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## In which I am crabby about viral archery videos.by Elizabeth Bear Friday January 30th, 2015 at 11:34 PM

Yes. I've seen the Lars Andersen Anderson archery video*. Everybody can stop sending me links to it now.

Speaking as a mediocre archer in my own right, and as somebody who's written three novels with a Mongol archer as a protagonist and done a fair amount of research on the subject of worldwide bow techniques...

That guy's a really good marketer.

But he's not actually doing anything we didn't already know about, he's not shooting in a manner that would be at all effective in combat or for the historically more common purpose of feeding his family, and his quiver-handling skills are worthy of the "before" segment of an infomercial.

I'd like to see him cut a sandwich with a regular knife! It might result in an explosion.

Here's the thing. He's basically misrepresenting a bunch of well-known techniques in non-Western-European archery as his own invention or "rediscovery" (bonus cultural appropriation!), and into the bargain, he's not actually putting any strength into that bow of his.

One of the things about archery is that arrows (even war and hunting arrows) are very light. E=MV^2, E=MA^2, as we all know, right? So, if the mass of your projectile is slight, it needs to have a pretty good velocity acceleration to do some damage. Where that velocity acceleration comes from, in a bow, is the power. And where that power comes from is--surprise--your trapezius muscles.

Not your arms. And not actually the bow: the bow is a mechanical device that transforms back and shoulder strength into velocity, acceleration, by means of storing the energy you use to draw it. It's more or less a simple mechanism that you spring-load with physical force, and then release. The more energy that bow is physically capable of storing, the more energy it takes to draw the bow.

This is what we mean when we say a bow has a "draw weight." I own two bows--a lightweight recurve, very simple and primitive, and a medium-weight compound bow, which are the ones with pulleys and stuff. (The pulleys are there to create a mechanical advantage, but they don't make it significantly easier to draw the bow. What they do is make it easier to hold the bow in a full draw. This is called letoff, and there's a bunch of technical stuff about round pulleys vs. oblong pulleys and you probably don't care about it anyway--and I don't understand it well enough to explain it even if you did. There are books, you can read some.)

Anyway. The reasons archers draw the way we do--which is to say, standing sideways to the target, less-dominant arm extended and slightly flexed with a relaxed wrist and loose grip on the bow; dominant hand brought back to the jaw or ear; dominant elbow raised and drawn back--is to engage the back muscles and create a broader draw. A significant portion of the power of your draw comes from those final inches, because of the way that springs work.

The thing he says about modern archers only drawing with one arm, by the way, is patent nonsense. Anybody who's had half an hour of archery instruction at a range populated by people who know what they're doing has been told to push the bow away with the bow hand as they simultaneously draw back with the draw hand.)

Also having a reliable anatomical point at which to anchor your draw, and a reliable stance, means that you have a reliable point of aim. Incredibly minor alterations in biomechanics--something as invisible as tensing your neck, or not fully broadening your back--can send an arrow wildly off course over distances as short as ten or twenty yards. Something as major as moving your draw point an inch? No freaking telling where that arrow is going.

When you are drawing a bow correctly, there is a feeling of being inside the span of the bow, a sense that the bow and your body have melded and that you are as much suspended in the tension of the bow as the bow is drawn by you.

Is this effective? Well, worldwide, millions--perhaps hundreds of millions!--of men and women successfully feed their families using this technique to this very day. They have cable channels up in the high digits where you can watch them do it. Whole cable channels devoted to stalking and killing deer and bear with a bow. Turkeys, too. Wild boar. Yes, it's effective.

Anyway, back to Mr. Andersen. Anderson. His draw is likely to be largely useless for killing anything larger or farther away than a paper plate. It's any which way, and it's insufficient for power. (Also, hunting and war arrows are, generally speaking, much larger and heavier than what he's using there. E=MV^2, E=MC^2, after all. Size does matter.)

Compare his release to that of Adama Swoboda (below), and see that Swoboda, even shooting fast, brings the bowstring back to his jaw. Andersen Anderson is shooting so fast that he doesn't have time for a full draw.

His tactics, though--speed shooting and so forth--are suited to a shorter recurve (like a Mongol, Hun, or Indian bow), which is designed to be shot in motion and from horseback.

