Production Bowl

from The New York Times

Behind the Scenes of the Most Spectacular Show on TV

Months of preparation, hundreds of staff, convoys of cutting-edge gear: inside the machine that crafts prime time’s most popular entertainment.

By Jody Rosen

A room filled with screens.
One of NBC’s’ production trucks outside Arrowhead Stadium. Credit: Brian Finke / New York Times

Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Chiefs, the N.F.L.’s defending champions, is a very loud place. Players say that when the noise reaches top volume, they can feel vibrations in their bones. During a 2014 game, a sound meter captured a decibel reading equivalent to a jet’s taking off, earning a Guinness World Record for “Loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium.” Chiefs fans know how to weaponize noise, quieting to a churchlike hush when the team’s great quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, calls signals but then, when opponents have the ball, unleashing a howl that can even drown out the sound of the play call crackling through the speaker inside the rival quarterback’s helmet.

There are others whose work is complicated by the din. Around 11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7, Brian Melillo, an audio engineer for NBC Sports’ flagship N.F.L. telecast, “Sunday Night Football,” arrived at Arrowhead to prepare for that evening’s Chiefs-Detroit Lions game. It was a big occasion: the annual season opener, the N.F.L. Kickoff game, traditionally hosted by the winner of last season’s Super Bowl. There would be speeches, fireworks, a military flyover, the unfurling of a championship banner. A crowd of more than 73,000 was expected. “Arrowhead is a pretty rowdy setting,” Melillo said. “It can present some problems.”

Melillo was especially concerned about his crowd mics — three stereo microphones intended to catch the ambient oohs and aahs of fans, mounted atop 16-foot-high painters’ poles that he and a colleague had secured to the railing separating the seats from the field. These needed to be kept at a distance from exploding pyrotechnics and angled away from the blare of the stadium’s public-address system. A perhaps greater hazard was overzealous fans, who are prone to shaking the poles or even pulling them down. “You’ll get people who’ve been tailgating for five hours,” Melillo said. “I might have to bribe some people to stay off those poles.”

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Social Divorce

from The Guardian

The zeitgeist is changing. A strange, romantic backlash to the tech era looms

by Ross Barkan

painting of a man on a mountain above a sea of fog
‘The 19th-century romantics feared an inhuman future – hence their rebellion. Today’s romantics, still nascent, sense something similar.’ (Painting: Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, Caspar David Friedrich, 1818.) Photograph: IanDagnall Computing/Alamy

Empiricism, algorithms and smartphones are out – astrology, art and a life lived fiercely offline are in.

Cultural upheavals can be a riddle in real time. Trends that might seem obvious in hindsight are poorly understood in the present or not fathomed at all. We live in turbulent times now, at the tail end of a pandemic that killed millions and, for a period, reordered existence as we knew it. It marked, perhaps more than any other crisis in modern times, a new era, the world of the 2010s wrenched away for good.

What comes next can’t be known – not with so much war and political instability, the rise of autocrats around the world, and the growing plausibility of a second Donald Trump term. Within the roil – or below it – one can hazard, at least, a hypothesis: a change is here and it should be named. A rebellion, both conscious and unconscious, has begun. It is happening both online and off-, and the off is where the youth, one day, might prefer to wage it. It echoes, in its own way, a great shift that came more than two centuries ago, out of the ashes of the Napoleonic wars.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Ken Block’s Finale

from The Drive

Ken Block’s Final Gymkhana Video Is a Spectacular Showcase of What He Did Best

Elecktrikhana Two: One More Playground is an epic exhibition of car control and cinematography.

BY ANDREW P. COLLINS

Before we tragically lost driving and racing legend Ken Block at the beginning of this year, he had already filmed one last Gymkhana-style video with his Hoonigan crew. That video finally dropped today, and it’s absolutely epic.

“Electrikhana Two: One More Playground; Mexico City in the Audi S1 Hoonitron” features, of course, Block’s incredible driving talents, Hoonigan’s delightful attention to detail, and this bizarre electric Audi that’s somewhere between a rally car and a spaceship going wild in Mexico’s capital.

[ click to continue reading at The Drive ]

Always and Forever

from The Wall Street Journal

That Scannable Spotify Tattoo Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time

It’s becoming popular to get inked with a barcode so you can flash your flesh to turn on music. But the codes can stop working as skin sags and ink fades.

