This is one of the most incredibly delightful and mindblowing Turns Outs.
Neuroscience continues to uncover new ways that coffee and (to a lesser extent) tea and chocolate, tend to make brains healthier and more resilient.
When studies prove my habits are good, I believe them.
Nature has put together a comprehensive series of charts that do a really great job at showing just how fucked we are.
Whatever they decide, nations will have to reckon with some difficult numbers that will ultimately determine whether the world can avoid the rapidly approaching climate meltdown. Nature documents the scale of the challenge in an infographic that explores energy use, carbon dioxide pollution and issues of climate justice. At a time when countries have pledged to curb greenhouse gases sharply, the data show that annual emissions spiked by 2.1% in 2018 — owing in part to increased demand for coal in places such as China and India.
This is a video I’ve long wanted to make, about what makes video look like video and, up until 10 years ago or so, not as appealing as film. I grew up with the two technologies (film and video) in parallel and to me they always seemed like two ways of achieving the same ends: recording and replaying moving images. But their histories are quite distinct. Film was always a way to capture moving images for later replaying. Video started out as a way to transfer images from one place to another instantaneously.
Timothy B. Lee:
In January 2016, Musk predicted that Tesla cars would be able to drive autonomously coast to coast “in ~2 years.”
Needless to say, this hasn’t happened.
More than a critique of Tesla, this article is a good roundup of current thinking around self-driving technology.
Astronauts returning to Earth after a long stint in space are so badly disorientated that they usually can’t walk properly for 24 hours or longer. Turns out human brains function differently in space and when an astronaut gets back, it takes his or her brain some time to re-train itself. Now Marissa Rosenberg, a neuroscientist at Nasa, plans to use virtual reality headsets as a tool to short-cut the training.
David Ehrlich writes about the upcoming Apollo 11 documentary, made using recently discovered 65mm footage:
It’s rare that picture quality can inspire a physical reaction, but the opening moments of “Apollo 11,” in which a NASA camera crew roams around the base of the rocket and spies on some of the people who’ve come to gawk at it from a beach across the water, are vivid enough to melt away the screen that stands between them. The clarity takes your breath away, and it does so in the blink of an eye; your body will react to it before your brain has time to process why, after a lifetime of casual interest, you’re suddenly overcome by the sheer enormity of what it meant to leave the Earth and land somewhere else.
This looks absolutely incredible.
A remarkable visualization of emergence at work. The close-up shots of the circulatory system look straight out of a trippy sci-fi horror film.
The human factor of keeping a science project going for 500 years seems a lot more complicated than the actual science:
Opening vials, adding water, and counting colonies that grow from rehydrated bacteria is easy. The hard part is ensuring someone will continue doing this on schedule well into the future. The team left a USB stick with instructions, which Möller realizes is far from adequate, given how quickly digital technology becomes obsolete. They also left a hard copy, on paper. “But think about 500-year-old paper,” he says, how it would yellow and crumble. “Should we carve it in stone? Do we have to carve it in a metal plate?” But what if someone who cannot read the writing comes along and decides to take the metal plate as a cool, shiny relic, as tomb raiders once did when looting ancient tombs?
The Economist reports on a recently published astronomy paper:
Dr Tarter reckoned that decades of searching had amounted to the equivalent of dipping a drinking glass into Earth’s oceans at random to see if it contained a fish.
Once the numbers had been crunched, the researchers reckoned humanity has done slightly better than Dr Tarter suggested. Rather than dipping a drinking glass into the ocean, they say, astronomers have dunked a bathtub.
Huh. I wonder if that really is an apt comparison.
A machine learning agent intended to transform aerial images into street maps and back was found to be cheating by hiding information it would need later in “a nearly imperceptible, high-frequency signal.” Clever girl!
But in fact this occurrence, far from illustrating some kind of malign intelligence inherent to AI, simply reveals a problem with computers that has existed since they were invented: they do exactly what you tell them to do.
Great reporting from Reuters:
As waters warm, fish and other sea life are migrating poleward, seeking to maintain the even temperatures they need to thrive and breed. The number of creatures involved in this massive diaspora may well dwarf any climate impacts yet seen on land.
Jennifer Ouellette, for Ars Technica:
Manmade clocks may precisely measure time, but, from a human perspective, the passage of time is remarkably fluid. It drags when you’re doing your taxes but really does fly when you’re having fun. Isolate yourself from any markers of time (night and day, watches or clocks) and you will feel less time has passed than actually has, because under those circumstances, the brain condenses time.
Jason Pontin for Wired:
In a groundbreaking study, 102 healthy subjects and 48 responsive but brain-injured patients were “zapped and zipped” when conscious and unconscious, creating a value called a “perturbational complexity index” (PCI). Remarkably, across all 150 subjects, when the PCI value was above a certain value (0.31, is it happens) the person was conscious; if below, she or he was always unconscious.
Massimini’s test is important because it is the first real proof of integrated information theory (IIT), a theory of consciousness invented by neuroscientist and psychiatrist Giulio Tononi at the University of Wisconsin.
IIT doesn’t try to answer the hard problem. Instead, it does something more subtle: It posits that consciousness is a feature of the universe, like gravity, and then tries to solve the pretty hard problem of determining which systems are conscious with a mathematical measurement of consciousness represented by the Greek letter phi (Φ).