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Posted on November 18, 2020 by Editor

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Kid Groupie

from Vulture

Our ‘Lost’ Weekend With Van Halen

A couple college dudes won an MTV contest to tour with Van Halen. Then all hell broke loose.

By Chris Lee

On an overcast morning in the spring of 1984, Kurt Jefferis and Tom Winnick, a couple of college-age bros of no particular renown, departed the world of normalcy in a stretch limousine to embark on a rock-and-roll fantasy. Their destination: Detroit. More accurately: oblivion. Jefferis, a 20-year-old department-store stock clerk, had bested more than a million other competitors to win the MTV contest “Lost Weekend With Van Halen.” He and his plus-one, Winnick, a childhood buddy, would in a matter of hours find themselves backstage with the legendarily hard-partying Atomic Punks on a two-day bender that ticked every box of rock debauchery synonymous with the Big Hair era. “You’ll have no idea where you are,” Van Halen’s vainglorious front man, David Lee Roth, said in a promo for the contest. “You’ll have no idea where you’re going and probably no memory of it after you go.”

That turned out to be partially true. As Jefferis and Winnick tell it now, nearly 40 years later, in the weeks following Hall of Fame guitar virtuoso Eddie Van Halen’s death, certain elements from the Weekend remain fixed points in their lives — the private jets, the Champagne and lobster, the cocaine, the onstage chugs of Jack Daniel’s, a woman named Tammy — while other details have been lost to the fog of time. The contest becamesomething of Van Halen folklore in the intervening years; it was the subject of a short film, Lost Weekend, which screened in competition at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, as well as a dedicated chapter (subtitled “MTV and Van Halen Team Up to Nearly Kill a Super-Fan”) in the 2011 book I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. The events surrounding the contest unfolded just as Van Halen was first ascending the heights of multiplatinum superstardom but only months before Roth would quit the quartet for a solo career. What took place in front of MTV’s cameras served as a primitive precursor to reality television: loosely scripted situational intrigue that wound up far beyond anyone’s control.

[ click to continue reading at Vulture ]

Posted on November 17, 2020 by Editor

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The Largest Astronomy Book In The World

from National Geographic

Why the Nasca lines are among Peru’s greatest mysteries

The lines drawn in geometric patterns and distinct animal shapes across the Peruvian desert have inspired many theories over the years. Here’s what we know—and what remains to be seen.

BY JASON GOLOMB

AS A PLANE soars over the high desert of southern Peru, the dull pale sameness of the rocks and sand organize and change form. Distinct white lines gradually evolve from tan and rust-red. Strips of white crisscross a desert so dry that it rains less than an inch every year. The landscape changes as lines take shape to form simple geometric designs: trapezoids, straight lines, rectangles, triangles, and swirls. Some of the swirls and zigzags start to form more distinct shapes: a hummingbird, a spider, a monkey.

These are the renowned Nasca lines—subject of mystery for over 80 years. How were they formed? What purpose could they have served? Were aliens involved?

The lines are found in a region of Peru just over 200 miles southeast of Lima, near the modern town of Nasca. In total, there are over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures and 70 animal and plant designs, also called biomorphs. Some of the straight lines run up to 30 miles, while the biomorphs range from 50 to 1200 feet in length (as large as the Empire State Building).

[ click to continue reading at Nat Geo ]

Posted on November 15, 2020 by Editor

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Great Tits Gone

from The New York Post

Great tits could be wiped out by climate change in near future

By Ben Cost

The great tit could soon go the way of the dodo.
The great tit could soon go the way of the dodo.

We mean the birds, dirtbags.

The unfortunately named great tit has joined a long list of species that could soon disappear due to Earth’s rapidly warming climate.

“If the changes happen too fast, species can become extinct,” said Emily Simmonds, an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s department of biology. She authored an article in the journal Ecology Letters detailing how the food supply of the great tit — a colorful songbird endemic to Europe and Asia — and other bird species can be impacted by a premature season shift caused by rising temperatures. 

Simmonds argued that warmer winters and resultant early springs prompt plants to leaf earlier, causing tree-eating larvae to hatch ahead of time, Science Daily reported. This can prove problematic to birds like the great tit that depend on the spring bug bounty when they’re babies.

[ click to continue reading at NYP ]

Posted on November 11, 2020 by Editor

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All Gold Stars

from Astronomy

Does all the gold in the universe come from stars?

Humanity’s fascination with this precious metal is increased by knowing it comes from the stars.

By Raymond Shubinski

ASYCG1120_03
This gold coin from the First Persian Empire was struck around 420 b.c. It honors King Darius II. Deflim/Wikimedia Commons

In a remote galaxy, two neutron stars circled one another in a ballet of ultimate destruction and inevitable creation. Both objects were the remnants of massive stars, probably from a binary system, that had become supernovae long before. Each was incredibly massive, with neutrons so closely packed that their cores became diamond. The dance, alas, could not go on forever and the stars collided, releasing unimaginable energy and sending gravitational waves speeding through the fabric of space-time.

