We need answers to these four long Covid questions | Charlie McCone
I was a fit 30-year-old, and long Covid has destroyed my life. It’s frustrating how little action there has been
“Let me take a guess: it would be difficult to promote a policy of “endemic infection that resembles a mild seasonal flu” while simultaneously warning the public that one in 10 infected will go on to develop a chronic illness, regardless of infection severity. In other words, it doesn’t fit nicely with a strategy of unmitigated spread where we are “living with Covid”.”Posted on 2022-03-31T05:20:56+0000
Massive Black Holes Shown to Act Like Quantum Particles | Quanta Magazine
Physicists are using quantum math to understand what happens when black holes collide. In a surprise, they’ve shown that a single particle can describe a collision’s entire gravitational wave.
“Beyond gravitational waves, the general nature of the research suggests that the way the uncertainty principle organizes the quantum haystack could prove useful in other areas of quantum theory. The infinite array of relationships between amplitudes could enable independent cross-checks, for example, providing valuable guidance for calculations that can take months. And it may serve as a sharp test for distinguishing quantum theories that can describe our macro world from those that can’t.
“In the past it was intuition,” Roiban said. “Now it’s a clear-cut criterion. It’s a calculation, and it’s hard to argue with a calculation.””Posted on 2022-03-30T06:19:06+0000
For the Sake of Humanity, Let’s Abandon American Exceptionalism
It’s useless in the face of climate change.
“Under the fair-share proposal, it’s not enough for the United States just to stop adding emissions. This country needs to repay the climate debt it’s already incurred. USCAN calculates that to pay back its fair share the United States must cut its emissions by 70 percent by 2030, while contributing the cash equivalent of another 125 percent of its current emissions every year through technical and financial support to energy-poor nations.”Posted on 2022-03-30T04:04:42+0000
Opinion | Jada Pinkett Smith Shouldn’t Have to ‘Take a Joke.’ Neither Should You.
A defense of thin skin.
“Yes, these are all public figures. An imperviousness to criticism and ridicule is a necessity for celebrities or anyone in the public eye. But no matter how thick your skin is or with how much wealth, fame and power you are cosseted, being the butt of a joke isn’t fun. Sometimes, it is intolerable. When you are constantly a target — of jokes, insults, incivility and worse — as most Black women are, the skin we’ve spent a lifetime thickening can come apart. We’re only human, and so, too, are the people who love us.”Posted on 2022-03-30T00:19:19+0000
White House turns to air quality in latest effort to thwart coronavirus
It is pushing strategies, such as better air filters in schools and businesses, to help curb the spread of the virus.
““It makes clean indoor air a priority, just like clean water,” Michaels said.
The hospital industry, he said, has “always fought against having to treat infectious disease as airborne because they put people in rooms for the most part, put a curtain around them and put someone else in the bed 10 feet away, and they think the curtains are going to protect people.”
The White House “is saying that that’s not going to work,” he added.”Posted on 2022-03-30T00:09:25+0000
What a Math Party Game Tells Us About Graph Theory | Quanta Magazine
Play this simple math game with your friends to gain insights into fundamental principles of graph theory.
“From our party game we know that, given a set of vertices, it’s not always possible to form an odd graph. But it is always possible to form an odd subgraph. One boring way to accomplish this is to do what we did above: Just pick two vertices that connect to each other and ignore all their other edges. That makes an odd subgraph, but a very small one. Is it always possible to find a large odd subgraph?”Posted on 2022-03-29T05:07:03+0000
We are reinstating our SAT/ACT requirement for future admissions cycles | MIT Admissions
in order to help us continue to build a diverse and talented MIT
“At the same time, standardized tests also help us identify academically prepared, socioeconomically disadvantaged students who could not otherwise demonstrate readiness10 because they do not attend schools that offer advanced coursework, cannot afford expensive enrichment opportunities, cannot expect lengthy letters of recommendation from their overburdened teachers, or are otherwise hampered by educational inequalities.11 By using the tests as a tool12 in the service of our mission, we have helped improve the diversity of our undergraduate population13 while student academic outcomes at MIT have gotten better,14 too; our strategic and purposeful use of testing has been crucial to doing both simultaneously.”Posted on 2022-03-29T00:12:52+0000
Black Tesla employees describe a culture of racism: 'I was at my breaking point'
In their own words, former Tesla employees describe what they call a racist work environment that led California to file a civil rights lawsuit against the company.
“Workers called Tesla’s factory “the plantation,” and “the slave ship,” not just for the brutal work pace that everyone experienced, but especially because Black workers were routinely segregated into a corner of the factory that lacked air conditioning and work conditions were most crowded, Romby said.”Posted on 2022-03-26T23:47:45+0000
Motivated Reasoning: Emily Oster's COVID Narratives and the Attack on Public Education • Protean Magazine
Free-market interests used fights over COVID protocols to further privatize K-12 education. Economist Emily Oster, whose research is funded by those groups, has laundered their ideologies and given them the imprimatur of science, write epidemiologists Abigail Cartus and Justin Feldman.
“Our failed pandemic response, which has resulted in a million deaths so far, has been predicated on the total replacement of shared moral or ethical values with individualistic assumptions about risks, benefits, and value. The realities of an infectious disease outbreak have proven deeply inconvenient for the privileged, the interests of capital, and the right-wing ideologues who work to justify those hierarchies. The rest of us must look to collective action and solidarity as the essential preconditions for meeting social needs, confronting planetary crises, and working towards a world that does not sacrifice the social good on the altar of self-interest.”Posted on 2022-03-26T03:03:43+0000
A New Tool for Finding Dark Matter Digs Up Nothing | Quanta Magazine
Physicists are devising clever new ways to exploit the extreme sensitivity of gravitational wave detectors like LIGO. But so far, they’ve seen no signs of exotica.
“In December, a team led by Hartmut Grote of Cardiff University reported in Nature that they had used a gravitational wave detector to look for scalar-field dark matter, a lesser-known candidate for the missing mass in and around galaxies. The team didn’t find a signal, ruling out a large class of scalar-field dark matter models. Now the stuff can only exist if it affects normal matter very weakly — at least a million times more weakly than was previously thought possible.”Posted on 2022-03-25T04:25:14+0000
This Depression-Era ‘Magic Cake’ Has a Secret Ingredient
Hit with hard times, American bakers turned to tomato soup.
