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A Visit To The Daily Planet

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A few weeks ago, I was scouting office spaces during a particularly ugly snowstorm, and found myself heading to an option located at 220 East 42nd Street.

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It wasn’t until I’d parked my car and was walking through the doors that I looked up and realized I was going into the Daily News building…

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Home to one of the greatest lobbies in New York City:

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In 1927, the Daily News, then the nation’s largest newspaper, began building its new headquarters on 42nd Street. While the building itself was considered an exercise in minimalism, the owners allowed architect Raymond Hood a whopping $150,000 to be spent on the lobby. The result was an art deco masterpiece, centered around a 12-foot rotating globe, as seen in this picture from 1931:

09a

Here’s it is ten years later in a 1941 postcard…

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…later still in 1958, decked out for the holidays…

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…and yet again in 1978, when it was featured in Richard Donner’s Superman:

superman

And here it is today, miraculously still turning unchanged over 80 years after it was built. As far as I’m concerned, this is as good as it gets.

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The Daily News globe is 12 feet in diameter and weighs approximately 4,000 pounds. It makes a full rotation every ten minutes, moving 144 times faster than the actual planet.

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The design of the globe is a perfect period piece of its era, and part of the fun is in examining what was once a cutting edge example of world geography in the early 1930s:

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Of course, much of the map is now dated. For example, the Spanish Sahara no longer exists…

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…and you’d be hard-pressed to find any modern map delineating an area as Manchuria:

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But it gets even better. Above the globe, an enormous rotunda made of faceted black glass extends upward, intended to depict outer space:

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Here it is rising up over the globe…

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…leading to a gorgeous art deco depiction of the sun overhead:

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If you look very closely, you’ll see an interesting solar motif etched into the space around the light:

17a

Originally, this area was walled off from the rest of the lobby, giving the space more of a science museum-like feel.

09a

These walls were removed during a renovation in the early 1960s, which significantly opened up the space:

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Surrounding the globe is an enormous compass rose, which rose…

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…which not only serves as a directional guide…

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…but also features distance in miles to various world destinations:

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This motif extends far beyond the globe to the bank of elevators around the corner…

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…where directional lines continue to tell you how far it is to, say, Queen Maud Land, Antarctica (only 3,475 miles away!):

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The globe is illuminated from below by several rings of lights…

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…leading down a mirrored reflection at its base:

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A close-up of the mirror:

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Several glass panels, added during the renovation, panels give proportional comparisons of the globe to the universe, using New York City geography as a reference point:

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Part of the fun is in closely examining the globe itself, which was last updated in 1967 – hence the existence of, say, East and West Germany:

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I love the style and design of the map, which feels totally emblematic of its particular period of cartography. The Spanish Sahara no longer exists…

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…and you’d be hard-pressed to find any modern map delineating an area as Manchuria:

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On the wall behind the globe are a number of meteorological gauges…

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…which offer up-to-the-minute readouts of current New York City weather:

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It’s best to go on a particularly blustery day, when both the wind direction meter…

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…and wind velocity meter will be whipping around like crazy:

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Also on display in the lobby is this gorgeous time zone clock, which features New York City time in the center….

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…surrounded by 16 miniature clock faces depicting time throughout the world:

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Finally, as you exit the building, be sure to look up…

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…where you’ll see a gorgeous period clock overhead, one of the last art deco bits not removed during the renoation: overhead:

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I scout a lot of lobbies for my job, and most of them look like this:

lobby

The lobby of the Daily News building was created in a time when architecture had a meaning beyond nuanced minimalism. It’s exciting. It’s audacious. It literally posits 220 West 42nd Street as at the center of the world. globe.

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And best of all, walking through the doors is like traveling back in time to the 1930s.

09a

Want to visit? Just go right in.

-SCOUT

walk right into the lobby.