By Megan Graham

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY CAM POLLACK/WSJ; ISTOCK, SPOTIFY (2)

Mary Haley has the perfect party trick: a barcode-like tattoo of nearly two dozen fine lines that, when scanned with a Spotify music app, prompts a phone to play “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega. 

Haley, who is 33 and runs a marketing agency in Skowhegan, Maine, got the Spotify tattoo in early 2022. When she moonlights as a waitress at a local snowmobiler bar, guests will sometimes ask her what song it plays. She often tells them, ‘You have to scan it.’ If they do, they are rewarded with lyrics that include the line, “A little bit of Mary all night long.”

Just how long the tattoo will perform as advertised is a painful subject. A growing cadre of music fans have joined the Spotify tattoo craze as a conversation starter or a way to commemorate sentimental favorites like wedding first-dance songs. But while many on social media tout the tats and how well they scan, some are starting to discover that nothing in life is permanent, even tattoos. Over time, ink fades. As skin ages it may warp the lines.

Haley said her tattoo artist tried to ward off the ravages of time by making the lines thinner than normal. “Eventually, they will get fuzzy, like regular tattoos,” said Haley, who also has eight other tattoos.

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

America Now

from the Financial Times

America’s cultural supremacy and geopolitical weakness

The notion of ‘decline’ is too crude to capture what is happening to the US in the 21st century

by JANAN GANESH

The Premier League’s two top teams, Arsenal and Liverpool, are US-owned © Phil Noble/Reuters

When the top two teams in the Premier League go at each other this weekend, America can’t lose. Arsenal and Liverpool, like AC Milan, Roma, Marseille, Lyon, Chelsea and (for now) Manchester United, are both US-owned. In 1994, when the nation last hosted the World Cup, it didn’t even have a domestic league. When it next does so in 2026, it should have a major proprietorial role in at least three European ones. The planet’s favourite game is being steered to a considerable extent from American boardrooms.

Perhaps your test of cultural influence is higher-minded than that. Well, consider that US universities continue to dominate world rankings. Or that America accounts for 45 per cent of art sales by value, according to UBS, which is more than Britain and China, the next two markets, combined. To attend the Venice Biennale now is to enter a new Jazz Age in which experts from all over the world vie to advise American patrons on how to spend the spoils of their economic boom.

[ click to continue reading at FT ]

A Wave Pulse On A String

from WIRED

School of Rock: The Physics of Waves on Guitar Strings

Playing the guitar is an art form. But the good vibrations you hear are a science.

PERHAPS THE MOST iconic instrument in modern rock is the guitar. It’s really just a bunch of strings stretched across a board, which you can strum to make awesome tunes, thanks to the physics of waves and sound.

Let’s start with a demo you could probably repeat at home. Get a nice string—one that’s sort of thick—and lay it out in a straight line on the floor. Now grab one free end and give it a side-to-side shake. Here’s what it might look like….

[ click to continue reading at WIRED ]

More Number Four

from Stanford Arts Review

No Sign of ‘I Am Number Four 2’ Sequel Yet Despite Continued Fan Demand for Next Alien Thriller Installment

by Krishan Mehra

I Am Number Four was a teen sci-fi movie released in 2011 by Dreamworks Pictures. Based on the novel of the same name by Pittacus Lore (a pseudonym for co-authors James Frey and Jobie Hughes), the story followed John Smith, one of nine alien children hiding on Earth from villainous extraterrestrials out to kill them.

The movie starred Alex Pettyfer as John/Number Four alongside Dianna Agron, Teresa Palmer, and Timothy Olyphant. It was directed by D.J. Caruso and produced by Michael Bay. Reviews were mixed but it performed decently at the box office, earning about $150 million globally.

Its ending clearly set up sequels, with John and his guardian Henri escaping the carnage to find more of the nine alien children scattered across Earth. The book it was based on was also the first in a series, making a movie franchise seem likely.

[ click to continue reading at Stanford Arts Review ]

Atouk of the Morning

from The New York Times

Morning Person? You Might Have Neanderthal Genes to Thank.

Hundreds of genetic variants carried by Neanderthals and Denisovans are shared by people who like to get up early.

by Carl Zimmer

Neanderthals were morning people, a new study suggests. And some humans today who like getting up early might credit genes they inherited from their Neanderthal ancestors.