“To a certain extent, the evolution of tomato soup cake over the decades mirrors shifts in the broader American gastronomic zeitgeist. What started as a relatively lean, eggless riff on an English pudding morphed to suit the prevailing tastes and socioeconomic conditions. In the 1950s, as the economy was booming and Americans were eager to forget about wartime scarcity, eggs and buttery frostings began showing up in tomato soup cake recipes. Since convenience foods, including canned soups, were fashionable, most of these recipes called for the addition of boxed spice cake mixes from Duff’s, Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, and Pillsbury.”Posted on 2022-03-23T04:35:54+0000
Workplaces are in denial over how much Americans have changed
Employers are trying desperately to ignore that we’ve become fundamentally different humans
"This wave of companies trying to resume operations certainly feels like these societal and personal changes are being waved away as merely a phase. But that gets to Snowden’s broader critique of American institutions, from companies to government: We still want to get back to normal, and we can’t acknowledge the realities of our current world."Posted on 2022-03-23T02:40:31+0000
The hunt for Nigerians who can change into cats
One man is challenging Nigerians' belief in magic after a wave of killings that has gripped the country.
People continue to do sketchy things in the name of the spiritual and the supernatural. This was equal parts informative and horrifying. I do wish it wasn’t written from the slanted angle that it took though - would have appreciated a bit more background on the cultural and historical reasons for juju being this mainstream.
“Belief in magic often coexists with Christianity and Islam. Clerics from both monotheistic religions often refer to aspects of traditional African religions as evil - something real, but which can be defeated by prayer and their own higher powers.
Many pastors have become rich and famous on claims of having supernatural powers that can overcome juju and evil curses, something which many imams also practise.”Posted on 2022-03-22T03:57:22+0000
What You’re Feeling Isn’t A Vibe Shift. It’s Permanent Change.
I was born during the longest period of global stability. Now, it appears all of that is fleeting.
Depressing, but well worth pondering. Captures a lot of current sentiment.
“We are undergoing a colossal vibe shift that extends beyond taste, aesthetics, politics, fashion, or policy. The world as we knew it is not coming back, and it’s entirely reasonable that we may find ourselves plagued with a general restlessness, a vague notion of disorder. It’s that funny feeling.”Posted on 2022-03-22T02:28:47+0000
Deep Curiosity Inspires The Joy of Why Podcast | Quanta Magazine
The noted mathematician and author Steven Strogatz explains how the conversations with experts in his new Quanta Magazine podcast address his lifelong fascination with timeless mysteries.
“The mathematician Lisa Piccirillo was a graduate student when she heard about an unsolved problem involving a peculiar tangle called the Conway knot. She couldn’t see why the problem was so difficult. In a matter of days, she solved it with the help of a decades-old mathematical tool (known as the “trace” of a knot) that she borrowed from a neighboring area of topology. When you listen to her joyful laughter as she tells the story, you will be reminded that the greatest tool of all has stayed the same throughout the history of science: the curiosity and drive of a creative young person.”Posted on 2022-03-21T04:14:18+0000
My Husband’s Other Wife: She Died, so I Could Find the Man I Love.
All of us exist because of a series of tragedies and flukes.
Heartbreaking and heartwarming story.
“My husband and I have been married for 15 years, more than twice as long as he was married to Robin. My daughter is 13 now and long ago outgrew the chair that Robin’s family gave her. I keep it stored safely with her bassinet, the clown rattle, and her favorite jacket printed with elephants. I hope someday a granddaughter might use these things. If so, when that little girl is old enough, I will tell her the story of her other grandmother, Robin.”Posted on 2022-03-20T07:51:14+0000
How an Ad Campaign Made Lesbians Fall in Love with Subaru - Priceonomics
It's a popular stereotype that lesbians drive Subarus. What's less well known is that Subaru cultivated that image—and made history in the process.
Interesting bit of recent history that I’m only just learning about.
“There’s a tendency to view companies’ involvement in causes as greedy ploys. This author feels that way, especially given the cynicism-inducing conclusions of previous Priceonomics investigations. Looking into the history of engagement rings led us to marketers who made up the tradition to sell more diamonds. Searching out the origins of the phrase “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” revealed that it’s a 1944 ad campaign designed to sell more breakfast cereal.
In this case, it’s heartening that the origins of lesbians’ stereotypical affinity for Subarus is not a cynical marketing campaign, but a progressive one. In a sense, all Subaru did was notice a group of customers and create ads for them. But that was a big deal. Subaru’s ad campaign acknowledged a group that often felt unwelcome and invisible. “Posted on 2022-03-20T06:58:39+0000
Rust's Unsafe Pointer Types Need An Overhaul - Faultlore
Rust's Unsafe Pointer Types Need An Overhaul Aria Beingessner March 19th, 2022 1 Background 1.1 Aliasing 1.2 Alias Analysis and Pointer Provenance 1.3 CHERI 2 Problems 2.1 Integer-To-Pointer Casts Are The Devil 2.2 References Make Really Strong Assertions 2.3 Offsets And Places Are A Mess 3 Solution...
Great read on memory models and pointers. While this is Rust focused a lot of the content generalizes. Also I learnt a bit more about CHERI which I’ve always found super cool.
“I cannot emphasize enough how shorthanded all of this is, the devil is extremely in the details and formally specifying these things in this subject of untold numbers of PhD theses. I am not trying to write a PhD thesis right now. Unless you literally work on a C/C++ Standard Committee or are named Ralf Jung I will not be accepting your Umm Actually’s on these definitions and terms.”Posted on 2022-03-20T05:10:38+0000
Icy Antimatter Experiment Surprises Physicists | Quanta Magazine
An experiment conducted on hybrid matter-antimatter atoms has defied researchers’ expectations.
“One involves the nature of the liquid surroundings. The atomic spectrum abruptly tightened when the group chilled the helium into a superfluid state, a quantum mechanical phenomenon where individual atoms lose their identity in a way that permits them to flow together without rubbing against one another. Superfluidity takes the edge off atomic collisions in general, so researchers expect foreign atoms to experience only mild broadening or even a limited amount of tightening in some cases. “Superfluid helium,” Lemeshko said, “is the softest known thing you can immerse atoms and molecules into.””Posted on 2022-03-20T04:53:04+0000
It’s 70 degrees warmer than normal in eastern Antarctica. Scientists are flabbergasted.
"This event is completely unprecedented and upended our expectations about the Antarctic climate system," one expert said.
“Parts of eastern Antarctica have seen temperatures hover 70 degrees (40 Celsius) above normal for three days and counting, Wille said. He likened the event to the June heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, which scientists concluded would have been “virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change.”Posted on 2022-03-20T01:29:08+0000
First photos from James Webb telescope better than expected.
The James Webb telescope has taken exceptional images of an unexceptional star as a test of its capabilities. The star, known as HD84406.
This is so exciting!
““The telescope’s performance so far is everything that we dared to hope,” says Jane Rigby, Webb operations project scientist at Goddard. “The engineering images that we saw today are as sharp and as crisp as the images that Hubble can take, but are at a wavelength of light that is totally invisible to Hubble. So this is making the invisible universe snapping into very, very sharp focus.””Posted on 2022-03-19T06:18:33+0000
How Zillow's homebuying scheme lost $881 million
They failed in the same way as my bad fantasy football team.
