Quantum computing, sandwiches, scandinavian unexceptionalism, social pain and 3d printed coffee foam

But if quantum computers provide a new regime in which to probe quantum mechanics, that raises an even broader question: could the field of quantum computing somehow clear up the generations-old debate about the interpretation of quantum mechanics? Indeed, could it do that even before useful quantum computers are built?


What Hayek understood, as did Fisher, is that politicians will supply what the public demands. Politicians are vote seekers. They have to get elected to office before they do anything else, and that means they have to respond to what the public wants. What the public wants, of course, is whatever they believe government can and/or should be doing. And what they believe government should be doing comes from the ideas they hear peddled by intellectuals.


America is suffering from rampant, run-away corporatism and crony capitalism. We are increasingly a plutocracy in which government serves the interests of elite financiers and CEOs at the expense of everyone else.

You know this and you complain loudly about it. But the problem is your fault. You caused this state of affairs. Stop it.

But the moderate left didn’t want radical socialism. They just wanted regulatory agencies to rein in the excesses of the market. They wanted the government to subsidize or own areas that ought to be considered public goods, like healthcare, transportation, education, and the environment. But good intentions are not enough, writes Brennan.

We told you this would happen, but you wouldn’t listen. You complain, rightly, that regulatory agencies are controlled by the very corporations they are supposed to constrain. Well, yeah, we told you that would happen. When you create power—and you people love to create power—the unscrupulous seek to capture that power for their personal benefit. Time and time again, they succeed. We told you that would happen, and we gave you an accurate account of how it would happen.

You complain, perhaps rightly, that corporations are just too big. Well, yeah, we told you that would happen. When you create complicated tax codes, complicated regulatory regimes, and complicated licensing rules, these regulations naturally select for larger and larger corporations. We told you that would happen. Of course, these increasingly large corporations then capture these rules, codes, and regulations to disadvantage their competitors and exploit the rest of us. We told you that would happen.


MOND does have a big victory over dark matter: it explains the rotation curves of galaxies better than dark matter ever has, including all the way up to the present day. But it is not yet a physical theory, and it is not consistent with the full suite of observations we have at our disposal. The reason you hear about dark matter is because it can give us the entire Universe, consistently, with the same single modification. MOND may yet turn out to be a clue to a fuller theory of gravity, and there are many who hope to someday derive the phenomenology of MOND from dark matter itself, a very ambitious project indeed!

But at present, MOND’s failures, cosmologically, make it far disfavored when compared to dark matter. It has its adherents and deserves to be considered and worked on, but it is not yet a viable alternative.

View story at Medium.com

Toulmin was a fascinating figure who led a fascinating life. He was trained in the sciences, and contributed to radar development and refinement for Britain during World War II. After the war, however, he turned his attention to philosophy, rather than the sciences, and took up an immensely important project.


A cliffside Slovenian castle sits on not just a network of secret caves that hid an infamously swashbuckling knight—who successfully held off a full offensive by the Holy Roman Empire for more than a year—but also a cache of buried treasure.


In 2007, Americans spent $2.9 billion on homeopathic medicine, a treatment based on the belief that minuscule amounts of what causes symptoms in a healthy person will alleviate symptoms in someone who is ill. From nutritional supplements to energy healing to acupuncture, treatments outside the medical mainstream are big business. But the vast majority of scientists find much of alternative medicine highly problematic.


Just as leap years keep our calendars lined up with Earth’s revolution around the sun, leap seconds adjust for Earth’s rotation. This kind of fine-tuning wasn’t much of an issue before the invention of atomic clocks, whose ticks are defined by the cycling of atoms. Cesium-based clocks, one kind of atomic clock, measure the passage of time much more precisely than those based on the rotation of our planet, so adding a leap second allows astronomical time to catch up to atomic time.


Human: what is the purpose of living?
Machine: to live forever.


Good food is good food, no matter how you, er, slice it; whether you call a piece of bread that is smothered in pulled pork, cole slaw, and melted cheese a “sandwich” or something else won’t change the fact that it is delicious. In other ways, though, the sandwich-not-sandwich thing is an important distinction. It affects how foods are regulated and labeled. It also affects how foods are taxed.


To answer that question, we follow the line of thinking of Max Planck, arguably the father of quantum mechanics, who wondered what a “natural unit” of distance might be—something not based on an arbitrary standard like meters or feet. He proposed a natural unit expressed using universal constants: the speed of light in a vacuum (c); the constant of gravitation, expressing the strength of the gravitational field (G); and what we now call Planck’s constant (h), expressing the relationship between a particle’s energy and its frequency. Planck found he could construct a distance, now known as the Planck length, LP, with the formula LP =(hG / 2πc3)1/2.

The Planck length turns out to be a very short distance: about 10-35 meters. It is a hundred million trillion times smaller than the diameter of a proton—too small to measure and, arguably, too small to ever be measured.


