10 Answers To Questions You Always Wondered About

June 10, 2015 | 3 Comments » | Topics: Answers, Interesting

answers to questions

Why do we always reminisce about “The good ol’ days” as if the present is never up to par?

Nostalgia , everything seems better when you look back at it (Well, most things)

We tend to ignore or minimize our negative memories and look at the past through rose-tinted glasses. Sometimes it can be healthy, since it keeps us from getting too bitter or pessimistic.

It’s not too uncommon in our daily lives. You think about a toy, show, or place you loved when you were a kid, but when you find it, it’s underwhelming. Or you think to yourself, ‘Oh man, I haven’t thought about [person] in forever. Why did we ever break up?/ Why did we ever stop hanging out?’

The other side of it is that our grandparents grandparents complained about how the world was going to pot, ’90s kids’ complain about how the world is going to pot, and nearly everyone everyone in between also thinks that things are obviously worse than in the carefree days of their youth.




Is there any way for super-large companies to actually fail? What would have to happen for Google, Microsoft, Apple and the likes to actually disappear? 

Kodak is a great example. They were not some flash in the pan, and they did not just get folded into another company, they rode the horse straight into hell.

So this huge company based around film and optics. They were a great employer, did a lot of stuff that sounds like Apple would do it, hired the best talent, thought creatively, etc. etc. etc.

But then the market changed. At first no one really thought digital cameras would matter much, they were very expensive and had questionable quality. So Kodak ignored them. Then digital got cheaper and better. Kodak ignored it. Then consumers started to realize the crazy benefits of digital over film and started jumping ship in a big way.

Kodak tried to change gears. They spent a ton of money trying to make products to print digital photos (in stores, at home, from special digital cameras). They tried to make digital photo frames.

The problem was that they were a huge company and huge companies need huge products. Its not that any of their ideas were necessarily bad ones, its just the market was shrinking. People were not going to spend hundreds of dollars on film/development any more. Today in your life you might print one or two hundred photos at the total cost of 20 bucks, but no more will you have to drop serious money on photography.

And so the layoffs started (and layoffs are expensive because of severance pay laws), and then lawyers got involved, and pretty soon the once cutting edge company was nothing but liabilities and tears.



answers to questions

Why do most people stop crying over physical pain when they go from child to adult? 

Crying is an effective way to get the attention of an adult. Babies and toddlers do it by instinct; some children do it deliberately. Ever see a child who bumps his head or falls on his butt, looks around for reactions, and the minute Aunt Wellmeaning rushes over with “oh you poor thing!” then the waterworks start? That’s a social reaction, not a physical pain reaction (same as the child who looks around at adults laughing at the sitcom and then joins their laughter).

As we get older, we are able to control our outward reaction to the pain (involuntary crying). However, as someone with several kinds of chronic pain and undergone many medical procedures, I will add that involuntary crying from pain stimulus as an adult really depends on the level of pain. This may also relate to your question; if 3/10 to a child is the “worst pain they’ve ever experienced” and elicits tears, an adult who experiences 9/10 pain decades later, it’s still the worst pain they’ve ever experienced. As you gain experience, the relative effect of pain decreases.




How often do CGI companies like Pixar, ILM, Dreamworks, etc upgrade their computers/servers? What’s the process like? 

The “computer” is actually thousands of computers that are all working together on a big network. Each computer can be taken out and worked on and then put back in the pool. Think of it more like a fleet of aircraft than a container ship. Each computer can be replaced one by one until all of them are fully upgraded.

Now, that being said, typically these companies will have several different clusters running at a time, and when they retire an old one they will upgrade to a completely new one. This is because the fabric that connects them all together needs upgraded in a way that is very hard to do one at a time.

So basically a group might be given access to “render farm 1” and another group “render farm 2”, so on and so forth. Once they add “render farm 3” then it gets assigned to the first group and then render farm 1 is dismantled, clearing room for another farm to be put in its place.. etc.

