The Engineer's Notebook is a shared blog for entries that don't fit into a specific CR4 blog. Topics may range from grammar to physics and could be research or or an individual's thoughts - like you'd jot down in a well-used notebook.
I think most of us can agree: rats are vile, disease-carrying vermin that overrun city streets leaving destruction in their wake. However, my view of them may have softened a bit this week thanks to a study from Fordham University and Providence College.
According to the study, rats who have set up residence in Manhattan’s uptown show slight genetic differences from the rats who reside downtown.
Detailing their findings in the journal Molecular Ecology, researchers located and captured rats from all over Manhattan, noting where each rat was captured. Once captured, the rats’ tails were used as a source for DNA analysis.
In a first-of-its kind study of the Manhattan brown rat, researchers compared the genomic results by geography and determined that most of the brown rats were descended from western European rats brought here over 200 years ago as stowaways on ships.
However, there are genetic differences among current populations depending upon where the rats live. In some case, researchers were able to identify down to the specific neighborhood where rats resided by simply looking at their individual rat profiles. For instance, based on their profiles, researchers were able to tell if a rat spent the majority of its time in the East Village or the West Village.
As researchers continue looking at urban rat populations, it is their hope that their findings will help to reduce the number of rats overrunning cities.
In the meantime, I am left with a different vision of city rats: Instead of the disease-carrying nuisances I picture lurking in subways or darkened alleys, I now imagine as waring rat gangs in the vein of West Side Story where rats from uptown battle/dance the downtown rats for turf supremacy—set to the backdrop of a lively Broadway soundtrack, of course.
I'll be posting links to holiday-related CR4 blogs and threads from now through the end of the month. These are too good not to repeat! If any of you have a favorite you'd like to see her, please PM me.
The geniuses at Google are doing life-saving work.
Hear me out.
Thanks to them, those of us impatiently loitering around the hostess stands at our favorite restaurants — desperately hoping that those seated will quickly shovel through their meals so that we can be seated — will no longer have to wait in line. Something, in select circles, that is tantamount to torture; a brand of torture that begins with complaining and, if the wait is long enough, ends with fist-shaking threats of violence.
Or, so I’m told….
Using an algorithm, Google collects information from its millions of users through the location-tracking feature enabled on their phones. The very same technology that helps customize searches and map functions on a users’ phone is used here to determine if the particular establishment will have a wait time based on the number of people frequenting the restaurant while location-tracking is enabled.
Available soon on Google search and eventually on Google maps, the feature works when a user types a restaurant name in the Google search bar. By opening up the restaurant’s business listing and locating “Popular Times,” the user can reveal the wait times for that restaurant. The feature also lets the user view wait times in advance throughout the day.
Although similar features exist elsewhere, Google believes that the real-time data will deliver more accurate wait times for the customer.
And while at first blush the feature might seem to address a very first-world problem, it does have a practical use for people on fixed lunch breaks.
Not to mention, its applications in preventing violence, saving marriages/relationships, and making the world an all-around happier place.
Will you use this feature or are you capable of waiting like a functional, well-balanced person?