The descendants of Scandinavian migrants in the US combine the high living standards of the US with the high levels of equality of Scandinavian countries. Median incomes of Scandinavian descendants are 20 per cent higher than average US incomes. It is true that poverty rates in Scandinavian countries are lower than in the US. However, the poverty rate among descendants of Nordic immigrants in the US today is half the average poverty rate of Americans – this has been a consistent finding for decades. In fact, Scandinavian Americans have lower poverty rates than Scandinavian citizens who have not emigrated. This suggests that pre-existing cultural norms are responsible for the low levels of poverty among Scandinavians rather than Nordic welfare states.


“I firmly believe the question of same sex marriage is a question of the definition of an institution, not the dignity of a human being. Every American has the right to pursue happiness as they see fit. Not every American has to agree on every issue, but all of us do have to share our country. A large number of Americans will continue to believe in traditional marriage, and a large number of Americans will be pleased with the Court’s decision today. In the years ahead, it is my hope that each side will respect the dignity of the other.”


social pain – the profound distress experienced when social ties are absent, threatened, damaged, or lost – is elaborated by the same neural and neurochemical substrates involved in processing physical pain


“Where Ripple Maker will truly succeed is likely through business partnerships. What brand wouldn’t want to turn a cup of coffee into a drinkable billboard that almost everyone will surely Instagram?”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-06-message-bearing-coffee-foam-printer-mechanics.html#jCp


Manufactured blood, biological iron, master sommeliers and the wave of the universe

Quantum coherence and quantum entanglement are two landmark features of quantum physics, and now physicists have demonstrated that the two phenomena are “operationally equivalent”—that is, equivalent for all practical purposes, though still conceptually distinct. This finding allows physicists to apply decades of research on entanglement to the more fundamental but less-well-researched concept of coherence, offering the possibility of advancing a wide range of quantum technologies.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-06-physicists-quantum-coherence-entanglement-sides.html#jCp

The first human trials of lab-produced blood to help create better-matched blood for patients with complex blood conditions has been announced by NHS Blood and Transplant. Research led by scientists at the University of Bristol and NHS Blood and Transplant, used stem cells from adult and umbilical cord blood to create a small volume of manufactured red blood cells.


Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and a half billion years ago.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-06-iron-biological-element.html#jCp

The first successful Master Sommelier examination was held in the UK in 1969. By April 1977, the Court of Master Sommeliers was established “as the premier international examining body.”

Since the Court’s inception, only 229 candidates across the globe have earned the Master Sommelier diploma, which is the “ultimate professional credential anyone can attain worldwide” in the wine, spirits, and alcohol industries.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-it-takes-to-become-a-master-sommelier-2015-6#ixzz3eJQiJm2m

 “The new finding suggests that the universe has slowed down and speeded up, not just once, but 7 times in the last 13.8 billion years, on average emulating dark matter in the process,” said Mead. “The ringing has been decaying and is now very small – much like striking a crystal glass and hearing it ring down.”

 Figure 2 shows the new finding superposed on the Lambda CDM model of Figure 1. The oscillation amplitude is highly exaggerated, but the frequency is roughly correct. Ringermacher and Mead have determined that this oscillation is not a wave moving through the universe, such as a gravitational wave, but rather it is a “wave of the universe”.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-06-universe-crystal-glass.html#jCp

European borders, microbiome, box office booms and busts, artificial neurons and chemical linguistics

Today, Europe faces three converging crises that are ultimately about national borders, what they mean and who controls them. These crises appear distinct: Immigration from the Islamic world, the Greek economic predicament, and the conflict in Ukraine would seem to have little to do with each other. But in fact they all derive, in different ways, from the question of what borders mean.

Europe’s borders have been the foundation of both its political morality and its historical catastrophes. The European Enlightenment argued against multinational monarchies and for sovereign nation-states, which were understood to be the territories in which nations existed. Nations came to be defined as groupings of humans who shared a common history, language, set of values and religion — in short, a common culture into which they were born. These groups had the right of national self-determination, the authority to determine their style of government and the people who governed. Above all, these nations lived in a place, and that place had clear boundaries.


Imagine a soldier who can change the color and pattern of his camouflage uniform from woodland green to desert tan at will. Or an office worker who could do the same with his necktie. Is someone at the wedding reception wearing the same dress as you? No problem – switch yours to a different color in the blink of an eye.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-06-world-full-color-flexible-skin-like.html#jCp

By now, the idea that gut bacteria affects a person’s health is not revolutionary. Many people know that these microbes influence digestion, allergies, and metabolism. The trend has become almost commonplace: New books appear regularly detailing precisely which diet will lead to optimum bacterial health.

But these microbes’ reach may extend much further, into the human brains. A growing group of researchers around the world are investigating how the microbiome, as this bacterial ecosystem is known, regulates how people think and feel. Scientists have found evidence that this assemblage—about a thousand different species of bacteria, trillions of cells that together weigh between one and three pounds—could play a crucial role in autism, anxiety, depression, and other disorders.


Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore abandoned the organization in 1986, highlighting its abandonment of scientific objectivity in favor of political agendas:

By around the mid-1980s, when I left Greenpeace, the public had accepted most of the reasonable things we had been fighting for: stop the bomb, save the whales, stop toxic waste dumping into the earth, water, and air. Some, like myself, realized the job of creating mass awareness of the importance of the environment had been accomplished and it was time to move on from confrontation to sustainable development, seeking solutions. But others seemed bent on lifelong confrontation, ‘up against the man’ ‘smash capitalism’. . . .

In order to remain confrontational as society adopted all the reasonable demands, it was necessary for these anti-establishment lifers to adopt ever more extreme positions, eventually abandoning science and logic altogether in zero-tolerance policies.


The economic impact of violence, as calculated by the Institute for Economics and Peace, has reached US$14.3 trillion, which is equal to 13.4 % of global GDP.


Paranormal Activity is by far the biggest underdog success story, having been shot on a $15,000 budget with a home video camera in a single house. The Blair Witch Project — shot in a very similar manner to Paranormal Activity — unsurprisingly shows up in 3rd place. Tarnation holds the record of the highest-profit film that was produced with less than $250. Incredibly, E.T. still shows up in the top 25 on this list despite its $10.5 million budget. Talk about a box office success!


Scientists at Karolinska Institutet have managed to build a fully functional neuron by using organic bioelectronics. This artificial neuron contain no ‘living’ parts, but is capable of mimicking the function of a human nerve cell and communicate in the same way as our own neurons do.


Language is one of our most powerful metaphors – its ubiquity hides its particularity. Many things are considered to be ‘like language’. Music is one, mathematics another, chemistry a very close third. Such statements grab onto a few similarities and invite us to ponder whether the differences are really so significant after all. The similarities are sometimes so overwhelming that we slip from simile to metaphor: chemistry is not ‘like language,’ it is a language.


Europe is at risk, we are told. Russia’s assault on Ukraine threatens the post-Cold War order. Moscow may follow up with similar attacks on Moldova and even such NATO members as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

But no one in Europe seems to care. Even the countries supposedly in Vladimir Putin’s gun sites aren’t much concerned. No one is bolstering their military. And the European people oppose taking any military risks to help their neighbors.


Earliest teeth, 3d printed rhino horns, Palantir, the first photograph, Chef Watson and flavor-changing neutrinos

The map provides a level of detail previously unavailable. It is the first ever to collect data published by all of Europe’s municipalities.


On November 16th 2014, Romania made a historic decision to elect its first ever president from an ethnic minority, Transylvania’s German Saxons.


A San Francisco biotech startup has managed to 3D print fake rhino horns that carry the same genetic fingerprint as the actual horn.


At the heart of Thatcher’s thinking was the view that economic freedom, and not big government, was essential to individual liberty and prosperity.


By managing data for government agencies and Wall Street banks, Palantir Technologies has grown into one of the most valuable venture-backed companies in Silicon Valley.


The Passive Frame Theory also defies the intuitive belief that one conscious thought leads to another. “One thought doesn’t know about the other, they just often have access to and are acting upon the same, unconscious information,” Morsella said. “You have one thought and then another, and you think that one thought leads to the next, but this doesn’t seem to be the way the process actually works.”


A pair of researchers, one with the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands, the other with the University of Bristol in the U.K. has found what appears to be the earliest known example of a creature sporting teeth. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-06-million-year-fish-fossil-earliest.html#jCp

Martin Schulz is a rare case for someone in his position. No studies. Schulz never finished school. He doesn’t even have his Abitur, that German diploma that is as hard to obtain as the one marking the baccalaureate in France.


The pope ignores the keen insight of former Czech President Vaclav Klaus who likened environmentalists to watermelons: they are green on the outside and red on the inside. After the collapse of the Soviet Union leftists the world over migrated to the environmentalist movement and began regurgitating the party line, which is that human activity, and in particular, capitalism, is killing the planet.


If reality is actually composed of a vast, vast number of realities, and if ‘anything’ can, does, and must happen, and happen many, many, times, this presumably has to include the possibility of living things (whatever they’re composed of) skipping between universes willy-nilly. After all, just because physics in our universe makes that look kind of tricky, it doesn’t prevent the physics of a huge number of other universes from saying ‘sure, go right ahead!’ And there’s the rub. Discounting our all-to-human capacity for self-delusion, there is absolutely no hard evidence that we are being, or ever have been, visited by stuff from other realities. (And really, if you do feel inclined to comment and tell me I’m wrong about that, save your breath, sorry). So what’s the answer? Why isn’t this happening?


