Posts tagged 2019

Tobias Revell - Five Problems with Speculative Design (Pensee, Germinal, 227)

Tobias-Revell, SCD, design, speculative-design, futures, climate-change, 2019

We don’t have a good speculative design for planetary-change. The operating model of the business-design pipeline is exploiting the planet at one end and users at the other. The idea that these might in fact be the same thing would mean admitting that an operational focus on individual users and discrete time windows was ineffective design. And large sprawling change over massive time windows and shifting human/non-human interactions does not conform to the way in which revenue is reported. Again, this isn’t the fault of speculative design; designers need to eat. But, under these conditions we can’t to look at it as a catch-all solution for planetary collapse.


We Have to Save the Planet. So I’m Donating $1 Billion

NYT, Hansjörg-Wyss, climate, environment, philanthropy, 2019

Every one of us — citizens, philanthropists, business and government leaders — should be troubled by the enormous gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected. It is a gap that we must urgently narrow, before our human footprint consumes the earth’s remaining wild places. For my part, I have decided to donate $1 billion over the next decade to help accelerate land and ocean conservation efforts around the world, with the goal of protecting 30 percent of the planet’s surface by 2030. This money will support locally led conservation efforts around the world, push for increased global targets for land and ocean protection, seek to raise public awareness about the importance of this effort, and fund scientific studies to identify the best strategies to reach our target. I believe this ambitious goal is achievable because I’ve seen what can be accomplished.


"From the funding of anti-media, ultra-media NGOs to aggressive lobbying strategies on European standards, such as the…

Meat, France, Vegan, substituts à la viande, EU, antispécistes, la viande cellulaire, lab grown meat, conspiracy, meat lobby, 2019

“From the funding of anti-media, ultra-media NGOs to aggressive lobbying strategies on European standards, such as the Zootechnical Directive, these companies often linked to Anglo-Saxon investment funds or billionaires seem to have made the penetration of French market a priority by partnering with mass retailers. The Observatory of Food Innovation will attempt to decipher this strategy of encirclement, but also its consequences for the French economy.”

“La cartographie ci-dessous présente les liens de financement et d’influence entre les investisseurs anglo-saxons, les start-up du marché de la viande cellulaire et les mouvements antispécistes. Le financement, de 1,1 millions d’euros en 2017, entre L214 et la fondation américaine « Open Philanthropy Project » est révélé par le rapport des commissaires aux comptes pour l’exercice 2017 de l’association.“

Black hole named ‘Powehi’ by Hawaiian professor

Powehi, M87, blackhole, Hawaii, names, 2019

University of Hawaii-Hilo Hawaiian Professor Larry Kimura has given a Hawaiian name — Powehi — to the black hole depicted in an image produced in a landmark experiment. “Powehi” means “the adorned fathomless dark creation” or “embellished dark source of unending creation” and comes from the Kumulipo, an 18th-century Hawaiian creation chant. “Po” is a profound dark source of unending creation, while “wehi,” honored with embellishments, is one of the chant’s descriptions of po, the newspaper reported. “To have the privilege of giving a Hawaiian name to the very first scientific confirmation of a black hole is very meaningful to me and my Hawaiian lineage that comes from po,” Kimura said in a news release. A Hawaiian name was justified because the project included two Hawaii telescopes, astronomers said. “As soon as he said it, I nearly fell off my chair,” said Jessica Dempsey, deputy director of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea.


Bacterial and fungal communities associated with the International Space Station

ISS, microbiome, space, bacteria, fungi, closed-system, space-travel, 2019

The International Space Station (ISS) is a closed system inhabited by microorganisms originating from life support systems, cargo, and crew that are exposed to unique selective pressures such as microgravity. To date, mandatory microbial monitoring and observational studies of spacecraft and space stations have been conducted by traditional culture methods, although it is known that many microbes cannot be cultured with standard techniques. To fully appreciate the true number and diversity of microbes that survive in the ISS, molecular and culture-based methods were used to assess microbial communities on ISS surfaces. Samples were taken at eight pre-defined locations during three flight missions spanning 14 months and analyzed upon return to Earth. The results reveal a diverse population of bacteria and fungi on ISS environmental surfaces that changed over time but remained similar between locations. The dominant organisms are associated with the human microbiome and may include opportunistic pathogens. This study provides the first comprehensive catalog of both total and intact/viable bacteria and fungi found on surfaces in closed space systems and can be used to help develop safety measures that meet NASA requirements for deep space human habitation. The results of this study can have significant impact on our understanding of other confined built environments on the Earth such as clean rooms used in the pharmaceutical and medical industries.