-SCOUT

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nameniap
1384 days ago
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popular
1384 days ago
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9 public comments
jimwise
1368 days ago
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(!)
reconbot
1368 days ago
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I go by this place all the time. <3
New York City
jimwise
1368 days ago
I have lobby envy.
megmo
1381 days ago
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Gorgeous.
Murfreesboro, TN
fredw
1381 days ago
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Beautiful!
Portland, OR
jstone13zero
1384 days ago
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Sunira, we have to go here when we go to NYC!
grammargirl
1384 days ago
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DANG. Taking a field trip to 220 E. 42nd St. ASAP.
Brooklyn, NY
lelandpaul
1384 days ago
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This blog is the only thing (besides Absolute Bagels) that has ever made me want to live in NYC.
San Francisco, CA
satadru
1384 days ago
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woah
New York, NY
deezil
1384 days ago
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Awesome
Louisville, Kentucky

Google Disrupts the Nest (Comic)

8 Comments and 22 Shares

Joy of Tech 1949

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nameniap
1401 days ago
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popular
1402 days ago
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7hunderbird
1400 days ago
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So sad that this rings so true. I kinda don't want a nest, now big brother (aka google) gets the data.
American Fork, UT
_jk
1400 days ago
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hehehe.
berlin, germany
jimwise
1401 days ago
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Heh.
smadin
1402 days ago
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Basically correct.
Boston
Courtney
1402 days ago
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It's true - I immediately stopped wanting a Nest. (And I REEEEEEALLY wanted a nest.) Now I kind of want an Ecobee?
Portland, OR
RedSonja
1402 days ago
My first thought was getting ads for new toasters and fire extinguishers.
chrisrosa
1402 days ago
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perfect commentary on the google>nest topic.
San Francisco, CA

Trust Me (I'm a kettle)

10 Comments and 27 Shares

The internet of things may be coming to us all faster and harder than we'd like.

Reports coming out of Russia suggest that some Chinese domestic appliances, notably kettles, come kitted out with malware—in the shape of small embedded computers that leech off the mains power to the device. The covert computational passenger hunts for unsecured wifi networks, connects to them, and joins a spam and malware pushing botnet. The theory is that a home computer user might eventually twig if their PC is a zombie, but who looks inside the base of their electric kettle, or the casing of their toaster? We tend to forget that the Raspberry Pi is as powerful as an early 90s UNIX server or a late 90s desktop; it costs £25, is the size of a credit card, and runs off a 5 watt USB power source. And there are cheaper, less competent small computers out there. Building them into kettles is a stroke of genius for a budding crime lord looking to build a covert botnet.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about.

I have an iPad. (You may be an Android or Windows RT proponent. Don't stop reading: this is just as applicable to you, too.) I mostly use it as a reacreational gizmo for reading and watching movies, and a little light gaming. But from time to time it's handy to have a keyboard—I use it for email too. So I bought one of these (warning: don't buy it direct, it costs a lot less than £90 on the high street). It's a lovely piece of kit: charges over micro-USB, magnetically clips to the front of the iPad to cover it when not in use, communicates via bluetooth.

But I suddenly had a worrying thought.

This keyboard contains an embedded device powerful enough to run a bluetooth stack. The additional complexity of adding wifi is minimal, as is the power draw if it's designed right. Here's an SD card, with wifi. It's aimed at camera owners: the idea is it can automatically upload your snapshots to the cloud. Turns out it runs Linux and it's hackable.

Look at that cute Logitech bluetooth keyboard. There's a lot of space in it, behind the slot the iPad sits in. Presumably that chunk of the case is full of battery, and the small embedded computer that handles the bluetooth stack. Even if it isn't hackable in its own right, what's to stop someone from buying a bunch of bluetooth keyboards and installing a hidden computer in them? Done properly it'll run a keylogger and some sniffing tools to gather data about the device it's connected to. It stays silent until it detects an open wifi network. Then it can hook up and hork up a hairball of personal data—anything you typed on it—at a command and control server. Best do it stealthily: between the hours of 1am and 4am, and in any event not less than an hour after the most recent keypress.

I hear tablets are catching on everywhere. Want to dabble in industrial espionage? Get a guy with a clipboard to walk into an executive's office and swap their keyboard for an identical-looking one. When they come back from lunch they'll suffer a moment of annoyance when their iPad or Microsoft Surface turns out to have forgotten it's keyboard. But they'll get it paired up again fast, and forget all about it.

