First Observation of a Quantum Cheshire Cat

quantum, measurement, weak measurement, cat, cheshire cat

Yuji Hasegawa at Vienna University of Technology in Austria and a few pals say they’ve observed a quantum Cheshire cat for the first time. These guys have performed a paradoxical experiment in which they measure the location of neutrons in one part of the set up while detecting their spin in another part. “The results exhibit the characteristics of a quantum Cheshire Cat,” they conclude.

[T]here is no other aesthetic problem than that of the insertion of art into everyday life. The more our daily life appears…

“[T]here is no other aesthetic problem than that of the insertion of art into everyday life. The more our daily life appears standardized, stereotyped and subject to an accelerated reproduction of objects of consumption, the more art must be injected into it in order to extract that little difference which plays simultaneously between other levels of repetition, and even in order to make the two extremes resonate — namely, that habitual series of consumption and the instinctual series of destruction and death.”

Gilles Deleuze,Difference and Repetition

Provenance and Trust

Provenance, trust, systems, science, Yolanda Gil, traces

Provenance refers to the origins of objects. Software systems should generate provenance records for their results, containing assertions about the entities and activities involved in producing and delivering or otherwise influencing that object. By knowing the provenance of an object, we can for example make assessment about its validity and whether it can be trusted, we can decide how to integrate it with others, and can validate that it was generated according to specifications.

"About six years ago I found a discussion forum online where users were sharing techniques for accessing various devices that…

surveillance, IoT, security, panopticon

“About six years ago I found a discussion forum online where users were sharing techniques for accessing various devices that were all networked through the internet. A large part of the discussion surrounded the ability to access unsecured webcam control panels, which had at some point been indexed though the search robots at Google. Interestingly, even control panels that required a password were sometimes very easily bypassed by a default user & password combination from the original device settings. At some point I started making screen captures [with] the webcams I was able to access. Sometimes it would be an image of a dog in a cage, or a tired employee behind a cash register in a convenience store… fairly uneventful moments, but every camera that successfully loaded felt like I was viewing a portal into another world, a space only accessible though digital means.

Using this methodology, I eventually accessed the control panel for this camera, which offered almost complete pan & tilt options, a 21x optical zoom, focus control, and exposure adjustments. The level of control was unparalleled compared to the other cameras I was accessing.

Andrew Hammerand’s Suburban Panopticon via In the In-Between

Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014

2014, WELL, Bruce Sterling, Jon Lebkowsky, state of the word

Well, it’s 2014, and I thank goodness the WELL is still here. I’ve never been so happy to have an Internet account that doesn’t belong to some ultra-rich creep. It’ll be hard, this year, not to dwell obsessively on the capering specters of the NSA, Snowden, Wikileaks, Bitcoin… 2013 turned out to be the year when the Digital Revolution trended Stalinist. Old-school Digital Bolsheviks scattered hapless in every direction, as Big Data Killer Bot Commissars scoured the darkening landscape, and Trotsky went to ground in Ecuador. An extraordinary atmosphere of sullen, baffled evil, as the year opens. I don’t know what to compare 2014 to – except for many other glum post-revolutionary situations, when the zealots succeeded in toppling the status quo, then failed to install a just and decent form of civil order. The world in 2014 is like a globalized Twitter Egypt.

02013 (365) in review

photography, 2013, review, first person, daily practice

2013 timeline_colour

“Perhaps true, total photography […] is a pile of fragments of private images, against the creased background of massacres and coronations.”
—Italo Calvino

For the last three (solar) years i’ve taken at least one photo per day, every day, in an ongoing series of small acts of deliberate persistence. After more than 1000 days patterns emerge, inspiration ebbs and returns, the pile of fragments grows. While i’ve never made a deliberate attempt to narrow the focus or or create further constraints than ‘one photo per day’ it’s inevitable that subjective and analytic patterns become visible.


The analytic patterns have been extracted using the Flickr API (the code can be found at github). During 02013 there are more greyscale images (171) than previously while light (66), pattern (41), reflection (38), texture (29), shadow (27) and plants (20) remain common themes (for previous years see 02012 (366) and 02011 (365))



During the year there were 746 unique tags used of which 462 were only used once, these include agave, fishbones, gargoyles in boxes, ရွှေတိဂုံစေတီတော် (aka Shwedagon Zedi Daw) and vanga. Taxidermy, Sarracenia, The Secretariat, Geomancy and Filmske Novosti were also only mentioned once.


The majority of photos were made in Belgium (241) with others in Australia (48), Croatia (18), Austria (10), Burma (9), Cambodia (7), Singapore (7), Indonesia (6), Iceland (4), UK (5), Romania (4), Germany (3), Switzerland (1), The Netherlands (1) and France (1). (local level geolocation is probably more informative but also less comprehensive)


Flickr also establishes a ranking of what it algorithmically determines “interestingness” and interestingly enough, a significant portion of those images are from 02013. Of the various groups posted to, the most common were blurism, Leica, Black and White, FlickrCentral, Abstract Photos and Urban Fragments (No People).