In 1983, a painting by the Belgian surrealist René Magritte came up for auction in New York. The artwork was painted in 1948 and depicts a bird of prey morphing into a leaf which is being eaten by a caterpillar–perhaps an expression of sorrow for the Second World War, which Magritte spent in occupied Belgium. But experts soon noticed a problem. An almost exact copy of the painting already hung in a gallery in Europe, and the question immediately arose as to whether this one was a forgery. After extensive analysis, art experts agreed that both pictures were almost certainly painted by Magritte himself, perhaps as a joke—he was a surrealist, after all—or more likely because he had two collectors interested in the same painting and wanted both sales.


Photography has been a medium of limitless possibilities since it was originally invented in the early 1800s. The use of cameras has allowed us to capture historical moments and reshape the way we see ourselves and the world around us. To celebrate the amazing history of photography and photographic science, we have assembled twenty photographic ‘firsts’ from over the past two centuries.


Today we are thrilled to launch Atlas, a new platform for discovering and sharing great charts.


The job-threatening rise of the machines is an economically illiterate meme that refuses to die. We’re actually probably in the early stages of it, a bull-market in neo-luddism, if you will. Bastiat’s “Candlemakers Petititon” answered this one long ago, but today I’ll run a little thought experiment that owes it all to good old Bastiat. Let’s say Weird Al Yankovic invents a machine capable of making everything with a single push of a button. The first thing he does is print up a bunch of machines and sell them for a ton. Weird Al is now a billionaire, and there are thousands of make-everything machines. This diffusion of Weird Al’s new technology replicates the market process, where new tech spreads in proportion to its usefulness. If you doubt this, because of patents, for example, check out Brazil’s experience with AIDS drugs, where they tore up the patents on humanitarian grounds. Weird Al’s machines will, at a minimum, be mass produced in Brazil. Or China. Or Mozambique. So, one way or another, we get a bunch of make-everything machines. What happens to the jobs? We’re getting everything for near-free now. So all the production jobs disappear. There are still lots of jobs, of course — child-care, gardeners, musicians. But all the production jobs have vanished — something like 20 percent of jobs, maybe up to 50 percent when you include knock-on replacement of people by capital (truck drivers, robot bartenders). Heck, let’s go crazy and say 90 percent of the jobs vanished. Nobody’s got a job outside of preschool or performing on a stage. It’s the end of the world, right?


It was not until later that physicists realized that if the Higgs field does exist, its action would require the existence of a corresponding carrier particle, and the properties of this hypothetical particle were such that we might actually be able to observe it. This particle was believed to be in a class called the bosons; keeping things simple, they called the boson that went with the Higgs field the Higgs boson. It is a so-called “force carrier” for the Higgs field, just as photons are a force carrier for the universe’s electromagnetic field


Watson is IBM’s cognitive computer (of Jeopardy fame), and for the last year it’s been gobbling up information about the art of cooking and harnessing its natural language-processing skills to unearth patterns and insights about how certain foods work together. The computer analyzed the content of more than 9,000 Bon Appetit recipes, gleaning information about cooking patterns and terminology from those concoctions. By combining this data with its robust knowledge of food chemistry and human taste preferences, Watson was able to come up with totally new recipes that use totally new combinations of ingredients.


Neutrinos are often called “ghost particles,” and for good reason. Neutral in charge and tiny in mass, neutrinos are incredibly elusive and mostly pass unnoticed through ordinary matter, including you and me. In fact, neutrinos, one of physics’ fundamental particles, were once thought to be completely massless. A recent observation from researchers in Italy, however, adds to mounting evidence however that neutrinos do have some – very tiny – mass. Specifically, it was found that neutrinos, which come in three varieties or “flavors,” can spontaneously change their flavor in a process known as oscillation. And because of the nature of quantum mechanics, oscillation only occurs if the flavors have unique masses.


Futurism, vision science, examined lies, Iceland and the politics of Better Call Saul!

As Professor Harold Hill has said — “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”


Ischaemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and chronic obstructive lung disease have remained the top major killers during the past decade.

HIV deaths decreased slightly from 1.7 million (3.2%) deaths in 2000 to 1.5 million (2.7%) deaths in 2012. Diarrhoea is no longer among the 5 leading causes of death, but is still among the top 10, killing 1.5 million people in 2012.

Chronic diseases cause increasing numbers of deaths worldwide. Lung cancers (along with trachea and bronchus cancers) caused 1.6 million (2.9%) deaths in 2012, up from 1.2 million (2.2%) deaths in 2000. Similarly, diabetes caused 1.5 million (2.7%) deaths in 2012, up from 1.0 million (2.0%) deaths in 2000.


The top 1% of income earners in the US pay 45.7% of the entire 100% of income tax collected by the IRS.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/common-myths-about-rich-people-2015-6#ixzz3dyhv1bYL

The futurist says work in futures is about patterns, not predictions.


When it comes to the long tradition of thinking and writing about perception, Searle takes the situation to be rather bleak. He believes that the entirety of philosophical work on perception since Descartes has been bewitched by what he calls “the Bad Argument” and, as a consequence, is unnecessary and incoherent.