“This became a real problem last year, as it failed to manage a volatile market. With fast-rising real estate prices early in the year, Zillow’s offers weren’t competitive enough. They changed the algorithm to bid more aggressively, and ended up with too many aggressive winning bids just as the market began to soften. Ironically, while Zillow's business model was premised on being patient, the company itself showed remarkable impatience.”Posted on 2022-03-19T04:57:34+0000
Opinion | The case for impeaching Justice Clarence Thomas
While Ginni Thomas has worked as a GOP operative, her husband has refused to recuse himself.
“To recap: These reports showed that the wife of a Supreme Court justice not only took undisclosed money from an activist who filed a brief in front of the court, but that she was also part of a campaign to try to overturn the 2020 election result and attended the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol. And as Ginni Thomas herself helpfully explained in Monday’s interview: “Like so many married couples, we share many of the same ideals, principles, and aspirations for America.”
Ridiculously, Clarence Thomas wants us to believe he can carry on as an associate justice and remain above the fray. In September, speaking at the University of Notre Dame, he railed against growing criticisms of the court’s partisan behavior. If he really wanted to avoid looking like a politician, why allow his wife’s political activism and income streams to have even the appearance of an impact on his decisions instead of recusing himself?”Posted on 2022-03-18T06:58:16+0000
US unions see unusually promising moment amid wave of victories
Labor strategists hope wins will turn into a larger trend but acknowledge it won’t be easy as corporations fight fiercely against unionization
I am really happy to see more unionization efforts succeed, despite some horrible anti union efforts from companies that are household names. The fact that the quote mentions some of these tactics as “traditional” is eye opening:
““We’re in a moment when we are questioning how effective traditional union-busting tactics are,” said Rebecca Givan, a labor studies professor at Rutgers. “Traditional union-busting tactics like scaring immigrants and dividing workers by race – how effective they are has been brought into question.” Givan said workers at Starbucks stores that have unionized speak with workers at other Starbucks to inoculate them against anti-union efforts by telling them what anti-union message and tactics to expect.”Posted on 2022-03-18T06:15:29+0000
Everyone Was Surprised By The Senate Passing Permanent Daylight Saving Time. Especially The Senators.
An inspiring story about how presumptuous Senate staffers can accidentally make history.
I really don’t know what to make of this now. Faith in the system: reduced. At least we’re all confused by this!
(For the record I support the change and am happy this is happening).
“This system raises the question: If any senator can pass a bill on any day, why aren’t people trying this all the time? Why doesn’t Sen. Bernie Sanders slip into the Senate when no Republicans are around and use unanimous consent to pass the Green New Deal? Why doesn’t Sen. Ted Cruz wait until Democrats are eating lunch and then single-handedly repeal Obamacare? Why doesn't Sen. Chuck Schumer make Tide pods look less delicious?”Posted on 2022-03-18T05:40:54+0000
'Bizarro World' - The Boston Globe
Andrew Gardikis is a 17-year-old kid from Quincy with a shaggy mop of dirty blond hair and a long, lanky frame that he's still growing into. In the video game world, Gardikis is famous for being one of only three people to achieve the so-called "Holy Grail" of gaming records: a perfect speed run on....
From 2007, so it somehow reads like a piece from a much older and simpler time. Great read and human interest story about a person who accidentally discovers his wife could be a world record holder (for the highest Tetris score) and the ensuing trip to demonstrate this for the record books. It covers some video game history and is really well written.
“What does it mean to be the best in the world at something? This is what runs through my mind as we lay in bed Sunday morning. We are both struggling to understand what Lori's mastery of a game that Day calls "the embodiment of comprehensive thinking" means in our lives.
As I go to pack the car, I realize that Lori has bought some things on the trip, and fitting them into our Jeep Cherokee is getting tricky. Then I look over at Lori, and it all makes sense. "From now on," I tell the new master of fitting shapes into tight spaces, "you pack the car."”Posted on 2022-03-18T05:22:14+0000
Making Deep Learning go Brrrr From First Principles
So, you want to improve the performance of your deep learning model. How might you approach such a task? Often, folk fall back to a grab-bag of tricks that might've worked before or saw on a tweet. "Use in-place operations! Set gradients to None! Install PyTorch 1.10.0 but not 1.10.1!"
Great read that goes into a lot of systems and optimization knowledge. And a worthwhile reminder of just how fast hardware is these days.
“For simple operators, it's feasible to reason about your memory bandwidth directly. For example, an A100 has 1.5 terabytes/second of global memory bandwidth, and can perform 19.5 teraflops/second of compute. So, if you're using 32 bit floats (i.e. 4 bytes), you can load in 400 billion numbers in the same time that the GPU can perform 20 trillion operations. Moreover, to perform a simple unary operator (like multiplying a tensor by 2), we actually need to write the tensor back to global memory.”Posted on 2022-03-17T07:23:29+0000
Absolutely bonkers experiment measures antiproton orbiting helium ion
It's a potentially useful technique—and it's surprising that it works.
Really cool experiment!
“But the study is probably most notable for the surprising way that it collected measurements. A small research team managed to put an antiproton in orbit around the nucleus of a helium atom that was part of some liquid helium chilled down to where it acted as a superfluid. The researchers then measured the light emitted by the antiproton's orbital transitions.”Posted on 2022-03-17T06:55:57+0000
Wonders and warnings from the ancient world | Daisy Dunn | The Critic Magazine
This article is taken from the March 2022 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we're offering five issue for just £10. If you’ve ever wondered how letters were…
“It is hard to think of another historian who applies such a scientific approach to ancient history, except perhaps the Stanford professor Josiah Ober, who has applied political theory and modern economic modelling to information garnered from classical sources to equally eye-opening effect. The terminology is not off-putting because Stephenson proves able to weave it succinctly and fluidly into his account of how the Late Empire functioned.”Posted on 2022-03-17T05:12:27+0000
Great read on a business model justification and free tier pricing.
“All this is to say: our costs are carefully managed. Like other SaaS companies, we don’t build physical infrastructure. We avoid touching your packets - for privacy, but also to reduce our costs. We fix bugs and docs instead of answering the same questions over and over. Our control plane is lightweight, and our DERP network is cost-controlled. This allows us to maintain healthy operating margins, so that a free tier isn’t competing for resources with our paying customers.”Posted on 2022-03-17T04:14:30+0000
A worker objected to Google's Israel military contract. Google told her to move to Brazil
More than 500 Google workers are backing a colleague who alleges the tech giant retaliated against her by ordering her to move to another continent.
“Koren alleges in her complaint that, within days of the November meeting, the company notified some of her colleagues she would no longer have a position on the team even though she hadn’t yet accepted or rejected the transfer to Brazil. According to the complaint, when she asked why this information was being shared, her manager stated: “You mean you actually would consider moving to Sao Paulo?”
