Moon shots: the far-out space suits of past, present, and future
Space suits have come a long way since they were first used to protect pilots venturing just outside the earth, but they still have quite a ways to go. For decades now, the American and Russian space programs have been improving astronauts’ suits little by little, making them safer, more maneuverable, and better equipped for emergencies.
The atomic clocks that keep satellites and your smartphone on time
The US Naval Observatory is home to a set of incredibly precise atomic clocks that record America’s official time. Its clocks are relied upon for a vast range of functions, from providing the time on your smartphone lock screen to keeping GPS satellites accurate in their calculations.
America has a serious “We” problem — as in “Why should we pay for them?”
The question is popping up all over the place. It underlies the debate over extending unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed and providing food stamps to the poor.
It’s found in the resistance of some young…
IBM’s Watson Memorized the Entire ‘Urban Dictionary,’ Then His Overlords Had to Delete It
Humans talk funny. We invent words. We smash words together, tear them apart, abbreviate them one way, then another. Which is great and fun, if you’re a human. Not so great if you are a machine or the kind of human who programs machines to understand language.
And so, when IBM’s famous artificial intelligence, Watson, he/she/it of Jeopardy-winning fame, was in development, its head researcher had a great idea. Humans created this repository of slang, The Urban Dictionary. For example, today on the site, we learn that ‘healthy gas’ is “the gas (fart) produced from a person who has eaten healthy foods like cabbage, beans, broccolli, grains, or other high fiber, high carbohydrate foods.”
Brown realized that this formalization of informal language might be a great way for Watson to understand the way real people communicate. So, he and his team, fed the whole thing into their AI.
But one problem. Informal language has a tendency to be dirty, nasty language. Its insults and cuss words, new names for gross old things, old names for gross new things, etc. And so, we learn from Fortune’s Michal Lev-Ram, they had to delete all that human messiness from Watson’s memory.
Full Story: The Atlantic
Monty Python to reunite for stage show
All of the surviving members of comedy group Monty Python are to reform for a stage show, one of the Pythons, Terry Jones, has confirmed. “We’re getting together and putting on a show - it’s real,” Jones told the BBC. “I’m quite excited about it. I hope it makes us a lot of money. I hope to be able to pay off my mortgage!” The reunion is expected to be announced officially at a press conference being held in London on Thursday.
Probably the best comedy show ever..
"Again my thanks, my pledge and my passionate hope that your words may become history. And I believe they will!"
— John Steinbeck to JFK
A letter from author John Steinbeck to President Kennedy, thanking him for his dedication to the arts.
(From the White House Central Subject Files, Box 711, Folder: PP 6-1 Entertainers)