In 2017, 1.3 billion years later, astronomers detected those waves with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory. Albert Einstein’s prediction that the universe should be filled with such faint ripples caused by gravity from massive objects included sources such as neutron star mergers. Yet finding a disturbance in the fabric of space-time from this kind of event had proven elusive until then. When news of the detection of gravitational waves broke, the media wanted to know what else happens when neutron stars collide. Astronomers explained that, beyond the destruction of the stars and the ripples in space, such events also create all the heavy elements we know in the blink of an eye. But what did the media key into? That gold comes from outer space.

[ click to continue reading at Astronomy ]

Posted on November 10, 2020 by Editor

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Dark Soul Good

from The Guardian

Into the night: why walking in the dark is good for the soul

by Lizzie Enfield

The sun setting behind Mount Caburn, near Lewes, in the South Downs. Photograph: Peter Cripps/Alamy

The lights from the cottage windows recede, all too rapidly, as we walk along an unlit country lane and take a footpath through a field into open countryside. Thick cloud cover prevents the moonlight from illuminating the way ahead. Yet, as my eyes begin to get used to the darkness, the landscape around me reveals itself in a new light – albeit a shady one.

The contours of Mount Caburn, an iron-age hill fort, are like shadows against the sky. On the horizon, a tree bent by the wind is silhouetted, and the rocky outcrop at the top of the field turns out to be a flock of sleeping sheep. A fox cries, a pheasant crows and the air is full of a heady earthy scent.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Posted on November 4, 2020 by Editor

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Dead Not Dead

from Real Clear Science

Could Schrödinger’s Cat Exist in Real Life?

By Stefan Forstner

Dhatfield

Have you ever been in more than one place at the same time? If you’re much bigger than an atom, the answer will be no.

But atoms and particles are governed by the rules of quantum mechanics, in which several different possible situations can coexist at once.

Quantum systems are ruled by what’s called a “wave function”: a mathematical object that describes the probabilities of these different possible situations.

And these different possibilities can coexist in the wave function as what is called a “superposition” of different states. For example, a particle existing in several different places at once is what we call “spatial superposition”.

It’s only when a measurement is carried out that the wave function “collapses” and the system ends up in one definite state.

Generally, quantum mechanics applies to the tiny world of atoms and particles. The jury is still out on what it means for large-scale objects.

In our research, published today in Optica, we propose an experiment that may resolve this thorny question once and for all.

[ click to continue reading at RCS ]

Posted on November 3, 2020 by Editor

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Jet-pack Man

from The U.S. Sun

Another ‘man in jet pack’ seen above LAX as China Airlines crew ‘spots mysterious flier at 6,000ft’ and FAA alerts cops

by Neal Baker / Fionnuala O’Leary

ANOTHER apparent sighting of a man in a jet pack flying above Los Angeles International Airport was made on Wednesday – with a China Airlines crew reporting seeing the mystery flier at 6,000ft.

The Federal Aviation Administration has alerted law enforcement and is investigating the report, which is the second such sighting in weeks.

An FAA spokesman told The Sun: “A China Airlines crew reported seeing what appeared to be someone in a jet pack at an approximate altitude of 6,000 feet, about seven miles northwest of Los Angeles International Airport around 1:45 pm [on] Wednesday. 

“The FAA alerted local law enforcement and will look into the report.”

[ click to continue reading at The U.S. Sun ]

Posted on November 1, 2020 by Editor

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Does The Dog Die

from BUSTLE

A Website Called “Does The Dog Die” Is For Anyone Who Hates Sad Dog Movies

By Brittany Bennett

Any death in a movie, book, or TV show is upsetting and can be very disturbing. The Lion King? My sobs are unstoppable. I don’t even watch Game of Thrones — don’t @ me — but I know all about the Red Wedding and felt how emotionally distraught you all were. So, in case you want to avoid surprise human and animal deaths that would warrant approximately five tissue boxes, and who has the space in their purse for that, there’s a website for that. This website lets you know if the dog dies at the end of the movie, and honestly thank you.

[ click to continue reading at BUSTLE ]

Posted on October 29, 2020 by Editor

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Asteroid Grab

from Science Alert

Watch Live: A NASA Spacecraft Is About to Land on an Asteroid And Grab a Sample 

by ELIZABETH CANTWELL

Imagine parallel parking a 15-passenger van into just two to three parking spaces surrounded by two-story boulders. On October 20, a University of Arizona-led NASA mission 16 years in the making will attempt the astronomical equivalent more than 200 million miles (320 million kilometres) away.

A NASA mission called OSIRIS-REx will soon attempt to touch the surface of an asteroid and collect loose rubble.

[ click to continue reading at Science Alert ]

Posted on October 27, 2020 by Editor

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Brilliant Legal Hack

from the New Hampshire Union Leader

Woman accused of impersonating prosecutor, dropping criminal charges against herself

By Mark Hayward

A Littleton woman allegedly impersonated a Hillsborough County prosecutor when she filed bogus documents with court officials declaring that the drug possession and stalking case against her had been dropped, according to recently released indictments.