As too how often they are upgraded? Typically the clusters I work with last 2-3 years. This is due to several factors, first being depreciation when it comes to taxes. But one of the biggest costs of computing resources is actually power, not hardware. You can pay $2k for a server, and $2k for power and cooling in the first year alone. So basically it doesn’t make sense to hold onto older hardware when you can buy new hardware that does more with less power use. Typically major CPU upgrades, memory changes, etc are all worth jumping on as quickly as possible. This is especially true in the rendering world. So I would expect that most major studios have teams working on replacing the oldest cluster with a newer cluster that are constantly working. Once they replace one they start on the next oldest.. etc.




What will actually happen to Greece if/when the country goes bankrupt?

They will be unable to borrow money, or will have to do so as very high interest rates.

They would have to balance their budget immediately to remove their huge deficit. This will require deep cuts, layoffs in the public sector, and a reduction in public services, including welfare and pensions.

Unemployment would soar, and if they got kicked out of the eurozone, so would inflation as they printed more money to cover their shortfalls. People would be very unhappy, and likely would strike and riot. If history is any indication, they would throw people actually trying to fix things out of office, instead electing politicians who make empty promises.




What changed to enable supercar engines to basically double in power from ~600hp 10+ years ago to the 1,000 – 1,3000hp you see today in Bugattis, Koenigseggs, etc.?

It’s all thanks to efficiency and precision, as well as some engineering.

Precision means that the components are better machined, with tighter tolerances, resulting in less friction/leaking. There is also less vibration, meaning higher RPM’s can be achieved safely. Smoother polishing, less defects, means air/fuel/oil flows more easily and with less turbulence.

To put things in perspective, a normal car with an automatic transmission can lose 20-35% of it’s power between the engine and wheels due to friction. The fancy equipment in these cars reduces it to ~15%.

Efficiency means that overall, it’s turning fuel and air into power at a higher rate. Forced induction (turbo/supercharger) of air, direct injection of fuel, and careful computer control means that every last ounce of energy is extracted. It’s always running at the ideal air/fuel ratio.

Engineering is all of the more technical stuff. Variable valve timing means that intake/exhaust valves can be advanced or retarded as needed to get the most power possible. Spark timing can also be changed as needed. For example, Koenigsegg engines have no camshaft at all allowing complete control by computer!

Put it all together, and these little changes add up to make a lot more power overall.

If you want to point to a single thing, it’s forced induction. Turbos are the root cause of the power, the rest is just what has been done to make the most of it in the most reliable way possible.



answers to questions

How do we know the Pillars of Creation will be destroyed in 1000 years?

Imagine the newly enchanted Hubble Telescope happened to return images of a person 10,000 light years away swinging a sledgehammer at a plate glass window. The swinger is covering some distance, though, so the last image of the day is of the hammer making contact with the window, but we won’t get images of the result until tomorrow.

Based on the images, we have established that the hammer is moving very fast, and that the glass really is just regular glass, and we know there was an impact. Even though, because of the limitations of the speed of light we won’t actually see the glass break until tomorrow, we can be certain it will happen—or, at least, as certain as we can be based on our current understanding of how hammers and glass interact. And it doesn’t matter that it may have actually “happened” 10,000 years ago.

Same with the Pillars. We see something moving towards them that, based on what we know about the pillars, would destroy them. Could something else happen in the next thousand years to prevent it? Of course, but the fact that the pillars are far away doesn’t prevent us from making that prediction with a level of confidence consistent with the facts at hand.

What is travelling towards the pillars that will destroy them?

The shockwave from a nearby supernova.

Also, to be clear, it’s not that it will destroy them 1,000 years from now, it’s that it (probably) did 6,000 years ago. The pillars are 7,000 light years away, so the light of their destruction will reach Earth 1,000 years from now




Why do I think I look attractive in the mirror, but in pictures and videos I look like a freak?

Well, one of the big reasons is that you’re used to looking at your image reversed in a mirror. Mirrors reflect images and you see them reversed left to right. This is not the case with pictures and video. A lot of psychologists have studied this and found that people were generally far more comfortable with their reflected appearance than their photo appearance because its the one they wake up and see every morning.

It’s basically the same reason we tend to not like the way we sound when we’re recorded. When you speak normally, you’re also hearing the sound echo in your own skull and you’re not used to the absence of that effect when you hear your recorded voice.