“This is further indication to me that the ‘choice’ to move to Sao Paulo is not a choice at all,” Koren wrote in the complaint.”Posted on 2022-03-16T07:01:22+0000
To Keep Students in STEM fields, Let’s Weed Out the Weed-Out Math Classes
Reimagining calculus has changed several schools’ success rates. Here’s how
Having had a lot of gripes with the way math is generally taught, this was quite refreshing to read.
“Creating this course, Mathematics for Life Scientists, wasn’t easy. The life sciences faculty involved, none of whom had a joint appointment with the math department, said they resorted to designing the course themselves after math faculty rebuffed their overture. The math faculty feared creating a ”watered-down” course with no textbook (though after the course was developed, one math instructor taught some sections of the class). Besides math, the life sciences faculty said they experienced “significant pushback” from the chemistry and physics departments over concerns that the course wouldn’t adequately prepare students for required courses in those disciplines.
But the UCLA course seems to be successful, and a textbook based on it now exists.
According to recently published research led by UCLA education researchers, students in the new classes ended up with “significantly higher grades” in subsequent physics, chemistry and life sciences courses than students in the traditional calculus course, even when controlling for factors such as demographics, prior preparation and math grades. Students’ interest in the subject doubled, according to surveys.”Posted on 2022-03-16T04:49:02+0000
Dual use of artificial-intelligence-powered drug discovery - Nature Machine Intelligence
An international security conference explored how artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for drug discovery could be misused for de novo design of biochemical weapons. A thought experiment evolved into a computational proof.
This is why ethics in ML and AI is so important. The paper is really ominous.
“The reality is that this is not science fiction. We are but one very small company in a universe of many hundreds of companies using AI software for drug discovery and de novo design. How many of them have even considered repurposing, or misuse, possibilities? Most will work on small molecules, and many of the companies are very well funded and likely using the global chemistry network to make their AI-designed molecules. How many people have the know-how to find the pockets of chemical space that can be filled with molecules predicted to be orders of magnitude more toxic than VX? We do not currently have answers to these questions. There has not previously been significant discussion in the scientific community about this dual-use concern around the application of AI for de novo molecule design, at least not publicly. Discussion of societal impacts of AI has principally focused on aspects such as safety, privacy, discrimination and potential criminal misuse10, but not on national and international security. When we think of drug discovery, we normally do not consider technology misuse potential. We are not trained to consider it, and it is not even required for machine learning research, but we can now share our experience with other companies and individuals. AI generative machine learning tools are equally applicable to larger molecules (peptides, macrolactones, etc.) and to other industries, such as consumer products and agrochemicals, that also have interests in designing and making new molecules with specific physicochemical and biological properties. This greatly increases the breadth of the potential audience that should be paying attention to these concerns.”Posted on 2022-03-15T06:57:03+0000
CIA black site detainee served as training prop to teach interrogators torture techniques
Newly declassified documents reveal Ammar al-Baluchi was repeatedly slammed against a wall while naked until all trainees received ‘certification’
“Alka Pradhan, one of his lawyers said: “If the CIA had not hidden their own conclusions about the illegality of Omar’s torture for this long, the US government would not have been able to bring charges against Ammar because we now know that the torture inflicted on Ammar led to lasting brain damage in the form of a traumatic brain injury and other debilitating illnesses that cannot be treated at Guantánamo Bay.””Posted on 2022-03-15T06:50:32+0000
What Were Humans Doing in the Yukon 24,000 Years Ago?
Scientists have examined remains from caves and think the shelters served as temporary camps for hunters who targeted horses
“Bourgeon started her research at the Bluefish Caves believing that people weren’t in North America during the last ice age, but quickly realized that Cinq-Mars was right. Though she met him only a few times, and wishes she’d had more opportunities to speak with him before he passed, Bourgeon is glad he lived to see her efforts confirm his research.”Posted on 2022-03-15T05:34:28+0000
Rotten managers are to blame for the surging wave of job burnout — and the fix has to come from them, not overworked employees
The burnout solution isn't for workers to take more vacation. Companies have to change their culture to give employees more reasonable workloads.
I’m glad I see more and more awareness of the fact that burnout is systemic.
“Burnout is rarely framed in this way because fixing these problems takes systemic work, and one-off solutions aren't going to cut it. To actually defeat burnout, you have to understand the work process, and you have to be willing to make hard calls about personnel who may be making frontline employees miserable. Managers you think are on top of things may actually be micromanagers who nag people about work they don't understand. Managers you think are funny may actually make others feel uncomfortable or upset in the workplace. Managers you think are hard workers may actually be presenting other people's work as their own, draining their colleagues of enthusiasm and initiative. “Posted on 2022-03-14T07:09:00+0000
Foxconn halts production as Shenzhen goes into lockdown
60 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Shenzhen on Sunday.
“Foxconn is the world’s biggest contract manufacturer of electronics, and the most important supplier to companies including Apple and Samsung. Many Chinese tech giants like Huawei, Tencent, and Oppo are headquartered in Shenzhen, which is situated near the border with Hong Kong. Foxconn says it’s stopping production at its Longhua and Guanlan factories until further notice, Nikkei reports; the Shenzhen base is Foxconn’s second largest in the country.”Posted on 2022-03-14T06:37:14+0000
Mavis Beacon was the top typing teacher in the US. Then she vanished
What happened to Mavis Beacon?
I had never heard about the software or the character before this, so this was quite fascinating to read.
“The team behind Seeking Mavis Beacon has asked for any leads and tips about L’Esperance or any of the other models who later incarnated Mavis. “We don’t know what we’re going to find,” Jones told Mashable. “And we hope that it is a triumphant story in which Renee L’Esperance is just chilling, and is like, ‘Why did you bother me? I’m living great.’” The documentarians are also interested in hearing from people with strong memories associated with the character and the typing software. A website has been set up, as well as a hotline for people looking to share information.”Posted on 2022-03-14T03:54:50+0000
The Discovery and Exploitation of CVE-2022-25636 · Nick Gregory
Nick Gregory's blog
I liked this post a lot. It’s not like the usual blogpost announcing *what* a bug is - rather, it goes into how the bug was found and the exploit was built. And explains some of the thought process so others can replicate it.
“This was a really fun bug to discover and work on. From start to end, it took just under a week to find, triage the bug, figure out how to hit it, and build the exploit. While not novel, the OOB write primitive we get with it is also pretty interesting, and makes for quite a clean exploit as we’ve seen.”Posted on 2022-03-13T08:06:56+0000
'Cuomo-W. Trump-L.': How CNN's Jeff Zucker and His Cronies Manipulated the News
Texts, email exchanges, and 36 sources tell the true story behind the downfall of TV’s ultimate operator
Hard hitting journalism right here. An inside look into some of the most influential and unethical people in journalism in recent history.