The new study compared DNA in living humans to genetic material retrieved from Neanderthal fossils. It turns out that Neanderthals carried some of the same clock-related genetic variants as do people who report being early risers.

Since the 1990s, studies of Neanderthal DNA have exposed our species’ intertwined history. About 700,000 years ago, our lineages split apart, most likely in Africa. While the ancestors of modern humans largely stayed in Africa, the Neanderthal lineage migrated into Eurasia.

About 400,000 years ago, the population split in two. The hominins who spread west became Neanderthals. Their cousins to the east evolved into a group known as Denisovans.

The two groups lived for hundreds of thousands of years, hunting game and gathering plants, before disappearing from the fossil record about 40,000 years ago. By then, modern humans had expanded out of Africa, sometimes interbreeding with Neanderthals and Denisovans.

And today, fragments of their DNA can be found in most living humans.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Amazon Placing Lasers In Space!

from CNBC

Amazon to connect Kuiper satellites with laser links to boost space internet network

by Michael Sheetz

Amazon will include a key speed-boosting technology in its coming Project Kuiper internet satellites, the company announced Thursday.

Amazon says it tested the laser link tech successfully during its recent Protoflight mission. Traditionally, satellites are limited to sending data between an individual spacecraft and the ground. Laser links connect satellites to each other.

The Kuiper satellites’ “optical inter-satellite links,” also known as OISLs, serve as a way to transmit data through space. Laser links are a feature that Elon Musk’s SpaceX began introducing in later generations of its Starlink satellites. The links help improve both the latency and speed of these networks.

“With optical inter-satellite links across our satellite constellation, Project Kuiper will effectively operate as a mesh network in space,” Rajeev Badyal, Amazon’s Project Kuiper vice president of technology, said in a statement.

[ click to continue reading at CNBC ]

Apocalypse Shower

from The Washington Post

The massive meteor shower that convinced people the world was ending

By Dave Kindy

Leonid meteor shower over rural town in 1833. (Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

This week’s Geminid meteor shower is expected to be one of the most impressive of the year. According to astronomers, this stellar show — peaking Wednesday night — could produce up to 150 “shooting stars” per hour in white, yellow and even green hues.

As dramatic as that might be, it can’t hold a candle to the Leonid Meteor Shower of 1833. On the night of Nov. 12-13, so many meteors burned through the Earth’s atmosphere that they seemed to turn the night sky into morning. Eyewitnesses claimed the air was filled with brilliant “snowflakes,” while newspapers dubbed it “the shower of stars.” In oral histories, Native American tribes referred to it as “the night the stars fell.”

“It appeared so grand and magnificent as to be truly exhilarating,” Joseph Harvey Waggoner, a Pennsylvania teenager, recalled later. “It was a sight never to be forgotten.”

[ click to continue reading at WaPo ]

Fight Pub

from The Free Press

The Fight for the Future of Publishing

Ideological fanatics and fear have crippled the major houses. But new book publishers are rising up to take the risks they won’t.

By Alex Perez

Illustration by Monsieur Collage for The Free Press

On September 19, 2022, Elle Griffin, a freelance writer in Salt Lake City, published the first installment of her new fantasy novel, Oblivion, on Substack, under the title “We will create a more beautiful world.” 

Since then, Griffin, who has written for Esquire and Forbes, has picked up a few hundred paid subscribers. She’s now earning more than $30,000 annually from her writing—more than she’s ever made. 

By contrast, if she’d gone the traditional route and landed an agent and a major publisher, Griffin said, the best she could have hoped for would have been a $10,000 advance, and she would have been lucky to sell 1,000 copies—meaning no extra money. 

Plus, serializing the novel on her newsletter means she can include her 11,000-plus subscribers in the creative process. 

“They can comment on each chapter,” Griffin told me. “I’m crowdsourcing my wisdom from them.” 

[ click to continue reading at The Free Press ]

Why Dogs Are Better

from The Daily Mail

New study suggests having a pet cat increases the risk of schizophrenia – experts say it could be due to toxic parasites that pets carry

By CAITLIN TILLEY

Could owning a cat double your risk of schizophrenia?

That’s the conclusion of a new review of 17 studies by researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia.