I’ve begun to see this daily practice as a point of departure, a habit to maintain focus (or resemble it) curiosity and ambiguity. Some of the more persistent photos from 02013 were sliced from moments of distraction, accident or circumstance during which suggestions and new directions may emerge.


In a sequence, each image absorbs metadata, footnotes, contextual bleed (images within images) it becomes dislocated with images rendered from the middle ground between mechanical/chemical and electronic/networked where each image is no more than a scratched line across spacetime. fleeting. crystalised. repeated.


“When I’m dreaming back like that I begins to see we’re only all telescopes.”
—James Joyce

The Magic Bishop- Hugo Ball

dada, hugo ball, cabaret voltaire, art, alchemy, evil, magic, play

Dada was an attempt to return ‘through the innermost alchemy of the word’ to a more magical, playful reality through overturning of all the conventions associated with civilized adult society- drawing on African, Nordic and Sanskrit traditions, the Cabaret Voltaire was a riot of nonsense, play, colour, and noise- a giant, noisy incantation against all the ills of the world. Dada was ‘the heart of words’. It was a fight. It was a magical battle.

“We’re like meridians, all beginning and ending in the same place. We spread out from the beginning and go our separate ways,…

“We’re like meridians, all beginning and ending in the same place. We spread out from the beginning and go our separate ways, over seas and mountains and islands and deserts, each telling our own story, as different as they could possibly be. But in the end we all converge and our ends are as much the same as our beginnings.”

 - Neal Stephenson (

Searching the Internet for evidence of time travelers

time travel, arxiv, Robert Nemiroff, Teresa Wilson, internet

Time travel has captured the public imagination for much of the past century, but little has been done to actually search for time travelers. Here, three implementations of Internet searches for time travelers are described, all seeking a prescient mention of information not previously available. The first search covered prescient content placed on the Internet, highlighted by a comprehensive search for specific terms in tweets on Twitter. The second search examined prescient inquiries submitted to a search engine, highlighted by a comprehensive search for specific search terms submitted to a popular astronomy web site. The third search involved a request for a direct Internet communication, either by email or tweet, pre-dating to the time of the inquiry. Given practical verifiability concerns, only time travelers from the future were investigated. No time travelers were discovered. Although these negative results do not disprove time travel, given the great reach of the Internet, this search is perhaps the most comprehensive to date.

Favorite Photobook Lists of 2013

lists, 2013, photobooks, photography, list of lists

Every year hundreds of Photobook Lists are published. They now come in a wide variety of sizes, designs, and quality, offering something for all. A healthy Photo List collectible market has developed, and indie stores selling Photobook Lists are popping up all over. We’re living during a true Photobook List renaissance. The unlisted number of Photobook Lists is not just astonishing. It’s probably beyond listing.–2013.html


Reinheitsgebot, beer, brewing, fermentation, preservatives, history, law, regulation

Medieval brewers had used many problematic ingredients to preserve beers, including, for example soot and fly agaric mushrooms. More commonly, other “gruit” herbs had been used, such as stinging nettle and henbane. Indeed, the German name of the latter, Bilsenkraut, may originally mean “Plzeň herb”, indicating that this region was a major centre of beer brewing long before the invention of (Reinheitsgebot-compliant) Pilsener.

The Unlikeliest Cult in History

Objectivism, Ayn Rand, Randroids, cult, belief, reason, historical contingency, self interest, capit

The cultic flaw in Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism is not in the use of reason, or in the emphasis on individuality, or in the belief that humans are self motivated, or in the conviction that capitalism is the ideal system. The fallacy in Objectivism is the belief that absolute knowledge and final Truths are attainable through reason, and therefore there can be absolute right and wrong knowledge, and absolute moral and immoral thought and action. For Objectivists, once a principle has been discovered through reason to be True, that is the end of the discussion. If you disagree with the principle, then your reasoning is flawed. If your reasoning is flawed it can be corrected, but if it is not, you remain flawed and do not belong in the group. Excommunication is the final step for such unreformed heretics.

Visualizing Cyclical Time – Hour of Day Charts

Doug McCune, visualisation, visualization, time, cyclic time, graph, plot, ringmap, 12h, 24h, day, n

This is the first part of a few blog posts on this topic. Apologies ahead of time if you don’t find the topic of visualizing the 24 hours of the day as fascinating as I do, but I’m going to take the time to fully geek out and focus in on this very specific problem in depth. This is Part 1: Explaining the Challenge and Reviewing the Status Quo. This is sort of like a lit review; it’s my attempt to consolidate everything I can find about how people are currently representing 24-hour cyclical data.