“In his wake, Zucker leaves a media landscape more fractured than ever, with public distrust of journalists at an all-time high. And why not, when a peek behind the curtain reveals secret dealings between his news outlets and the politicians they’re supposed to hold to account, coverage dictated not by the issues but by whatever sensational dreck would keep eyes glued to the screen, and newsrooms where alleged predators roamed freely? Zucker may not have invented the culture of powerful men exploiting the women around them, but he incubated it for the modern media age, empowering people who were supposed to hold the public’s trust — but couldn’t even be trusted to keep their hands off of their subordinates. Perhaps most damning, he leaves a political landscape warped by a man he was all too proud to use for ratings throughout his career.”Posted on 2022-03-13T08:04:11+0000
Building Password Purgatory with Cloudflare Pages and Workers
I have lots of little ideas for various pet projects, most of which go nowhere (Have I Been Pwned being the exception), so I'm always looking for the fastest, cheapest way to get up and running. Last month as part of my blog post on How Everything We're Told About
Technical tutorial mixed with instructions on how to annoy spammers.
“I've had a bunch of PRs between live-tweeting earlier today and pushing this blog post just now. Thank you! I'd really like to get this more intelligent; maybe there should be different "paths" for password criteria to mix it up a bit? Maybe it should differ based on the day or time? Maybe based on the requestor's country (which you can easily access via the inbound request)? The optimal approach should be one that keeps the victim trying to get the password right for as long as possible whilst simultaneously infuriating them and burning their time. Either submit your own PRs or leave comments below, I'd love to hear your ideas.”Posted on 2022-03-13T07:43:29+0000
Math’s ‘Oldest Problem Ever’ Gets a New Answer | Quanta Magazine
A new proof significantly strengthens a decades-old result about the ubiquity of ways to represent whole numbers as sums of unit fractions.
“At the same time, it also leaves mathematicians with a new question to solve, this time about sets in which it’s not possible to find a sum of unit fractions that equals 1. The primes are one example — there’s no subset of primes whose reciprocals sum to 1 — but this property can also hold true for other infinite sets that are “larger,” in the sense that the sum of their reciprocals approaches infinity even more quickly than the reciprocals of the primes do. Just how quicky can those sums grow before hidden structure reemerges and some of their reciprocals inevitably add to 1?”Posted on 2022-03-13T07:36:49+0000
Two years of COVID: The battle to accept airborne transmission
In the early days of the pandemic, did health authorities get it wrong on airborne transmission?
“And so, two years on, we still don’t have good public insight around airborne transmission, or the vital importance of ventilation. But things are changing — and this band of outsiders is determined to provoke a shift in standards in ventilation requirements in line with the transformation in the 1800s, when cities started organising clean water supplies and centralising sewage systems.
That means contending with a legacy of buildings worldwide that don’t just have inadequate ventilation, but fail to meet basic building standards. Then there are others that have been built to conserve energy and prioritise comfort over ventilation, and the hope is that the experience of this pandemic could pave the way for investments in schools, workplaces and homes to improve air quality by revamping the built environment.
“I would love to see the same action on ventilation and environment as we’ve seen on pharmaceutical interventions [such as vaccines and drugs],” says Noakes.”Posted on 2022-03-13T01:22:31+0000
Columbia and U.S. News
Rankings create powerful incentives to manipulate data and distort institutional behavior for the sole or primary purpose of inflating one’s score. Because the rankings depend heavily on unaudited, self-reported data, there is no way to ensure either the accuracy of the information or the reliabil...
Just learning about this news and … wow. Columbia has risen to #2 in the US news rankings and it took some folks by surprise. Including, apparently, their own faculty - one math professor analyses the numbers and pretty conclusively shows fraudulent behavior on the part of Columbia to juice the rankings:
“There should be vigorous demands for changes, but changes will be hard to make. The incentives for bad behavior will remain as strong as ever. Columbia has come to depend, for example, on transfer students as a source of tuition revenue. Furthermore, a culture of secrecy, a top-down management structure, and atrophied instruments of governance at Columbia have hamstrung informed debate and policymaking.
It would not be adequate, therefore, to address the accuracy of the facts underpinning Columbia’s ranking in isolation. Root-and-branch reform is needed. Columbia should make a far greater commitment to transparency on many fronts, including budget, staffing, admissions, and financial aid. Faculty should insist on thorough oversight in all these matters, and on full participation in decision-making about them. The positions they arrive at should be shared and debated with trustees, students, alumni, and the public.”Posted on 2022-03-12T18:51:28+0000
One-third of all US child Covid deaths occurred during Omicron surge
Children seem to be facing increasing risks as mask mandates are abandoned and vaccination rates stall
“Since the beginning of the year, 550 children have died from Covid-19 in the US, compared with 1,017 children in the preceding 22 months, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”Posted on 2022-03-11T22:08:00+0000
Tax the land
One radical idea to solve America’s housing crisis.
“So why is this meme becoming so popular (at least among some online communities)? Lars Doucet, a prominent land value tax proponent, explains that a big part of the reason is that for a long time the automobile made sprawling suburban development possible. That meant people could still access valuable labor markets even if they couldn’t afford to live near their jobs (as long as they were willing to suffer long commutes, that is).
“Now we’ve run out of suburbs,” Doucet argued. “We can’t push any further through expansion.””Posted on 2022-03-11T08:08:23+0000
In a Numerical Coincidence, Some See Evidence for String Theory | Quanta Magazine
In a quest to map out a quantum theory of gravity, researchers have used logical rules to calculate how much Einstein’s theory must change. The result matches string theory perfectly.
“Then a few years ago, Penedones, Vieira and Guerrieri started talking about using the bootstrap method to constrain what can happen during particle interactions. They first successfully applied the approach to particles called pions. “We said, OK, here it’s working very well, so why not go for gravity?” Guerrieri said.”Posted on 2022-03-11T06:33:27+0000
The Four Innovation Phases of Netflix’s Trillions Scale Real-time Data Infrastructure
The blog post will share the four phases of Real-time Data Infrastructure’s iterative journey in Netflix (2015-2021). For each phase, we will go over the evolving business motivations, the team’s unique challenges, the strategy bets, and the use case patterns we discovered along the way.
Great read - it’s a mix of a career story and a history of streaming platforms at Netflix. Lots of great technical details in here!
