Celebrating Jean-Félix Picard's Birthday With Geodetic Trivia

If you find having a favourite map projection a delightfully geeky quirk, you're going to want to raise a toast in honour of Jean-Félix Picard. Geodetics and cartography owe a debt of gratitude to the 17th century scientist who made the first accurate measurement of the Earth's size. » 7/22/14 5:27am 7/22/14 5:27am

What does a heart's sine function look like?

In high school, you probably learned that trigonometric functions – like sine, cosine and tangent –can be derived, geometrically, from a circle (hence why trig functions are also known as "circular" functions). But what happens if you use a square to derive these functions, instead? Or a triangle? Or a heart? » 6/10/13 7:20am 6/10/13 7:20am

DeLand's Paradox is an illusion that can "disappear" a whole person

Let's say you are cornered by your worst enemy. They will kill you, but being an oddball enemy, they'll give you one request first. (And the request can't be "Don't kill me." They're on to that one.) I have a solution for you. Ask them to show you how DeLand's Paradox works. That will keep them busy for years while… » 1/11/13 7:00am 1/11/13 7:00am

The Ultimate List of Reasons We Know the Earth is Definitely Round

In case you had any lingering doubts, here is some masterful cosmological/geological/geometrical instruction on our planet and its spherical — but not perfectly spherical — tendencies, courtesy of the ever-capable Henry Reich (better known as the creator, animator and narrator of MinutePhysics). Some great, if not… » 1/03/13 2:24pm 1/03/13 2:24pm

According to a 1918 science magazine, the Earth would transform into a…

In the May 1918 issue of the youth science and current events periodical My Magazine, an unnamed author played it particularly fast and loose with geophysics when he declared that the planet was slowly becoming a pyramid. "What sort of people will live on the tetrahedron?" screamed the author in the headline, somewhat… » 3/12/12 11:50am 3/12/12 11:50am