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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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Six Months In

from Slate

The Terrifying, Liberating Lesson of the Coronavirus Lockdown

Six months later in America, we’re learning how to live again—and to accept the unimaginable.

By SUSAN MATTHEWS

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images Plus.

This is part of Six Months In, a Slate series reflecting on half a year of coronavirus lockdown in America.

A little more than six months ago, I sent a Slack message to Slate’s top editors that said “I think things are about to get really bad, virus-wise. We probably need to start thinking about that.” It was roughly a week before America’s shutdowns began and around the time when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was still telling people “there is more fear, more anxiety, than the facts would justify.” At that point, alongside reporting on some of the basic science of the “novel coronavirus,” Slate had told the stories of a Chinese restaurant devastated by xenophobic fear and a woman who had canceled a $24,000 anniversary cruise, and published dispatches from Italy, which at the time seemed like the darkest possible reflection of what might lie ahead. But still, it felt like no one was quite convinced a pandemic was arriving here.

One week later, much of America started to shut down, in some form or another. Slate started to order its employees to work remotely March 11. President Donald Trump gave a speech from the Oval Office that night about the virus, but it felt like it was the suspension of the NBA season and Tom Hanks’ announcement that he’d tested positive that jolted the public consciousness. As the death toll rose, the warnings from abroad got louder alongside our own public health officials’, and it seemed to finally hit many of us that we had to stay inside, isolated, alone, for real, with the occasional sanity-preserving walk. In a span of a few weeks, we went from trying to tell stories of how the virus had disrupted some people’s lives to realizing that the virus was disrupting everyone’s lives, and would be for some time.

[ click to continue reading at Slate ]

Posted on September 5, 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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Gone With The Cold-eyed Realism

from The New Criterion

Knights & their ladies fair

On the cold-eyed realism of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.

by Bruce Bawer

Just after the opening credits of Gone with the Wind and before the start of the film proper is a title card that reads as follows (ellipses in the original):

There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South . . .

Here in this patrician world the Age of Chivalry took its last bow . . .

Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave . . .

Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind . .

These are four very important sentences, because they’re intended to shape the way we view the entire 238-minute movie. Down through the decades, they’ve continued to serve that function. But those four sentences were not written by Margaret Mitchell, the author of the 1936 novel on which the film was based. They aren’t even remotely based on anything in the novel. On the contrary, when Mitchell first encountered the title card at the film’s Atlanta premiere, according to her biographer, Anne Edwards, she winced. “ ‘Cavalier,’ ” wrote Edwards, “was not a word she liked associated with the South.” The words don’t appear in the final shooting script, credited to Sidney Howard, or in any of the innumerable earlier versions of the screenplay done by other hands (including F. Scott Fitzgerald). Instead, the title card, along with six cards that appear later in the film, was composed by the prolific screenwriter and playwright Ben Hecht at the last-minute instigation of the movie’s producer, David O. Selznick (“i am certain you could bat them out in a few minutes,” Selznick telegraphed), and was slipped into the beginning of the picture a few weeks after its first sneak preview.

Many people who’ve seen Selznick’s movie but who’ve never opened Mitchell’s novel have acquired the impression that the book is just what Hecht’s title-card suggests: a gauzy, romantic take on the pre-war South. In fact, when the novel is mentioned in passing in accounts of the movie, it’s often summed up by a statement to precisely this effect. For example, in a 2005 biography of Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy in the film, Jill Watts, a professor of film studies at csu San Marcos, wrote that “In Mitchell’s view, the antebellum South was an era of greatness.” In 2004, Matthew Bernstein, a professor of film studies at Emory, described the racial politics of Selznick’s movie as “less-than-progressive,” while adding that “the film is less offensive than Margaret Mitchell’s novel.”

