Mastering The Best Useless Skill – Reading Text in Binary

By Anupum Pant

The next time you see a series of 0s and 1s, you will no longer need to take it to a computer and feed it in to read it. Of course you might never have to read a text in binary, and that is the reason this might be the most useless skill you could master right away. I’m doing it anyway.

Tom Scott from YouTube  recently posted a video on YouTube where he teaches you how to read text written in binary. It’s fairly easy. The only thing you need to practice, if you don’t already know it, is the number that is associated with each alphabet (Like it’s 1 for A and 2 for B and so on).

via [ScienceDump]

Titin Protein – The Longest Word in English

By Anupum Pant

Background

No, I’m not talking about the fictional character Tintin. It’s Titin I’m talking about. The initial part of it is pronounced almost like Titan, but please do not confuse it with Titan.  Titin is the largest protein molecule ever discovered. Soon you’ll see why it is the largest…

Titin is the short name for an extremely massive protein molecule. The full-length scientific name of this protein molecule contains 189,819 characters and is considered (by some) as the longest word in not just English, but any language.

Others choose to not consider it a word at all. You won’t even find the full scientific name of Titin in any dictionary. According to lexicographers it is only a chemical formula, not a word. Technically, they are right. So, it is not really the longest word in English.

In that case, probably a lung disease called pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis can be considered the largest word. There are 45 letters in it. But my history teacher once told me that floccinaucinihilipilification (meaning, the estimation of something as worthless) was the longest word in English. Well, someone needs to tell me which one it really is. Till then, I’ll consider Titin as the undefeated champion…

What is it?

Titin is a protein found in certain kind of muscle tissues. It is the thing that makes those muscles elastic. For instance, in heart muscles – that expand and contract continuously for decades, without a break. The folded nature of this huge molecule makes it act like a spring – just like a long wire can be coiled into a small spring. The full chemical formula goes like this:

C132983H211861N36149O40883S693

I won’t spam my blog with the full name, but I’ll definitely point you to it. [Full name spelled out]. If you are too lazy to go there, it starts like this:

Methionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylalrylglycylphenylalanylprolylvalylprolyylglycylarginylalanyllysylleucylthreonylglutamylleucylleu…

and ends like this:

partylaspartylleucylthreonylthrnylaspartylvalylglutaminyllysylglutamilthreonylleucylserylleucylglycylasparalaspartylserylalanylthr…

The video: It takes about 233 minutes to pronounce the full chemical name – Yes, a guy tried it out (with video cuts of course). The gentleman pronounces it on camera for you. If you care enough to watch the whole 3 and half hour-long video, you’ll see how the man grows a stubble while pronouncing it. Also, you’ll see the plant dying out. But those are only gimmicks that makes the video funny. I’d like to add that his expression in the end is priceless. You shouldn’t miss that. Here, I’ve attached it for you below:

To use up the same amount of time in a better manner, I suggest that you watch the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate.

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Cambridge University Says Spelling Does Not Matter?

By Anupum Pant

Background

Oh tell me you have never received this old chain mail that had the following paragraph attached in it, and warned you that if you did not forward it to 20 friends, something bad would happen. The passage  –

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteres are at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a tatol mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.

The paragraph contains a bunch of letters that are jumbled and you are still able to read it at a normal pace. The passage speaks for itself and says that according to a research study done at Cambridge university, it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are; only the first and last letters need to be in the right place. According to it, everything in the middle can be messed up and you can still easily read it even when it clearly shouldn’t be making any sense.

Questions, Questions!

Certainly blows your mind. But if you start questioning the legitimacy of what the passage claims, you start finding a couple of unanswered questions…

1. It says, “a researcher at Cambridge”. I’d like to throw an open challenge to you – Find me the publication where “the researcher from Cambridge University” published this paragraph (or something similar).

Cambridge does have a Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit where researchers try to figure how brain processes language. But it is clear from this blog-post that people at Cambridge didn’t even know about the  meme that had been circulating all over the internet. At the time when this meme started circulating, in Cambridge, no one was doing research in this area. The prof says:

To my knowledge, there’s no-one in Cambridge UK who is currently doing research on this topic. There may be people in Cambridge, MA, USA who are responsible for this research, but I don’t know of them.

However, in 1999, the effect was originally demonstrated in a letter – [here]

Let’s give it up for the internet trolls, the phenomenon is indeed, intriguing. The researcher tries to figure out the science behind it in the same blog-post. He finds that the effect is same with many other languages. However, it doesn’t seem to work with languages like Finnish and Hebrew.

2. Try reading this:

Bblaaesl pryleas pnmrrioefg srillaimy aeoulltsby dvrseee clbrpmaaoe tteenmrat.

If you need hints, it follows the same rule. The sentence has all the words with first and last letters in place. The letters in the middle are jumbled. According to “the researcher from Cambridge” you should be able to read it easily. Why can’t you? It follows the exactly same rules. Have I made my point?

Why does it work?

Believe it or not, the paragraph actually works. I could read it without any hiccups. At the same time, the one above, which follows the same rules is pretty difficult to read. So what makes the chain mail paragraph so readable? In simple words…

1. There are 69 words in the paragraph. Out of those 69 words, only 37 are jumbled. All the other 32 words are two or three lettered words, which can’t follow the rule. That clears up the structure of sentences.

2. Out of the 37 jumbled words. 12, if I counted correctly, are four letter words that can only have the middle letters swapped. Those are breeze to figure out. That leaves us with just 25 jumbled letters. Given your life-long experience with reading, you can easily predict those if you know most of the other words.

3. Most of these 5 or more lettered words (in 25) are at such places that they don’t even require reading. For instance, your brain can easily figure that “because” will come after “this is”. So it knows, “bcuseae” is actually “because”.  Also, all of these 25 “big” words are easy and familiar ones.

4. The words have not been jumbled a lot.  There are mostly letter swaps, like – porbelm. “Porbelm” has just 2 pair of letters swapped. All those words that have this are pretty easy to figure too. What if it was “pbelorm”? It gets tougher when the central letter is moved from its place. Isn’t it?

But the mission of the makers of the meme passage was to blow your minds in a way that you’d be forced to forward it to your friends. So, they put in easy jumbles.

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