The team conducted a meta-analysis of existing research from 11 countries, including the US and UK, published over the last 44 years.

They found individuals exposed to cats before the age of 25 had approximately twice the odds of developing schizophrenia. 

In the paper, scientists pose that the link is likely due to a parasite found in pet cats called Toxoplasma gondii, also known as T. gondii, which can enter the body via a bite.

They say the parasite can enter the central nervous system and affect neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to personality changes, psychotic symptoms and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. 

[ click to continue reading at The Daily Mail ]

Auctioning Leo’s Lambos

from InsideHook

The $2 Million Conundrum of “The Wolf of Wall Street” Lamborghinis

One is wrecked, the other is still drivable, but separate auction companies have valued them at the exact same price

BY ALEX LAUER

What makes a collector car valuable? The scarcity of the model, the record of ownership, the authenticity of the parts, the current condition and whether or not it still drives are all obvious factors in assessing the price of a noteworthy vehicle. For auction companies, it’s not quite an exact science, but it’s close. When you add Hollywood into the mix, though, the formula can go haywire.

In recent months, two identical Lamborghinis that were used in The Wolf of Wall Street have been put up for auction. One, which is in pristine condition, has been valued by its seller at $1.5 to $2 million. The second, which was smashed, dented and wrecked during filming to the point that it’s no longer drivable, has been valued by a different auction house at the exact same price: $1.5 to $2 million. How could that be? 

The car in question is a 1989 Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary Edition. Only some 650 models of this special-edition supercar were ever made, but despite its rarity, The Wolf of Wall Street director Martin Scorsese apparently wanted to use the real things for filming (this kind of exacting standard has helped propel the movie to be considered one of the greatest of his career). Using the authentic car makes sense, as it got a close-up during a memorable scene when Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) crawled into the white sports car and drove it while high on Quaaludes, crashing it into other cars, a golf cart and street signs.

[ click to continue reading at InsideHook ]

The Last Adult Standing

from the Los Angeles Times

Inside the last porn theater in Los Angeles

Story by Angie Orellana Hernandez

A cyclist rides past the entrance to the Tiki Theater on Santa Monica Boulevard. ((Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times))
A cyclist rides past the entrance to the Tiki Theater on Santa Monica Boulevard. ((Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times))© (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

After a long and tiring day at work, Mark headed to an East Hollywood movie theater that he called “always a fun, chill” time — and bought an eight-hour ticket.

At this cinema house, there were no movie posters touting “Barbie,” no IMAX screens, no buckets of buttery popcorn. This month’s curated selections include “Tiny & Tight Size Queens 2” and “Stepmom Seductions.”

Mark had come to the Tiki Theater: the last porn theater in Los Angeles.

It is a place that has outlasted more vaunted film houses such as the ArcLight Hollywood and its historic Cinerama Dome, which shuttered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I just want to feel free here, watching something very primal,” said Mark, 34, during a recent screening at the Tiki.

“I think sex is beautiful, and I like sharing it with others — whether the energy is weird or not,” said Mark, who described himself as “gay with a side of bi” and declined to share his last name because, well, he had come to watch porn.

[ click to continue reading at LAT ]

Norman Lear Gone

from Variety

Norman Lear, TV Legend, Dies at 101

By Chris Morris

Writer-producer-developer Norman Lear, who revolutionized American comedy with such daring, immensely popular early-‘70s sitcoms as “All in the Family” and “Sanford and Son,” died on Tuesday. He was 101.

Lear had already established himself as a top comedy writer and captured a 1968 Oscar nomination for his screenplay for “Divorce American Style” when he concocted the idea for a new sitcom, based on a popular British show, about a conservative, outspokenly bigoted working-class man and his fractious Queens family. “All in the Family” became an immediate hit, seemingly with viewers of all political persuasions.

Lear’s shows were the first to address the serious political, cultural and social flashpoints of the day – racism, abortion, homosexuality, the Vietnam war — by working pointed new wrinkles into the standard domestic comedy formula. No subject was taboo: Two 1977 episodes of “All in the Family” revolved around the attempted rape of lead character Archie Bunker’s wife Edith.

Their fresh outrageousness turned them into huge ratings successes: For a time, “Family” and “Sanford,” based around a Los Angeles Black family, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country. “All in the Family” itself accounted for no less than six spin-offs. “Family” was also honored with four Emmys in 1971-73 and a 1977 Peabody Award for Lear, “for giving us comedy with a social conscience.” (He received a second Peabody in 2016 for his career achievements.)