If you're using a very heavy, penetrating bow such as an English/Welsh longbow, different tactics apply. For one thing, a heavier-limbed bow has a lot more mass, and accelerates the arrow in a different way. A laminated Mongol-style bow relies for its power on some gloriously advanced materials hacks involving laminating substances with different compressibility to one another and making them fight. They're snappy, and because they are small the tips of their limbs whip back into position speedily. You can't speed-fire a longbow that way, because the limbs of the bow are large, there's more mass to be moved, and they derive their draw power from compressing a quantity of wood. (They also make use of the varied compressibility of different substances, by the way--but those substances are the heartwood and sapwood of a young tree. Nature provides the lamination itself!)

(And massed fire with the things is indeed withering!)

And Mr. Andersen Anderson is firing so fast that he's not actually even getting his Asian-style bow to a full draw! He's basically doing the equivalent of swinging a hammer from the wrist; just plinking away, not really thumping on anything.

You can, in fact, fire these bows quite quickly. I've included some Youtube links to videos of people using them more correctly below. You'll notice that the master archers in those clips are handling their bows quite differently from Andersen. Anderson. (He also has a death-clutch on the grip, which affects your aim rather badly. Proper grip on a bow is tender enough that when you loose the arrow, the bow actually rocks back against the web of your thumb.)

Meanwhile, to continue debunking his claims that modern archers don't use a right-side draw and that he's somehow reinvented the technique of keeping both eyes open:

If you look closely at the links below, you'll see that one of the Mongol/Hun techniques is indeed a right-side draw, and that a number of archers shoot with both eyes open. (This actually has more to do with whether you have a strongly dominant eye or not, in my experience, than the style of archery you prefer.) Another technique involves whipping the arrow from a quiver opening at your shoulder over your head, and not doing any of Andersen's Anderson's dramatically inept banging it against the side of the bow. (Another infomercial moment.)

(I feel like Kirk in Wrath of Khan--"He's thinking in two dimensions!")

Andersen Anderson also neglects to mention (or possibly is not aware) that there are about seventeen different possible ways to grip a bowstring (not counting modern trigger or twist-style releases), and that one of the technical challenges of anyone who shoots a bow suitable for hunting or war is preventing nerve damage to the fingertips on the draw hand. Possibly because he's using a light bow and not drawing it to its full potential. The classically Asian/Mongol draw uses the thumb to hook the bowstring, with a flat-sided ring carved from animal horn to protect the thumb. (Tabs, archery rings, and so forth serve another purpose beside protecting the archer's fingers. They also provide a smooth surface for the string to slide off of, so that the friction of the archer's fingerprints snagging on her serving does not affect her aim. Yes, that's all it takes.)

You'll also notice that the traditional archers linked below have no problem keeping arrows in a quiver on a cantering horse!

Andersen's Anderson's various trick shooting bits pretty much have to involve prepared materials. I feel like the Mythbusters have adequately debunked arrow splitting and arrow catching. (I myself have split a modern aluminum tube arrow on more than one occasion, which always makes you feel good but gets expensive.) The armor piercing trick is actually not particularly impressive. That looks to be costume chain, which is basically snipped bits of spring steel twisted together like a bunch of keychains. You can pull it apart with your hands.

And as for his shooting a guy across a table thing--I wouldn't try that with *gun*, frankly, let alone a bow. FBI guidelines for an officer armed with a firearm to safely kill an attacker armed with a knife are... 21 feet. Inside that range, and you are very likely to get cut.

***

*If you haven't seen it, there's an embed and an even eyerollinger response than mine over on Geek Dad. I saw a link to this post just as I was completing my own rant, or I'd probably have saved the time and just linked over there.

***

Here are some examples of similar rapid-fire and archery-in-motion techniques as used by modern archers, and a nice video of a military historian talking about some of the same things I have--and making some points of his own.

wreichard
1 day ago
Today in bow-ier than you.
Earth
1 public comment
JayM
5 hours ago
Boston Metro Area

# Tug of War

Would it be possible for two teams in a tug-o-war to overcome the ultimate tensile strength of an iron rod and pull it apart? How big would the teams have to be?

—Markus Andersen

A couple dozen people could pull a half-inch iron rod apart.