Key indicators of Arctic climate change: 1971–2017

arctic, climate-change, climate, science, tipping-point, AMAP, IPCC, 1971, 2017, 2019

Key observational indicators of climate change in the Arctic, most spanning a 47 year period (1971–2017) demonstrate fundamental changes among nine key elements of the Arctic system. We find that, coherent with increasing air temperature, there is an intensification of the hydrological cycle, evident from increases in humidity, precipitation, river discharge, glacier equilibrium line altitude and land ice wastage. Downward trends continue in sea ice thickness (and extent) and spring snow cover extent and duration, while near-surface permafrost continues to warm. Several of the climate indicators exhibit a significant statistical correlation with air temperature or precipitation, reinforcing the notion that increasing air temperatures and precipitation are drivers of major changes in various components of the Arctic system. […] The Arctic biophysical system is now clearly trending away from its 20th Century state and into an unprecedented state, with implications not only within but beyond the Arctic.


Uri Geller calls on Britons to help telepathically stop Brexit

brexit, telepathy, Uri-Geller, 2019

The illusionist Uri Geller has called on the British people to help him in his efforts to telepathically stop Brexit by sending their own telepathic messages to Theresa May’s mind, compelling her to revoke article 50. Geller wrote an open letter to the prime minister on Friday warning her he will use the powers of his mind to stop her from leading Britain into Brexit. He plans to transmit his psychic energy into May’s brain at the “very mystical time” of 11.11 in the morning and evening every day from a secret location near his home in Israel.


What went wrong with the Boeing 737 Max 8

boeing, 737, 737Max8, failure, risk, 2019

As airlines and safety regulators worldwide scramble to understand why two Boeing 737 Max 8 jets crashed in chillingly similar accidents, more indications are pointing to how an automated anti-stalling system may be linked to the model’s unusually deadly debut. The safety feature—the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS)—appears to have sent both planes into their fatal dives as pilots struggled to keep aloft. The 737 Max 8 and 9 were grounded by regulators around the world last week. Here are key details that have been reported—most significantly by the Seattle Times—about a series of engineering, regulatory, and political missteps that preceded software being installed on a widely used plane without pilots apparently fully understanding its risks.


History of the AFP

AFP, Australia, protest, eggboy, politics, history, 1917, 2019

On 29 November 1917 while campaigning to introduce military conscription, Hughes was the target of eggs thrown by protestors when he arrived at Warwick Railway Station in southern Queensland. Prime Minister Hughes was incensed that the attending Queensland Police would not arrest the offenders under federal law, so when he returned to Parliament he set about drafting legislation to create the Commonwealth Police Force (CPF). The ‘Warwick Incident’ was the last straw for the Prime Minister who was engaged in a range of jurisdictional struggles with the Queensland Government at the time.


A Programmers Take on “Six Memos for the Next Millennium”

calvino, writing, programming, six-memos, Six-Memos-for-the-Next-Millennium, 2019

The reason why I’m writing about [Six Memos for the Next Millennium] is that while I think that they are great memos about writing, the more I think about them, the more they apply to programming. Which is a weird coincidence, because they were supposed to be memos for writers in the next millennium, and programming is kind of a new form of writing that’s becoming more important in this millennium. Being a game developer, I also can’t help but apply these to game design. So I will occasionally talk about games in here, but I’ll try to keep it mostly about programming.


