Thursday, September 28, 2017


"Giant Rat That Fell From Sky Is New Species"

AI Deity

"Anthony Levandowski wants to create an AI god".

Related story from Wired.

Ars Technica Reviews High Sierra

Ars Technica on High Sierra Mac OS. (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How To Identify That Light In The Sky

I'm disturbed by the lack of "Aliens" in this NASA flowchart.

#GottaBeACoverUp (Via H.R.)

Private NYC Pay Bathrooms

"Reserve private bathrooms across NYC with a new app".

From the article, "The app is reminiscent of George Costanza's fictional iToilet, though the founders say that wasn't part of their inspiration." (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Quants On Wall Street Update

WSJ: "The Quants Run Wall Street Now"

Monday, September 25, 2017

Hsieh Forbes Column: "Pagers, AI, And Google"

My latest Forbes piece is out: "Pagers, AI, And Google: 3 Tales Of Technology And Medicine".

I discuss how past, current, and future technologies can make health care more complicated in interesting (and sometimes) unpredictable ways.

'Firefly' At 15

"Firefly at 15: How a Canceled Show Became a Cult Favorite". (Via H.R.)

Robots Building Molecules

"Scientists create world’s first ‘molecular robot’ capable of building molecules". (Via H.R.)

Octopus City

Scientists have found an octopus city.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

USAF Missileers

You can't become a nuclear missile launch officer "if you've been hypnotized even once in your life".

Excellent article including this:
"Our mission every day is to provide deterrence," offers [USAF Captain Amber] Moore. "Every day we try to make our enemies ask themselves the question, Does the benefit of attacking the U.S. outweigh the cost? Because they know that we're always prepared to fire back." Readiness is imperative. A missileer's day-to-day is a lot of maintenance, a lot of making sure each ICBM is in tip-top shape, able to sail over the arctic circle instantaneously. 
The article also notes, "It's all very sensical and comforting until you remember that the order to launch a nuclear missile can only come from the President of the United States, a man who should ostensibly be held to PRP [Personnel Reliability Program] standards...but seemingly is not."

I would say that the American people had ample opportunity to incorporate this concern into their votes and each voter made their own choice on this matter.

Certainly, candidate Clinton and multiple pundits raised the issue of command fitness for the US nuclear arsenal on multiple occasions -- so it's not like voters were never informed of this prior to casting their votes.

(Note: Link was bad, now fixed!) 

Flexible Cooling

"New Flexible Cooling Device Could Provide Efficient Cooling for Mobile Electronics". (Via H.R.)

The Language of the Dark Web

"The Language of the Dark Web"

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Attempting An iPhone In 1957

Building an iPhone X equivalent in 1957 would have cost $150 trillion in today's dollars. And it would have been massive:
Consider the 256 GB memory iPhone X: Implemented in vacuum tubes in 1957, the transistors in an iPhoneX alone would have:
  • cost 150 trillion of today's dollars: one and a half times today's global annual product
  • taken up a hundred-story square building 300 meters high, and 3 kilometers long and wide
  • drawn 150 terawatts of power—30 times the world's current generating capacity

Bad Star Trek Fight Move

"How the 'Star Trek' Punch Became the Worst Fight Move on TV"

Algorithms Don't Care

"Amazon Is Suggesting 'Frequently Bought Together' Items That Can Make a Bomb".

Algorithms don't care what you'll do with your purchases.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Chocolate Bar Labels

"How to Read a Chocolate Bar Label to Buy the Best Chocolate"

Topology And The Brain

"Understanding the brain using topology: the Blue Brain project"

Ars Technica Reviews iOS 11

Ars Technica: "iOS 11, thoroughly reviewed". (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Chilling FOIA Requests

ABC News: "Governments turn tables by suing public records requesters".

As one person noted, "They are going to great lengths to protect themselves and their own mismanagement. This is retaliation."

Museum Twitter War

Museum Twitter war! :-)

Robo-Reporter Update

"The Washington Post's robot reporter has published 850 articles in the past year"

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sunday, September 17, 2017

New Form Of Water

"Gel-like ice is the lightest form of water ever discovered"

Tolkien Reads The Hobbit

"JRR Tolkien reads from The Hobbit":
In 1952, a friend of J.R.R. Tolkien showed him a tape recorder, which the author had never seen before. Delighted, Tolkien sat for his friend and read from The Hobbit for 30 minutes “in this one incredible take”. The audio is split between these two videos (with visuals and music added later)...

Given the circumstances, the clarity of this recording is pretty remarkable. Give it a listen for at least the first two minutes…hearing Tolkien do Smeagol/Gollum’s voice is really cool.
Audio part 1

Audio part 2

AI Password Cracking

"Artificial intelligence just made guessing your password a whole lot easier"

Thursday, September 14, 2017

How to Talk Minnesotan

"How to Talk Minnesotan: The Power of the Negative"
This short video, taken from a longer documentary on How to Talk Minnesotan, demonstrates how a Minnesotan speaker uses negative words (e.g. bad, not, can’t, worse) to express positive feelings. For example, a translation of the phrase “I’m so excited, I can’t believe it!!” into Minnesotan yields:
A guy could almost be happy today if he wasn’t careful.