Tug-of-war, a simple game in which two teams try to pull a rope in opposite directions, has a surprisingly bloody history.

I don't mean that there's some kind of gruesome historical forerunner of modern tug-of-war.[1]Although it's definitely an ancient sport, so I'm sure people have come up with all kinds of horrific variations over the centuries that I don't really want to spend hours reading about. Humans seem to be creative when it comes to that kind of thing. I mean that modern tug-of-war involves a lot more death and mutilation than you might expect—precisely because people underestimate how few people it takes to break "strong" things like heavy rope.

As detailed in a riveting article in Priceonomics, recent games of tug-of-war have resulted in hundreds of serious injuries and numerous deaths—all caused, one way or another, by ropes snapping. In particular, this seems to happen when large groups of students try to set a world record for largest tug-of-war game. When a rope under many tons of tension suddenly snaps, the recoiling ends can—and do—cause a terrifying variety of injuries.

Before we answer Markus's question, it's worth noting that the physics of tug-of-war can be a little tricky. It seems like common sense that the "stronger" team has an advantage, but that's not quite right. To win, you need to resist sliding forward better than the other team. If you can't resist sliding, then increasing your arm strength means you'll just pull yourself forward. Since sliding friction is often proportional to weight, tug-of-war on many surfaces is simply a contest over who's heavier.[2]Champion tug-of-war teams focus on body angle, footwork, digging into the ground, and timing pulls to throw off the other team. The strongest team in the world would lose a tug-of-war with a six-year-old and a sack of bricks, as long as the sack had a firm grip.

So, how much force can tug-of-war players exert?

A 2011 paper analyzing the immune systems of several "elite tug-of-war players"[3]The paper notes that "Few studies have been done to examine the effects of [the] tug-of-war sport on physiological responses," which seems likely enough to me. measured their average pull force (on a school gym floor) to be about 102.5 kilograms-force, or about 1.5x their body weight.

The ultimate tensile strength of cast iron is about 200 megapascals (MPa), so we can use a simple formula to figure out how many players would be needed to break one.

$\text{People required}=\frac{\pi\times\left(\tfrac{1}{4}\text{ inch} \right )^2\times200\text{ MPa}}{102.5\text{ kg}/\text{person}}\approx25\text{ people}$

Two teams of 25 people[4]I originally wrote 25 people total, forgetting that two people pulling with 100 units of force each will produce 100 units of tension on the rope, not 200! Thank you for Gordon McDonough for pointing this out. So only 25 people, split into teams of 12 and 13,[4]If your 25 people don't all have the same body weight, splitting them into two teams of as-close-to-equal weights as possible may require solving the NP-complete knapsack problem. could probably pull a half-inch iron bar apart. An inch-thick iron bar could be torn in half by teams of 101 people,[5]People often play tug-of-war with their dogs. Going by weight alone, 30 humans would probably be about evenly matched against 101 dalmatians. and a 2-inch-diameter bar would need over 400. It's hard to have a tug-of-war with something thicker than about 2 inches. Since you're not allowed to install handles on the rope,[6]Or wrap it around your hand, for reasons which will become clear if you read some of the articles on tug-of-war injuries. it has to be narrow enough to grip easily.

While "400 people" may be the limit for plain iron bars, there are much stronger substances out there. Common types of steel, for example, have a tensile strength about 10 times that of cast iron. Common half-inch rebar, for example, would in theory take teams of over 200 over 200 hundred people to pull apart, compared to 25 for cast iron. Other substances are even stronger; a half-inch shaft made from high-grade steel or a polymer like Kevlar (or, theoretically, a solid silicon crystal) could handle the pulling force from teams of anywhere between 500 and of anywhere from 500 to 800 competitive tug-of-war players.

If we limit ourselves to a two-inch diameter rope, which seems to be about the maximum size for tug-of-wars,[7](William Safire returns from the grave to point out that it should really be tugs-of-war.) then the maximum number of tug-of-war players given a super-strong rope like Kevlar is in the neighborhood of 10,000.[8]Or several times that many, if they're not very athletic.

If we figured out how to manufacture large ropes out of graphene ribbons, which have tensile strengths over 10 times higher than existing materials, we could theoretically support a tug-of-war between teams of up to 100,000 players each. players. Such a rope would be over 200 100 miles long, and could stretch almost from New York to and Washington.

