Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Super Contacts

"Scientists create contact lenses that zoom on command"

Bad Eats

"Worried delivery drivers are eating orders? You have good reason."
About 21% of delivery customers worry the driver may have nibbled their order en route—and with good reason, according to a new study of delivery gripes. Some 28% of drivers say they were unable to resist taking a bite.

Gardening Video Games

"Gardening games are blossoming in turbulent times"

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Fighting Quantum Hype

"The memelords and BS-sniffers fighting hype in quantum computing"

TV In Tesla

"Elon Musk: Netflix, YouTube are coming to your Tesla".

The article also notes:
But, before you start picturing yourself watching the new season of “Orange Is The New Black” while flying down I-5 on the way to Disneyland, think again. Musk was also quick to mention that any such video-streaming feature will only work when a Tesla is at a stop...

And, possibly to stay on the good side of federal regulators, Musk said to not hold your breath waiting for being able to stream Netflix or YouTube while you are actually driving your car.

“When full self-driving is approved by regulators, we will enable video while moving,” Musk tweeted.

Social Hacking Google

"People forged judges' signatures to trick Google into changing results"

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Stroking Cats

"How to stroke a cat, according to science"

Ternary Logic

"Korean researchers develop ternary semiconductor tech: Future semiconductors may perform logic with 0, 1, or 2 instead of the current binary system of 0 and 1 with the new technology." (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Government Still Wants Backdoors Against Encryption

It doesn't matter which party is in charge. Their law enforcement officials keep making the same fallacious arguments about how they need "back doors" to read our secure e-mails.

I liked the response from US Senator Ron Wyden, who has consistently made the same point against both the Obama and Trump administration on this issue:
From the Senate floor on Tuesday, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., responded to Barr’s remarks in New York calling it an “outrageous, wrongheaded and dangerous proposal.”

Wyden said Barr wants to “blow a hole” in a critical security feature for Americans’ digital lives by trying to undermine strong encryption and advocating for government backdoors into the personal devices of Americans. He said strong encryption helps keep health records, personal communications and other sensitive data secure from hackers.

Effectively banning encryption in the U.S. by not allowing companies to provide unbreakable encryption, doesn’t prevent it existing and flourishing elsewhere, and only makes Americans less secure against foreign hackers, Wyden said.

“Once you weaken encryption with a backdoor, you make it far easier for criminals, hackers and predators to get into your digital life,” Wyden said.

Permanently Magnetic Liquid

"We Now Have The First-Ever Permanently Magnetic Liquid". (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Monday, July 22, 2019

Getting Bigger

"How fast is the Universe expanding? Cosmologists just got more confused"

Obligatory clip from Annie Hall:

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Better Middle Seats?

"Airlines are finally fixing the middle seat"

Modern Salmon Farms

"Remote-controlled Salmon Farms to Operate Off Norway by 2020". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, July 18, 2019

AI: The Metamorphosis

Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, and Daniel Huttenlocher discuss AI: "The Metamorphosis"

Henry A. Kissinger served as national security adviser and secretary of state to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Eric Schmidt is the former CEO and chairman of Alphabet.

Daniel Huttenlocher is the founder and former dean and vice provost of Cornell Tech and the current dean of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing.

Fake French Minister

Con man wears fake latex mask of French defense minister, swindles millions from wealthy victims:
For two years from late 2015, an individual or individuals impersonating France's defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, scammed an estimated €80m (£70m; $90m) from wealthy victims including the Aga Khan and the owner of Château Margaux wines.

The hustle required targets to believe they were being contacted by Mr Le Drian, who then requested financial help to pay ransoms for journalists being held hostage by Islamists in the Middle East...

So, in meetings arranged on Skype, the fraudster wore a custom-made Le Drian mask and sat in a facsmile of Le Drian's ministerial office, complete with flags and portrait of then-President François Hollande.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Light Posting Notice

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual the remainder of this week and next week, due to external obligations.

Amazon Nomads

"Anderson is an Amazon nomad, part of a small group of merchants who travel the backroads of America searching clearance aisles and dying chains for goods to sell on Amazon." (Via H.R.)

GE Smart Light Bulb Reset

Bruce Schneier: "Resetting Your GE Smart Light Bulb:"

If you need to reset the software in your GE smart light bulb -- firmware version 2.8 or later -- just follow these easy instructions:
Start with your bulb off for at least 5 seconds.
  1. Turn on for 8 seconds
  2. Turn off for 2 seconds
  3. Turn on for 8 seconds
  4. Turn off for 2 seconds
  5. Turn on for 8 seconds
  6. Turn off for 2 seconds
  7. Turn on for 8 seconds
  8. Turn off for 2 seconds
  9. Turn on for 8 seconds
  10. Turn off for 2 seconds
  11. Turn on
Bulb will flash on and off 3 times if it has been successfully reset.
Welcome to the future!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Crawford On Bicycles

Jason Crawford: "Why did we wait so long for the bicycle?"

Lightning Attractor

"This Cell Tower in the Swiss Alps Is Struck by Lightning More Than 100 Times a Year". (Via H.R.)

Tourism Secret

"The Best Way to Tour a City Is Through Its Grocery Store"
The secret museum in every city is a grocery store. It’s where you can grab and squeeze and not-at-all-weirdly smell indigenous produce. The fishmonger runs an aquarium. The butcher is a zookeeper. But groceries also hoard the culture’s guilty pleasures — its Netflix-and-chill snacks are in its potato-chip flavors (my native London favorite was a packet of sea-salt-and-Chardonnay-wine-vinegar crisps, and Marmite ones always hit the spot, too). Its childhoods are in its confections (I loved Icelandic Prince Polo chocolate bars, which are actually imported from Poland).