“Raise abstraction by combining the best of both simplicity and flexibility. There is much value in understanding the deep internals of various data technologies, but not everyone needs to do it. This line of thinking is especially true as cloud-first data infrastructures are becoming commodities. Properly raising data infrastructure abstraction becomes the immediate opportunity to make all the advanced capabilities easily accessible to a broader audience. Technologies such as streaming SQL will lower the barrier of entry, but it’s just the beginning. Data Platform should also raise abstraction to the dividing boundaries (e.g., streaming vs. batch) are invisible to the end-users.”Posted on 2022-03-11T03:41:02+0000
Time Crystals Made of Light Could Soon Escape the Lab
A new, more robust approach to creating these bizarre constructs brings them one step closer to practical applications
“Additionally, physicists could study very large time crystals in the same way that more conventional, spatial crystals have been investigated for decades, says study co-author Krzysztof Sacha, a physicist at Jagiellonian University in Poland. Here, physicists could exchange space for time to investigate whether time crystals engineered with certain defects or bathed with excess energy display unexpected behaviors. Such behaviors are typically harder to detect in small crystals, so the ability to make its light-based system large potentially sets up the team for a foray into a fully new realm. "I think that is really opening a new [physics research] horizon,” Sacha underlines. Wilczek agrees. “This is a whole new class of states of matter,” he says. “It is very conceivable to me that, when you examine them, useful devices and other surprises will emerge. It’s virgin territory; we are discovering a new world here.””Posted on 2022-03-10T07:27:08+0000
Request coalescing in async Rust
As the popular saying goes, there are only two hard problems in computer science: caching, off-by-one errors, and getting a Rust job that isn't cryptocurrency-related. Today, we...
Great read as always from Amos.
“But from the outside, all we see is that all requests are stuck.
Not just the first one, not just for the first five seconds, all requests, forever.
And that's what my big bad dayjob incident was about: a bunch of in-flight requests got in a bad state, and so we'd be forever stuck waiting for them, long past any chance they'd ever complete, and never starting new requests.”Posted on 2022-03-09T09:16:28+0000
I Just Want to Know What I’m Made Of
It’s time to admit quantum theory has reached a dead end. Can we please go back to the math?
Fairly interesting and accessible read on quantum mechanics and the various interpretations of it. And on how the science has progressed through the years.
“Probing quantum physics is really, really difficult. It is, by necessity, an experimental science far removed from the scale of human experience. But it is also instructive to note that a century of technological progress has not helped answer my question. We essentially know nothing more than Bohr, Einstein, Schrödinger, and Heisenberg did about the actual nature of reality. We have created interesting technologies and philosophical conundrums, but little else. Is it actually possible to find out what the universe is made of?”Posted on 2022-03-09T08:46:31+0000
Low Process Culture, High Process Culture
When I changed jobs in 2020, I went from a low-process culture to a high-process culture (or: what I perceive as high-process, all things are relative). It was a bit of a culture shock. The process…
This was a great short read on process and company culture. I’ll have to revisit this a few times to really internalize it.
“But it’s always worth considering what process makes sufficient, and what you’re really aspiring for. Sometimes adequacy is the goal, but when it’s not, the process is usually the least of it. What are you optimizing for?”Posted on 2022-03-09T07:44:23+0000
Peptides on Stardust May Have Provided a Shortcut to Life | Quanta Magazine
The discovery that short peptides can form spontaneously on cosmic dust hints at more of a role for them in the earliest stages of life’s origin, on Earth or elsewhere.
“Because of these requirements, most theories about the origin of proteins have either centered on scenarios in extreme environments, such as near hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, or assumed the presence of molecules like RNA with catalytic properties that could lower the energy barrier enough to push the reactions forward. (The most popular origin-of-life theory proposes that RNA preceded all other molecules, including proteins.) And even under those circumstances, Krasnokutski says that “special conditions” would be needed to concentrate the amino acids enough for polymerization. Though there have been many proposals, it isn’t clear how and where those conditions could have arisen on the primordial Earth.”Posted on 2022-03-09T07:39:18+0000
Lead from gasoline blunted the IQ of about half the U.S. population, study says
Leaded gas was banned in 1996, but exposure to the poison cost people born before then several IQ points on average, researchers estimated.
“But on a population basis, shifting the average IQ down even a small amount could have large consequences, said Sung Kyun Park, an associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. The entire bell curve shifts, he explained, with more of the population at what was once the extreme low end of IQ scores.”Posted on 2022-03-09T07:09:04+0000
Missouri lawmaker seeks to stop residents from obtaining abortions out of state
Abortion rights advocates say the measure is unconstitutional. But it could signal a new strategy by the antiabortion movement to extend influence beyond the conservative states poised to tighten restrictions if the Supreme Court overturns the landmark precedent protecting abortion rights.
I’ve been trying to avoid sharing news recently cause it’s gotten quite depressing, but the concerns being highlighted today are just something else. First this, then the anti LGBTQ bills in Florida, the horrific anti-trans laws being passed in Texas, and Idaho also trying to pass laws making it illegal to get basic healthcare (and banning travel across state lines to do so). When will this end?
“Coleman’s proposal still may succeed in deterring out-of-state abortions, said Myers. Like the Texas law, the proposal itself could have a chilling effect, where doctors in surrounding states stop performing abortions before courts have an opportunity to intervene, worried that they may face a flurry of lawsuits if they violate the law.
Coleman rejects arguments that her law is unconstitutional.
“That’s what they said about the Texas law, and every bill passed to protect the unborn for the last 49 years,” she said.”Posted on 2022-03-09T03:19:32+0000
Behind the Twitter Bot Posting the Gender Pay Gap of Brands Celebrating IWD
We spoke to the person who made the Gender Pay Gap Bot calling out empty corporate celebrations of International Women's Day.
The linked thread is absolutely infuriating and hilarious at the same time. I’m so glad companies are getting called out on their BS.
“In some cases, the gulf between men and women’s median hourly pay has been as much as 40 percent (see: Missguided, which celebrated IWD by “paying it forward” to customers in cash and asking them for the best advice they’ve received. empowering!). At Young’s Pubs, a pub chain in London, women are paid a shocking 73.2 percent less than men.
Some companies have chosen to delete their tweets entirely rather than face criticism, as in the case of Aston University, where the median hourly pay for women is 25.8 percent lower than men’s. “My alma mater do not like being faced with reality,” one Twitter user noted of the deletion. Another user’s thread collating all the deletions has already over 2,300 retweets.”Posted on 2022-03-08T21:22:22+0000
How Did This Many Deaths Become Normal?
The U.S. is nearing 1 million recorded COVID-19 deaths without the social reckoning that such a tragedy should provoke. Why?