[ click to continue reading at The New Criterion ]

Posted on September 1, 2020 by Editor

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Hopper Hangs With Welles

Posted on August 29, 2020 by Editor

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Better Off Savage Steve

from Inside Hook

How Savage Steve Holland Changed Teen Movies Forever With “Better Off Dead”

A childhood birthday party with a drunk clown changed the course of cinematic history

BY GARIN PIRNIA

On August 23, 1985, Warner Bros. distributed the dark teen comedy Better Off Dead, written and directed by first-time feature director Savage Steve Holland. It starred John Cusack as lovesick Northern California teen Lane Meyer, whose girlfriend, Beth (played by Nightmare on Elm Street’s Amanda Wyss), breaks up with him. He’s so heartbroken about her dating the ski jock Roy Stalin (Aaron Dozier) that Lane repeatedly attempts — and fails — to commit suicide. It was a comedy based on Holland’s own life, and inspired by another dark comedy, 1971’s Harold and Maude.

“When I was 11 years old, I had this birthday party and nobody came to it except for this drunk clown,” Holland tells InsideHook. At California Institute of the Arts, where he attended college, he says people wondered why he was always so sad. “I pinned it on that birthday party,” he says. “That was a first-world problem — I had a shitty birthday party and I was depressed about it. I made it into a movie thinking, ‘What a sad story.’” A film-fest audience viewed his short film, My 11-Year-Old Birthday Party, as a comedy. “People thought it was so pathetic and sad that they were laughing their heads off. That’s how I started my career. I dug into things that sucked in my life, and the girlfriend thing that happened to me was the biggest suck of all.” Though almost every time Lane attempts suicide he reconsiders, Holland thinks the movie couldn’t be made today. “It was dark, but I was trying to find a way out that wasn’t so depressing,” he says. “And Cusack actually helped a lot. He felt the same way about it. You don’t want Lane to be such a loser. He has to go, ‘I have something to live for.’ As long as the jokes played off in the end and you laughed at his attempts, I think we were okay.”

[ click to continue reading at Inside Hook ]

Posted on August 28, 2020 by Editor

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Nekkidness On Netflix

from The Daily Beast

Inside Hollywood’s Long, Strange History of Movie Nudity

by Nick Schager

Though I might like to claim otherwise, I’m no expert on big-screen T&A&D. Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies, however, makes a bid for being the definitive documentary on the subject. Driven by a cornucopia of film clip and talking heads—led by actors, directors, historians and critics—it delivers a thorough chronological timeline of cinematic nakedness. Too bad, then, that when it comes to actually delving into the most interesting aspects of its topic, Danny Wolf’s non-fiction film proves, ahem, skin-deep.

Debuting on VOD on August 18, Skin is most valuable as a survey of movie nudity, ranging from the seminal 1887 work of Eadweard Muybridge to the mainstream BDSM fantasies of 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey, with just about every other notable example in-between at least briefly mentioned. That means that whatever film first aroused you likely appears in Wolf’s doc, be it silent film star Audrey Munson’s Inspiration (1915), Mae West’s sexual innuendo-laced 1930s output, Cecille B. DeMille’s The Sign of the Cross (1932), Jayne Mansfield’s Promises! Promises! (1963), Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966), Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show (1971), Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris (1972), Tinto Brass’ Caligula (1979), Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct (1992), or Paul Weitz’s American Pie (1999). For every generation, an iconic unclothed moment is vividly revisited here.

[ click to continue reading at TDB ]

Posted on August 27, 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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Neuralink

from Teslarati

Elon Musk to unveil Neuralink progress with real-time neuron demonstration this week

by Dacia J. Ferris

Neuralink’s surgical robot and an example of a wearable device for transmitting neuron information. (Photo: Neuralink)

Elon Musk’s brain-machine interface company, Neuralink, has an event scheduled for later this week to update the public on its progress since last year’s presentation. While the agenda is speculative for the most part, one expectation is a live demonstration of neuron activity.

“Will show neurons firing in real-time on August 28th. The matrix in the matrix,” Musk tweeted at the end of July.

He also revealed a few other clues about the early fall announcement at the beginning of the year. “Wait until you see the next version vs what was presented last year. It’s *awesome*,” he wrote in February. “The profound impact of high bandwidth, high precision neural interfaces is underappreciated. Neuralink may have this in a human as soon as this year. Just needs to be unequivocally better than Utah Array, which is already in some humans & has severe drawbacks.”

