Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Lighting Zig-Zags Solved

"Physicists strike gold, solving 50-year lightning mystery":

For the past 50 years, scientists around the world have debated why lightning zig-zags and how it is connected to the thunder cloud above...

The answer? Singlet-delta metastable oxygen molecules.

Gene Therapy Advance

"New gene therapy restores night vision of people with inherited eye disorder"

Monday, November 28, 2022

AI Diplomat

"CICERO: An AI agent that negotiates, persuades, and cooperates with people":

Games have long been a proving ground for new AI advancements — from Deep Blue’s victory over chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, to AlphaGo’s mastery of Go, to Pluribus out-bluffing the best humans in poker. But truly useful, versatile agents will need to go beyond just moving pieces on a board. Can we build more effective and flexible agents that can use language to negotiate, persuade, and work with people to achieve strategic goals similar to the way humans do?

Today, we’re announcing a breakthrough toward building AI that has mastered these skills. We’ve built an agent – CICERO – that is the first AI to achieve human-level performance in the popular strategy game Diplomacy...

Direct link to the Science article: "Human-level play in the game of Diplomacy by combining language models with strategic reasoning".


(Via A.B.)


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Light Posting Notice

Admin note: Posting will be pretty light this week due to the US Thanksgiving holiday.

Is Wine Fake?

Scott Alexander: "Is Wine Fake?"

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Octopus Brains

"How squid and octopus get their big brains"


[Medical content warning] Dr. Nitin Joshi (gastroenterologist) performs upper GI endoscopy on himself

This video from 2018 has been making the rounds again, perhaps because of more recent other work being done by Dr. Joshi on early cancer detection.

Monday, November 21, 2022

AI Copyright Lawsuit

"The lawsuit that could rewrite the rules of AI copyright". (Via D.J.)

Museum Security Expert Speaks

"Just How Safe Is Great Art?"
There are many types of protection. Some paintings are protected from theft. They might have transmitters behind them, or they might have a miniature camera embedded in the ceiling above that looks down and has the ability to analyze the motion in front of the painting and alert when somebody gets so close that they might touch. There might be some sort of a beam in front of the painting that breaks the beam when you reach into it.

But it’s pretty darn hard to protect a painting from somebody throwing a can of soup at it. It’s very, very difficult...

Friday, November 18, 2022

Card Shuffling Machine Loophole

"How a magician-mathematician revealed a casino loophole"

Eukaryote Origins

"The Long and Winding Road to Eukaryotic Cells"

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Minnesota Snowplow Winners

"MnDOT announces winners of 2022 'Name a Snowplow' contest":

The winning names, in order of vote totals, and their future homes are:

  • Betty Whiteout – District 8
  • Ctrl Salt Delete – District 7
  • The Big Leplowski – District 4
  • Plowasaurus Rex – Metro District
  • Scoop Dogg – District 3
  • Blizzard of Oz – District 2
  • No More Mr. Ice Guy – District 1
  • Edward Blizzardhands – District 6

Light And Nerves

"Engineers light the way to nerve-operated prosthetics of the future":
Biomedical and electrical engineers at UNSW Sydney have developed a new way to measure neural activity using light -- rather than electricity -- which could lead to a complete reimagining of medical technologies like nerve-operated prosthetics and brain-machine interface...

(Via H.R.)

Monday, November 14, 2022

Lego Archaeology

"Archaeology adrift?: A curious tale of Lego lost at sea"

Twenty-five years ago, a cargo of millions of pieces of Lego was washed overboard during a storm off Land’s End. To this day, tiny pieces of plastic are still being found on Cornish beaches. Joe Flatman reports on a project working to document these finds.

Obsolete iPads

"When will your iPad become obsolete?"

Friday, November 11, 2022

Crossword Writer Economics

"Inside the Elite, Underpaid, and Weird World of Crossword Writers"

Thursday, November 10, 2022

The Downside Of Standardized Connectors

"Examples of Medical Device Misconnections"

Mastodon Basics

"What is Mastodon, the social network users are leaving Twitter for? Everything you need to know"

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

ML And AI Intro

Ars Technica: "How to get started with machine learning and AI"

Theodicy Microfiction

Really nice bit of microfiction on the theme of theodicy, in the form of a Twitter thread. (Via L.R.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Chess Cheating Scandal

"A Cheating Scandal Has Rocked the Chess World. The 'Chess Detective' Is on the Case"

Barefoot Running

"Should You Take Up Barefoot Running?"

Monday, November 07, 2022

Friday, November 04, 2022

Turkey Terminology

"The Most Important Thanksgiving Turkey Terms, Defined"

Digital License Plates

"California drivers can now sport digital license plates on their cars":

The license plate-sized screens display a driver's license plate number and allow motorists to renew their registration automatically. Users can even change between light and dark modes and customize the plates with personalized banners.

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Not A Crash

"The iPhone 14 keeps calling 911 on rollercoasters":

The iPhone 14’s new Crash Detection feature, which is supposed to alert authorities when it detects you’ve been in a car accident, has an unexpected side effect: it dials 911 on rollercoasters.

Upside Down Art

"Mondrian painting has been hanging upside down for 75 years":

A painting by abstract Dutch artist Piet Mondrian has been hanging upside down in various museums since it was first put on display 75 years ago, an art historian has found, but warned it could disintegrate if it was hung the right side up now.