If our experience with nylon ropes failing is any indication, when the graphene finally snapped, the death toll could be enormous among both players and bystanders. Lengths of graphene would crack across the landscape like bullwhips, slicing down forests and demolishing buildings.

In the end, trying to develop stronger ropes leads only to greater danger to everyone, both participants and bystanders. In the ultimate game of tug-of-war ...

... the only winning move is not to pull.

etiberius
2 days ago
+1 for a Safire ref.
ÜT: 33.997032,-86.035736
2 days ago
game ruined...
New York, NY
glenn
2 days ago
Liked the nod to movie "War Games" at the end
evaryont
1 day ago
Not to mention that not playing with graphene means that we now have 200 miles of graphene to use! Space elevators, anyone?
Phoenix, AZ
rraszews
2 days ago
"Tugs of War" should totally be an XBox One exclusive
rclatterbuck
2 days ago
See catastrophic failure modes for space elevators.

## Troubleshooting Friday January 30th, 2015 at 9:34 AM

norb
3 days ago
ah my life
clmbs.oh
rraszews
3 days ago
As my college advisor used to say, if you can't beat your computer at chess, try kickboxing.
mindspillage
3 days ago
Mountain View, California
3 days ago
"Problem with you computer? Have you tried rebooting? no? try it... did it work? thought so..." My regular method of fixing people's computer issues.
Orange County, Cali, USA
JEFFnSoCal
3 days ago
And they're like... "I could've done that!" to which my (inner) reply is "Well why didn't you BEFORE you interrupted me!"
elangomatt
2 days ago
At least they actually reboot when you ask them too. I've had people tell me they already rebooted before calling for a problem that is always fixed after a reboot. Then I have to convice them to reboot "again" just to try it one more time.
Zaphod717
2 days ago
"Have you, in fact, done anything other than ask me to fix this for you? No? This conversation is over."
macsims
2 days ago
The IT Crowd: "Hello IT, have you tried turning it off and on again?"

## Google's upcoming paid streaming serviceby jwz Monday January 26th, 2015 at 11:14 AM

Zoe Keating made a blog post about what Google told her about the upcoming Youtube music streaming service. Her post is a little confusing, so I'll try to summarize.

How it worked before:

• She's her own label, and owns the copyright / publishing rights on her own songs.
• She registered her songs with Youtube, saying "these are mine". (That's different than posting the songs publicly.)
• Because of that, when someone else uploads a Youtube video that uses her music as the soundtrack, she's the one who receives the Content-ID notification.
• She then gets the choice to block that video, or to run ads on it.
• She generally chooses the latter, which means she gets 1/3 of the revenue generated by the ads on the video that has her music in it, and gets her name on the page.

So now Youtube is about to launch a new paid streaming service. If I'm understanding her post correctly, it goes like this:

• Participation in the new service requires that your entire catalog be available for streaming, at high resolution.
• Participation requires that you not release your music elsewhere earlier, e.g., no early releases for fans or backers.
• You no longer get a choice of whether to do nothing, block a video, or run ads. Ads are mandatory.
• Five year contract.
• If you don't participate in the new service, then the option to obtain Content-ID ad revenue from the free version of Youtube no longer exists.
• If you had previously been getting Content-ID ad revenue and choose not to participate in the new service, your channel will be deleted and all videos using your music will be blocked.

This means that, for all of those people who were making a little money off of their music by letting Google run ads on it, the options now on the table are:

1. Agree to all the terms of the new service, including publishing your entire catalog on it, and continue making money on ads;
2. Block all the videos using your music (and have your channel deleted);

It's another bait-and-switch: "We had been paying you for your work for years, under these terms. But now we have altered the agreement. Pray we do not alter it further."

This sounds like Google using the same strategy they used with Google Plus: instead of creating a new service and letting it compete on its own merits, they're going to artificially prop it up by giving people no choice but to sign up for it. Except in this case the people being strong-armed are the copyright holders instead of the end users. (So far, that is! Wait for it.)

I think you can expect to see a lot of old videos on Youtube getting blocked in the near future because of this.