As its name implies, the roles of neuron activities are very important to Neuralink’s technology. The venture’s long-term goal of obtaining human symbiosis with artificial intelligence (AI) begins by connecting electrodes throughout the brain and reading its neuron signals en masse. Gathering huge amounts of data from the signals gradually teaches Neuralink’s software how they are used by the brain to communicate with the rest of the body, ultimately leading to a certain amount of replication and direction. The possibilities of such a capability seem endless.

[ click to continue reading at Teslarati ]

Posted on August 24, 2020 by Editor

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The Magic Knife

from ADWEEK

A Knife Brand Brilliantly Used Rust to Create an Outdoor Ad Highlighting Its Durability

The corrosion of the outdoor ad is made to contrast with the product in the center

BY PATRICK KULP

The billboard gradually rusted to reveal the silver silhouette of a knife. JCDecaux

Austrian manufacturer Tyrolit may have confused some people on the streets of Vienna when it first posted a blank sheet of metal bearing only a small brand name as a billboard.

But over the course of the next few weeks, the display would gradually rust to reveal the silver silhouette of a knife at the center and the tagline “Flawless Forever,” sealed behind a protective layer amid an expanse of reddish brown corrosion. 

The clever use of media, which was orchestrated in collaboration with agency Heimat’s office in Wien, Austria, is designed to demonstrate the durability of the Swarovski Group-owned brand’s Iceline line of cutlery.

[ click to continue reading at ADWEEK ]

Posted on August 23, 2020 by Editor

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I Heart UFOs

from Rolling Stone

How UFO culture took over America

by Stephen Rodrick

Aliens tom delonge ufo area 51
Illustration by Sean McCabe for Rolling Stone. Images in illustration by Getty Images

Aliens are calling me, but first I have to buy Lunchables. Soon, I’ll be heading into the Nevada desert. I will not be alone. It is pre-pandemic September, and tens of thousands of seekers are reported to be descending on Hiko and Rachel, two no-stoplight towns 150 miles north of Las Vegas. The two map specks are the closest civilian outposts to Area 51, a highly guarded military installation where, legend says, a hangar holds a gravity-propelled craft that travels between galaxies and through wormholes based on technology acquired from aliens and, according to one rock star, Nazi scientists who escaped to Argentina.

[ click to continue reading at RS ]

Posted on August 22, 2020 by Editor

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Hotels On The Moon

from Daily Star

Tourists will be able to visit hotels in space within a few years, expert claims

A scientific author says wealthy tourists will be able to visit space hotels by the end of the decade – before humans return to the moon. Commercial space hotels are likely to be the “next big step”

ByJames Bickerton & Unzela Khan

Space hotels will be available before humans return to the moon, it has been claimed (Image: Getty Images)

Tourists will be able to enjoy a holiday in space in hotels in just a few years according to an expert.

Author Christopher Wanjek made the claim and said humans will be able to visit within this decade.

The writer of ‘Spacefarers: How Humans Will Settle the Moon, Mars, and Beyond’ also added wealthy tourists can visit the hotels before humans establish a permanent base on the Moon. 

A current deadline set by the Trump administration is 2024 for NASA to return humans to moon

Once this deadline is met, NASA aims to launch crewed missions to March in 2030s, reports the Express.

[ click to continue reading at Daily Star ]

Posted on August 21, 2020 by Editor

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Blinded To The Fly-by

from End Of The American Dream

If NASA Couldn’t See The Asteroid That Just Whizzed By Us, What Else Can’t They See?

by Michael Snyder

Did you know that an asteroid just flew by our planet at an extremely close distance?  The good news is that it was only about the size of a car, but the bad news is that NASA had absolutely no idea that it was coming.  In fact, NASA only discovered it about six hours after it had passed us.  If NASA could not see that asteroid coming straight at us, what else is heading toward us that they cannot see? It has been estimated that “about 17,000 big near-Earth asteroids remain undetected”, but the truth is that we don’t really know how many giant space rocks are floating around out there.  Of course scientists all around the world are doing their best to catalog new potential threats all the time, but what most people don’t realize is that this is an area where our technology is still very limited.