Monday, July 15, 2019

Grasping Adversarial Objects

"Robots Have a Hard Time Grasping These 'Adversarial Objects'"

Filming The Tour De France

"The helicopter team that films the Tour de France is one of a kind". (Via H.R.)

Pizza Hut In Klingon

"Watch this fantastic 1994 Pizza Hut TV commercial that's entirely in Klingon"

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Great Wave

Thoughts on digital access to The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai.

BTW, this is one of my favorites pieces of artwork.

Translating Long-Lost Languages

"Machine learning has been used to automatically translate long-lost languages"

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Botanical Sexism

"Botanical Sexism Cultivates Home-Grown Allergies":
It’s the time year for watery eyes and itchy noses, and if you’re among the afflicted, you may be surprised to learn that decades of botanical sexism in urban landscapes have contributed to your woes.

Serial Toilet Clogger

Headline of the day: "Sheboygan serial toilet clogger sentenced to 150 days in jail, probation". (Via Marginal Revolution.)

AI Poker Update

"No limit: AI poker bot is first to beat professionals at multiplayer game"

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Emojis and The Law

"Emojis are increasingly coming up in court cases. Judges are struggling with how to interpret them."

Alive After 41,000 Years

Worms frozen for 41,000 years in permafrost were found to still be alive after thawed.

Self-Driving Tesla Update

"Is a real, honest-to-goodness, self-driving Tesla on the way?"
Musk, in response to an inquiry about Tesla’s hardware systems, said late Sunday that the company could offer its new Fully Self Driving chip — FSD for short — as an upgrade to more than 500,000 older-model Teslas by the end of this year.

“End of Q4, most likely,” was how Musk replied to a question about when the company would start retrofitting cars that currently include Hardware 2 (HW2), a set of sensors, radars and cameras that Tesla rolled out almost three years ago, with the implication that such cars would eventually have full, autonomous driving capabilities.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Magnus Carlsen 2.0

Tyler Cowen: "The new and improved Magnus Carlsen"

Cowen describes a unique strategy adopted by the current world #1 chess master:
Other grandmasters prepare the opening in the hope of achieving an early advantage over their opponents.  Magnus’s preparation, in contrast, is directed at achieving an early disadvantage in the game, perhaps willing to tolerate as much as -0.5 or -0.6 by the standards of the computer (a significant but not decisive disadvantage, with -2 signifying a lost position).  Nonetheless these are positions “out of book” where Magnus nonetheless feels he can outplay his opponent, and this is mostly opponents from the world top ten or fifteen.

So far it is working.  One commentator wrote: “Magnus is turning into a crushing monster just like Garry. He isn’t the strangler anymore”

And it is hard to counter someone looking for a disadvantage!

Nuking The Moon

"Why the Air Force Almost Blasted the Moon with an H-Bomb"

Autonomous Aircraft Landing

"German Scientists Pull Off Truly Autonomous Aircraft Landing in Stunning Video". (Via H.R.)

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Mirror Universe

"Scientists are searching for a mirror universe. It could be sitting right in front of you."
In a series of experiments she plans to run at Oak Ridge this summer, Broussard will send a beam of subatomic particles down a 50-foot tunnel, past a powerful magnet and into an impenetrable wall. If the setup is just right — and if the universe cooperates — some of those particles will transform into mirror-image versions of themselves, allowing them to tunnel right through the wall. And if that happens, Broussard will have uncovered the first evidence of a mirror world right alongside our own.
We'll know we're in real trouble if we find Spock-with-a-goatee.

Space And Booze

"Space and booze, an anecdotal history"

Fixing Bad Science

"What universities can learn from one of science’s biggest frauds"

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Holiday Hiatus

Admin note: No posting today on the US July 4th, holiday. Regular posts will resume tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Giant Goldfish

"Giant Goldfish Shows Why You Should Never Flush Fish Down the Toilet"

Is LA The Next Silicon Valley?

Tyler Cowen: "The Next Silicon Valley Is... Los Angeles?"

New Property Of Light

"New property of light discovered":
A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Spain and the U.S. has announced that they have discovered a new property of light—self-torque. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes how they happened to spot the new property and possible uses for it. 
(Via H.R.)

Monday, July 01, 2019

Post-Human Architecture Problem

"The Hiding Place: Inside the World's First Long-Term Storage Facility for Highly Radioactive Nuclear Waste"
Deep in the bedrock of Olkiluoto Island in southwest Finland a tomb is under construction. The tomb is intended to outlast not only the people who designed it, but also the species that designed it. It is intended to maintain its integrity without future maintenance for 100,000 years, able to endure a future ice age. One hundred thousand years ago three major river systems flowed across the Sahara. One hundred thousand years ago anatomically modern humans were beginning their journey out of Africa. The oldest pyramid is around 4,600 years old; the oldest surviving church building is fewer than 2,000 years old.

This Finnish tomb has some of the most secure containment protocols ever devised: more secure than the crypts of the Pharaohs, more secure than any supermax prison. It is hoped that what is placed within this tomb will never leave it by means of any agency other than the geological.

Improved Waterproofing

"A new way to make droplets bounce away". (Via H.R.)

Historic NASA Recreation

"NASA's restored Apollo Mission Control is a slice of '60s life, frozen in amber"