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Observations

The Day the World’s ATMs Stood Still—or Didn’t

Image courtesy of Shaners Becker, via Wikimedia Commons.

You’re probably on tenterhooks wondering what will happen to your reliable, convenient ATM on April 8, the day Microsoft officially sticks a fork in its hugely popular Windows XP operating system. You’re not? Did you know that more than 75 percent of the world’s automated teller machines use XP? And that an outdated operating system [...]

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Observations

What Will Make Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin Happier: U.S. Citizenship or $67 Million?

A big stack of $100 bills

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin has renounced his U.S. citizenship, reportedly to save an estimated $67 million on his tax bill (Saverin denies that the decision was based on financial considerations). The move has drawn the ire of Senators, academics and (especially) newspaper columnists, who view it as a cynical attempt to avoid paying his fair [...]

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Observations

No Matter How Huge, Mega Millions Jackpot Will Always Be a Bad Bet

lottery ticket for mega millions

Yesterday my father-in-law asked me to buy him $100 in lottery tickets. He is ordinarily the kind of guy who would cite the quip “the lottery is a tax on people who can’t do math,” but these are not ordinary times. On Friday night the Mega Millions multi-state lottery will offer a $500 million jackpot, [...]

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Observations

Short on sleep, the brain optimistically favors long odds

risky behavior gambling

Sleep deprivation can lead to plenty of unwise decisions, which researchers have long tied to flagging attention and short-term memory. But a new study shows how just one night of missed sleep can make people more likely to chase big gains while risking even larger losses—independent of their tapering attention spans. A team of Duke [...]

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Roots of Unity

Mathematicians Predict What’s in Your Wallet

It's all about the Washingtons. And that smiley face button. Image: flickr user xJason.Rogersx

When I go to Europe, my pockets rapidly fill up with change. In addition to language barriers that prevent me from quickly understanding how much I owe, I have trouble dealing with the unfamiliar coin denominations. The best way to make 75 cents is to use a fifty cent piece, one twenty, and a five, [...]

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