[ click to continue reading at End Of The American Dream ]

Posted on August 20, 2020 by Editor

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Implants Impending

from The U.S. Sun

Meet the super-rich ‘biohackers’ turning into cyborgs with in-built armour and injecting teenagers’ BLOOD to stay young

by Alison Maloney

Tech implants, like this ‘Eyeborg’ camera developed by filmmaker Rob Spence, are current biohacks Credit: The Eyeborg Project

WOULD you like to live forever?

From daily sessions in sub-zero cryo-chambers to stem cell injection and transfusions of teenagers’ BLOOD, their bizarre attempts to become superhuman have fuelled a multi-million dollar industry.

It may sound like something out of a sci-fi novel, but there’s a growing band of Silicon Valley billionaires who believe they can achieve eternal life through “biohacking” – the process of making alterations to your body to keep it younger.

Netflix’s new drama Biohackers, released on Thursday, (Aug 20) seizes on the terrifying trend by imagining a secretive lab where a young student, played by Luna Wedler, discovers a sinister experiment using the techniques on an entire town.

Here we meet the real Silicon Valley biohackers – the men who want to be immortal.

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

Posted on August 19, 2020 by Editor

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DV 130

from AFP via Yahoo! News

Scorching temperature in US’s Death Valley could be global high

by Issam AHMED

A temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius) recorded in California’s Death Valley on Sunday by the US National Weather Service could be the hottest ever measured with modern instruments, officials say.

The reading was registered at 3:41 pm at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center in the Death Valley national park by an automated observation system — an electronic thermometer encased inside a box in the shade.

In 1913, a weather station half an hour’s walk away recorded what officially remains the world record of 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees Celsius). 

But its validity has been disputed for a number of reasons: regional weather stations at the time didn’t report an exceptional heatwave, and there were questions around the researcher’s competence.

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! News ]

Posted on August 18, 2020 by Editor

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Robot Rice & Rinds

from AP

Colombian fast food chain bets on automated restaurants

By MANUEL RUEDA

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A Colombian fast food chain is planning to turn its branches into automated restaurants at a moment when the coronavirus pandemic has slammed the food service industry worldwide.

MUY has more than 30 restaurants in Bogota, and four in Mexico City. Earlier this month, it opened its first “contactless store” in a commercial district of Bogota, where many restaurants have been forced to shut down because of a ban on sit-down dining. 

The automat’s main lobby is lined with colorful touch screens on which customers order their food. Another screen tells people when their order is ready and directs them to small cubicles where they can pick up their hot meals in bags. Machines take payments in cash or credit cards.

[ click to continue reading at AP ]

Posted on August 17, 2020 by Editor

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Double Cheese is a $1.50 Extra

from CBS Los Angeles

Business Booming At Local Pizzerias Even As Cheese, Pepperoni Harder To Come By

By CBSLA Staff

PASADENA (CBSLA) — In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and coins, but now some pizza places are reporting a shortage of pepperoni and higher prices for cheese.

“The price has gone up,” David Valian, owner of Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizza, said. “I think since there’s like a meat shortage going around.”

The thin slice of meat — a mix of pork and beef — is the number one pizza topping according to an industry resource, and its one that the popular Pasadena joint has run into issues keeping in stock.

“A couple of weeks ago, we were having some trouble sourcing pepperoni,” Valian said. “We always have to go back and try to find more.”

[ click to continue reading at CBS LA ]

Posted on August 16, 2020 by Editor

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Paranoiac Pakula

from Inside Hook

What the Paranoid ’70s Thrillers of Alan J. Pakula Can Teach Us About 2020

Revisiting the American director’s “Klute,” “All the President’s Men” and “The Parallax View”

BY MONICA CASTILLO

Alan J. Pakula’s 1970s “paranoia trilogy” connects to 2020.
Alan J. Pakula’s 1970s “paranoia trilogy” connects to 2020.

Early in The Parallax View, reporter Joe Frady (Warren Beatty) chases after clues to a string of mysterious deaths in a remote fishing town. The locals don’t take kindly to the outsider asking questions, but the friendly sheriff intervenes and offers to take Frady to the spot where one of the victims drowned. Even though it looks like Joe’s relieved for a break in his story, he’s still on guard, nervously surveying the way people are looking at him and doubting the sheriff’s assuring grin. Something’s not right. When the sheriff takes Joe to the river, he pulls a gun, and it’s up to Joe to figure a way out of a conspiracy into which he’s suddenly thrust. 