Nor is Texas the lone region for which Russia has cast secessionist support since the Crimean seizure. Venice, Scotland, Catalonia—the Russian media have voiced fervent support for secession in all these Western allies.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/06/vladimir-putin-texas-secession-119288.html#ixzz3dyjPpFmS

In order to regulate every aspect of our lives, the government cannot go it alone — it works through a web of intermediaries. Many of these institutions purport to take care of us, but in the process they chip away at our freedom.


And what is the worldview of this pope? Well, it is a vision that is relentlessly pessimistic. According to Francis, the world is very nearly falling down around us. The poor are getting poorer, he claims. The inequalities between rich and poor are worse than ever, he says. Pollution is making us sicker than ever, he implies. And the basic requirements for sustaining human life are becoming more inaccessible than ever. These claims serve a purpose: to illustrate that the rise of industrialization and market economies (a modern phenomenon) are the cause of these social and environmental ills.


Considerable research into the neurobiology of memory retrieval supports the idea that our recollections are inherently shaky. According to a literature review in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, the molecular mechanisms underscoring what scientists call memory reconsolidation—basically, the recovery of a memory that has already been coded into the brain—highlight the presence of a “labile period” during which “the memory can be modified.” The initial consolidation of a memory depends on a protein synthesis. When protein synthesis inhibitors are introduced into the brain after retrieval of the original consolidated memory, the updated memory, which has passed through the labile phase, takes a different cellular pathway. The result is an alteration of the original memory.


Denmark is pretty much the poster child for the sort of society American liberals at least say they desire. But it’s important to understand how it actually ticks. For a start, it is small. 5.6 million people small, about Wisconsin or Minnesota small. I maintain that it’s going to be a lot easier to get such a small group to think of themselves as all being part of the one polity, within which there should be substantial redistribution, than it’s going to be in a country of 320 million people.

But it goes much further than that. The national income tax rate is 3.76% (yes, really, 3.76) and the top national income tax rate is only 15%. That’s the amount that is collected from the citizenry and sent into the centre. Denmark does have astonishingly high tax rates overall, yes, but the bulk of that is paid to the commune. A commune being a unit of as small as 10,000 people. And that’s where all that redistribution and social caring is done. In those much smaller units, not at the national level. My suggestion is that precisely because it is being done in these small units that people are willing to cough up so much money to have so much of it.


In this superb new video – which is just under six-minutes long – the Manhattan Institute’s Nicole Gelinas explains the relevant, bailout-bloated history behind the 2008 financial crisis.  Contrary to popular myth, the chief cause of this crisis was not banks and other financial institutions being too free of the oversight of government regulators but, rather, banks and other financial institutions operating with perverse incentives created by myopic government officials.


If its beauty and magnificence is instantly apparent, so much about Notre Dame is not. To begin with, we don’t know who built this cathedral—or how.

The bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully, commissioned the massive church complex around 1160. Yet the names of those who first constructed this masterpiece are lost to history. They left no records—only centuries of speculation—behind.


The shale industry is unlike any other conventional hydrocarbon or alternative energy sector, in that it shares a growth trajectory far more similar to that of Silicon Valley’s tech firms. In less than a decade, U.S. shale oil revenues have soared, from nearly zero to more than $70 billion annually (even after accounting for the recent price plunge). Such growth is 600 percent greater than that experienced by America’s heavily subsidized solar industry over the same period.


Too much of the encyclical reads like a list of green gremlins cooked up by the most ardent environmentalists. Francis finds reason not to like genetically modified foods because, he claims, wherever they’re employed, “productive land is concentrated in the hands of a few owners” and small farms disappear due to “an expansion of oligopolies for the production of cereals and other products.” This claim ignores the good that genetically engineered food does in boosting production and helping to feed people around the world.


Iceland’s recovery has become a myth wrapped in a legend inside a legend. It let its banks fail, slashed household debt, let its currency collapse, put capital controls in place—and now it’s doing better than those countries that did austerity! In reality, Iceland let its banks fail for foreigners, wrote down household debt only after their laws had made it worse, had no choice but to watch the krona plummet, but, at the same time, tried to keep it from plunging too far by limiting how much money people could take out of the country . Oh, and it did more austerity than any country not named Greece. The truth is a more complicated place.


China, Japan as early as the Meiji, and Israel have consciously employed this golden relation to their advantage. In sum, rapid and sustained economic growth increases the marginal income of families and individuals beyond what is needed to survive, so that what under less favorable conditions would be a disproportionately high share of gross domestic product can be diverted to military purposes without threatening social cohesion and political stability. In just a few decades, the Meiji went from silks and swords to their modern battle fleet’s victory over Russia. Israel enjoyed the world’s fastest economic growth prior to the Six-Day War of 1967, the results of which are well known. And in only 30 years, China has become a military superpower.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/419604/indefensible-defense

In 1952, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey tested that hypothesis. They combined water, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen in sealed vials in attempt to replicate Earth’s original atmosphere. They bombarded the vials with heat and continuous electrode sparks to simulate volcanic activity and lightening. Eventually, the reaction produced a number of amino acids – the building blocks of proteins and, by extension, life itself.