“If 1,000 deaths a day is not acceptable, what threshold would be? The extreme answer—none!—is impractical, because COVID has long passed the point where eradication is possible, and because all interventions carry at least some cost. Some have suggested that we should look to other causes of death—say, 39,000 car fatalities a year, or between 12,000 and 52,000 flu deaths—as a baseline of what society is prepared to tolerate. But this argument rests on the false assumption that our acceptance of those deaths is informed. Most of us simply don’t know how many people die of various causes—or that it’s possible for fewer to do so. The measures that protected people from COVID slashed adult deaths from flu and all but eliminated them among children. Our acceptance of those deaths never accounted for alternatives. “When was I offered the choice between having a society where you’re expected to go into work when you’re ill or having fewer people die of the flu every year?” Wrigley-Field, the sociologist, said to me.”Posted on 2022-03-08T21:02:47+0000
The Dirty Pipe Vulnerability — The Dirty Pipe Vulnerability documentation
This is the story of CVE-2022-0847, a vulnerability in the Linux kernel since 5.8 which allows overwriting data in arbitrary read-only files. This leads to privilege escalation because unprivileged processes can inject code into root processes.
Love the debugging story here. And I learnt a bunch about operating systems internals from this one.
“After being stuck for more hours, after eliminating everything that was definitely impossible (in my opinion), I drew a conclusion: this must be a kernel bug.
Blaming the Linux kernel (i.e. somebody else’s code) for data corruption must be the last resort. That is unlikely. The kernel is an extremely complex project developed by thousands of individuals with methods that may seem chaotic; despite of this, it is extremely stable and reliable. But this time, I was convinced that it must be a kernel bug.”Posted on 2022-03-08T03:46:05+0000
What We Keep Getting Wrong About Burnout
A term suggesting rock bottom stops meaning rock bottom when when we're all there and, somehow, still going. Is our definition of burnout all wrong?
“The last year has taught me (and many of us) that work won’t love you back and that fixing our individual approaches to it likely won’t prevent burnout. Sometimes the only way to fix a broken system, it seems — to move toward a restorative approach to sustaining ourselves and our labor — is to refuse to play by the old rules. Work is good, but I am not my job.”Posted on 2022-03-07T17:29:05+0000
Manufacturing Consent For The Office
The Wall Street Journal is on a roll, with an incredible piece of scare-journalism about how Gen Z may never work in an office - and how that’s scary, bad, and harmful. Working from home can make anyone lonely and anxious, but experts say these effects are more pronounced for Gen Zers—who have s...
Slightly cynical take but I found myself nodding along a lot. While I see a bunch of downsides for remote work, I think on the balance there are more positives than negatives and it’s very unfairly maligned. And so this resonated.
“The reason you’re seeing government figures back these spurious arguments is that it’s significantly easier to gaslight and insult remote workers than it is to accept that there are going to be businesses that suffer if people don’t go back to the office. It is true that stores that were profitable based on the existence of office workers will face hard times, but it’s so painfully obvious that this isn’t about “low-income workers. What it’s really about is the capital forces that own the service businesses around offices, along with the powerful real estate moguls that are terrified they won’t be able to sell their expensive leases.
And these forces are extremely good at influencing the media. That’s why you’re seeing the messaging consistently change, from “the office is better than remote work,” to “young people are ruining office culture,” to “remote work is ruining young people’s lives.” They are doing all they can to disenfranchise those who work from home so that they can continue to retain their power.
At the root of almost every part of this argument is denial. Executives don’t want to admit that they truly don’t understand their company, so they say and do whatever they can to undermine anything that makes them feel self-conscious. Eric Adams is in denial that New York City - as with any global financial hub - has to adapt to a partially-remote future. Reporters covering this subject are in denial about how many of their subject matter experts are full of shit, and how many times they’ve been lied to about this subject.
And the victim is the worker. It’s always the worker.”Posted on 2022-03-07T08:54:32+0000
The Body’s Most Embarrassing Organ Is an Evolutionary Marvel
And yet we have very little idea where anuses come from.
“Many of the animals that have managed to keep some version of the anus embellished upon it, and now harbor an organ of immense extravagance. Turtles, like sea cucumbers, breathe through their butt. Young dragonflies suck water into theirs, then spew it out to propel themselves forward. Scorpions jettison their posterior when attacked from behind, evading capture but tragically losing their ability to poop (and eventually dying with their abdomen full of excrement). Lacewing larvae incapacitate termite prey with the toxic flatulence they emit from their end—“they literally KO their enemies with death farts,” Ainsley Seago, an entomologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, told me.”Posted on 2022-03-07T07:41:58+0000
The Politics of Pancakes | History Today
History Matters The Politics of Pancakes In England, Shrove Tuesday has not just symbolised feasting, fasting and family, but riot and rebellion, too. Taylor Aucoin | Published in History Today Volume 71 Issue 2 February 2021 On Shrove Tuesday 1270, the monks of Beaulieu Abbey in the New Forest rewa...
“For, while Shrove Tuesday remains essentially an occasion for the household in England, that institution has fundamentally changed. It is now a private sphere, separate from the workplace and built around the nuclear family. No longer is it a public amalgam of family and industry populated with master and dame, children, servants, journeymen and apprentices, all temporarily bound together by a feast of pancakes.”Posted on 2022-03-06T06:55:25+0000
The Theology of Chocolate | History Today
History Matters The Theology of Chocolate The introduction of chocolate to the Catholic world caused a dilemma: could it be eaten? Should it be given up for Lent? Miles Pattenden | Published in History Today Volume 72 Issue 3 March 2022 Woman holding cacao (and decorated with cacao beans), Maya, AD....
“Eventually the Jesuits, who by this time had commercial interests in cacao production and distribution, took the case back to Rome. They secured a favourable ruling from no less an eminence than the theologian Cardinal Francesco Maria Brancaccio, who put his name to a 16-page opinion De Chocolatis potu (On the use of chocolate, 1664), which reaffirmed Hurtado’s arguments. The Jesuits published this immediately, reprinting it at least four times in the next decade.
In the event, these arguments all proved academic because chocolate consumption became so popular that the Church could do little to shape the behaviour of its faithful in the matter. In 1692 Pope Innocent XII even received a request from Carmelites in Madrid for a dispensation to drink chocolate inside the walls of their convent. “Posted on 2022-03-05T07:35:11+0000
An Anti-Vax Judge Is Preventing the Navy From Deploying a Warship
Admirals want to remove an insubordinate anti-vaxxer from command of a destroyer. A judge won’t let them.
Reading about this situation is so infuriating, especially when you read into what exactly this commander has done to put people at risk. The whole situation is so absurd that if someone wrote it in a book they’d be laughed at for being too unrealistic. And yet here we are, fated to laugh at this absurdity as a coping mechanism.
“The Navy and the federal judiciary are therefore in a standoff. The Navy will not deploy Doe’s warship until he is stripped of command. Merryday will not allow it to do so. As a result, Merryday has effectively taken a 10,000 ton, $1.8 billion guided-missile destroyer out of commission. As the Navy builds up its naval presence in Europe to guard against further Russian aggression, it is down a ship—solely because an unelected judge in Tampa has inserted himself into the chain of command.”Posted on 2022-03-05T07:14:19+0000
Why Are There So Many Bad Bosses? - Freakonomics
People who are good at their jobs routinely get promoted into bigger jobs they’re bad at. We explain why firms keep producing incompetent managers — and why that’s unlikely to change.