That heightened sense that no one can be trusted and that there are greater invisible forces at work help give Alan J. Pakula’s “paranoia trilogy” of the 1970s its moniker. Starting with Klute in 1971, followed by The Parallax Viewin 1974, and ending with All the President’s Men in 1976, Pakula’s films paint a bleak picture of a nation united in chaos. These movies reacted to the tumult ushered in by the Watergate scandal. The Pentagon Papers had revealed a number of ugly truths about the Vietnam War and exposed the existence of COINTELPRO, an illegal FBI surveillance program that intended to destabilize leftist political groups. One of Pakula’s films reckons with the ordeal explicitly: in All the President’s MenWashington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) piece together the full story behind the Watergate breakin. The other two are more subtle in their approach. In Klute, sex worker Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda) quickly learns that she can’t rely on police protection to rid her of a dangerous stalker.

[ click to continue reading at Inside Hook ]

Posted on August 15, 2020 by Editor

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Roaring 20 II

from The Wall Street Journal

Coronavirus Lockdowns Usher In the New Roaring ’20s

An underground social economy is growing to escape state prohibitions.

By Allysia Finley

Opinion: Progressives to Cities: Drop Dead

States with strict coronavirus lockdowns seem to be reliving the Roaring ’20s. Alcohol is legal in the 21st century’s version of Prohibition, but with restaurants, bars and other social spaces shut down, governors in California, New Jersey and New York are struggling to crack down on illicit summer soirees and speakeasies. 

As in the 1920s, driving gatherings underground has encouraged other illicit behavior, including violence. Last week police busted up a party at a Santa Monica, Calif., mansion with hundreds of revelers….

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Posted on August 14, 2020 by Editor

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Mind-time

from aeon

The mathematics of mind-time

The special trick of consciousness is being able to project action and time into a range of possible futures

by Karl Friston
edited by Sally Davies

Photo by Steve McCurry/Magnum

have a confession. As a physicist and psychiatrist, I find it difficult to engage with conversations about consciousness. My biggest gripe is that the philosophers and cognitive scientists who tend to pose the questions often assume that the mind is a thing, whose existence can be identified by the attributes it has or the purposes it fulfils.

But in physics, it’s dangerous to assume that things ‘exist’ in any conventional sense. Instead, the deeper question is: what sorts of processes give rise to the notion (or illusion) that something exists? For example, Isaac Newton explained the physical world in terms of massive bodies that respond to forces. However, with the advent of quantum physics, the real question turned out to be the very nature and meaning of the measurements upon which the notions of mass and force depend – a question that’s still debated today.

As a consequence, I’m compelled to treat consciousness as a process to be understood, not as a thing to be defined. Simply put, my argument is that consciousness is nothing more and nothing less than a natural process such as evolution or the weather. My favourite trick to illustrate the notion of consciousness as a process is to replace the word ‘consciousness’ with ‘evolution’ – and see if the question still makes sense. For example, the question What is consciousness for? becomes What is evolution for?Scientifically speaking, of course, we know that evolution is not for anything. It doesn’t perform a function or have reasons for doing what it does – it’s an unfolding process that can be understood only on its own terms. Since we are all the product of evolution, the same would seem to hold for consciousness and the self.

[ click to continue reading at aeon ]

Posted on August 13, 2020 by Editor

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The Ceres Ocean

from c|net

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft discovers a hidden ocean under Ceres’ icy shell

Bright spots on Ceres, a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt, point to an underground ocean that remains active today.

by Jackson Ryan

A mosaic of Cerealia Facula highlighting the differences in composition. NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI

In the asteroid belt, an immense region of space between Mars and Jupiter, millions of rocky bodies serenely move around the sun in a timeless cosmic dance. Queen among the dancers is Ceres, the belt’s largest object and a “fossil” from the early days of the solar system. In 2007, NASA launched the Dawn spacecraft to the belt to study Ceres up close. After surveying the dwarf planet, tracing its blemishes and examining its sullen features, scientists reasoned it was once home to a global ocean that had frozen over. 