Lisa Landon, 33, of Railroad Street, Littleton, faces one charge of false personation and six charges of falsifying physical evidence, according to Hillsborough County grand jury indictments handed up earlier this month.

The indictments allege that Landon submitted the fake documents in three different court cases last November and December. In several instances, she used the New Hampshire court system’s electronic system to file documents.

[ click to continue reading at the Union Leader ]

Posted on October 26, 2020 by Editor

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Elysium Realism

from SPACE

The Elysium effect: The coming backlash to the billionaire ‘NewSpace’ revolution

By Rick Tumlinson

In the 2013 science fiction film “Elysium” starring Matt Damon, Earth’s wealthiest 0.01% move to the ultimate gated community, a luxurious orbiting space colony, leaving a poverty-stricken humanity to fend for themselves on a ravaged planet.

Interestingly, it is indeed some of today’s 0.1% who are leading the way into space to build communities beyond Earth. However, quite the opposite of the movie, their goals are of the highest order, from democratizing access to space by lowering costs, to creating new products and ideas, to helping save the planet and opening space to future generations.

As in any good social movement, there is a need for bad guys, and these guys are easy icons of evil to many. And there may be no easier target they could present than a shiny private rocketship or space station — even if it is for a good cause.

Though they have many flaws, including the accumulation of lots of money, these space pioneers are actually trying to do something good for humanity and the planet. And while they may not be the cuddliest of people, just look at their other projects and goals: Musk builds electric cars and solar power systems, Bezos wants to move polluting heavy industry off planet – even as Amazon pushes towards zero emissions, and Branson is a long time champion of social and environmental causes

Yet these visionaries, who author Christian Davenport called “The Space Barons” are often portrayed as rich boys with fancy toys.

Things will get worse when the next wave of terribly branded “space tourists” begin to fly. Bezos’ Blue Origin and Branson’s Virgin Galactic will charge over $200,000 for excursions to the edge of space, while newcomer Axiom Space Systems and SpaceX will offer flights to and beyond the International Space Station for a few tens of millions, and even loop the Moon for a just few hundred million more.

[ click to continue reading at SPACE.com ]

Posted on October 24, 2020 by Editor

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Cow Hugging

from Fox 5 New York

Cow-hugging is the new animal therapy trend we all need

By Catherine Park

Therapy animals are not a new concept, but in a world where mental health is being tested by an ongoing pandemic, people are searching for comfort it what might seem like unusual places.

A practice that originated in the rural town of Reuver in the Netherlands, “koe knuffelen,” which means “cow hugging” in Dutch, is gaining global popularity, according to a BBC report.

It’s not just the act of hugging a cow that helps relieve stress and lower anxiety, but making contact with any furry critter could help improve one’s mental health.

Cows are the optimal cuddling buddy, and it’s not just because they’re adorable.

A 2007 study in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science states that cows “show cues of deep relaxation, stretching out and allowing their ears to fall back when massaged in particular areas of their neck and upper back.”

“Cow cuddling is believed to promote positivity and reduce stress by boosting oxytocin in humans, the hormone released in social bonding. The calming effects of curling up with a pet or emotional support animal, it seems, are accentuated when cuddling with larger mammals,” according to the BBC.

The need for companionship during a socially-distanced time is steadily increasing.

[ click to continue reading at Fox 5 NY ]

Posted on October 14, 2020 by Editor

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Robot Beetle Cool

from Republic World

Robot Beetle Faces A Real Beetle In This Jaw Dropping Fight Between Nature And Machine

Written By Gladwin Menezes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZgcaRDi_cM

In a video that surfaced recently, a robot beetle can be seen going up against a real beetle. The fight between the two has caused netizens to react in awe and amusement. The insect wrestled the machine while being filmed and the results were spectacularly astonishing.

The video begins with the mechanical beetle fidgeting and poking the real beetle. Unaware of what is happening, the real beetle tries its level best to reason out with the situation he is in. The shiny black beetle is the live beetle whereas the dark black beetle is the mechanical one. Upon first glance, one can easily notice that the mechanical or robotic beetle is much larger and seems way too stronger in terms of size and might. The real beetle, on the other hand, seems of a regular size and not as intimidating as the robot beetle.

[ click to continue reading at Republic World ]

Posted on October 11, 2020 by Editor

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Island of Nowhere

from Hakai Magazine

The Island That Humans Can’t Conquer

A faraway island in Alaska has had its share of visitors, but none can remain for long on its shores.

Text by  Sarah Gilman / Photos by  Nathaniel Wilder

St. Matthew Island is said to be the most remote place in Alaska. Marooned in the Bering Sea halfway to Siberia, it is well over 300 kilometers and a 24-hour ship ride from the nearest human settlements. It looks fittingly forbidding, the way it emerges from its drape of fog like the dark spread of a wing. Curved, treeless mountains crowd its sliver of land, plunging in sudden cliffs where they meet the surf. To St. Matthew’s north lies the smaller, more precipitous island of Hall. A castle of stone called Pinnacle stands guard off St. Matthew’s southern flank. To set foot on this scatter of land surrounded by endless ocean is to feel yourself swallowed by the nowhere at the center of a drowned compass rose.