The 7 Habits of Highly Overrated People

If you too want to be highly overrated, read on. Being overrated can mean that you’re mediocre but people think that you’re great, or it can mean that you’re completely incompetent but nestle in somewhere and go unnoticed, doing, as Peter Gibbons in Office Space puts it, “just enough not to get fired.” The common facet is that there’s a sizable deficit between your actual value and your perceived value — you appear useful while actually being relatively useless. Here’s how.–7-habits-of-highly-overrated-people

Aveek Sen on Italo Calvino’s “The Adventure of a Photographer”

Aveek Sen, Italo Calvino, photography, aperture, invisibility, imagination

In recording Antonino’s descent into a psycho-pathology of everyday life driven by the camera, Calvino shows how photography could lead, through an obsession with capturing the real, toward the unhinging of the mind from that very reality. It is, paradoxically, the compulsion to document that dooms photography to transgress the limits of the visible, opening up a terrain that belongs to the imagination rather than to empirical certitude. In his tribute to Barthes, Calvino described the capacity of language to speak about things “that are not”: this was its fundamental difference from photography. Yet, in this story, Antonino takes photography close to the inwardness of the imagination unshackled from the real, and to the irreducible logic of memory, dream, and fantasy. This is also the domain of fiction and, dare one say, of art. It is the rigorous unruliness of fiction— rather than the discursiveness of theory, or the objectivity of history—that becomes the mode in which Calvino fathoms the meaning and possibilities of photography. It is fiction that rescues photography from the risk-averse middle path of empiricism by toppling the eye, and the eye’s mind, into the abyss of the invisible.

The Archaeology of Beer

fermentation, archeology, beer, wine, mead, grog, kvasir, ancient beverages

“We always start with infrared spectrometry,” he says. “That gives us an idea of what organic materials are preserved.” From there, it’s on to tandem liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry, sometimes coupled with ion cyclotron resonance, and solid-phase micro-extraction gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. The end result? A beer recipe.

Sex and Drugs and Border Changes

NL, BE, borders, geography, Presqu'ile de l'Islal

Because of its political status, the uninhabited peninsula is off limits for Dutch police. And because of its geographic isolation, it is out of reach for their Belgian colleagues. These circumstances conspire to make the peninsula a sanctuary for unlicensed sunbathing, loud bacchanalia and unrestricted drug dealing. All of which might frighten the wild horses that are the only permanent residents of the wider area – officially a nature reserve, on both sides of the border.

Photograph by Trent Parke—Magnum/Courtesy Steidl

Photograph by Trent Parke—Magnum/Courtesy Steidl

Pictured: Self-portrait, Menindee Outback, Australia.

Available in winter 2013 from Steidl, Trent Parke’s Minutes to Midnight

In 2003 Trent Parke began a road-trip around his native Australia, a monumental journey that was to last two years and cover a distance of over 90,000 km. Minutes to Midnight is the ambitious photographic record of that adventure, in which Parke presents a proud but uneasy nation struggling to craft its identity from different cultures and traditions. Minutes to Midnight merges traditional documentary techniques and imagination to create a dark visual narrative portraying Australia with a mix of nostalgia, romanticism and brooding realism. This is not a record of the physical landscape but of an emotional one.

For more photography events beyond the web in December, visit The Guide on LightBox.

Finding structure in xkcd comics with Latent Dirichlet Allocation

xkcd, data mining, topic modeling, LDA, machine learning

xkcd is self-proclaimed as “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language”. There was a recent effort to quantify whether or not these “topics” agree with topics derived from the xkcd text corpus using Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA). That analysis makes the all too common folly of choosing an arbitrary number of topics. Maybe xkcd’s tagline does provide a strong prior belief of a small number of topics, but here we take a more objective approach and let the data choose the number of topics. An “optimal” number of topics is found using the Bayesian model selection approach (with uniform prior belief on the number of topics) suggested by Griffiths and Steyvers (2004). After an optimal number is decided, topic interpretations and trends over time are explored.

Your Body’s Best Time for Everything

WSJ, cognition, circadian, sleep, fatigue, creativity, work

Surprisingly, fatigue may boost creative powers. For most adults, problems that require open-ended thinking are often best tackled in the evening when they are tired, according to a 2011 study in the journal Thinking & Reasoning. When 428 students were asked to solve a series of two types of problems, requiring either analytical or novel thinking, their performance on the second type was best at non-peak times of day when they were tired, according to the study led by Mareike Wieth, an assistant professor of psychological sciences at Albion College in Michigan. (Their performance on analytical problems didn’t change over the course of the day.) Fatigue, Dr. Wieth says, may allow the mind to wander more freely to explore alternative solutions.

