What makes up the mass of the universe?

Most of the known visible mass in the universe (i.e., excluding dark matter) is made up of protons and neutrons. We know that protons and neutrons are themselves made up of yet smaller particles called quarks and gluons. The gluons are massless so you would think that most of the mass of the universe would be quark mass. But that is not the case. In fact, quark masses are a small fraction of the total mass of each proton and neutron. So where does the rest of the mass come from?
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That’s pretty impressive speed work

I knew that in Formula One car racing the pit crews can do things incredibly fast but I was not aware that they could remove all four tires and replace them with new ones in less than two seconds. Watch.

This made me curious about what holds the tires in place that enables such a quick turnaround. Magnetism? Or is there a single clasp that holds each tire in place?

(Via David Pescovitz.)

Backsliding democracies

Authoritarian governments are bad enough but it is disturbing when we have ‘backsliding democracies’ where countries actually choose authoritarian leaders in elections, as John Oliver points out in a survey of the current trend around the globe. He looks at the characteristics of authoritarian societies before getting to the issue of whether the US is one or heading towards becoming one.

Serial Saudi admissions of lying about Khashoggi murder

Can anyone trust anything that the Saudi Arabian government says about the death of Jamal Khashoggi? Their lies have been so shameless that it is no wonder Donald Trump and Mohammed bin Salman are so close because they are both cut from the same cloth, using one lie to cover up earlier lies and never bothering to explain why they uttered the earlier lies. Take the latest concessions by the Saudi government.
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The guilt and shame of killing someone

Life is such a precious gift that unless one is a sociopath, killing someone is such a horrific thing that one shies away from it. It takes extraordinary circumstances for someone to lose control of themselves sufficiently to kill another human being. So governments have elaborate methods by which they encourage ordinary people to join their military and then turn them into killers. These involve training them to unquestioningly follow orders and to dehumanize those perceive as the enemy, by portraying them as less than human or so outlandishly evil that they deserve to die, and to shower the killers with medals and honors upon their return in order to make them feel like heroes.
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Inside the world of social media personalities

The BBC has produced a very absorbing 22-minute documentary titled Fake Me: Living For Likes (below) about the life of people who live for likes on Instagram and other social media platforms. They follow an extremely thoughtful young woman named Joey who is a college student and aspiring fashion designer in Nairobi, Kenya. Joey hated social media and did not have any presence on it at all because of what she saw it doing to her friends who had become so addicted to that online world that they would ignore the real people around them.

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Impressive trick

This performance by Eric Chien was enough to win him the FISM Grand Prix at an event held in Hong Kong recently. I assume that this trick was done on a stage in front of judges without camera trickery and CGI. But I am not sure if this video is taken from that stage performance or was created independently in a studio. Anyway, it is fun to watch.

(Via Seamus Bellamy)

Is ‘trivial’ trivial?

On a national exam for year 13 students in New Zealand (which is the equivalent of high school seniors in the US) students were asked to write an essay based on this Julius Caesar quote “In war, events of importance are the result of trivial causes.” Some students were upset because they did not know the meaning of the word ‘trivial’ and felt that it was too hard a word to be used on such tests and have signed a petition in protest.
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When long queues can be better than short queues

Joost Vles writes about a subject that I have long had an interest in and that is queuing theory. I have noticed that airports and banks tend to favor the single line system but grocery stores go for the separate queues. He points out what should be obvious but that some people do not seem to realize, and that is that a single long queue where the people break at the head of it to go to the next available server is better than each server having their own queue.
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She needs to hire a better joke writer

In Mississippi, a run-off election is scheduled for November 27 since no candidate obtained the required 50% of the vote. The contest will be between incumbent Republican senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy. I wrote before about how Hyde-Smith had already got herself into trouble by saying that “”If [Tupelo cattle rancher, Colin Hutchinson] invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Her opponent Espy is black and given the racist history of public hangings of black people, especially in the deep south, the comment was seen as reprehensible. She dismissed criticisms by saying it was a joke.
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