“This final panorama embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery,” said…

NASA, Mars, Opportunity, panorama, photography, 2019

“This final panorama embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery,” said Opportunity project manager John Callas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “To the right of center you can see the rim of Endeavor Crater rising in the distance. Just to the left of that, rover tracks begin their descent from over the horizon and weave their way down to geologic features that our scientists wanted to examine up close. And to the far right and left are the bottom of Perseverance Valley and the floor of Endeavour crater, pristine and unexplored, waiting for visits from future explorers.”

(via )

A gut feeling for mental health

health, microbiome, depression, KUL, VIB, gut-flora, 2019

The first population-level study on the link between gut bacteria and mental health identifies specific gut bacteria linked to depression and provides evidence that a wide range of gut bacteria can produce neuroactive compounds. Jeroen Raes (VIB-KU Leuven) and his team published these results today in the scientific journal Nature Microbiology. In their manuscript entitled ‘The neuroactive potential of the human gut microbiota in quality of life and depression’ Jeroen Raes and his team studied the relation between gut bacteria and quality of life and depression. The authors combined faecal microbiome data with general practitioner diagnoses of depression from 1,054 individuals enrolled in the Flemish Gut Flora Project. They identified specific groups of microorganisms that positively or negatively correlated with mental health. The authors found that two bacterial genera, Coprococcus and Dialister, were consistently depleted in individuals with depression, regardless of antidepressant treatment. The results were validated in an independent cohort of 1,063 individuals from the Dutch LifeLinesDEEP cohort and in a cohort of clinically depressed patients at the University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium.


Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers

insects, climate-change, biodiversity, 2019, ecology, science, extinction

Biodiversity of insects is threatened worldwide. Here, we present a comprehensive review of 73 historical reports of insect declines from across the globe, and systematically assess the underlying drivers. Our work reveals dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world’s insect species over the next few decades. […] The main drivers of species declines appear to be in order of importance: i) habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanisation; ii) pollution, mainly that by synthetic pesticides and fertilisers; iii) biological factors, including pathogens and introduced species; and iv) climate change


Better Language Models and Their Implications

gpt2, ML, AI, text, text-generation, generative, OpenAI, 2019

GPT-2 displays a broad set of capabilities, including the ability to generate conditional synthetic text samples of unprecedented quality, where we prime the model with an input and have it generate a lengthy continuation. In addition, GPT-2 outperforms other language models trained on specific domains (like Wikipedia, news, or books) without needing to use these domain-specific training datasets. On language tasks like question answering, reading comprehension, summarization, and translation, GPT-2 begins to learn these tasks from the raw text, using no task-specific training data. While scores on these downstream tasks are far from state-of-the-art, they suggest that the tasks can benefit from unsupervised techniques, given sufficient (unlabeled) data and compute.


State-of-the-art climate model shows how we can solve crisis

climate, mitigation, LDF, IPCC, UTS, SR15, energy, 2019

We are already seeing the devastating consequences of global warming, with ever-rising sea levels, extreme storms, prolonged droughts and intensified bushfires. Now, after two years of research and modelling, scientists have come up with a groundbreaking new framework for achieving – and even beating – the target of limiting warming to 1.5°C. The research by leading scientists at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the German Aerospace Center and the University of Melbourne, has been funded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) as part of its new One Earth initiative. This model is the first to achieve the required negative emissions through natural climate solutions, including the restoration of degraded forests and other lands, along with a transition to 100% renewable energy by mid-century.


Japan’s robot hotel lays off half the robots after they created more work for humans

Japan, Robots, hotel, 2019, strange, labour, employment

It turns out that even robots are having a tough time holding down a job. Japan’s Henn-na “Strange” Hotel has laid off half its 243 robots after they created more problems than they could solve […] One of the layoffs included a doll-shaped assistant in each hotel room called Churi. Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa can answer questions about local businesses’ opening and closing times, but Churi couldn’t. When hotel guests asked Churi “What time does the theme park open?” it didn’t have a good answer. That was a problem because Churi was supposed to help ameliorate the Strange Hotel’s staff shortage by substituting in for human workers.