My head swims a little as I peer into a shallow pit on St. Matthew’s northwestern tip. It’s late July in 2019, and the air buzzes with the chitters of the island’s endemic singing voles. Wildflowers and cotton grass constellate the tundra that has grown over the depression at my feet, but around 400 years ago, it was a house, dug partway into the earth to keep out the elements. It’s the oldest human sign on the island, the only prehistoric house ever found here. A lichen-crusted whale jawbone points downhill toward the sea, the rose’s due-north needle.

Compared with more sheltered bays and beaches on the island’s eastern side, it would have been a relatively harsh place to settle. Storms regularly slam this coast with the full force of the open ocean. As many as 300 polar bears used to summer here, before Russians and Americans hunted them out in the late 1800s. Evidence suggests that the pit house’s occupants likely didn’t use it for more than a season, according to Dennis Griffin, an archaeologist who’s worked on the archipelago since 2002. Excavations of the site have turned up enough to suggest that people of the Thule culture—precursors to the Inuit and Yup’ik who now inhabit Alaska’s northwestern coasts—built it. But Griffin has found no sign of a hearth, and only a thin layer of artifacts.

[ click to continue reading at Hakai ]

Posted on October 7, 2020 by Editor

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They’re Getting Closer

from CBS Pittsburgh

‘It’s Been A Long Time Since We’ve Seen Something Like This’; Meteor That Lit Up Pittsburgh Skies Was Seen In 15 States

The meteor that flew over the Pittsburgh area on Wednesday morning has now been reported as having been seen over 700 times.

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When the skies above Pittsburgh lit up early Wednesday morning, social media was abuzz trying to figure out what it was or what had just happened.

At 6:24 a.m., the skies lit up with what appeared to be a fireball flying through the atmosphere.

KDKA spoke with Jay Reynolds, a Research Astronomer at Cleveland State University, who is now in his sixteenth year there, says that it was a meteor.

[ click to continue reading at KDKA ]

Posted on October 1, 2020 by Editor

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Dreams On-demand

from The Daily Star

Real-life Inception as scientists figure out how to plant ideas in dreams

Researchers at MIT have been testing a fascinating new technique called targeted dream incubation, which allows them to insert certain topics into someone else’s dreams

By Sophie Bateman

It may sound like the plot of Inception, but scientists have figured out how to plant ideas into other people’s dreams.

Researchers at MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces have been testing a new technique called targeted dream incubation (TDI), which allows them to insert certain topics into someone’s dreams.

Past studies have shown that when sleepers enter a rare dream state known as lucid dreaming, they gain awareness that they’re dreaming and can thus have some control over what happens in their mind.

TDI achieves a similar result by targeting people during hypnagogia, a semi-lucid dream state that occurs as someone is falling asleep.

[ click to continue reading at The Daily Star ]

Posted on September 26, 2020 by Editor

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Covid Era Begats Drone Era

from Forbes

From Sci-Fi To Everyday Business: Welcome To The Age Of The Robot

Ambulance Drone flying in the sky
GETTY

While drones and robots may have once evoked a sense of fantasy and science fiction, these devices may be starting to prove their potential as major contributors to business and everyday life. And today, the widespread effort to limit human contact due to the Covid-19 pandemic could perhaps accelerate those trends, as robots are deployed for a variety of public safety uses—from assisting doctors and delivering supplies to sterilizing public spaces.

Delivery drones and small robotic delivery trucks could play an increasingly important role as the e-commerce industry grows. In fact, industry analyst Technavio forecasts a growth in the autonomous delivery robot market of almost $17 billion between 2020 and 2024. And with steady online sales during the Covid-19 pandemic, robot and drone deliveries could offer a safer alternative to human couriers while also potentially reducing costs.

In the early days of the pandemic, for example, robots were drafted in China to conduct contactless grocery drops. Plans are also underway to combine walking robots and self-driving cars in order to conduct the final step of delivering packages from cars to customers’ doorsteps.

[ click to continue reading at Forbes ]

Posted on September 24, 2020 by Editor

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Our New Mini-moon

from The Daily Star

Mystery object entering Earth’s orbit ‘to become planet’s mini-moon until May’

An object known as 2020 SO is heading towards Earth, and could stay in orbit of the planet from October until May next year – although some think it could just be space junk

By Joshua Smith

Earth could be about to get a new moon – but experts have been left baffled at what the mystery object actually is.

An object known as 2020 SO is heading towards Earth and from October it will be a “mini-moon”, which could stay in orbit of the planet until May next year.

Another object, named 3753 Cruithne, has already been dubbed Earth’s “second moon” – meaning 2020 SO would be our third.

Cruithne is in a normal elliptic orbit around the Sun. 