[ click to continue reading at Variety ]

Post-pandemic Puppies

from MSN

‘We’re inundated’: Animal shelters across the U.S. are overflowing

Story by Alene Tchekmedyian, Alexandra E. Petri

The Inland Valley Humane Society shelter in Pomona has resorted to housing dogs in stacked kennels on wheels. Here, animal care technician Eric Lopez relocates a pit bull. ((Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times))© (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

n the lobby of the Inland Valley Humane Society & SPCA shelter in Pomona, Nikole Bresciani gestured toward rows of kennels erected a few months ago to house an influx of stray cats. In another area, pop-up crates for dogs were stacked on wheels.

To Bresciani, the president and chief executive of the shelter, it was more evidence of the flood of animals coming into the facility since the COVID lockdown.

“We’re inundated,” she said of her organization, which provides shelter services for a dozen cities in the region. “We’ve never had kennels in the lobby for cats.”

An overcrowding crisis has gripped animal shelters across the state and nationwide, exacerbated by a shortage of veterinarians, the high cost of pet care and the overwhelming of rescue organizations, which traditionally take on the overflow from shelters and largely rely on volunteers to foster animals in their homes.

The Animal Care Centers of New York City, which runs the city’s public animal shelters, announced in October that it was closed for most dog surrenders because it was too full. Earlier this year, shelters in North Carolina and Texas also temporarily suspended most intakes for similar reasons.

“We are out of space for new arrivals,” the New York City organization said on its website, requesting that people take stray dogs into their homes instead of to a shelter.

[ click to continue reading at MSN ]

Another One Done – Yay!

from Deadline

SAG-AFTRA Members Ratify New Three-Year Contract With Studios

By Katie CampionePeter White

SAG-AFTRA
Getty

Actors have officially given the stamp of approval for their latest deal with the studios.

SAG-AFTRA, which opened the ratification vote on November 14, has revealed that 78.33% of ballots were in favor of the November 8 tentative agreement with the AMPTP. That number is much higher than many expected given some of the noise on social media, particularly around A.I..

The vote by SAG-AFTRA members on the new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Tuesday, officially closes the labor actor that saw the Guild on the strike for 118 days — though many productions have already returned to work as permitted by SAG-AFTRA last month.

[ click to continue reading at Deadline ]

The Best of Times

from Esquire

Musicians Backstage in the 1970s: The Photos

Behind the scenes of an iconic era of music history.

By Matt Miller And Charlotte Chilton

Photo by David Reed/Redferns//Getty Images

It was the post-Beatles decade—years of soul and rock and disco and punk. The 1970s was the era that fully embraced the change of the ’60s counterculture, a time when artists waged their own protests against wars, social injustice, and the rapidly shifting American Dream. Some of the greatest names in contemporary music reached their zenith in the ’70s. Here’s what was happening behind the scenes.

[ click to view full gallery at Esquire ]

Everyone Pees

from The Wall Street Journal

Hollywood’s Extra-Long Movies Spark a Debate: Is It Time for an Intermission?

Moviegoers face new dilemmas as runtimes top three hours

By Joseph Pisani and and Suryatapa Bhattacharya

The IMAX 70mm film stock for ‘Oppenheimer’ was more than 11 miles long and weighed more than 600 pounds. PHOTO: DAVID KEIGHLEY/UNIVERSAL PICTURES/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Movies are getting longer, testing even the strongest of bladders. 

Mar Luque, 22, said she only made it through Taylor Swift’s nearly three-hour-long concert movie by sipping her soda slowly. “I rushed to the bathroom right after,” she said.

Luque, a student in Córdoba, Spain, said it was worth it. “I’m not missing anything,” she said. 

Hollywood has released a string of unusually long movies in recent months. “Oppenheimer,” about the birth of the atomic bomb, ran for exactly three hours, not counting the previews. Then came Martin Scorsese’s latest film, the three-hour-and-26-minute “Killers of the Flower Moon.” The extended runtimes have sparked calls from some moviegoers to bring back intermissions, which disappeared decades ago in the U.S. and U.K.

