News for Nerds - The Incredibly Safe Self-Driving Car

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  • Posted by: Dom Testa|
  • 5/2/2014 |
  • 10:00 am
News for Nerds - The Incredibly Safe Self-Driving Car

Welcome back to News for Nerds! This week I'll share a cool video about the science of ketchup, I'll point you toward 10 very unusual calculators on the web, and I'll explain why beards aren't sexy anymore. But first, watch out for that car.

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By now you've probably heard about Google's self-driving car. It uses cameras and complicated computer programs to navigate not just short highway trips, but also complicated routes through busy city streets.

In a new update from Google headquarters, we learn that these autonomous cars have logged nearly 700,000 miles already -- and they are remarkably safe. What seems like it might be a hazard is actually just the opposite. Per the blog post, "what looks chaotic and random on a city street to the human eye is actually fairly predictable to a computer."

To that end, the Google software can now detect hundreds of different objects simultaneously -- everything from pedestrians and cyclists to school crossing guards. Moreover, the computer programs driving these cars never get tired, drunk, or distracted by incoming text messages.

Here's a pretty cool video which shows the cars in action. Check it out:

- story/video from the official Google blog, photo from TheGoTeam via Wikimedia Commons

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Elsewhere on the web, I came across this fun story about all the various calculating tools online. Chances are that at one time or another, you've used an online calculator to determine interest rates or mortgage costs -- something like that.

But how about a tool that will tell you how many Legos it would take to build your house? (For a two-story, 2,500 square foot house: 12,014,750.) Or how much coffee you would have to drink in a single day to fatally overdose? (For me: about 117.) Or how fast your favorite dinosaur could run. (Fast enough to catch and eat you, probably.)

There are various other fun applications here, too -- everything from solar system collisions to alien civilizations to six degrees of monkey-piling. Carve out some time to get lost in the possibilities.

- story from i09, photo from Averator via Wikimedia Commons

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Here are a couple other cool science stories you might enjoy:

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That's all for now! I'll be back with more News for Nerds next week, but be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and to sign up for the free e-Newsletter so that you can properly get your nerd on every single month! And please send any juicy News for Nerds tips to me right here!

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