"The music terms are outdated and the content that you uploaded will be blocked. But anything that we can scan and match from other users will be matched in content ID and you can track it but won't be able to participate in revenue sharing."

"All music content has to be licensed under this new agreement. We can't have music in the free version that is not in the paid version"

I had them explain it again to be sure.

"Wow, that's a bit harsh," I said.

"Yeah, I know," they said.

srsly
4 days ago
I can't imagine that anyone big or small would agree to those terms - this would be a really good time for services like Bandcamp to campaign and advertise to musicians.
Atlanta, Georgia
skorgu
5 days ago
sirshannon
5 days ago
Yes.
5 days ago
Handy recap of what the changes to Youtube mean for artists.
Boston
Lacrymosa
1 day ago
This looks bad for small publishers, creators and consumers.
Boston, MA
superiphi
2 days ago
well i am glad i dont go to youtube a lot, makes it easy to boycott them 100% now
Mother Hydra
3 days ago
Ben Thompson's astute take on this situation is a must-read: http://stratechery.com/2015/niches-problem-subscription-services/
Beneath Innsmouth
JayM
3 days ago
Wow.
Boston Metro Area
llucax
3 days ago
Berlin
reconbot
5 days ago
I hate renting music for a reason
New York City
dukeofwulf
4 days ago
Lately people have been declaring the end of music ownership, saying that from now on, people will just stream. I just shake my head. I still use a dedicated MP3 player in my car, because buttons are easier to use while driving than a touch screen. The future is whack.

## The Andromeda Galaxy Reminds Us How Small We Areby Kiri Picone Sunday January 25th, 2015 at 12:14 PM

There are moments when it seems as if the world truly does revolve around us. Yet when we step back and put life in perspective, our smallness quickly becomes evident; we are merely a fraction of a speck in an infinite picture. At this year’s meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, NASA released the world’s largest photo of the Andromeda Galaxy. Though the image can hardly do justice to the star system’s gargantuan size and scope, it offers us a breathtaking peek at the complexity of our universe.

A much smaller version of the massive image. Source: Astro Bob

A zoomed-in view of the Andromeda Galaxy image. Source: Hyperallergic

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the Andromeda Galaxy consists of 1.5 billion pixels—that’s so many pixels that it would take about 4.3 GB of disk space to store the image, and 600 HD television screens to view it in its entirety. Soar through the Andromeda Galaxy in this video tour of the image:

&

Researchers from the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT) program spent three years capturing thousands of images of the galaxy. Those shots were then carefully pieced together to create the single image. Photographing a section of the Andromeda Galaxy that spans about 48,000 light-years, the image captured dust lanes, stellar clusters and more than 100 million stars.

This image shows how large the Andromeda Galaxy would appear if the sky was brighter. Source: Reddit

The Andromeda Galaxy, also known as Messier 31, exists about 2.5 million light-years from Earth. (To put that distance in perspective, remember that the sun is less than 1 light-year from Earth). Still not grasping its enormity? Don’t forget that this image depicts just one out of 100 billion galaxies that comprise our universe. Check out this zoomable version of the image to get really up close and personal.

A zoomed-in view of the Andromeda Galaxy image. Source: Hyperallergic

The post The Andromeda Galaxy Reminds Us How Small We Are appeared first on All That Is Interesting.

drchuck
6 days ago
A galaxy far, far away... looks awesome.
Long Island, NY
5 days ago
The image of Andromeda as it would be seen "if the sky was brighter" (??? darker, surely) is way off with regard to its relative size to the moon.

Space.com has the following, "Amazingly, this stretch of stars, which in our sky appears about as long as the full moon and half as wide".
Sussex, UK
gmuslera
7 days ago
"To put it in perspective"... the sun is at 8 minutes-light from Earth (yes, is "less than a year" technically, but don't put it in the right perspective). The closest star to the sun is at 4 light years. And all those tighly packed stars in the picture are separated by several light years from each other.

Another way to put those numbers in context is that the fastest spaceship ever made by mankind (the Voyager 1, its actual speed is 38000 mph or 61000 km/h) is at 36 hours-light from earth, after traveling for 38 years.
montevideo, uy

POW!
srsly
6 days ago
oh golly
Atlanta, Georgia