Medieval marriage patterns, Leonardo, the Renaissance, individualism and utopia

The ramifications of marriage strategy in history are so complex that macro-theorizing on the subject has proved less satisfactory than empirical local studies. The theory which divided the whole of Europe into two simple zones of a late-marrying ‘European [sic] Marriage Pattern’ and an early-marrying ‘East European Marriage Pattern’ 3 carries much less conviction than the micro-analysis of matrimony in medieval Florence4 or Renaissance Ragusa.

Davies, Norman (2010-09-30). Europe: A History (Kindle Locations 11736-11740). Random House. Kindle Edition.

After Leonardo’s death, an experiment was made to replicate his genius. His half-brother , Bartolomeo, sought out a girl from the same village as Leonardo’s mother, fathered a son by her, and raised the boy in one of Florence’s finest studios. Pierino da Vinci (1530– 53) showed great talent: his youthful paintings were good enough to be misattributed to Michelangelo. But he died before his genius matured.

Davies, Norman (2010-09-30). Europe: A History (Kindle Locations 12400-12403). Random House. Kindle Edition.

The causes of the Renaissance were as deep as they were broad. They can be related to the growth of cities and of late medieval trade, to the rise of rich and powerful capitalist patrons, to technical progress which affected both economic and artistic life. But the source of spiritual developments must be sought above all in the spiritual sphere. Here, the malaise of the Church, and the despondency surrounding the Church’s traditional teaching, becomes the major factor. It is no accident that the roots of Renaissance and Reformation alike are found in the realm of ideas.

Davies, Norman (2010-09-30). Europe: A History (Kindle Locations 12404-12408). Random House. Kindle Edition.

INDIVIDUALISM IS WIDELY billed as one of the inherent qualities of ‘Western civilization’, and Michel de Montaigne could claim to be one of the pioneer individualists: ‘The greatest thing on earth is to know how to belong to oneself. Everyone looks in front of them. But I look inside myself. I have no concerns but my own. I constantly reflect on myself; I control myself; I taste myself . . . We owe some things in part to society, but the greater part to ourselves. It is necessary to lend oneself to others, but to give oneself only to oneself.’ 1

The roots of individualism have been identified in Platonism, in Christian theology of the soul, in the nominalism of medieval philosophy. 2 But the main surge came with the Renaissance, which Burckhardt characterized by its brilliant individuals. The cultural interest in human beings, the religious interest in private conscience, and the economic interest in capitalist enterprise all put the individual centre stage. Starting with Locke and Spinoza, the Enlightenment elaborated the theme until the ‘liberty of the individual’ and ‘human rights’ joined the common stock of European discourse. In the nineteenth century individualist theory developed along several divergent tracks. Kant had remarked that the unrestrained pursuit of self-interest was immoral; and it was left to John Stuart Mill On Liberty (1850) to reconcile the conflicting interests of individuals and of society. In Socialisme et liberté (1898) Jean Jaurès undertook a similar exercise in socialist terms. Yet there were always people ready to pursue the extremes. In The Individual and His Property (1844) Max Stirner condemned all forms of collective, whether ‘nation’, ‘state’, or ‘society’. In The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891) Oscar Wilde defended the absolute rights of the creative artist: ‘Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.’ In the twentieth century, both communism and fascism treated the individual with contempt. Even in democratic states, bloated government bureaucracies often oppressed those whom they were created to serve. The neo-liberal response gathered pace in the ‘Vienna School’ of the 1920s. Its leaders— Karl Popper (b. 1902), Ludwig von Mises (1881– 1973), and Friedrich von Hayek (b. 1899)— all emigrated. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom (1944) and Individualism and the Economic Order (1949) educated the post-war neo-conservatives.

Davies, Norman (2010-09-30). Europe: A History (Kindle Locations 12567-12574). Random House. Kindle Edition.

UTOPIA, MEANING ‘NO Place’, was the name coined in 1516 by Sir Thomas More for his book describing his search for an ideal form of government. Translated into English in 1551, after the author’s martyrdom, as A Frutefull, pleasant and wittie worke of the beste state of a publique weale, and of the new yle called Utopia, and also into French, German, Spanish, and Italian, it became a bestseller. In it More described a land where property was held in common, both men and women benefited from universal education, and all religions were tolerated. 1 Utopian thinking supplies a deep human need for an ideal vision of a better world. The genre has attracted many practitioners, from Plato’s Republic to Bacon’s New Atlantis and Harrington’s Oceana.