One of those moviegoers is Gordon Matlock, who said he took two breaks while watching “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Badwater Basin Back

from The New York Times

In Death Valley, a Rare Lake Comes Alive

Visitors normally flock to Death Valley National Park to feel the searing heat and take in the barren landscape. This fall, they’ve been drawn by a different natural feature: water.

By Jill Cowan | Photographs by Mette Lampcov

The edge of a lake sitting under a partly cloudy sky.
A vast lake had appeared almost overnight in Death Valley.

Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells are among the roadside outposts inside Death Valley National Park, while Dante’s View draws tourists at sunset and Hell’s Gate greets visitors arriving from the east.

In the summer, it is so hot here, along California’s southeastern spine, that some of the roughly 800 residents — nearly all of them park employees — bake brownies in their cars. A large, unofficial thermometer in recent years has ticked up to 130 degrees, making it a destination for travelers, and the park has endured some of the highest temperatures ever recorded on Earth.

But none of that is what prompted Lata Kini, 59, and her husband, Ramanand, 61, to pack their bags and drive about seven hours to get here on a whim this month. They were drawn instead by the mystique of another natural force.

“I’m here because of the water,” Ms. Kini said at Zabriskie Point, a popular vista, as she watched the rising sun paint the undulating stone peaks in shades of pink and deep purple.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

H sapiens disappearis

from The Guardian

Where did they all go? How Homo sapiens became the last human species left

A model of the skull of Homo floresiensis
A model of the skull of Homo floresiensis, first discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores. Photograph: Stephen Hird/Reuters/Corbis

At least nine hominin species once roamed the Earth, so what became of our vanished ancestors?

Just 300,000 years ago – a blink in evolutionary time – at least nine species of humans wandered the planet. Today, only our own, Homo sapiens, remains. And this raises one of the biggest questions in the story of human evolution: where did everyone else go?

“It’s not a coincidence that several of them disappeared around the time that Homo sapiens started to spread out of Africa and around the rest of the world,” says Prof Chris Stringer, head of human origins at the Natural History Museum in London. “What we don’t know is if that was a direct connection.”

There are many theories around the disappearance of our human cousins, and limited evidence to decipher exactly what happened. But recent studies are providing tantalising clues.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Brain Reading

from The Wall Street Journal

The Devices That Will Read Your Brain—and Enhance It

In the not-so-distant future, wearable computers will read brain waves and offer suggestions in real time to improve performance in everyday activities

By Daniela Hernandez

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY MARCY AYRES/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, NEURABLE; ISTOCK; GETTY IMAGES

You’re feeling distracted and can’t get your work done despite a looming deadline. Your headphones detect your lack of focus and suggest you take a break, while a headband beams signals to adjust your brain activity and energize you. Crisis averted.  

That’s the future technologists imagine, and a variety of devices are being developed to enhance the brain’s performance in day-to-day life. 

Right now, the market for devices that can read brain activity and translate it into actions is in its infancy. But, thanks in part to Elon Musk’s startup Neuralink, which is developing implantable brain-computer interfaces—or BCIs—that can record data from thousands of brain cells, investment and interest in these devices have soared in recent years. 

New wearable devices designed to provide feedback during day-to-day activities build on implantable BCIs used for medical interventions, as well as decades of research into how the brain works. Efforts on implantable devices focus on restoring function. Applications aimed to allow communication and movement have been in development for decades to help paralyzed patients, and researchers have made major leaps with implantable devices in recent years, including giving voice back to the voiceless.

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

“The architectural embodiment of ridiculousness”

from The Atlantic

SPHERE AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS

My night in front of the world’s largest LED screen

By Charlie Warzel

The moment I first laid eyes on the Sphere, from a cramped window seat on approach over the Las Vegas Strip, my airplane precipitously plunged what felt like between 90 and 300 feet. This was the variety of turbulence that makes people gasp and clutch their armrests, that threatens to pop open the overhead bins. It seemed a fitting welcome: The Sphere had already coaxed me into seat 26A on a flight partway across the country, and now it was pulling me toward its unmistakable, shimmering orb-ness with a final gravitational tug.