On Monday, a suite of seven studies in the journal Nature scrutinize extended mission data from Dawn, peering at Ceres’ dull, lifeless shell and finding definitive evidence that it is an ocean world.

“The new results confirm the presence of liquid inside Ceres,” says Julie Castillo-Rogez, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion laboratory (JPL) and co-author across six new studies. The discovery of liquids hints that Ceres, the closest dwarf planet to Earth, may have been a habitable world and raises the possibility that these types of worlds may harbor life. 

[ click to continue reading at c|net ]

Posted on August 10, 2020 by Editor

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Debbie Does Zoom

from AFP via Yahoo! News

Porn video interrupts US court hearing for accused Twitter hacker

The Florida court hearing of the teenager accused of masterminding a major Twitter hack, held online via the Zoom app, was interrupted with rap music and pornography
The Florida court hearing of the teenager accused of masterminding a major Twitter hack, held online via the Zoom app, was interrupted with rap music and pornography (AFP Photo/Olivier DOULIERY)

Miami (AFP) – A court hearing held via Zoom for a US teenager accused of masterminding a stunning hack of Twitter was interrupted Wednesday with rap music and porn, a newspaper reported.

The purpose of the hearing was to discuss reducing bail terms set for the 17 year old Tampa resident arrested last Friday over the hack last month of the accounts of major US celebrities.

But the interruptions with music, shrieking and pornography became so frequent that Judge Christopher Nash ended up suspending it for a while, the Tampa Bay Times said.

Investigators view the youth — AFP has chosen not to release his name because he is a minor — as the brains behind the mid-July cyberattack that rocked Twitter.

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! ]

Posted on August 5, 2020 by Editor

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Temporary Death

from National Geographic

These People Believe Death Is Only Temporary

Transhumanists believe in a future of human immortality. A community in Russia is working to make it happen.

BY DANIEL STONE

Transhumanist and neurobiologist Olga Levitskaya is photographed following an event at the Cosmonaut Museum in Moscow to raise funds for the CyberSuit. Levitskaya is wearing a… PHOTOGRAPH BY GIUSEPPE NUCCI

In a small, white warehouse two hours north of Moscow are 56 dead people who hope to live again. Their bodies are upside down, their blood fully drained from their arteries, as they wait, immersed in negative 196-degree Celsius liquid nitrogen for the next 100 years.

What they’re waiting for is a new life, or a continuation of the one they already lived. Many of the bodies belong to people who reached the end of their life naturally, usually at an advanced age. They made the decision to be cryopreserved before they died, or in some cases, their family signed the paperwork post-mortem and paid the $36,000 to freeze their loved one’s body (or $18,000 for just their head) for the standard term of a century—which can perhaps be extended, to be determined, based on where science leaves us in the 22nd century.

[ click to continue reading at Nat Geo ]

Posted on August 4, 2020 by Editor

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Everyday Strangers

from DNyuz

The Benefits of Talking to Strangers

I’m a lifelong extrovert who readily establishes and relishes casual contacts with people I encounter during daily life: while walking my dog, shopping for groceries, working out at the Y, even sweeping my sidewalk. These ephemeral connections add variety to my life, are a source of useful information and often provide needed emotional and physical support. Equally important, they nearly always leave me with a smile on my face (although now hidden under a mask!).

In recent months, under stay-at-home orders because of the coronavirus pandemic, many people lost such daily encounters. I, on the other hand, have done my best to maintain as many of them as possible while striving to remain safe. With in-person time with family and close friends now limited by a mutual desire to avoid exposure to Covid-19, the brief socially distant contacts with people in my neighborhood, both those I’ve known casually for years and others I just met, have been crucial to my emotional and practical well-being and maybe even my health.

The benefits I associate with my casual connections were reinforced recently by a fortuitous find. During a Covid-inspired cleanup I stumbled upon a book in my library called “Consequential Strangers: The Power of People Who Don’t Seem to Matter … But Really Do.” Published 11 years ago, this enlightening tome was written by Melinda Blau, a science writer, and Karen L. Fingerman, currently a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, who studies the nature and effects of so-called weak ties that people have with others in their lives: the barista who fetches their coffee, the person who cuts their hair, the proprietor of the local market, the folks they see often at the gym or train station.

