Two Almost Physicists With Almost Something To Say

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Want some bread?

Midway Island, where the airport is named after Chicago

Does Switzerland have Google Streetview ? Do they ever use KPH on street signs in the United States, or is MPH like, federally dictated? Even in Oregon? Is there any good way to tell the difference between highways in South Africa versus Australia?

These are the kind of questions raised by Geoguessr, an excellent new distraction from the whiz kids who brought us ‘heroin.’ Well, not really, but it’s almost as addictive but with few of the negative side effects. The basic idea is that it randomly drops you somewhere in the world in Google Streetview but with no map. The goal is to figure out where you are. You can move around, but going too far is tedious because you only have the little clicky arrows, and can’t drag your yellow person to somewhere else—so you’re really forced to rely on your wits. Street signs, area codes on ads, anything out of the ordinary.

Midway Posers

Midway Posers, posing in the weirdest place on Earth

It gives you a good sense of how most places in the world look essentially the same, and then just a general idea of what distant places are actually like. The best place I’ve gotten so far though was Midway Atoll, (where Google evidently sent a camera a few years ago in some kind of “look at the weird places you can use Streetview! A submarine? No way!). Midway is completely covered in seabirds (there are hundreds in every direction), has no regular cars (only golf carts), pre-fab housing and satellite dishes everywhere, and about 40 Midwayans posed for the camera in a group—staring through the GoogleMaps page like an episode of the Twilight Zone.

You gradually get a sense of certain things about the parts of the world that currently have streetview images. Canada and the Western US are universally annoying, because it is usually possible to get them…but only after scrolling down the highway for 5 minutes until you see a sign. As are the empty parts of South Africa and Australia….and they look similar and both drive on the wrong side of the road, so if you guess on one that you think is one of those, it is always the other. Japan and Russia are completely unsolvable—only by landing next to a monument to some Soviet general was I able to locate myself in Russia. I popped up near a tourist attraction in Japan once…and still got it wrong. You need real letters, not those squiggly ones they use in those places. Also, there are a lot of places in Brazil, and they are always full of people. Isn’t geography fun? In any case, well done Geoguessr, you have so much to teach us.


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Shameless Promotion


For some reason, you read this blog more than you know me. I don’t know why or how that happened, but somehow, you are looking at this. Although that inexplicable situation has come about, there is something you can do to make things better: go to this link and watch this fairly preposterous commercial entry featuring yours truly. Then “like” it. We are in a contest that is based on how many humans like it. I don’t frequently tell people to do things—usually, when it comes to blogging and whatnot, I tend to just write things for years, for free, and then send it into the electronic void and ask nothing in return. Nonetheless, if any of you humans wanted to watch me embarrass myself for the sake of a local ad campaign, please do, and shoot a ‘like’ in our direction since that is the currency of our brave new world, and our brave entry is in a tight race for first.

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Two Cats for the Price of One


This is Venus, the internet’s favorite cat this week.

These are the Charons from the Star Trek TOS episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”:

Anyone else suddenly hungry for Oreos?

This cat-copycatting should come as no surprise: cats have always loved Original Series Star Trek. Dogs on the other hand (which, regardless of their other virtues, are well known to have terrible taste) tend to prefer Voyager. They can relate to Neelix.