I don't want you to think I'm picking on Logitech, by the way. Exactly the same headache applies to every battery-powered bluetooth keyboard. I'm dozy and slow on the uptake: I should have been all over this years ago.

And it's not just keyboards. It's ebook readers. Flashlights. Not your smartphone, but the removable battery in your smartphone. (Have you noticed it running down just a little bit faster?) Your toaster and your kettle are just the start. Could your electric blanket be spying on you? Koomey's law is going to keep pushing the power consumption of our devices down even after Moore's law grinds to a halt: and once Moore's law ends, the only way forward is to commoditize the product of those ultimate fab lines, and churn out chips for pennies. In another decade, we'll have embedded computers running some flavour of Linux where today we have smart inventory control tags—any item in a shop that costs more than about £50, basically. Some of those inventory control tags will be watching and listening to us; and some of their siblings will, repurposed, be piggy-backing a ride home and casing the joint.

The possibilities are endless: it's the dark side of the internet of things. If you'll excuse me now, I've got to go wallpaper my apartment in tinfoil ...

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nameniap
1436 days ago
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popular
1436 days ago
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Lacrymosa
1432 days ago
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Your tea kettle is a botnet zombie?
Boston, MA
boltonm
1436 days ago
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Alarming stuff. With all the writing in the business press regarding "cyber-security" this makes some possible risks come to life.
London, UK
wyeager
1436 days ago
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This article made good use of my xkcd substitutions chrome extension. "Not your pokedex, but the removable battery in your pokedex." "Could your atomic blanket be spying on you?"
Blur Area
rwarner
1436 days ago
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This is the most unsettling thing I've read in awhile.
iPhone: 30.163819,-81.571257
gmuslera
1436 days ago
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The elephant in the room is the smartphone/tablet itself, and the already included components. No need to go to optional addons when the core and common pieces are made for very few manufacturers, and you can't get rid of your phone as easy as you could not use a bluetooth keyboard.
montevideo, uy
Courtney
1436 days ago
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Dammit I used to say they could never remake The Conversation but now...fuck...
Portland, OR
ryanbrazell
1436 days ago
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Frightening.
Richmond, VA
wmorrell
1437 days ago
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I have a sudden urge to tear apart just about everything in my apartment.
HarlandCorbin
1437 days ago
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Why stop at a bluetooth keyboard? USB mice and keyboards could have this stuff embedded and we wouldn't know.

Work With What You Have

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Work With What You Have

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nameniap
1445 days ago
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If Cat Woman and Batman Got Together...

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If Cat Woman and Batman Got Together...

Submitted by: Unknown

Tagged: Cats , batman , cat woman , mask
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nameniap
1460 days ago
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Stirring Tea

7 Comments and 17 Shares

Stirring Tea

I was absentmindedly stirring a cup of hot tea, when I got to thinking, "aren't I actually adding kinetic energy into this cup?" I know that stirring does help to cool down the tea, but what if I were to stir it faster? Would I be able to boil a cup of water by stirring?

Will Evans

No.

The basic idea makes sense. Temperature is just kinetic energy. When you stir tea, you're adding kinetic energy to it, and that energy goes somewhere. Since the tea doesn't do anything dramatic like rise into the air or emit light, the energy must be turning to heat.

The reason you don't notice the heat is that you're not adding very much of it. It takes a huge amount of energy to heat water; by volume, it has a greater heat capacity than any other common substance. [1] [2] Hydrogen and helium have a higher heat capacity by mass, but they're diffuse gasses. The only other common substance element with a higher heat capacity by mass is ammonia. All three of these lose to water when measured by volume.

If you want to heat water from room temperature to nearly boiling in two minutes, you'll need a lot of power:

\[1\text{ cup}\times\text{Water heat capacity}\times\tfrac{100^\circ\rm{C}-20^\circ\rm{C}}{2\text{ minutes}}=700\text{ watts}\]

(Note: Pushing almost-boiling water to boiling takes a large burst of extra energy on top of what's required to heat it to the boiling point—this is called the enthalpy of vaporization.)