Its period of revolution around the Sun, approximately 364 days at present, is almost equal to that of Earth.

[ click to continue reading at The Daily Star ]

Posted on September 23, 2020 by Editor

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Tesla Slumber Mode

from Futurism

TESLA DRIVER PULLED OVER GOING 93 MPH WHILE COMPLETELY ASLEEP

by JON CHRISTIAN

RCMP ALBERTA/TWITTER

Canadian cops say they pulled over a Tesla that was traveling at 93 miles per hour — while the driver was completely asleep, with the seat pulled down like a bed.

“The officer was able to obtain radar readings on the vehicle, confirming that it had automatically accelerated up to exactly 150 km/h [93 mph],” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement to Global News.

[ click to continue reading at Futurism ]

Posted on September 20, 2020 by Editor

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Non-smoker Held At Gunpoint

from The New York Post

Oregon woman holds suspected arsonist at gunpoint as wildfires rage

By Natalie O’Neill

An Oregon woman forced a suspected arsonist to the ground at gunpoint after she found him on her property with matches, dramatic video footage shows.

“What are you doing on my property? Did you light anything on fire?” Kat Cast shouts as she clutches a firearm, according to footage she posted on Facebook.

When the unidentified man responds that he was “just passing through,” she demands to know why he’s holding matches.

“I smoke,” he replies — to which Cast asks to see his cigarettes. The man then admits that he has none, and she holds him there until police arrive and haul him away in handcuffs.

[ click to continue reading at NYP ]

Posted on September 19, 2020 by Editor

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Eaten By Mycelium

from VICE

This ‘Living’ Coffin Uses Mushrooms to Compost Dead Bodies

The ‘Living Cocoon’ has already been used in one burial, at the Hague

By Becky Ferreira

HENDRIKX WITH THE ‘LIVING COCOON’ COFFINS.
IMAGE: BOB HENDRIKX — LOOP BIOTECH

For tens of thousands of years, humans have developed funeral rites and burial practices that reflected the attitudes of their particular time and place. These traditions of honoring the dead continue to evolve into the 21st century, as people seek “green burials” that are more environmentally friendly than standard coffins. 

One of the newest examples comes from Loop, a Dutch biotech company that recently unveiled a biodegradable coffin made of fungus, microbes and plant roots. Called the “Living Cocoon,” the coffin is designed to hasten bodily decomposition while also enriching soil around the plot.

“Normally, what we do as humans is we take something out of nature, we kill it, and we use it,” said Bob Hendrikx, founder of Loop, in a call. “So I thought: what if we humans start moving from working with dead materials toward a world in which we work with living materials?”

“We would not only become less of a parasite, but we could also start exploring super-cool material properties, like living lights, walls that are self-healing, and that kind of stuff,” he added.

Hendrikx was inspired to develop the Living Cocoon while presenting a living home concept at last year’s Dutch Design Week. While houses are obviously for the living, Hendrikx got to thinking about adapting the concept into a coffin powered by mushroom mycelium, which is the filamentary vegetative part of the fungus.

“Mycelium is nature’s biggest recycler,” Hendrikx said. “It is continuously looking for dead organic matter to transform into key nutrients.” 

[ continue reading at VICE ]

Posted on September 17, 2020 by Editor

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The Cosmic Brain

from Futurism

Physicist: The Entire Universe Might Be a Neural Network

“The idea is definitely crazy, but if it is crazy enough to be true? That remains to be seen.”

by VICTOR TANGERMANN

It’s not every day that we come across a paper that attempts to redefine reality.

But in a provocative preprint uploaded to arXiv this summer, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth named Vitaly Vanchurin attempts to reframe reality in a particularly eye-opening way — suggesting that we’re living inside a massive neural network that governs everything around us. In other words, he wrote in the paper, it’s a “possibility that the entire universe on its most fundamental level is a neural network.”

For years, physicists have attempted to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. The first posits that time is universal and absolute, while the latter argues that time is relative, linked to the fabric of space-time.

In his paper, Vanchurin argues that artificial neural networks can “exhibit approximate behaviors” of both universal theories. Since quantum mechanics “is a remarkably successful paradigm for modeling physical phenomena on a wide range of scales,” he writes, “it is widely believed that on the most fundamental level the entire universe is governed by the rules of quantum mechanics and even gravity should somehow emerge from it.”

[ click to continue reading at Futurism ]

Posted on September 15, 2020 by Editor

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Robinhood Insanity

from Vanity Fair

“It’s a Whole Other Level of Insanity”: How Pandemic Day Traders Are Turning Wall Street Upside Down

Sudden spikes in the value of bankrupt Hertz and joke cryptocurrency Dogecoin are upending the market as hobbyist traders on Reddit and Robinhood go rogue. “It doesn’t really matter what the underlying value of the stock is,” says one. “If there’s enough momentum behind it, you can still make money.”

BY JESSICA CAMILLE AGUIRRE

Image may contain Tie Accessories Accessory Human Person Clothing Suit Coat Overcoat Apparel and Attorney
BY KENA BETANCUR/GETTY IMAGES.