Similar effects may be gained by imagining the horrors of Dystopia or ‘Bad Place’. Such was the intent of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) or of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). In the twentieth century, utopianism has generally been associated with left-wing thinking. Soviet Russia was widely thought by its admirers to have been a modern utopia, free of the evils of capitalist democracy. ‘I have seen the future,’ said an American visitor in 1919, ‘and it works.’ Such opinions have since been disgraced by knowledge of the mass murders committed in the name of ‘socialism’ and ‘progress’. Modern liberals have moved on to the more humdrum task of bettering the lot of individuals. 2 [HARVEST] [VORKUTA] What is not so readily accepted is that Fascism too had its utopias. After the initial phase of brutal conquest, many Nazis, like many Communists, dreamed of a beautiful, harmonious future. The French writer ‘Vercors’, for example, recounts the musings of a German officer in occupied France, who looks forward to the glorious future of Franco-German union. ‘It will be a replay of Beauty and the Beast’. 3 After the war, in Eastern Europe’s Communist prisons, many democrats imprisoned for opposition to Communism had to listen to the broken dreams of their convicted Nazi cell-mates. 4 The Fascist utopia, like that of the Communists, was false, and generated immense suffering. But there were those who dreamed it sincerely. [LETTLAND]

Davies, Norman (2010-09-30). Europe: A History (Kindle Locations 12775-12780). Random House. Kindle Edition.

Inequality, Kim Kataguiri, chimpanzee drum solo, micro-totalitarianism, silicon and wine

this is more than a Balkan brouhaha.


There is, though, another way of viewing Russian history: Instead of seeing Russia as always being able to bounce back from near collapse, the pattern can also be seen as one in which despite Russia constantly building up its power and prestige, it always experiences catastrophic setbacks — much like Sisyphus’ efforts to push a boulder up to the top of the hill always ending in futility.

Despite everything that the tsars did to advance Russia into the ranks of the European great powers, Russia was unable to avoid the disaster of being invaded by Napoleon.

Despite the promising political reforms of the early 20th century, Russia did not avoid the disasters of World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the Civil War

Despite the tremendous economic strides made under Stalin (albeit at enormous human cost), the Soviet Union experienced the catastrophe of the German invasion of 1941.

And despite the Soviet Union’s achievement of superpower status after World War II, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and Russia experienced severe economic decline.


It’s going to be big; the automobile was the distinctive invention of the 20th century. The mass production techniques developed in the car industry helped create the industrial model of modern times; the relationship between mass production and mass consumption built around the car industry was a powerful engine for social change; cars reshaped our cities, led to the construction of huge highway systems, and drove a century of increasing dependence on fossil fuels, petroleum above all.

If cars change, the world changes, and cars and the car industry are moving toward the biggest transformation since the first Model T rolled off Henry Ford’s assembly line.


Peter Bauer, a pioneer in development economics, recognized early on that “in a modern open society, the accumulation of wealth, especially great wealth, normally results from activities which extend the choices of others.”


Some people can smell a rat a mile away. Others don’t notice even when the odor wafts right under their noses.


To subscribe to the global warming agenda you have to believe three things: that the world is warming, that the warming is caused by mankind, and that there is something we can do about it.


“I like a little rebellion now and then,” Thomas Jefferson famously wrote. The primary author of the Declaration of Independence and America’s third president regarded rebellion as “like a storm in the atmosphere.” It clears the air and settles matters.


There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all.

We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.


the only-known spontaneous, unsolicited chimpanzee drum solo.


Capitalism has done more for the poor in the past ten years than charity has done throughout all of history.


The phrase “carbon-based life” gets thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? It means that the core structural molecules that make up our bodies (proteins, amino acids, nucleic acids, fatty acids, and more) are built on skeletons of carbon atoms. That’s because carbon has the great property of being “tetravalent.” Oxygen can only form two stable chemical bonds at once (thus leading to water, or H2O), and nitrogen only three (thus leading to ammonia, or NH3), but carbon can stably hold onto up to four different atoms at once (thus giving us methane, or CH4). Tetravalency is a powerful basis for building molecules that are both strong and geometrically complex, and that duo of chemical virtues has allowed the evolution of all life currently known in the universe.


“There is not a reason in the world why we cannot grow at a rate of 4 percent a year.”

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/420067/jeb-bush-4-percent-growth

The left is not necessarily aiming at totalitarianism. But their know-it-all mindset leads repeatedly and pervasively in that direction, even if by small steps, each of which might be called “micro-totalitarianism.”


An archeological dig at the site of Gadachrili Gora, near the village of Imiri in southeastern Georgia, recently unearthed the earliest evidence of domesticated grapes from about 6000 BC, according to carbon-dating analysis.


Graphics that lie, systemantics, thai coup, Hitler ice-cream, the world’s largest employers and the limits of knowledge

We tend to believe what numbers say, but just because they’re on a chart, that doesn’t make them true.


The idea is to organize access to the Deep Web’s content, and build a search engine alternative to Google, that will give NASA a better way to access data being uploaded by their machines. A not unintended byproduct of this will be, eventually, allowing everyone more access to the hidden parts of the Internet.