Thinking this way about a building is ridiculous, I know. But have you seen this thing? Quite literally, the Sphere is a large arena—a futuristic entertainment venue for concerts and other Vegas spectacles. But such a description undersells the Sphere’s ambitions. It is the architectural embodiment of ridiculousness, a monument to spectacle and to the exceedingly human condition of erecting bewildering edifices simply because we can. It cost $2.3 billion; it’s blanketed in 580,000 square feet of LED lights; it can transform its 366-foot-tall exterior into a gargantuan emoji that astronauts can supposedly see from space. This is no half dome and certainly not a rotunda. This is Sphere.

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

The Castle of Knowledge

from The Epoch Times

Incredibly Rare First English Astronomy Book, Published 467 Years Ago, Sells for Thousands

By SWNS

A 467-year-old astronomy book—which was the first ever to be written in English—has fetched 10,000 pounds (approx. $12,000) at auction.

The “incredibly scarce” first edition of “The Castle of Knowledge“ by Welshman Robert Recorde was found in an old box of books by antiques experts. It was the first astronomical text to be published in English in 1556 and is believed to be the oldest surviving example of its kind in existence.

The historical book—published before famous Italian astronomer Galileo was even born—went under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers in England on Wednesday, Nov. 1. It sold for 10,000 pounds to a private international buyer.

[ click to continue reading at The Epoch Times ]

Diesel’s Disappearnce

from InsideHook

One of the Greatest Inventors of Our Time Disappeared. This New Book Explores Why.

Douglas Brunt on writing “The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel”

BY TOBIAS CARROLL

Imagine the shock if an inventor and businessman who had the ears of countless world leaders and military commanders suddenly went missing. That’s not a rhetorical question, by the way — in 1913, while in the midst of a sea voyage, inventor Rudolf Diesel vanished while en route to London.

In the hundred-plus years since Diesel’s disappearance, there’s been a lot of speculation about what might have happened to him— and whether his disappearance was the result of foul play, a terrible accident or something entirely different. In his new book The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel: Genius, Power, and Deception on the Eve of World War I, Douglas Brunt explores Diesel’s life and impact on the world and offers an intriguing solution to the mystery that surrounded Diesel’s exit from the world stage.

InsideHook spoke with Brunt about Diesel’s life and legacy, the unlikely directions his research went in and the early days of electric cars.

[ click to continue reading at InsideHook ]

FakeGPT

from The Wall Street Journal

Is Anything Still True? On the Internet, No One Knows Anymore

New tools can create fake videos and clone the voices of those closest to us. ‘This is how authoritarianism arises.’

By Christopher Mims

MITCH BLUNT

Creating and disseminating convincing propaganda used to require the resources of a state. Now all it takes is a smartphone.

Generative artificial intelligence is now capable of creating fake pictures, clones of our voices, and even videos depicting and distorting world events. The result: From our personal circles to the political circuses, everyone must now question whether what they see and hear is true.

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Gunung Padang Re-write

from VICE

A Prehistoric Pyramid May Have Just Rewritten Human History, Scientists Claim

The pyramid of Gunung Padang in Indonesia began construction in the deep past, a new study claims, and was built by an unknown ancient people.

By Jordan Pearson

The pyramids of Egypt are staggeringly ancient. By the time of Cleopatra, they were already thousands of years old. But new research claims that another pyramid might have them all beat, potentially rewriting the history of human civilization. 

A team of researchers say in a new study that Gunung Padang, a pyramid in Indonesia, is at least 16,000 years old, roughly 10,000 years older than the pyramid of Djoser in Egypt, long thought to be the world’s oldest.

The researchers, who hail from a collection of universities and institutions in Indonesia, say this makes Gunung Padang “potentially…the oldest pyramid in the world.” In contrast, ancient Egyptians are believed to have begun construction on the Djoser pyramid roughly 5,000 years ago. The new research indicates that Gunung Padang is a highly complex, prehistoric pyramid that sheds “light on the engineering capabilities of ancient civilizations during the Palaeolithic era,” also known as the Stone Age.

Gunung Padang is a pyramid-shaped mound of terraced earth adorned with ancient stone built on top of an extinct volcano. It has long been acknowledged as an ancient site, but just how old has been a matter of some debate. Most estimates have placed it under 2,000 years old, but Indonesian geologist Danny Hilman Natawidjaja—one of the study’s co-authors—has long claimed that the site is much older. A decade ago, Natawidjaja’s claims caught the attention of then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who set up a task force to study the pyramid, which included Natawidjaja. 

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