A few years ago an eight-year-old Shiba Inu dog named Kabosu became an internet meme, her furry face juxtaposed with snippets of text in the parlance of stoner philosophy (“wow. much cake.”). The meme was known as “doge,” and it blew “lolcat” out of the water. Shortly thereafter, in 2013, a cryptocurrency called Dogecoin was launched, mostly as a joke. The coin ballooned then flatlined, hewing since then with the swings of the volatile bitcoin market—until July, when its stock value skyrocketed 104%. 

What was going on? The cryptocurrency wasn’t new, and it had never been taken very seriously, even by its own investors. How could a seemingly random stock suddenly more than double in value? “It was a TikTok trend,” said David Hanlin, an e-commerce adviser and day trader who got in on the Dogecoin bump. “In terms of the actual value of Dogecoin from anything other than a meme standpoint, it’s pretty low. But it doesn’t really matter what the underlying value of the stock or the cryptocurrency is. If there’s enough momentum behind it, you can still make money.”

Such is the approach of many day traders, or retail traders—people, often hobbyists, who trade stocks on popular platforms like Robinhood. Since the start of the pandemic, new users have flooded these platforms, propelled in some cases by a conviction that crisis breeds opportunity, and in others by newfound free time. Robinhood alone reported more than 3 million new funded accounts by May, half of which were started by first-time traders. And daily average revenue trades on Robinhood more than doubled in the second quarter compared to the preceding quarter. 

Many on Wall Street are baffled by the surge and have become more circumspect about how they read trends. “I’ve spent the last year, basically since March, trying to understand what’s happening, and honestly, I couldn’t tell you exactly. I’m very good at what I do, but there are times I’m just like, I have no fucking clue what’s happening,” said one equity trader for a Manhattan firm. “We were calling it banana land, the guys I work with, because it’s just, like, crazy. And then we started calling it ayahuasca land because it’s not even bananas anymore, it’s a whole other level of insanity.”

[ click to continue reading at VF ]

Posted on September 14, 2020 by Editor

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GBS-3

from NAUTILUS

Welcome to the Next Level of Bullshit

The language algorithm GPT-3 continues our descent into a post-truth world.

BY RAPHAËL MILLIÈRE

One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.” These are the opening words of the short book On Bullshit, written by the philosopher Harry Frankfurt. Fifteen years after the publication of this surprise bestseller, the rapid progress of research on artificial intelligence is forcing us to reconsider our conception of bullshit as a hallmark of human speech, with troubling implications. What do philosophical reflections on bullshit have to do with algorithms? As it turns out, quite a lot.

In May this year the company OpenAI, co-founded by Elon Musk in 2015, introduced a new language model called GPT-3 (for “Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3”). It took the tech world by storm. On the surface, GPT-3 is like a supercharged version of the autocomplete feature on your smartphone; it can generate coherent text based on an initial input. But GPT-3’s text-generating abilities go far beyond anything your phone is capable of. It can disambiguate pronouns, translate, infer, analogize, and even perform some forms of common-sense reasoning and arithmetic. It can generate fake news articles that humans can barely detect above chance. Given a definition, it can use a made-up word in a sentence. It can rewrite a paragraph in the style of a famous author. Yes, it can write creative fiction. Or generate code for a program based on a description of its function. It can even answer queries about general knowledge. The list goes on.

GPT-3 is a marvel of engineering due to its breathtaking scale. It contains 175 billion parameters (the weights in the connections between the “neurons” or units of the network) distributed over 96 layers. It produces embeddings in a vector space with 12,288 dimensions. And it was trained on hundreds of billions of words representing a significant subset of the Internet—including the entirety of English Wikipedia, countless books, and a dizzying number of web pages. Training the final model alone is estimated to have cost around $5 million. By all accounts, GPT-3 is a behemoth. Scaling up the size of its network and training data, without fundamental improvements to the years-old architecture, was sufficient to bootstrap the model into unexpectedly remarkable performance on a range of complex tasks, out of the box. Indeed GPT-3 is capable of “few-shot,” and even, in some cases, “zero-shot,” learning, or learning to perform a new task without being given any example of what success looks like.

Interacting with GPT-3 is a surreal experience. It often feels like one is talking to a human with beliefs and desires. In the 2013 movie Her, the protagonist develops a romantic relationship with a virtual assistant, and is soon disillusioned when he realizes that he was projecting human feelings and motivations onto “her” alien mind. GPT-3 is nowhere near as intelligent as the film’s AI, but it could still find its way into our hearts. Some tech startups like Replika are already working on creating AI companions molded on one’s desired characteristics. There is no doubt that many people would be prone to anthropomorphize even a simple chatbot built with GPT-3. One wonders what consequences this trend might have in a world where social-media interactions with actual humans have already been found to increase social isolation.

