The lifespan of a black hole

Fraser Cain, for Universe Today: Quantum theory suggests there are virtual particles popping in and out of existence all the time. When this happens, a particle and its antiparticle appear, and then they recombine and disappear again. When this takes place near an event horizon, strange things can happen. Instead of the two particles existing…

Continue reading

Pixar’s virtual tools help bring imaginary worlds to life

Matthew Panzarino, for TechCrunch: For Inside Out, there were a couple of unique issues because the worlds inside and outside Riley’s head had to be significantly different. They looked and felt different from art direction and design viewpoints, of course. But they also had to feel different to the viewer. So different virtual camera techniques were used…

Continue reading

Dissociative amnesia causes woman to forget 17 years of her life

This unusual phenomenon actually happened to Naomi Jacobs seven years ago, but this brief interview is new. Jacobs is promoting her book, Forgotten Girl, about what it was like to go to bed aged 32, and wake up as a confused teenager. (Basically, it seems like a particularly confusing form of time travel.) Jacobs’ original article, from 2008 is in…

Continue reading

Two NASA spacewalk videos

Sean O’Kane, for The Verge: Astronaut Terry Virts uses the action camera to capture a stunning view of Earth passing by, and in the second one we get a strapped-on view of what it looks like to navigate the underbelly of the International Space Station. And it’s pretty stunning to see in good quality video.

Giving robotic hands a sense of touch

Medgadget reports on research from UCLA’s Biomechatronics Lab: While tactile sensors have been used before in order to create a rudimentary sense of touch, the UCLA team is taking this technology a step further by introducing smart algorithms to process what the sensors are feeling. Specifically, the researchers are building a “language of touch” that…

Continue reading

Brad Bird Is Currently Writing ‘The Incredibles 2′

Germain Lussier, for /Film: The director is finishing up Tomorrowland, the film he chose to do over Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and has started to look towards his next project. Thankfully for him, his next project was kind of revealed over a year ago. That’s when Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors Pixar was beginning work on The Incredibles 2 and,…

Continue reading

Our Moon may be the result of a planetary collision with primordial Earth

Irene Klotz, for ABC Science: Using advanced computer modelling, Mastrobuono-Battisti and colleagues ran dozens of simulations of later-stage planet formation, each time starting with 85 to 90 planetary embryos and 1,000 to 2,000 planetesimals extending from about halfway between the orbits of Mercury and Venus to within 50 million miles or so of Jupiter’s orbit….

Continue reading

Contemplating life on a rogue planet

Astrophysicist Sean Raymond, for Aeon: These planets don’t orbit stars. They wander the stars. They are free citizens of the galaxy. It might seem like the stuff of science fiction but several free-floating gas giants have been found in recent years. Our own gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn, are leashed to the Sun on well-behaved…

Continue reading

Ex Machina: the making of Ava

Ian Failes, for fxguide: Ava is clearly intended to be a robot of some kind, but Whitehurst was adamant that she not feel robotic in terms of her CG materials. “The one rule I made from the outset,” he says, “was that no-one was allowed to look at robots. You were allowed, though, to look at things…

Continue reading

Natural selection’s role in the height of the Dutch

Martin Enserink, for Science/AAAS: The study, published online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows that tall Dutch men on average have more children than their shorter counterparts, and that more of their children survive. That suggests genes that help make people tall are becoming more frequent among the Dutch, says behavioral…

Continue reading

Improving the readability of tiny screens at a glance

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan, for Gizmodo: Dr. Nadine Chahine is a type designer at the foundry Monotype who focuses on the science of legibility. Dr. Bryan Reimer is a scientist at MIT’s AgeLab who researches distracted driving and the impact of in-car interfaces on drivers. Together, they’re writing the book on how our eyes read when we’re distracted by the world…

Continue reading

The First Trailer For Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Jason Schreier, for Kotaku: There’s no release date or even year announced yet for the much-anticipated fourth Deus Ex game, which will be released on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. In other words, don’t expect this game until 2016. But still, it’s exciting—Human Revolution was excellent, and it sounds like the developers have been working on this next…

