He landed a plane on a New York street outside a bar – twice

He landed a plane on a New York street outside a bar – twice

From Corey Killgannon for the New York Times: "Thomas Fitzpatrick turned a barroom bet into a feat of aeronautic wonder by stealing a plane from a New Jersey airport and landing it on St. Nicholas Avenue in northern Manhattan, in front of the bar where he had been drinking. As if that were not stupefying enough, the man did nearly the exact same thing two years later. Both landings were pulled off in incredibly narrow landing areas, in the dark – and after a night of drinking in Washington Heights taverns and with a well-lubricated pilot at the controls. Both times ended with Mr. Fitzpatrick charged with wrongdoing. The first of his flights was around 3 a.m. on Sept. 30, 1956, when Mr. Fitzpatrick, then 26, borrowed a single-engine plane from the Teterboro School of Aeronautics in New Jersey and landed on St. Nicholas Avenue near 191st Street."

Researchers say they can "see" people through walls using WiFi signals and AI

Sit Up Straight: Wi-Fi Signals Can Be Used to Detect Your Body Position |  PCMag

From Samantha Cole for Vice: "Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University developed a method for detecting the three dimensional shape and movements of human bodies in a room, using only WiFi routers. To do this, they used DensePose, a system for mapping all of the pixels on the surface of a human body in a photo. DensePose was developed by London-based researchers and Facebook’s AI researchers. From there, according to their recently-uploaded preprint paper published on arXiv, they developed a deep neural network that maps WiFi signals’ phase and amplitude sent and received by routers to coordinates on human bodies. The Carnegie Mellon researchers wrote that they believe WiFi signals “can serve as a ubiquitous substitute” for normal RGB cameras, when it comes to “sensing” people in a room. Using WiFi, they wrote, overcomes obstacles like poor lighting and occlusion that regular camera lenses face."

Prehistoric bird once thought to be extinct returns to the wild in New Zealand

From Tess McClure for The Guardian: "Takahē are unusual creatures. Like a number of New Zealand birds, they evolved without native land mammals surrounding them, and adapted to fill the ecosystem niches that mammals would occupy. They are flightless, stand at around 50cm tall, and live in the mountains. Their presence in Aotearoa dates back to at least the prehistoric Pleistocene era, according to fossil remains. “They’re almost prehistoric looking,” says Tūmai Cassidy, of Ngāi Tahu. “Very broad and bold.” Front-on, their bodies can appear almost perfectly spherical – coupled with the blue-green plumage, they look like a model planet Earth perched atop two long, bright red legs. “Someone once called us, the land of the birds that walk,” says O’Regan, a Ngāi Tahu rangatira (elder). “There are few things more beautiful than to watch these large birds galloping back into tussock lands where they haven’t walked for over a century.”

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How comedian Chevy Chase almost became the drummer for Steely Dan

From Sam Kemp for Far Out magazine: "After founding the underground comedy troupe, Channel One, in 1970, Chevy Chase went on to become a writer and actor on both National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live. But, before all of that, he was a student of acting at Bard College in upstate New York. It was here, that he made friends with two nerdy musicians, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. As he clarified in a 2009 interview, he was eventually expelled for keeping a live cow in his room. A few years prior, however, Chase had started jamming with a couple of different bands around the college, one of which was a particularly bad jazz band called The Leather Canary, which was fronted by Becker and Fagen. Chase had played keyboard and drums for a few bands and was known for being absolutely dead on both rhythmically and melodically. As Fagan once recalled: “We went to college with Chevy and before we ever thought of the idea of Steely Dan we used to do pickup dates with Chevy on drums. He was a very good drummer.”

A tale of two Vietnam War-era rifles: The US M-16 vs. the Chinese-made AK-47

From Stewart Brand at Works In Progress: "The M-16 was extremely accurate, even out to 500 meters. It was ergonomically brilliant--perfectly balanced and smooth-operating, with every control in easy, intuitive reach. But it had a fatal flaw: the gun routinely jammed in the midst of a firefight. And field-stripping the M16 was a pain. There were fifteen disassembled parts to keep track of, including five fiddly little pins that could easily be lost.  A manual dryly explained that one of the smallest parts, the bolt cam pin, “must be installed or rifle will blow up while firing the first round.” The manual added, "Do not interchange bolt assemblies from one rifle to another. Doing so may result in injury, or death of, personnel." So much for interchangeable parts.  (The enemy’s AK-47s disassembled to just six components, all large, all interchangeable)."

Dropping beavers from airplanes works so long as you do it properly

From Dan Lewis at Now I Know: "In 1948, Idaho had a beaver problem — as people moved into old beaver habitats and started building houses, the tree-chomping creatures became an increasingly sinister menace. The Idaho Fish and Game department wanted to relocate those city beavers to the uninhabited parts of the state. A man named Elmo W. Heter first tried to collect the beavers and put them on mules, but this wasn’t successful — as he’d later recount in a paper on his efforts, the mules “become spooky and quarrelsome when loaded with a struggling, odorous pair of live beavers." Heter tried a new approach. He took an older, male beaver who would soon be dubbed Geronimo and started dropping it from airplanes. Once Geronimo had safely landed enough times for Heter’s liking, the beaver relocation went into full swing. It was, by and large, a success."

Off-roading in a Model T

Via @fasc1nate on Twitter