Man, I’d love to get this pocket cipher machine at the upcoming Sotheby’s “History of Science and Technology” auction. (It’s $3,500, though.) Using an algorithm to co-write a sci-fi short story. How Linneas invented the index card (and thus, ultimately, the database). A book on the science of jellyfish (which, under global warming, may wind up ruling the planet). They may have found the bones of the original Saint Nicholas. LED traffic lights are so energy-efficient they don’t emit enough heat to melt the snow that gathers on them. Wow, when Time picked the computer as “Machine of the Year” in 1983, the cover illustration was creepy. Some proof that lightning creates antimatter.
The wandering “ghost tree” of Crater Lake has been moving slowly around the body of water … for 100 years. On “reverse logistics” and “ghost shifting”. Nazi airship dining. Photos of the last moon mission show the astronauts basically having a blast. For a more bracing read, check out the transcripts of the Apollo 13 mission; “Houston, we’ve had a problem” is on page 231. An interesting comparison between twitch/clicker/pattern games like Super Hexagon and the sight-reading of music. Yikes: A 75% drop in insect biomass in Germany over 27 years. Duuuuuude. Behold Cladoxylopsida, the hollow trees of the trilobite era. This year’s trend is the “Dog-o’-Lantern”. Ponder the incomprehensible enormity of the number “TREE(3)”.
A recreation of what the first flower might have looked like, 140 million years ago. A carbon-nanotube random-number generator. A comic strip about Lyft’s experiment in charging its employees to park at work. Why do porn sites have social-media “share” buttons? A cool list of coders’ side-projects. A guide to JOVIAL, a 60s-era embedded language the US military used for embedded systems. A hacker who has made a living, for twenty years, via exploits of the economics of online games. Quantum tunneling appears to not be instantaneous.
Newish styles of art, created by a generative adversarial network. “Is it unethical for me to not tell my employer I’ve automated my job?” Amelia Earhart’s hilariously unsentimental prenuptial letter to her fiance. Scientists created an elevator to help eels pass by a dam; they call it the “eelevator”. Roman concrete that has been submerged for 2,000 years is stronger than when it was first made; unpacking its secrets could be useful for climate adaptation. “Grid defection”: As battery tech gets cheaper, McKinsey predicts many households will instal solar arrays and go partially off-grid within a few years. An ancient cuneiform tablet in which a priestess upbraids her brother for not chipping for groceries. A study finds that texting makes you walk funny.
Scientists finally figure out the genetic tree of a “very weird mammal” that vanished 10,000 years ago: It’s part of the horse family. “Those whose past is legible will be exhorted to repeat it.” Behold the “Encounter Editor”, Chris Crawford’s tool — 25 years in the making — for scripting interactive stories. “Quibits” are quantum bits that can represent two states, 1 and 0, at the same time; but now we have “qudits”, which can represent ten. How to replace yourself with a very small shell script. Behold “Brogrammer”, a theme for the Sublime text editor.