Great read on management and incentives at various companies. The quote I’ve picked is kind of cheeky, the real article has much more depth and nuance.
“JOHNSON: Oh, so many meetings. Like, compared to being a data scientist — I’d maybe have a half-hour meeting in the morning, and then I’d just be free to do coding and thinking and making stuff. But I was in meetings — I think Tuesdays, I used to be in meetings for like seven hours.
DUBNER: No offense, but did you not see that coming?
JOHNSON: No, I really didn’t. I thought it would just be like my normal data-scientist job with a few one-to-ones on the side. That was okay because it’s quite interesting; you’re talking about the work, you get into quite depth from problems with my team. It’s more the meetings, like an hour’s coffee with someone to try and set up a better working relationship with their team. Times that by like five or 10 other teams — it’s just draining. “Posted on 2022-03-04T07:48:03+0000
Four Years On, New Experiment Sees No Sign of ‘Cosmic Dawn’ | Quanta Magazine
When astronomers tried to confirm a signal from the birth of the first stars after the Big Bang, they saw nothing.
“The SARAS team took a different approach to antenna design in pursuit of more uniform sensitivity across all wavelengths. “The entire design philosophy is to preserve that spectral smoothness,” said Saurabh Singh, the lead author on the SARAS paper. The antenna — an aluminum cone propped on a Styrofoam raft — was floated in the middle of a placid lake to ensure there would be no reflections for more than 100 meters in any horizontal direction, which Parsons called “a really cool and innovative approach.” Moreover, the slow speed of light in water reduced the effect of reflections from the lake bottom, and the uniform density of the water made the environment much easier to model.”Posted on 2022-03-04T06:00:21+0000
Building data-centric apps with a reactive relational database
We're exploring an approach to simplifying app development: storing all application and UI state in a client-side reactive relational database that provides a structured dataflow model.
This was a really interesting read on web/app development and how to make developing user interfaces more natural (especially for a backend developer like me who's scared of UI).
This goes into a lot of approaches I've thought/wondered about over the years, and matches some of the stuff I've seen described at a very high level in some of FB's code (w/o knowing the details). Good to see some of this in action elsewhere!
"We started this project wondering how the local-first availability of an app’s data could change and simplify app development. At this point, we’re left with more questions than answers. However, we see the outline of an approach where user interfaces are expressed as queries, those queries are executed by a fast, performant incremental maintenance system, and that incremental maintenance gives us detailed data provenance throughout the system. Together, those ideas seem like they could make app development radically simpler and more accessible, possibly so simple that it could be done “at the speed of thought” by users who aren’t skilled in app development.
We find a lot of inspiration from tools like spreadsheets, arguably the origin of the reactive programming model, and Airtable, which draws inspiration from the relational model. These tools are highly productive in their domains; in our experience, they are more productive than traditional developer tools even for skilled software engineers. Nonetheless, they have significant technical and conceptual limitations; you can’t use Airtable to write iTunes. We hope that by taking a step back and developing some key abstractions, we can achieve the full expressive power of “general purpose” programming tools and simplify them dramatically, for experts and novices alike."Posted on 2022-03-04T04:51:51+0000
How Mathematicians Make Sense of Chaos | Quanta Magazine
Dynamical systems can be chaotic and impossible to predict, but mathematicians have discovered tools to help understand them.
“While some mathematicians bristled at the hype — dynamical systems was nothing new, after all — the impact of chaotic systems on mathematics and science was profound. The existence of chaos showed that even in a deterministic system, we may be unable to accurately predict the future because of its sensitive dependence on initial conditions. But because of tools like Smale’s horseshoe, we can still extract useful information from these systems.”Posted on 2022-03-03T06:51:33+0000
Crisis in Particle Physics Forces a Rethink of What Is ‘Natural’ | Quanta Magazine
For three decades, researchers hunted in vain for new elementary particles that would have explained why nature looks the way it does. As physicists confront that failure, they’re reexamining a…
“Taken together, the new UV-IR mixing models illustrate the myopia of the old paradigm — one based solely on reductionism and effective field theory — and that may be a start.
“Just the fact that you lose reductionism when you go to the Planck scale, so that gravity is anti-reductionist,” Dubovsky said, “I think it would be, in some sense, unfortunate if this fact doesn’t have deep implications for things which we observe.””Posted on 2022-03-02T08:00:23+0000
Trapped in Silicon Valley’s Hidden Caste System
Born in a cowshed in India, Siddhant now works for Meta in California. But he hides his background as a Dalit and fears he can never reveal his true self.
Long but very worth a read. It’s a human interest story that goes into one man’s experience with casteism throughout his life; and through this covers a lot of history of discrimination in India and the fight to overcome it. And then talks about how the same thing is happening in the US and in Silicon Valley.
“In April 2021, the debate over caste cropped up even closer to home. Siddhant listened in on a video call organized by the Santa Clara County Human Rights Commission, which was debating whether to add caste to its antidiscrimination policy. Over seven hours, 269 people queued up to deliver 30-second speeches. Anonymous, self-identified Dalit tech workers kept their videos off as they described how they had lost jobs and faced casteist slurs. Residents from dominant-caste backgrounds spoke of witnessing bias in their communities and in the region’s tech companies. A representative from the Alphabet Workers Union spoke of how difficult it is for victims, many of whom are in the US on visas, to come forward. Numerous allies topped off their statements with “Jai Bhim”—a tribute to Bhimrao Ambedkar—but others, including a few who self-identified as members of oppressed castes, worried that adding caste as a protected category would perpetuate negative stereotypes about Indians, and especially Hindus, as bigots.”Posted on 2022-03-02T07:15:08+0000
I'm common as muck and spent £150 on Michelin star food to see if it's worth it
I went to Adams in the city centre and the food had me in tears
Fine dining is always an experience - though I don’t think I have had quite a similar experience yet myself.
Also, fair warning: site is full of ads and you may want to ensure your Adblock is working to make things readable. I read it with the ads and it was a pain.
“While I'd got a few photos of my dishes, and one of me enjoying one, I was aware that nothing could possibly capture that experience. The way that all of my senses had been aroused, it just felt like alchemy.
How many flowers had the chef tasted to know that the little pink one goes best on asparagus? How many tried and failed attempts had gone into deciding just how much reindeer moss goes well with artichoke? What countries had he visited to learn what goes best with the finger lime? Or, in forests filled with mushrooms of every conceivable type, how had the chef decided to choose hen of the woods for me to enjoy today, right here in Birmingham?”Posted on 2022-03-01T06:08:02+0000