash conclusions, you had better hear the whole story. The gold standard for medical research is a study that randomly assigns volunteers to try an intervention or to go without one and be part of a control group. For some reason, nobody has ever done a randomized controlled trial of parachutes. In fact, medical researchers often use the parachute example when they argue they don’t need to do a study because they’re so sure they already know something works. Cardiologist Robert Yeh, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and attending physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, got a wicked idea one day. He and his colleagues would actually attempt the parachute study to make a few choice points about the potential pitfalls of research shortcuts. 

They started by talking to their seatmates on airliners. […] In all, 23 people agreed to be randomly given either a backpack or a parachute and then to jump from a biplane on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts or from a helicopter in Michigan. Relying on two locations and only two kinds of aircraft gave the researchers quite a skewed sample. But this sort of problem crops up frequently in studies, which was part of the point Yeh and his team were trying to make. Still, photos taken during the experiment show the volunteers were only too happy to take part. The drop in the study was about 2 feet total, because the biplane and helicopter were parked. Nobody suffered any injuries. Surprise, surprise. So it’s technically true that parachutes offered no better protection for these jumpers than the backpacks.

Drunk People Are Better at Creative Problem Solving

Harward Business Review runs this article: “Drunk People Are Better at Creative Problem Solving“.  Here are a few quotes to get you started:

Tipsy subjects solved 13% to 20% more problems than sober subjects did.


Intoxicated subjects had more “Aha!” moments than their sober counterparts.


People under the influence submitted answers more quickly than people in the control group.

I rest my case, ladies and gentlemen.