Augmented reality: In the eye of the beholder

AS READERS of The Economist will no doubt recall, Tupac Shakur, a rapper, was murdered in 1996. It therefore came as a surprise, to say the least, when he appeared on stage in 2012. Clever visual manipulation it certainly was, but claims that Mr Shakur’s performance was a hologram were overblown. Holography maintains its sense…

Hacking aircraft: Remote control

IN ONE of his many former lives, Gulliver qualified as a pilot. He therefore exudes an aura of unquestionable confidence when striding into an aircraft cabin, secure in the belief that, if the worst happens and both pilots have the fish, he could take charge of the cockpit and calmly land the plane, Sullenberger-style. Cue…

Plastic stochastic

“DON’T bail out the big banks on Wall Street another time,” thundered Richard Durbin, an American senator, “Once in a political lifetime is enough!” His amendment to the Dodd-Frank financial reform of 2010 capped the fees banks can charge merchants to process debit-card transactions, on the grounds that banks were gouging businesses and their customers….

Future, imperfect and tense

IF YOU want something done, the saying goes, give it to a busy person. It is an odd way to guarantee hitting deadlines. But a paper recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests it may, in fact, be true—as long as the busy person conceptualises the deadline in the right way. Yanping Tu…

Right on!

FLYERS at petrol stations do not normally ask for someone to donate a kidney to an unrelated stranger. That such a poster, in a garage in Indiana, actually did persuade a donor to come forward might seem extraordinary. But extraordinary people such as the respondent to this appeal (those who volunteer to deliver aid by…

Submitting essays: The jeopardy of just in time

“HARD work might pay off after time,” says the adage, “but procrastination will always pay off right now.” While inherently plausible, it would be unwise to adopt this advice as a lifestyle guide. The possible consequences of such a strategy have been spelt out in a paper just released by the University of Warwick in…