Wednesday, November 8, 2023

SearchResearch Challenge (11/8/23): How does it work? Checking your assumptions.

The most common error... 

... in online research is probably that of not checking your assumptions. We tend to see the world without questioning, and we often bake those assumptions into our research behaviors.  

Here we see three common, everyday appliances: an electric tea kettle, an ordinary rice cooker, and a plain old toaster.

I've seen these for years--there's nothing especially strange or exotic about them.  You've probably used them all as well.

As I was waiting for my toast to turn to a satisfactory shade of brown, I was looking at it standing next to my electric tea kettle, not far from my rice cooker and thinking about how they each know that the toast / water / rice is ready.  

My assumption was that they all had the same mechanism for knowing when the toast / water / rice is at the right temperature or level of doneness. 

So I was really surprised when I checked my assumption, and found that I was utterly wrong.  The only device that I got right was the toaster--I knew that one--the other two surprised me.  

Today's SearchResearch Challenge is simple: 

1.  So... how DO each of these devices know when the toast / water / rice is ready?  

2. (extra credit) What other devices do you believe you understand, but when you checked, you learned that you actually didn't understand?  Does anything spring to mind?  Any surprises?  

This SRS Challenge isn't that hard, but it brings up a fairly deep point about when to question our assumptions... and HOW to realize that your assumptions might be wrong.  Any ideas?  

Share your thoughts in the comments.  

Keep searching!  


  1. #2 - "stove top nipple heating"

    a snippet bit:
    Once the rice absorbs all the water in the pan, the temperature will start to rise. The rice cooker senses this change and will either switch off or switch to a warming cycle. At this point, the rice has finished cooking and entered the resting stage.

    toasting screen (but can't afford bread after purchase… ;P)

  2. used your query…

    "How to Avoid Jumping Straight to Assumptions

    Assess Your Beliefs. It is important to step back and really dig into why you believe what you do about a person or situation. Reflect on where your assumptions are coming from. ...
    Ask Questions First. Questioning is the antithesis of assuming. ...
    Seek Multiple Perspectives."

  3. Started with rice cooker. [How rice cooker works] and Google mentioned: Other people asked: And there it is your question

    However I think I need to do more research because if we add more water, cooker will need more time. And fewer water, rice will be different. Even so, the principle is the same.

    About toasters, I has the same assumption that you, Dr. Russell. I think they work with a timer. I am also thinking different kind of toasters will work different? I think maybe if the bread is in those toasters that are also ovens, the humidity is different and therefore the bread toasting will be different. I'll check that.

    In the extra credit: There are so many. Some are: Cotton thread, wine, juice, and of course machines. One that surprised me time ago is how YouTube and Twitter (X) count the likes, views and other and why sometimes they move like it's not real. I'll try to remind that video in case someone wants to watch

  4. About toasters, asked how they work. The new ones says, still need confirmation, use time in setting to toast. However this one from 1940's until 1980's is, article says, much better than the new ones. Still reading (video included) and it has been very interesting

    Why a toaster from 1949 is still smarter than any sold today / They really don’t make ‘em like they used to

    Also read, related to Q2, how trees keep it cool. It's amazing how they do it and the temperature difference when there are trees

    1. Out of topic. And connected with Europe and objects found in Swiss and other countries & upcoming Holidays.

      Today watching the movie Christmas in Vienna, saw a Santa Claus with a different kind of hat. He was wearing a kind that looks similar to the ones used for Catholic Bishops. It was red with white.

      Tried searching without success. Maybe Europe tradition? Anyone knows the name of that "hat"?



      for use in the tropics…

      a Mitre…
      you can craft your own…

      the key seems to be to search for St. Nicholas, not Santa or Krampus (Knecht Ruprecht)…

      Temprano Feliz Navidad, Ramon - hope this helps…

      btw, ~34 sec. in - got a lucky glimpse & they were talking about Advent, which steered me to St, Nick…

      ''It is celebrated as a Christian festival with particular regard to Saint Nicholas' reputation as a bringer of gifts, as well as through the attendance of church services. In the European countries of Germany and Poland, boys have traditionally dressed as bishops and begged alms for the poor."

    3. a couple other bits/queries -,online_chips:christmas+miter&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj69ryLjtGCAxX0MjQIHcugAE8Q4lYIDygE

      not near Switzerland:,_Parque_natural_de_la_Arr%C3%A1bida,_Portugal,_2020-07-23,_DD_24.jpg

      although it may be eaten there?
      see : "People also ask"

      a walrus?