[ click to continue reading at NAUTILUS ]

Posted on September 9, 2020 by Editor

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“A frighteningly vast expanse of nothingness”

from BBC

The weird space that lies outside our Solar System

By Patchen Barss

Voyager 1 crossed over into interstellar space in 2012 100 Astronomical Units from the Sun but it still has the vast Oort Cloud ahead of it (Credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech)

Voyager 1 crossed over into interstellar space in 2012 100 Astronomical Units from the Sun but it still has the vast Oort Cloud ahead of it
(Credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech)

The mysterious dark vacuum of interstellar space is finally being revealed by two intrepid spacecraft that have become the first human-made objects to leave our Solar System.

Far from the protective embrace of the Sun, the edge of our Solar System would seem to be a cold, empty, and dark place. The yawning space between us and the nearest stars was for a long time thought to be a frighteningly vast expanse of nothingness.

Until recently, it was somewhere that humankind could only peer into from afar. Astronomers paid it only passing attention, preferring instead to focus their telescopes on the glowing masses of our neighbouring stars, galaxies and nebula.

But two spacecraft, built and launched in 1970s, have for the past few years been beaming back our first glimpses from this strange region we call interstellar space. As the first man-made objects to leave our Solar System, they are venturing into uncharted territory, billions of miles from home. No other spacecraft have travelled as far.

[ click to continue reading at BBC ]

Posted on September 8, 2020 by Editor

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The Gravity Hypothesis

from Science

One of quantum physics’ greatest paradoxes may have lost its leading explanation 

By George Musser

Gravity is unlikely to be the cause of quantum collapse, suggests an underground experiment at Italy’s Gran Sasso National Laboratory.  TOMMASO GUICCIARDINI/SCIENCE SOURCE

It’s one of the oddest tenets of quantum theory: a particle can be in two places at once—yet we only ever see it here or there. Textbooks state that the act of observing the particle “collapses” it, such that it appears at random in only one of its two locations. But physicists quarrel over why that would happen, if indeed it does. Now, one of the most plausible mechanisms for quantum collapse—gravity—has suffered a setback.

The gravity hypothesis traces its origins to Hungarian physicists Károlyházy Frigyes in the 1960s and Lajos Diósi in the 1980s. The basic idea is that the gravitational field of any object stands outside quantum theory. It resists being placed into awkward combinations, or “superpositions,” of different states. So if a particle is made to be both here and there, its gravitational field tries to do the same—but the field cannot endure the tension for long; it collapses and takes the particle with it.

Renowned University of Oxford mathematician Roger Penrose championed the hypothesis in the late 1980s because, he says, it removes the anthropocentric notion that the measurement itself somehow causes the collapse. “It takes place in the physics, and it’s not because somebody comes and looks at it.”

[ click to continue reading at Science ]

Posted on September 7, 2020 by Editor

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Tundra Apocalypse

from LIVE SCIENCE

Zombie wildfires are blazing through the Arctic, causing record burning

By Stephanie Pappas

“Zombie” wildfires that were smoldering beneath the Arctic ice all winter suddenly flared to life this summer when the snow and ice above it melted, new monitoring data reveals.

And this year has been the worst for Arctic wildfires on record, since reliable monitoring began 17 years ago. Arctic fires this summer released as much carbon in the first half of July than a nation the size of Cuba or Tunisia does in a year. 

That’s according to monitoring by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, the European Union’s Earth-monitoring organization. More than 100 fires have burned across the Arctic since early June, according to Copernicus. “Obviously it’s concerning,” Copernicus senior scientist Mark Parrington told the BBC. “We really hadn’t expected to see these levels of wildfires yet.”

[ click to continue reading at LIVE SCIENCE ]

Posted on September 6, 2020 by Editor

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Le Blaine Rouge

from The U.S. Sun

David Blaine Ascension: Incredible moment magician soars 20,000ft above desert ‘holding onto just 52 BALLOONS’

by Fionnuala O’Leary

David Blaine clutched 52 balloons before parachuting towards the ground

INCREDIBLE footage shows the moment David Blaine soared above the desert holding onto a bunch of 52 helium balloons in a stunt that looked straight out of the film Up.

The illusionist parachuted towards the ground after releasing himself from the bunch of balloons on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Blaine returned to solid ground in the Arizona desert after his impressive stunt was a success. 

Blaine was strapped in with a harness as he clutched 52 helium-filled balloons and exceeded his projected altitude of 18,000 feet on Wednesday during the “Ascension” stunt.

[ click to continue reading at The U.S. Sun ]

Posted on September 4, 2020 by Editor

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“Good chance you’ll die…, but it will be pretty glorious if it works out.”

from The U.S. Sun

Elon Musk to build ‘glorious’ Martian city with 1,000-starship fleet – but warns first visitors ‘will probably die’

by Sean Keach

5Resembling a 164ft silver bullet, Starship is the latest rocket designed by SpaceX

The star-gazing billionaire has reaffirmed his vision for a Martian colony that doesn’t rely on support from Earth.

Musk has previously told of how his Starship rocket – currently in testing – will one day ferry Earthlings to Mars.

