Issue 76: Whose Line Is It?

I thought I would take a moment to say a few words about one of the funniest shows ever on TV – Whose Line Is It Anyway? Born across the pond in Great Britain, Whose Line is a hilarious improv show. If you’ve never seen it you should. Recently it’s become a staple viewing in the evening and it really brings a smile to my face before heading to bed.

And speaking of bringing smiles, this month’s columns are full of fun.

Creature comforts. That’s the term that the car companies used to describe the little touches that make a car fun to drive. While this may seem mindless advertising drivel to some, the way cars design their man-machine interfaces can make all the difference for the driver’s comfort and safety. Aristotle To Digital examines two such designs – one done right and the other wrong – and speculates on the thoughts that passed through the mind of the designer.

Constraints in dynamical systems are both interesting and complicated and applicable to a wide variety of situations. This month Under The Hood finishes its multi-part exploration of generalized coordinates the resulting relationship between energy and the Hamiltonian. This month’s column shows explicit examples for those cases when the energy and the $$h$$ function are looks at the theoretical basis for handling constraints within the Lagrange method of mechanics.

There is an interesting situation that develops in economics of efficiency and conservation. An increase in efficiency can undermine policy attempts to conserve natural resources. This occurs when the efficiency improvements make it widely more attractive to use the resource being conserved. Common Cents beings a two-aprt series on the Khazzoom-Brookes postulate and the Jevons Paradox that describe under what situation such a perverse calculus can occur.

The business of comics is always tricky – afterall the publisher needs to balance the need for quality from the creative team against marketing to catch the eye of the reader and pull them in. This undertaking gets even more complex when trying to reinvent a beloved, existing character and the results can go quite wrong. About Comics presents one such case – the reinvention of Doctor Strange in the mid-nineties.

Enjoy!