    4. Thanks Remnij :) I'll read and visit now

    5. After reading, Remmij, searched [countries in which Santa wears mitre]

      There, mentions modern version attributed to Thomas Nast. He made famous many things

    6. I just read a Walrus connection with : November 22th, The Beatles & J. R. R. Tolkien.

    7. as Dan reminds us: words are words…
      look how social media is documenting and shaping events: (this from a Prof. @ Grand Canyon University -
      the video production skills are impressive too…)

      fwiw; while sifting the [complicated] murk… a couple bits, swiss related

    8. regarding the "jolly elf" — (thank Ramon for the Nast point…)
      partially from THE oHIo State University…
      "The change from simply "OSU" was said to "reflect the national stature of the institution." University officials wanted the institution to be known as "The Ohio State University," again, to avoid confusion over similarly abbreviated colleges (such as Oregon State University and Oklahoma State University)."
      …or Oddball U, lover of BuckNuts… spoken by a Hoosier alum…


      Oasis & Jim Carey & Bono - more like Eggmen

      LSD, go figure
      "'I am the carpenter ...'"
      "Yellow matter custard, green slop pie,
      All mixed together with a dead dog's eye,
      Slap it on a butty, ten-foot thick,
      Then wash it all down with a cup of cold sick."

  5. How do electric toasters know when to switch themselves off?
    The first electric toasters didn't switch themselves off: they were completely manual. You put a slice of bread in a pivoting metal toasting rack and closed it up so the rack stood against a bank of heating elements. When you could see or smell that your toast was done, you opened the rack, lifted the bread out, and put it back in the other way to toast the other side. Automatic toasters were a later development. Your toaster most likely uses either a timer or a thermostat to switch itself off when your bread is done, but some sophisticated models use electronic light-detector circuits based on photoelectric cells.

    How do Electric Teakettle when to switch themselves off? .
    How do they work? The simplest ones are mechanical and use a bimetallic thermostat (described in our main article on thermostats) integrated into the element unit at the bottom of the kettle. It consists of a disc of two different metals bonded tightly together, one of which expands faster than the other as the temperature rises. Normally the thermostat is curved in one direction, but when the hot water reaches boiling point, the steam produced hits the bimetallic thermostat and makes it suddenly snap and flex in the opposite direction, a bit like an umbrella turning inside out in the wind. When the thermostat snaps open, it pushes a lever that trips the circuit, cuts off the electric current, and safely switches off the kettle. More sophisticated kettle thermostats (used in systems such as the fashionable Marco Über coffee boiler) are entirely electronic and allow water to be heated to precise temperatures and maintained there indefinitely by repeatedly switching the current on and off.

    How does the Rice Cooker work?
    The key element is the thermostat The thermostat of a rice cooker is a fascinating thing. It’s like a mini computer that controls the temperature of the rice cooker. It’s what makes sure the rice cooker doesn’t overcook the rice. And, it’s also what allows you to set the cooking time. The thermostat is usually located near the bottom of the rice cooker, underneath the heating element. It’s usually a small rectangular box with a few wires running to it. The thermostat is important because it controls the cooking temperature of the rice cooker. If the cooking temperature is too high, the rice will overcook and become mushy. If it’s too low, the rice will be hard and undercooked. The thermostat ensures that the cooking temperature is just right so that your rice turns out perfect every time.

    I checked out of curiosity how microwaves work and found a link from the same source as electric toaster

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  7. under $20 - the rice cooker in your image 'Aroma'
    and ended up searching Jony Ive… go figure -
    and you are in the land of Swiss design ----
    am now riced out…
    more versatile, not much more cost:
    test - they get more complicated, must have sensors & chips & 'brains':
    Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy
    they look like space pods or old Macs… Cuckoo
    Korean design -
    old iMacs/rice cookers?
    what happened to Jony Ive? LoveFrom Serif
    no rice cooker, but a "blender cap"??
    "Most recently, however, reports have emerged claiming that Ive is in discussions with OpenAI to build the AI firm’s first consumer device, or the “iPhone of artificial intelligence.”"
    Swiss search:
    let Mom do it -
    moving on:

  8. I "ass_u_me" my latest post will vanish also/"ah so"ああ、そうか
    "Ah is used in writing to represent a noise that people make in conversation, for example, to acknowledge or draw attention to something, or to express surprise, relief, or disappointment. Ah, so many questions, so little time. ああ,問題が山積みなのに時間がないよ."
    any surprising Swiss etiquette? or are things becoming more homogeneous/global/universal?

  9. the old "George in a hydrant" rice cooker/pop-up toaster
    soggy rice in the rain, but still tasty with banana…
    (surprises the lil donk every time)

  10. speaking of Ive & related -
    the beginning of the smartphone morph?
    is there buzz there in Switzerland? what does Dan think?
    kinda Star Trek-ian?*
    Public orders in the US begin Thursday, November 16th
    Humane Ai Pin
    watch video on X
    *"The delta insignia was first drawn in 1964 by costume designer William Ware Theiss with input from series creator Gene Roddenberry. The delta -- or “Arrowhead” as Bill Theiss called it -- has evolved into a revered symbol and one that's synonymous with Star Trek today."

  11. Walrus structure