And he’s said he’ll need a fleet of 1,000 ships to create a sustainable city, as orbits mean the trip is only viable once every two years.

Now speaking at the Humans to Mars summit, Musk says the journey won’t be the hard part.

“Getting to Mars, I think, is not the fundamental issue,” said Musk, as quoted by CNBC.

“The fundamental issue is building a base, building a city on Mars that is self-sustaining.

“We’re going to build a propellant plant, an initial Mars base – Mars Base Alpha – and then get it to the point where it’s self-sustaining.”

Musk is expected to begin orbital Starship test flights next year.

The rocket is designed to be fully reusable, and will allow for long-distance journeys through space.

But the early trips to Mars will be treacherous.

“I want to emphasise that this is a very hard and dangerous difficult thing. Not for the faint of heart,” Musk explained.

“Good chance you’ll die, it’s going to be tough going, but it will be pretty glorious if it works out.”

The SpaceX Starship rocket is still very much in a testing phase.

[ click to continue reading at The U.S. Sun ]

Posted on September 3, 2020 by Editor

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Black Hole Birth

from VICE

Scientists Detected a New Kind of Black Hole Being Born in a Bizarre Event

A merger with a black hole possessing an unexplained ‘forbidden mass’ created the first conclusive example of an intermediate black hole in the most massive merger ever detected using ripples in spacetime.

By Maddie Bender

Scientists Detected a New Kind of Black Hole Being Born in a Bizarre Event
SIMULATION OF A BLACK HOLE MERGER IN GRAVITATIONAL WAVES.
IMAGE: FLICKR/NASA UNIVERSE

An international collaboration of astronomers has observed the formation of a black hole with the mass of 142 suns, the first conclusive evidence of an intermediate-mass black hole. The black hole was the result of the most massive black hole merger ever detected with gravitational waves, which are ripples in spacetime that can be detected from Earth. 

Not only did the merger produce the first example of a new kind of black hole, but one of the merging black holes possessed a “forbidden mass” that could not be explained by our usual understanding of how they form.

“I think it’s remarkable that we got such a clear observation of ‘Here’s a black hole with can’t be explained with our classic understanding of how stars collapse,'” said Christopher Berry, an astrophysics professor at Northwestern University and a LIGO Scientific Collaboration Editorial Board reviewer for the discovery paper.

The discoveries were enabled by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the Virgo interferometer, two of the world’s gravitational wave detectors. Companion papers published in the journals Physical Review Letters and Astrophysical Journal Letters on Wednesday described the signal, named GW190521.

[ click to continue reading at VICE ]

Posted on September 2, 2020 by Editor

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A Timely Failure

from Forbes

The First Clock In America Failed, And It Helped Revolutionize Physics

by Ethan Siegel, Senior Contributor

The schematic of a simple, oscillating pendulum acting under gravity's influence.
A pendulum, so long as the weight is all in the bob at the bottom while air resistance, temperature… KRISHNAVEDALA / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

For nearly three full centuries, the most accurate way that humanity kept track of time was through the pendulum clock. From its initial development in the 17th century until the invention of quartz timepieces in the 1920s, pendulum clocks became staples of household life, enabling people to organize their schedules according to a universally agreed upon standard. Initially invented in the Netherlands by Christian Huygens all the way back in 1656, their early designs were quickly refined to greatly increase their precision.

But when the first pendulum clock was brought to the Americas, something bizarre happened. The clock, which had worked perfectly well at keeping accurate time in Europe, could be synchronized with known astronomical phenomena, like sunset/sunrise and moonset/moonrise. But after only a week or two in the Americas, it was clear that the clock wasn’t keeping time properly. The first clock in America was a complete failure, but that’s only the beginning of a story that would revolutionize our understanding of the physics of planet Earth.

[ click to continue reading at Forbes ]

Posted on August 26, 2020 by Editor

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Teslaplane

from OBSERVER

A Tesla Electric Plane? Elon Musk Hints It’s Not Far Away

By Sissi Cao

Elon Musk first floated the idea of an electric jet two years ago. Saul Martinez/Getty Images

Elon Musk once said that one day, “all transportation will be electric, except for rockets.” Yes, that even includes airplanes, which have long been on his list of things to electrify.

The Tesla CEO first floated the idea in an interview in September 2018. The plane he envisioned was a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle capable of flying at supersonic speeds at high altitudes.

The idea has largely remained a far-fetched dream because in order for Musk’s design to work, the plane would require a battery with an energy density higher than 400 Wh/kg. Tesla’s newest batteries, Panasonic’s “2170” batteries used in Model 3 cars, can only achieve an energy density of around 260Wh/kg.

But Tesla is working to increase that capacity at unprecedented speed right now. In a new exchange with ARK Investment analyst Sam Korus on Twitter, Musk said Tesla may be able to achieve volume production of 400wh/kg batteries in just three to four years.

[ click to continue reading at OBSERVER ]

Posted on August 25, 2020 by Editor

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