How does the infamous NYSE “pit” depicted in many movies actually function? How can hundreds of people screaming and waving tickets actually work? 

The pit may be essentially dead at the NYSE, but in Chicago at the CME particularly in the options pits, open outcry trading is alive and well. Source: i work in the pit as a broker.

There are a lot of reasons that they are alive in well in the option pits, but mostly its because the option pits are a better system at the moment and have more liquidity then electronic trading. If youd like to know details as to why and how it is better i can get into that but for now ill focus on your original question.

In my pit there about 150-200 guys on a given day depending on how busy it is. It may seem crazy but the pit is a very efficient system. It is controlled chaos, but it is transparent, there are checks and balances, etiquette and rules. Much of what you can do trading electronically would be seen as criminal in the pit. Again if you have interest i can provide specific examples.

In basics as others have said, there are 2 types of people in the pit. The brokers (work with customer) and the “locals” or market makers. The brokers will work with everyone from funds, to producers or users of a commodity and even other prop groups. The “locals” job is to try and make a 1/8th 1/4 cent of “edge” off of whatever they trade as many times as they can.

So ill walk you through how a typical trade happens..

I get a phone call. Customer wants me to “quote” the December 500 calls.

I scream at the top of my lungs as well as hand signal, “Hey Dec 500 calls, where are they” ( or something along those lines)

The locals in the pit scream back and hand signal two prices. First what they are willing to Pay for the Dec 500 calls or their Bid. And second what they are willing to sell the Dec 500 calls at or their offer.

I tell the customer on the phone, the market is 1 bid at 1 and a 1/2. (meaning locals want to pay 1 and they want to sell it at 1 1/2)

The customer tells me to sell 100 at 1 1/4.

I scream out to the crowd and hand signal that I want to sell 100 at 1 1/4.

At this point a few different things can happen. 1) locals will hold with their 1 bid. 2) maybe a few locals will show me a 1 1/8 bid. 3) Someone yells SOLD.

As a broker i have to execute the order how the customer wants. Sometimes they will give me discretion to get the best price based on my feel of the market. Sometimes they want it at a specific price. For this example, well say he wanted to sell 1 1/4s and the pit is only 1 bid for now.

So i continue to scream that i have 100 to sell at 1 1/4. And the locals continue to respond if they are 1 bid. Suddenly the futures market upticks and 4 traders in the pit simultaneously yell SOLD. I divide up the 100 contracts and sell each guy who “hit me” 25 contracts. As a broker you try and be fair as possible and that definitely creates a reputation.

Now as I am handing out or dividing up the contracts, i double check that they have the right trade both verbally and with hand signals. “Hey ABC i sold the Dec 500 calls at 1 1/4 25 times check?” ABC says check. Then i call the customer and give him his fill. “Hey bob, we sold 100 at 1 1/4.”

Then i write out the trade or “card it up” and put down the time the trade was done, buying or selling, how many times, and price, as well as the Acronym of the traders who i sold it to. (Every trader in the pit has a 2-3 letter acronym used to identify them. Some guys get clever with theirs and they make for good nicknames.) Anyways next i hand my filled out trading cards to my clerk and i quote the trade to the market reporters who put it out to the world, which it also goes up on the board, allowing us in the pit to double check it another time. Meanwhile my clerk goes and finds each of the other traders clerks that i sold 25 contracts to and double checks all the details of the trade.

Then i wait for the phone to ring again and do it all over.




Why have TV networks such as Discovery, History, Animal Planet, etc. seem to have “dumbed down” their shows in recent years?

Because these “dumbed down” shows attract more general TV-watchers, even if it scares away the people watching for interesting content. It’s because the average person doesn’t seem interested in science or facts, rather they enjoy a story and don’t care for information.

Discovery, History and Animal planet simply try to attract more viewers, making more money. And sadly for those wishing to watch informative TV, this is the best way for them to do so.

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  • Mark Daniel Johansen

    When I try to read this page it keeps jumping back to the top! You’ve got some crazy javascript or something!

    • asdf

      How did you write this then?

      • Mark Daniel Johansen

        Wrote it in Notepad++, then scroll down, paste and post fast before it jumps again.