This week’s curiosity box covers the following topics

1 – Why are bicycle gear so complex?

2 – What have people been tweeting about during this election?


1 – Why are bicycle gear so complex?

Pedalling its way into the first topic of this week’s curiosity box is the simple bicycle. Although the bike was born out of necessity, it is now a sophisticated machine.

There are a few different versions of how the bicycle was invented. However, almost all sources allude to the 1815 Mt Tambora’s volcanic eruption. It was the largest ever volcanic eruption in the history of mankind and the aftermath resulted in a massive loss of animal life (this included horses). As a result, humans could no longer afford the luxury of a horse and hence needed an alternative to moving around.

Seeing this problem, Karl Von Drais sought out to invent the human-powered machine known as the Laufmaschine, aka the velocipede, aka a hobby-horse. This two-wheeled vehicle was a human-powered machine that required someone to sit on it and push themselves around with their feet. 

The Evolution

One version led to the other, and the mechanism got a complicated as well. In today’s world, we have bicycles with 10, 20, or even 30 gears. I have always wondered why there is a need for so many gears. 

The gears in a bicycle change the number of rotations you can get out of the wheel with one pedal.  With one push of the pedal with your feet, you could either make the wheel go for one complete rotation or even 4 rotations. The purpose of having this ability is to give the rider the flexibility in choosing how hard he wants the journey to be.

You can calculate this difference by finding the ratio of the number of teeth on the front derailleur to the teeth of the rear cassette. Don’t be alarmed by the new terms. 

The gear mechanism present in road bikes takes some getting used to and understanding how it exactly works. Perhaps this video will help.


2 – How has the twitter activity been around the election?

The talk of the week is the US elections. With Joe Biden just clenching his victory, the future of democracy and transparency will come under the spotlight. One of the vital features of democracy is the freedom of speech, so I decided to analyse what people have been tweeting about during election day. 

I did a basic exploratory analysis of all the tweets that were published on the 15th with the hashtags #Joebiden and #Donaldtrump. In total, there were approximately 1.2 million tweets with either one or with both of the hashtags. 

I then categorised all tweets into three buckets: tweets with #JoeBiden, tweets with #DonaldTrump, and tweets with both the hashtags. Then the words Joe, Biden, Donald, Trump, and all stop words were removed before counting the most frequently occurring words. 

Observation 1: Supporters for Trump have been more vocal through Twitter (almost 30% more for Trump when compared with Biden’s). The word clouds below really don’t reveal a lot of difference in the kind of words between the three buckets. 

Observation 2: Tweets with Trump’s hashtag are longer as well, but when you average it, there is not much of a difference. 

To be honest, I did venture out with the hope that I would find something more interesting. But after 6 hours of figuring out how to come to this stage, I am calling it a day. 


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1 Comment

  1. Oh my…..you are putting your brains to full use I guess……good going !!!

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