Our formula tells us that if we want to make a cup of hot water in two minutes, we'll need a 700-watt power source. A typical microwave uses 700 to 1100 watts, and it takes about two minutes to heat a mug of water to make tea. It's nice when things work out! [2] [3] If they didn't, we'd just blame "inefficiency" or "vortices".

700 watts for two minutes is an awful lot of energy. When water falls from the top of Niagara Niagra Falls, it gains kinetic energy, which is converted to heat at the bottom. But even after falling that great distance, the water only heats up by a fraction fifth of a degree. [3]\(\text{Height [4]\[\text{Height of Niagra Falls}\times\frac{\text{Acceleration of gravity}}{\text{Specific heat of water}}=0.12^\circ\text{C}\) To boil a cup of water, you'd have to drop it from higher than the top of the atmosphere.

How does stirring compare to microwaving?

Based on figures from industrial mixer engineering reports, [4] [5] Brawn Mixer, Inc., Principles of Fluid Mixing (2003) I estimate that vigorously stirring a cup of tea adds heat at a rate of about a ten-millionth of a watt. That's completely negligible. [5]Tea loses heat a much higher rate than this. See: Ben Harden, Tea temperature vs. Time graph

The physical effect of stirring is actually a little complicated.[6]In some situations, mixing liquids can actually help keep them warm. Hot water rises, and when a body of water is large and still enough (like the ocean) a warm layer forms on the surface. This warm layer radiates heat much more quickly than a cold layer would. If you disrupt this hot layer by mixing the water, the rate of heat loss decreases.

This is why hurricanes tend to lose strength if they stop moving forward—their waves churn up cold water from the depths, cutting them off from the thin layer of hot surface water that was their main source of energy.
Most of the heat is carried away from teacups by the air convecting over them, and so they cool from the top down. Stirring brings fresh hot water from the depths, so it can help this process. But there are other things going on—stirring disturbs the air, and it heats the walls of the mug. It's hard to be sure what's really going on without data.

Fortunately, we have the internet. StackExchange user drhodes helpfully measured the rate of teacup cooling from stirring vs. not stirring vs. repeatedly dipping a spoon into the cup vs. lifting it. Helpfully, drhodes posted both high-resolution graphs and the raw data itself, which is more than you can say for a lot of journal articles.

The conclusion: It doesn't really matter whether you stir, dip, or do nothing; the tea cools at about the same rate (although dipping the spoon in and out of the tea cooled it slightly faster).

Which brings us back to the original question: Could you boil tea if you just stirred it hard enough?

No.

The first problem is power. 700 watts is about a horsepower, so if you want to boil tea in two minutes, you'll need at least one horse to stir it hard enough.

You can reduce the power requirement by heating the tea over a longer period of time, but if you reduce it too far the tea will be cooling as fast as you're heating it.

Even if you could churn the spoon hard enough—tens of thousands of stirs per second—fluid dynamics would get in the way. At those high speeds, the tea would cavitate; a vacuum would form along the path of the spoon and stirring would become ineffective.

And if you stir hard enough that your tea cavitates, its surface area will increase very rapidly, and it will cool to room temperature in seconds:

No matter how hard you stir your tea, it's not going to get any warmer.

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popular
1466 days ago
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nameniap
1467 days ago
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llucax
1448 days ago
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"Helpfully, drhodes posted both high-resolution graphs and the raw data itself, which is more than you can say for a lot of journal articles."

Is funny because it's true!
Berlin
Michdevilish
1465 days ago
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LeViTea-tion! Maybe if you used a wooden spoon? :)
Canada
futurile
1466 days ago
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Science + tea = perfect
London
j8048188
1467 days ago
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Unless you use a powerful blender....
the7roy
1465 days ago
I was going to ask about that (not that Randal sees NewsBlur comments). My blender can heat soup, is that kinetic energy or friction with the blades? Far be it for What-If to neglect mechanized solutions.
rclatterbuck
1467 days ago
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.
jimbox13
1467 days ago
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Amazing
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