Face ID Quick Disable

"Face ID will have a quick-disable feature and work with most sunglasses".

According to Apple senior VP of software engineering Craig Federighi, "If you grip the buttons on both sides of the phone when you hand it over, it will temporarily disable FaceID".

Communicating With Comatose Patients

"How science found a way to help coma patients communicate"

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Drone Delivery Of Medical Samples

STAT news: "A drone flew dozens of blood samples 161 miles -- and kept them viable"

Johns Hopkins researchers say they’ve set a new record by flying a medical drone more than 160 miles across the Arizona desert with human blood samples safely in tow. In a new report, the pathologists say they were able to maintain the right temperature to keep the 84 samples viable for laboratory analysis once the drone arrived. The researchers ran common lab tests on those samples and comparison samples that weren’t flown by drone, and all of them showed similar results. Scientists say that adds to the evidence that in the future, medical drones could be a safe, efficient way to ferry samples between rural regions and far-off labs.

Here's a direct link to the academic article, "Drone Transport of Chemistry and Hematology Samples Over Long Distances" (American Journal of Clinical Pathology, 5 Sep 2017).

We Like Blue

"Why Blue Is the World’s Favorite Color"

Apple FaceID And The Law

"Can Cops Force You to Unlock Your Phone With Your Face?"

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

iPhone Privacy

"It's about to get tougher for cops, border agents to get at your iPhone's data". (Via T.V.)

Facial Recognition Update

"What machines can tell from your face".

Related: "Ever better and cheaper, face-recognition technology is spreading"

Apple AI Chip

"Everything you need to know about Apple's AI chip"

Monday, September 11, 2017

New Vonnegut

"The Atlantic has just put up a previously unpublished short story by Kurt Vonnegut, The Drone King. It’s about bees."

Sandwich Family Tree

"The Definitive Sandwich Family Tree"

Bouncing Photons

"Experiment reveals evidence for a previously unseen behaviour of light"

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Random Number Generator Update

"A True Random-Number Generator Built From Carbon Nanotubes":
Those factors hinged on a phenomenon thought to be truly random—fluctuations in thermal noise, which is a type of atomic jitter intrinsic to circuits. 

Flag Of Mars

"The New (and Unofficial)Flag of Mars"

AI Gaydar

"New AI can guess whether you're gay or straight from a photograph"

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Ruby Chocolate

"Barry Callebaut AG, the world’s largest cocoa processor, has come up with the first new natural color for chocolate since Nestle SA started making bars of white chocolate more than 80 years ago. While it has a pinkish hue and a fruity flavor, the Zurich-based company prefers to refer to it as 'ruby chocolate.'"

The beans used to make ruby chocolate come from Ivory Coast, Ecuador and Brazil and the unusual color comes from the powder extracted during processing, De Saint-Affrique said. No berries or colors are added. While other companies including Cargill Inc. already produce red cocoa powder, this is the first time natural reddish chocolate is produced.

High-Tech Modular Home

"This tiny modular home is 325 square feet of IoT heaven"

Medical AI and Watson

"IBM pitched its Watson supercomputer as a revolution in cancer care. It’s nowhere close"

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

20 Years Difference

20 years difference. (Via Dave Jilk.)

Radiologists Nervous About AI

NPR: "Scanning The Future, Radiologists See Their Jobs At Risk".

Personally, I predict that some radiologists (and their practices) will thrive, whereas others will disappear -- depending on whether and how they embrace AI.

It's going to be super-interesting to see how this all shakes out, both as a radiologist and a prospective patient.

Congressional Vote On Self-Driving Cars

"House to vote on self-driving car legislation next week":
The U.S. House of Representatives will vote Wednesday on a sweeping proposal to speed the deployment of self-driving cars without human controls and bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles, congressional aides said.

The bill, which was passed unanimously by a House panel in July, would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year, a cap that would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually over three years.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Cat Physics

"How Can a Cat Survive a High-Rise Fall? Physics!"
But here's the weird part: Cats falling from super high floors can survive. A RadioLab episode on this falling cat issue states that cats falling between five and nine stories are the ones most likely to be injured. Fall from a higher story, though, and your odds of survival are better...

Free Classic Literature

"How to access free and legal copies of English and American classic literature online"


"Want a cold beer? Just pop it in this insane microwave". (Via H.R.)

Monday, September 04, 2017

Obsolete Dictionary Words

"The complex process that dictionaries use to decide which words are obsolete"

Unbreakable Rubber Bands

"Unbreakable Rubber Bands That Are 200 Times Stronger Than Steel Are Coming Soon". (Via H.R.)

"Skunk In The Outfield" Baseball Play

"'Skunk in the outfield': How the most epic trick play in history broke baseball"

Friday, September 01, 2017

Holiday Weekend Hiatus

Admin note: I'll be taking a short hiatus for the US Labor Day weekend. Posts will resume on Tuesday, September 5.