Ballistic Monte Carlo Methods

This is a paragraph I never thought I’d see in the academic literature:

“[W]e advocate the use of ballistic-assisted (i.e. projectile-based) random sampling methods because they are both easily accessible and parallelizable. In particular, shotgun-assisted random sampling seems very suitable becaues of the presumed abundance of shotguns in cataclysmic times and the speed at which they can generate samples.”

- Vincent Dumoulin, Félix Thouin – “A Ballistic Monte Carlo Approximation of π

Awesome. That’d make for an amazing grant application.

See here for a summary article that explains things for non-mathematicians.

Edit: Somehow I borked the initial post by forgetting the title and screwing up a link. I’ve now corrected these errors. If you’re still seeing those errors in your feed reader, please refresh the feed.

Ammoman’s open list gets spammed, subscribers lose their minds

Ammoman uses a Yahoo Groups mailing list to announce the availability of various products, specials, etc.

Evidently the list manager failed to configure the list to be “announce only” for authorized senders. Instead, it was setup to be an unmoderated discussion list. This misconfiguration wasn’t noticed up until today when a spammer randomly decided to send a spam message to the list.

Evidently this caused the entire list to lose its mind, with hundreds of people replying to the list, first to inquire about the spam, then to wonder why they were getting copies of messages from others inquiring about the spam, followed immediately by people trolling the list, followed by hundreds more sending “UNSUBSCRIBE” or “REMOVE ME” messages to the list (even though that merely sends that message to everyone and doesn’t unsubscribe one from the list — the list itself has very clear unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of every message but people can’t be assed to read it). All of this helps contribute to the chaos and amplifies the list traffic dramatically. (Fortunately, a simple filter redirects all the crazy list messages into the trash folder — in a day or two I’ll remove the filter so I can get the regular notifications from Ammoman.)

Also, some people evidently blame the government and, specifically, Obama for this incident.

It disturbs me that people too stupid to figure out how to unsubscribe from a mailing list or setup a filter and who blame the government for a relatively minor technical cock-up walk among us every day. (Again, The Onion is prophetic.)

Science with Crossbows

From today’s seminar: “Of course, you cannot do this experiment in ordinary atmospheric pressure. It will explode. We observed this. It was quite messy.”

Also, the presenter was a German scientist with a group trying to model planetary accretion. Their experiments needed to propel marble-sized samples into a 1kg dust target in vacuum. The found the best way of doing this was with a small holder mounted to an arrow which was fired from a crossbow. The crossbow was placed in the vacuum chamber and was fired remotely. The holder and arrow would be stopped as soon as they were no longer accelerated by the bowstring and the samples would then fly out of the holder to the target.

It’s worth pointing out that the title of the presentation was “What can Wilhelm Tell teach us about planetary accretion?”

I imagine the paperwork needed to approve the purchase of the crossbow for the lab went something like this:

Item: Crossbow
Quantity: 1
Reason: SCIENCE!

I’m famous!

Ok, no, not really famous…but one of my old photos has been making the rounds on Facebook.

To answer the inevitable questions:

  1. Yes, her reloading technique needed work. It was the first time she’d fired an AR. She’s improved in the intervening years.
  2. No, I’m not taking cover behind the side door/window. I’m bracing my arm against the A pillar, so I’m right where the windshield meets the hood. Should I be further forwards, and thus more protected by the engine? Probably, but I’m being a gentleman and yielding the best cover to the lady.
  3. Yes, I should probably be less exposed.
  4. The picture was intended to humorously illustrate Tamara‘s quote, “A true gentleman provides covering fire while a lady is reloading.” (I forgot the exact wording when I captioned the photo. My apologies to Tam.), not to be a serious demonstration of shooting skills.
  5. The point was not that she’s reloading the rifle for my use and that she remains under cover during the gunfight — I’m providing covering fire for her while she reloads her own rifle, after which she’ll engage the enemy.
  6. No, she’s not pointing the AR at my head. She’s about half a meter to my right and the rifle is pointing up and downrange.
  7. Yes, a full-size AR-15 is a bit too big for her. Since the photo was taken, we’ve purchased an “M4gery”-style AR with an adjustable stock and a shorter barrel for better balance.
  8. Yes, I’m left-handed. She’s not (hence why the reloading looks so awkward).
  9. I’m shooting an XD-45.
  10. That was one of our first dates, and we were out shooting in the Arizona desert with friends. I may be able to dig up the coordinates of where we were if anyone is interested.
  11. I married that woman, and am the luckiest guy in the world.
  12. Is a Camry ideal cover? No, but the big chunk of American1 steel aluminum under the hood is certainly better than nothing.
  13. Why is the Camry in the desert? What, you expect we’d walk way out there? The Camry can handle the road and suited my everyday driving purposes.
  1. The 2006 Toyota Camry was made in the US from more US-made parts than most of the vehicles made by “American” brands. []