This post records dispatches from July 2015 through September 2015.
July 10, 2015 - "Incepting an Image of a Friday"
If you thought that Inception was a bit mind bending, or just confusing as hell, try doing a bit of mind bending on a computer… even more confusing? I don’t know, but basically, there is such a thing called machine learning. In a nutshell you can teach a computer to recognize something like a banana by showing it a lot of images of bananas and telling it that these are bananas. The point is to let it build up an internal database of all possible ways and settings in which a banana can appear (get your mind out of the gutter now). So that when it’s taught, it will be able to identify a banana in a given image.
Where this becomes interesting is after you’ve taught the computer what a banana looks like, what does it actually look like as an internal mental image? In other words, if you asked it to spit out an image of a banana from nothing, what would you get? You get very interesting and surprisingly eye-opening results.
Where the idea of inception pops in is since you’ve taught the computer to recognize bananas, it will then by nature start seeing bananas everywhere, and boy does that world get bizzare.
Sweet mindblowing dreams y’all.
July 17, 2015 - "Full of Wonder Friday"
This week has seen Pluto (the planet, not the dog) in the news quite a lot, and the New Horizons spacecraft that’s sending back all these images (only 4.5 hours of travel time at the speed of light) is incidentally powered by Plutonium, but I digress.
A little closer to home, Japan recently launched an Earth observing weather satellite that takes one pretty incredible image every 10 minutes. And wow I want a bigger screen!.
And a little closer to home still, actually on the surface of our planet, just a little upside down maybe, you can send an email to your favorite tree.
Technology is magic.
July 24, 2015 - "Dotmap Friday"
It’s always cool to see what a bunch of data can reveal when paired with a bunch of code (and put on a map). For example, this one uses census data to map race across the country. And this second one was actually inspired by the racial map and it uses census data to map jobs across the country. Now someone should cross reference the two and make a third map. This starts to get at the trick with all these enormous sets of data, what does it mean and what do you do with it? Or you just say “wow” and move on with your day. So with that said… Uber is offering ice cream delivery today…
July 31, 2015 - "You're Always on Display on Friday"
The fourth wall is the wall behind the stage of a traditional proscenium theater. This is the surface that we're all staring at when we go see a traditional play, watch a movie screen, or a TV screen. But this is a 2-sided surface. "The fourth wall" is a photo series by German photographer Klaus Frahm that looks out from behind the stage at the audience, who now become the actors.
Also not quite related, if you're conveniently located to see the south face of the Empire State Building tomorrow night from 9pm-midnight, you should take a look.
August 7, 2015 - "See-through Friday"
No, not that kind of see-through.
We officially have the ability to easily remove obstructions from photos. We have none other to thank than Google + MIT who have developed a way of algorithmically removing reflections and obstructions from photos (such as chainlink fences for us construction-site-try-to-stick-your-camera-through-the-fence-without-dropping-it types). The principle by which the software works makes perfect sense (which is partly why our two bio eyes still give us such an advantage over cameras), but the apparent resiliency and fidelity of the output images are pretty incredible. It can spit out both the unobstructed image and an image of the obstructor, both with amazing clarity.
So you can now take selfies without actually taking selfies!
August 21, 2015 - "Off-limits Friday"
This has nothing to do with Hillary's servergate, but a different kind of restricted area, one that's more mysterious. Danila Tkachenko's photos of seemingly-ancient former Soviet military testing grounds, research towns, and interplanetary communications facilities are very post apocalyptic and so in the spirit of ruin-porn, but better.
Such ruin! Much white!
(thanks to Connie Cortes for the link!)
August 28, 2015 - "Slightly Surreal Friday"
September 4, 2015 - "Yellow Friday"
Yellow is the color of our sun.
That was a lie.
The answer is red.
That was a lie too.
The actual color is white.
Disappointed? It’s ok, at least the sun isn’t racist, but is all inclusive, like all colors of the rainbow put together = white-light kind of inclusive.
But back to yellow. It’s a convenient representation of the sun’s light, and Mapdwell has mapped the energy potential of photovoltaic panels for every roof in NYC, as well as a few other major cities.
Pretty incredible. Google has a similar project on a less granular and more global level. Except they use red as the color representing highest solar potential, as opposed to yellow for Mapdwell. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. Just don’t try to actually look at the sun to see what color it is.
September 11, 2015 - "Classy Space Drunks Friday"
Ballantine’s has designed a whiskey glass for space because you know, this is a real out of this world problem. But I love the idea that someone has spent time thinking about this and has developed a consumer product that can now be featured on that Mars One reality tv show… But seriously, the design challenges are intriguing if nothing else. The website explains the design and has a couple videos, one is a digital promo, and the other a behind the scenes of design & testing.
So now we can have you know… drunk astronauts orbiting the Earth 200 miles up in a space station flying at 17,000 mph… what could go wrong?
September 25, 2015 - "Landing Rockets on Fridays"
Space X, the company run by Elon Musk, the guy who also runs Tesla cars, and one day might run high speed vacuum tube trains, and ….
So back to Space X, who is building a reusable rocket (the Falcon 9) that will help launch shit into space, because right now rockets are disposable... Yep, just like that plastic cup you’re using for your beer pong game this morning. They’re still experimenting… as you can tell by the fireworks, but they’ve come pretty darn close to building a fully autonomous 224-ft rocket that lands itself upright. Some of us would have trouble balancing a matchstick on a tabletop… But luckily, some bored geniuses at MIT built a game just so that you can take a stab or two or 47 at landing the Falcon 9 on your own. Just use the arrow keys.