In an interview, Dr. Fingerman noted that casual connections with people encountered in the course of daily life can give people a feeling that they belong to a community, which she described as “a basic human need.”

[ click to continue reading at DNyuz ]

Posted on August 3, 2020 by Editor

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Rockers CIA

from The Daily Beast

CIA, Guns, and Rasta: Inside the Making of Reggae’s Most Iconic Film

Rockers is an absolutely wild movie with a backstory that’s much, much wilder.

by Patricia Meschino

Rockers is, arguably, the finest reggae movie ever made. 

The 1978 film tells the story of a financially struggling drummer, Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace (portraying himself), who buys a motorbike with the intention of making extra money by distributing producers’ records to shops across the island. When the bike is stolen by an upper-class organized crime ring, Horsemouth and his friends set out to retrieve it and take back most of the criminals’ ill-gotten goods and distribute them to Kingston’s ghetto dwellers.

The skeletal plot is best summarized as a Jamaican reinterpretation of the legend of Robin Hood meets Italian director Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves, yet Rockers mesmerizes as a kaleidoscopic view of late ’70s reggae, one of the most fascinating eras in Jamaican music’s trajectory, and in its respectful, almost mystical presentation of Rastafarian culture, a relatively unknown way of life at the time of the film’s international debut. 

Made on a budget of $250,000 and directed by Theodoros “Ted” Bafaloukos, Rockers caused a near riot at the Cannes Film Festival in 1979 when crowds clamoring for tickets to the four scheduled sold-out screenings jammed the streets surrounding the theater and refused to leave. A review in the French daily Le Monde enthused, “Rockers is not a film, it is a work of art. So good it is difficult to believe, yet it is real.”

Rockers secured U.S. distribution in 1980; 40 years later, the film continues to be widely screened, critically lauded, and now, meticulously documented in a spectacular 320-page coffee table book, published by Gingko Press. Rockers: The Making of Reggae’s Most Iconic Film, was initially written by Bafaloukos in 2005 (he died in 2016 at age 70, due to complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma). Featuring many previously unseen, stunning black and white and color photos taken in New York City and throughout his travels to Jamaica in the mid to late ’70s, the Rockers book chronicles Bafaloukos’ personal narrative as vividly and insightfully as it does the landmark film bearing its name.

[ click to continue reading at TDB ]

Posted on August 2, 2020 by Editor

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Evel Toys

Posted on August 1, 2020 by Editor

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There Are No Wrong Questions

from The New York Times

Do We Believe in U.F.O.s? That’s the Wrong Question

Reporting on the Pentagon program that’s investigating unidentified flying objects is not about belief. It’s about a vigilant search for facts.

By Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean

The Pentagon’s U.F.O. Program has been using unclassified slides like this to brief government officials on threats from Advanced Aerospace Vehicles — “including off-world” — and materials retrieved from crashes of unidentified phenomena.
The Pentagon’s U.F.O. Program has been using unclassified slides like this to brief government officials on threats from Advanced Aerospace Vehicles — “including off-world” — and materials retrieved from crashes of unidentified phenomena. Credit… Leslie Kean

We were part of The New York Times’s team (with the Washington correspondent Helene Cooper) that broke the story of the Pentagon’s long-secret unit investigating unidentified flying objects, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, in December 2017.

Since then, we have reported on Navy pilots’ close encounters with U.F.O.s, and last week, on the current revamped program, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force and its official briefings — ongoing for more than a decade — for intelligence officials, aerospace executives and Congressional staff on reported U.F.O. crashes and retrieved materials.

We’re often asked by well-meaning associates and readers, “Do you believe in U.F.O.s?” The question sets us aback as being inappropriately personal. Times reporters are particularly averse to revealing opinions that could imply possible reporting bias.

But in this case we have no problem responding, “No, we don’tbelieve in U.F.O.s.”

As we see it, their existence, or nonexistence, is not a matter of belief.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Posted on July 31, 2020 by Editor

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