Continue reading

Joe Quirk’s call for cities of the sea (video)

Author Joe Quirk, a “seavangelist” for The Seasteading Institute presents a brief but thought provoking case for the development of independent sea faring habitats. From the description: Joe Quirk of the Seasteading Institute thinks floating cities will allow micro nations to compete for people — providing better life options and innovations. “Aquapreneurs,” says Quirk, can save humanity…

Continue reading

The danger of AI

A prominent group of thinkers has raised the alarm that humanity would do well to heed the inherent dangers of artificial intelligence. Lyle Cantor, on Medium: A superinteligence (sic) whose super-goal is to calculate the decimal expansion of pi will never reason itself into benevolence. It would be quite happy to convert all the free matter and…

Continue reading

Analysis of the colors used in paintings over time

Martin Bellander scraped the color data from 120,013 paintings — most of them produced between 1800 and 2000 — then wrote statistical software to extract color data from them. Bellander: There seems to be a reliable trend of increasingly blue paintings throughout the 20th century! Actually almost all colors seem to increase at the expense of orange….

Continue reading

A General Feeling of Disorder by Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks, for The New York Review of Books: Soon after waking from the embolization—it was performed under general anesthesia—I was to be assailed by feelings of excruciating tiredness and paroxysms of sleep so abrupt they could poleaxe me in the middle of a sentence or a mouthful, or when visiting friends were talking or…

Continue reading

The split over Los Angeles’ new parking signs

This one’s fascinating to me. I’ve seen several otherwise unrelated articles about LA’s parking sign redesign, and each had a negative spin. What drops my jaw is that the new signs, to me, are a vast improvement. Finally, at a glance, I can see exactly where I am right now, and where I’m not supposed…

Continue reading

The development of the Apple Watch: a glance behind the scenes

David Pierce, for Wired: Lynch and team had to reengineer the Watch’s software twice before it was sufficiently fast. An early version of the software served you information in a timeline, flowing chronologically from top to bottom. That idea never made it off campus; the ideas that will ship on April 24 are focused on…

Continue reading

Alan Dower Blumlein, the inventor of stereophonic sound

Victoria Turk, for Motherboard: Blumlein’s work included inventions needed for recording, processing and playing sound in stereo and he had around 70 patents to his name. Dedicating the plaque, IEEE President Howard Michel explained that his work included “a ‘shuffling’ circuit to preserve directional sound, an orthogonal ‘Blumlein Pair’ of velocity microphones, recording of two…

Continue reading

Direct-current stimulation: brain therapy, or placebo enhancer?

Elif Batuman, for the New Yorker: This was my first experience of transcranial direct-current stimulation, or tDCS—a portable, cheap, low-tech procedure that involves sending a low electric current (up to two milliamps) to the brain. Research into tDCS is in its early stages. A number of studies suggest that it may improve learning, vigilance, intelligence,…

Continue reading

Up close and personal with the Large Hadron Collider

John Timmer, for Ars Technica: Ohio State University’s Carl Vuosalo helped show us around the CMS, but first he had to shepherd us past higher security than I’ve ever experienced. To do so, he passed through a retina-scanning security system that simultaneously checked his weight (presumably to keep someone with a disembodied eyeball from making their way past the system). I…

Continue reading

Tracking down the women who programmed the ENIAC

Annie Minoff and Jared Goyette, for Public Radio International: When Kathy Kleiman started researching the history of computer programming as an undergraduate, she came across old black-and-white photos of the people who worked on the ENIAC, the world’s first all-electronic programmable computer. But they seemed to be missing a key detail. Both men and women were pictured posing…

Continue reading

Frequent Video Game Players Resist Perceptual Interference

A paper published on PLOS One breaks it down: Playing certain types of video games for a long time can improve a wide range of mental processes, from visual acuity to cognitive control. Stands to reason, since practice makes 1up. Dian Schaffhauser, for Campus Technology: The researchers said they aren’t exactly sure what’s happening in the brain…

Continue reading