How advertisers became the NSA’s best friend

NSA, google, tracking, sureveillance, advertising, cookies, defective by design

What’s still unclear is whether the NSA is directly hacking Google or using some other way to track these cookies. But while the company is officially keeping quiet, the simple math of cookie tracking makes it likely that the NSA didn’t need any help from Google. Tracking cookies offers the NSA the perfect system for following suspects across the web: it’s pervasive, persistent, and for the most part, it’s still unencrypted. “It solves a bunch of tricky problems for bulk web surveillance that would otherwise be quite difficult,” says Jonathan Mayer, a fellow at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society who worked with the Washington Post on the report. The right cookie will follow you as your phone moves from 3G to a coffee shop’s Wi-Fi network, and in many cases it’ll broadcast your unique ID in plain text.

Samantha West The Telemarketer Robot Who Swears She’s Not a Robot

turing test, telemarketing, robocalls, robot, recording, alice, eliza

When Scherer asked point blank if she was a real person, or a computer-operated robot voice, she replied enthusiastically that she was real, with a charming laugh. But then she failed several other tests. When asked “What vegetable is found in tomato soup?” she said she did not understand the question. When asked multiple times what day of the week it was yesterday, she complained repeatedly of a bad connection.

A mild-mannered man says his life was completely ruined after Google’s autocomplete feature convinced the government he was…


A mild-mannered man says his life was completely ruined after Google’s autocomplete feature convinced the government he was building a bomb.

Though he intended to search the web for “How do I build a radio-controlled airplane,” Jeffrey Kantor, then a government contractor, says the search engine auto-completed his request, turning it into “”How do I build a radio controlled bomb?”

Before he realized Google’s error, Kantor had already pressed enter, sparking a chain reaction he says resulted in months of harassment by government officials leading up to his eventual termination.

Man Says Google’s Autocomplete Feature Destroyed His Life | Gawker

The Stream represents the triumph of reverse-chronology, where importance—above-the-foldness—is based exclusively on nowness….

“The Stream represents the triumph of reverse-chronology, where importance—above-the-foldness—is based exclusively on nowness. There are great reasons for why The Stream triumphed. In a world of infinite variety, it’s difficult to categorize or even find, especially before a thing has been linked. So time, newness, began to stand in for many other things. And now the Internet’s media landscape is like a never-ending store, where everything is free. No matter how hard you sprint for the horizon, it keeps receding. There is always something more.”

2013: The Year ‘the Stream’ Crested - Atlantic Mobile (viaphotographsonthebrain)

What Happens to Google Maps When Tectonic Plates Move?

mapping, relativity, tectonics, tectonic plates, GPS, google maps, eath, NGS, longitude, latitude, d

A couple of weeks ago, I was writing up a description of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and I thought I’d compare the warping of spacetime to the motion of Earth’s tectonic plates. Nothing on Earth’s surface has fixed coordinates, because the surface is ever-shifting. Same goes for spacetime. But then it struck me: if nothing has fixed coordinates, then how do Google Maps, car nav systems, and all the other mapping services get you where you’re going? Presumably they must keep updating the coordinates of places, but how?

Cryptoforestry: Psychogeography in the Anthropocene

Cryptoforestry, Psychogeography, Anthropocene, wilfriedhoujebek

‘Crypto’ from Greek meaning hidden or secret, related to ‘cryptic’, of unsure or obscure meaning. A cryptoforest incorporates both: they may be forests that are hidden or it may refer to forests of unsure pedigree, because no other words suffices. Cryptoforests are a feeble category within the psychogeographic classification of landscapes. You do find cryptoforests in the centre but the chance of finding one increases as you move outward and cracks will appear in the urban armour as you move further and further in the perimeter. I invite you to think of the cryptoforest not as a disturbance of urban hegemony, but as the place where the division between city and nature becomes meaningless.


food, flavour pairing, art, SFPC, simona derosa

TASTED is a project that investigates the way we taste food and its flavor. Nowadays it is possible to identify a product’s flavor profile through gas chromatography. Starting from a data set of 1000+ ingredients and their flavor compound profiles, Tasted combines ingredients in pairs resulting in over a million combinations. Looking for intersections of compounds between ingredients, food pairs are mapped from most similar to most dissimilar.

The Criminalization of Everyday Life

USA, militarization, MRAP, arming, armoring, pentagon, errorism

Sometimes a single story has a way of standing in for everything you need to know. In the case of the up-arming, up-armoring, and militarization of police forces across the country, there is such a story. Not the police, mind you, but the campus cops at Ohio State University now possess an MRAP; that is, a $500,000, 18-ton, mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicle of a sort used in the Afghan War and, as Hunter Stuart of the Huffington Post reported, built to withstand “ballistic arms fire, mine fields, IEDs, and nuclear, biological, and chemical environments.” Sounds like just the thing for bouts of binge drinking and post-football-game shenanigans.