Thursday, November 30, 2017

Light Posting

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual the rest of the week due to external obligations.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Detecting Phone Snoops

"Google can tell if someone is looking at your phone over your shoulder":
Google researchers Hee Jung Ryu and Florian Schroff will present a project they’re calling an electronic screen protector, where a Google Pixel phone uses its front-facing camera and eye-detecting artificial intelligence to detect whether more than one person is looking at the screen. An unlisted, but public video by Ryu shows the software interrupting a Google messaging app to display a camera view, with the peeking perpetrator identified and given a Snapchat-esque vomit rainbow.

The Last of the Iron Lungs

3 people in the United States still rely on "iron lungs" to breathe.

But for everyone else, polio is basically a thing of the past. Thanks to good science.

AI Detection Of Art Forgeries

AI's can now detect art forgeries with surprising reliabilty.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hsieh Forbes Column: "Will Computers Be Reading Your Chest X-Ray?"

My latest Forbes column is now out: "Will Computers Be Reading Your Chest X-Ray?"

A team of researchers from Stanford University department of Computer Science and Stanford Medical School have now created an AI system capable of diagnosing pneumonia on chest x-rays more accurately than skilled human radiologists.

The future is coming quickly.

[Image below from the original article: "Our model, CheXNet, is a 121-layer convolutional neural network that inputs a chest X-ray image and outputs the probability of pneumonia along with a heatmap localizing the areas of the image most indicative of pneumonia."] 

After You Buy Expensive Art

"So You Just Bought a $450 Million Leonardo da Vinci Painting. Now What?"

Blockchain Scalability?

"Blockchains don't scale. Not today, at least. But there's hope."

Monday, November 27, 2017

Websites That Record All Your Keystrokes

BBC: "More than 480 web firms record 'every keystroke'"

Carbon Paper

"The Exciting History of Carbon Paper!"

Science Lesson

"This man is about to launch himself in his homemade rocket to prove the Earth is flat".

Someone is about the learn a good science lesson!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my American readers: Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Nazis Loved Decaf

"Why the Nazi Party Loved Decaf Coffee"

Solar System Necklace

"Be the center of the solar system with this necklace".

I especially like that, "You can choose a necklace representing only the eight planets for $96.00, or you can add Pluto ($99.00) or all of the dwarf planets ($111.00)."

Monday, November 20, 2017

Light Posting Notice

Admin note: Posting will be lighter than usual this week because of the holidays and various external obligations. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Darkest Material on Earth

"Vantablack is so uncomfortably black the human eye can't quite decipher what it is seeing."

The material absorbs 99.96% of the light that hits its surface. Click through to see some interesting videos.

Elemental Haiku

Elemental Haiku.

Hover over the element on the chart to see the associated haiku. I especially liked the one for fluorine. (Via A.B.)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Big Telescope

"The Astounding Engineering Behind the World's Largest Optical Telescope"

Amazon Production of "Lord Of The Rings"

"Amazon is turning The Lord of the Rings into a TV show":
In the statement announcing the news, the company clarifies that the new show will “explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring,” with a potential spin-off series also included as part of the deal. That means Amazon is going to be making a prequel to the classic tale of Frodo Baggins, offering Amazon plenty of leeway to create its own characters and take on the world. If Amazon is looking for an opportunity to add the sex, violence, and soap-opera drama that have made Game of Thrones so successful to Tolkien’s world, this kind of approach would certainly offer the opportunity.
I'm cringing just reading about this.

Seasteading Update

NYT: "Floating Cities, No Longer Science Fiction, Begin to Take Shape"
Long the stuff of science fiction, so-called “seasteading” has in recent years matured from pure fantasy into something approaching reality, and there are now companies, academics, architects and even a government working together on a prototype by 2020.
…Earlier this year, the government of French Polynesia agreed to let the Seasteading Institute begin testing in its waters. Construction could begin soon, and the first floating buildings — the nucleus of a city — might be inhabitable in just a few years.
“If you could have a floating city, it would essentially be a start-up country,” said Joe Quirk, president of the Seasteading Institute. “We can create a huge diversity of governments for a huge diversity of people.”
(Via Marginal Revolution.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

WikiTribune Update

Jimmy Wales: "Hello, world: this is WikiTribune"

NSA Breached

NYT: "Security Breach and Spilled Secrets Have Shaken the N.S.A. to Its Core".

The article is quite blunt in its assessment: "America’s largest and most secretive intelligence agency had been deeply infiltrated."

Poisoned Search Results

"The new, clever way hackers can get into your bank account".

Detailed technical info here.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Self-Driving Car Update

"A Dangerous Self-Driving Car Is Still Better Than a Human Driver"

Face ID Security

According to Apple, "The probability that a random person the population could look at your iPhone X and unlock it using Face ID is approximately 1 in 1,000,000 (versus 1 in 50,000 for Touch ID)."

I had never seen the 1-in-50,000 figure for Touch ID before.


"Facebook is going full steam ahead on a 'thought-to-typing' system to sense people’s brain waves, decipher the intended words, and type them."

This is both super-cool and super-creepy.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Cargo Ship Timelapse

"Beautiful 30-day time lapse of a cargo ship’s voyage". (Via G.F.)


"The International Space Station has an IT guy, and he just ordered an upgrade".

Finally, a new printer! (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Origins Of PowerPoint

"The Improbable Origins of PowerPoint"

Another Link Between The Heart And The...

"Cardiologists rarely examine the scrotum, and men with scrotal problems rarely consult cardiologists. There are times, however, when each should." (Note: This cardiology journal article does contain medical image of male anatomy.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Time Travel In Physics And Fiction

"The physics of time travel isn't just the stuff of science fiction".

Based on my reading of the article, it's still basically science fiction.

Worst Nightmares

Atlas Obscura asked readers to tell them their worst nightmares. Some of them are pretty chilling.

This one was classic:
I had a nightmare that William Shatner was stabbing me with a fire poker. We were in a big fancy home in a study type room with expensive furniture and I’m being stabbed to death by a fire poker while Shatner is laughing and smiling maniacally. I’m still terrified of the man.  -- Caitlin S.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Light Posting

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual the rest of this week due to external obligations.

Don't Order These Dishes

"Chefs reveal the foods you should never order at a restaurant"

Kitty Kneads Bread

Sometimes, you just need to watch a video of a kitty kneading bread.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Wednesday, November 01, 2017