Friday, July 28, 2023

Fusion Update

"This Fusion Reactor Is Held Together With Tape". (Via H.R.)

IBM Mainframes

"The IBM mainframe: How it runs and why it survives"

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Karp On Military AI

"Our Oppenheimer Moment: The Creation of A.I. Weapons"

We must not, however, shy away from building sharp tools for fear they may be turned against us. 

A reluctance to grapple with the often grim reality of an ongoing geopolitical struggle for power poses its own danger. Our adversaries will not pause to indulge in theatrical debates about the merits of developing technologies with critical military and national security applications. They will proceed. 

This is an arms race of a different kind, and it has begun.

Geoengineering Update

Alex Tabarrok: "SuperFreakonomics on Geoengineering, Revisited".

A lot of people are going to hate his argument.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Braille Update

"Braille Is Alive, Well, and Ever-Evolving"

Coloring Update

"Mathematicians Solve Long-Standing Coloring Problem"

For decades, a simple question has haunted Máté Matolcsi, a professor at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. How much of an infinite plane can you color in while making sure that no two colored points are exactly one unit of distance apart?

Monday, July 24, 2023

Modern Turing Test

"Mustafa Suleyman: My new Turing test would see if AI can make $1 million"

[T]o pass the Modern Turing Test, an AI would have  to successfully act on this instruction: “Go make $1 million on a retail web platform in a few months with just a $100,000 investment.” 

To do so, it would need to go far beyond outlining a strategy and drafting some copy, as current systems like GPT-4 are so good at doing. It would need to research and design products, interface with manufacturers and logistics hubs, negotiate contracts, create and operate marketing campaigns. It would need, in short, to tie together a series of complex real-world goals with minimal oversight. 

You would still need a human to approve various points, open a bank account, actually sign on the dotted line. But the work would all be done by an AI.

Misdirected Military Mail

"Millions of emails intended for US military sent to Mali instead because of typo"

The emails were intended for '.mil' accounts, the internet domain owned by the U.S. military. The typo caused the emails to be sent instead to '.ml' accounts, which is the email domain for the West African country of Mali... Details of the emails range from diplomatic documents, tax returns, passwords and travel details of senior military officials.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Sub-Ambient Radiative Cooling

"New material is a game changer in radiative cooling". (Via H.R.)

Stanford researchers proposed coating objects with a material that not only reflects sunlight back into space, but also re-emits some of the thermal radiation it had absorbed within a wavelength range that does not become trapped in the atmosphere.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Light Posting

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual the next several days due to external obligations.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

PhD Simulator Game

Try the PhD Simulator Game

Via Gus Van Horn, who recommends "(1) Study for your quals early. (2) Parallelize getting and publishing 'major results' as those are the only thing you can hang your hat on aside from finished papers. (3) Don't forget to rest ('slack off') periodically."

Space-Proof Code

Video: "How NASA writes space-proof code". (Via W.R.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Faulty AI Detection

"Why AI detectors think the US Constitution was written by AI". (Via H.R.)

Understanding Animal Language

"The code breakers: Harnessing the power of AI to understand what animals say"

I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out like this, though!


Monday, July 17, 2023

AI Or Not?

"Real Photo Disqualified From Photography Contest For Being AI"

The judges later acknowledged their error, but only after the contest was over.

Space Filling curve

Video: "Space filling curves filling with water"

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Gmail To Proton Mail

"I moved my Gmail to a less creepy email. It was surprisingly easy."

I Can't Just Give You The Answer

SMBC: "I Can't Just Give You The Answer". (Via A.B.)

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

AI Cat-And-Mouse Update

"AI-text detection tools are really easy to fool"

Bad SAT Question

"The SAT Problem That Everybody Got Wrong". (Via J.Z.) 




Monday, July 10, 2023

Math And A Sheet Of Paper

Tadashi Tokieda: "A world from a sheet of paper" (video)

Starting from just a sheet of paper, by folding, stacking, crumpling, sometimes tearing, Tadashi will explore a diversity of phenomena, from magic tricks and geometry through elasticity and the traditional Japanese art of origami to medical devices and an ‘h-principle’. Much of the show consists of table-top demonstrations, which you can try later with friends and family.

Tadashi Tokieda is a professor of mathematics at Stanford. He grew up as a painter in Japan, became a classical philologist (not to be confused with philosopher) in France and, having earned a PhD in pure mathematics from Princeton, has been an applied mathematician in England and the US; all in all, he has lived in eight countries so far. Tadashi is very active in mathematical outreach, notably with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences.

Out-Of-Body Experiences Explained"

"Having an out-of-body experience? Blame this sausage-shaped piece of your brain". 

Direct link to academic article: "Causal evidence for the processing of bodily self in the anterior precuneus"

Friday, July 07, 2023

Emoji = Legal Agreement?

"Canadian judge rules thumbs-up emoji can represent contract agreement".

The farmer who lost the lawsuit argued that his "thumbs up" meant that he acknowledged receiving the contract, not that he accepted the terms. The judge saw it differently and held that it constituted an electronic "signature".

Metalens Update

"Flat Lenses Made of Nanostructures Transform Tiny Cameras and Projectors"

Smell Receptors

"How a Human Smell Receptor Works Is Finally Revealed"

Thursday, July 06, 2023

Icelandic Aurora

APOD: "Aurora over Icelandic Waterfall"
The resulting featured composite image shows the photogenic Godafoss (Goðafoss) waterfall in northern Iceland in front of a very active aurora in late February. 


AI Mathematicians

NYT: "A.I. Is Coming for Mathematics, Too"

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Bad AI Cheat Detection

"Professor attempts to fail students after falsely accusing them of using ChatGPT to cheat".

Related story: "A professor accused his class of using ChatGPT, putting diplomas in jeopardy".

There are tools of varying quality to determine if a student's paper was written by ChatGPT. But it's probably not a good idea just to feed the text into ChatGPT and ask the AI if it wrote it.

Gravity Wave Update

"Breakthrough Gravitational Wave Findings Suggest Supermassive Black Holes Are Constantly Warping Spacetime". (Via H.R.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

AI Generated Residents Of All 50 States

"I Asked AI What The Typical Person From Each State Looks Like, And Here's What It Came Up With".

Happy July 4th, everyone!

Monday, July 03, 2023