Homeopathy is a 200 year old pre-scientific system of medicine based upon magical thinking. It is mostly based on two notions, the first of which is that like cures like. In other words, a substance that causes a symptom can cure that symptom in extremely low doses. There is no scientific basis for this, despite the desperate attempts by homeopaths to invoke vaccine-like analogies, or their new favorite, hormesis.

The second notion is that you make a remedy more powerful by diluting it to extreme degrees. People have fun making comparisons, such as the need to drink a solar-system’s worth of water to have a 50% chance of getting a single molecule of active ingredient. No problem, say the homeopaths, homeopathic potions contain the magical “essence” of what was previously diluted in them. It’s turtles all the way down.


Here’s a fun game (if you’re a geneticist): Google “scientists discover the gene for” and wander through the headlines returned in their millions. A gene for homosexuality, for political bent, for cocaine addiction, for fear, for what time of day you will die, for spree-killing evil, for happiness, for brain size… For no other reason than utter vanity I propose this fallacy be known as Rutherford’s law: these simplistic narratives are just wrong. Genetics doesn’t work like that; there aren’t really any genes for anything. Some diseases do have a single root cause in a single gene, but how that disorder manifests can be highly variable, a genetics concept called “penetrance”. Inheritance is a game of probability, not of destiny.


Farming, by definition, is the opposite of natural. Nothing we eat could be described as “natural”, regardless of the marketing or labelling, whether it’s organic, or from Waitrose, Aldi or Abel & Cole. Breeding any organism for food, fuel, sport or for pets is effectively genetic modification – and we have been doing that for thousands of years. For example, a Granny Smith is a genetic hybrid of two other apples and even a blackberry plucked from a bramble is the product of a deeply ancient, seemingly natural but actually very human design – the hedgerow.


The Thai military coup of May 22nd 2014 had been months, if not years, in the making. Ever since PM Yingluck Shinawatra’s landslide election win in July 2011, it had been clear – to all those who were willing to see – that the Thai people’s genuine commitment to democracy was doomed to be usurped by the wealthy entrenched establishment and their willing henchmen in the Thai Army.


Scandinavia was once the praetorian guard of Europe’s Left but with the Danish election result only Sweden now has a non right-wing government. Labour, of course, suffered a devastating defeat in Britain last month. It was all but wiped out in both southern England and Scotland. The centre right Angela Merkel remains the dominant figure in German politics. The new Polish president is even more conservative than the last. Tony Abbott has bounced back in Australia and is now favourite to be re-elected next year. John Key won his third consecutive victory in New Zealand last September. Even where the left is in power it’s in trouble. France’s Hollande is deeply unpopular and he is currently third in presidential opinion polls – trailing both the mainstream centre right and the toxic Marine Le Pen. Barack Obama may be loved overseas but his US approval rating dipped below George W Bush’s in one recent survey. The Republicans are more dominant in US politics as a whole (when you count Congress, Senate, Governorships and state legislatures) than at any time for a century.


A man found dead early Monday, June 15 in Riberas del Pilar appears to have been the victim of a freak accident attributed to excessive drinking and bad weather.

The deceased has been identified as Ajijic resident Martin Anguiano Morales, 41. His corpse was discovered lying face down on Paseo de la Ribera, near the Mirasol subdivision, with a plastic bag containing an alcoholic substance at his side.

Although the official autopsy results were not available at press time, officials at the Ministerio Público (district attorney’s office) attributed the cause of death to asphyxia from the aspiration of fluid. Presumably, Anguiano passed out in the street during a drinking binge, tumbling face first into a pot hole. A storm blew while he was unconscious, filling the rut with a fatal dose of rain water.


A new ice-cream to hit India’s streets is called the Adolf Hitler and has sparked anger and frustration in Germany and the rest of the world.

Hitler’s name has been branded all over the new ice cream cone, its packaging and boxes throughout India.

German newspapers are labelling the ice cream as an untasteful public relations stunt, but in India the lack of knowledge about the Holocaust means that it is having little impact or consequences there.


The UK only has a population of 63 million people. How can 1.7 million of those work for the National Health? That’s over 2.5% of the total population! And that doesn’t account for children and old people.


As a starting point, here’s a graphic from the US Geological Survey with a planetary view of water. The bar on the far left shows that of all the water on the planet, 2.5% is fresh water. The second bar shows that out of that 2.5%, about two-thirds is in glaciers and ice-caps. Most of the rest is groundwater, including underwater aquifers. The surface water that we actually see–like lakes and rivers–is a tiny percentage of the available freshwater.


Our favorite example is the robot (technically, the set of robots) they named “Poppy” — because the system went live on Remembrance Day in the UK, when it is traditional to wear poppies. For the knowledge workers at Xchanging, Poppy took over the laborious task of processing the structured premiums that come in from London’s insurance brokers. She adds supporting documentation, checks for errors, kicks out exceptions, and adds validated information to the official market repository. Poppy hands over the exceptions to her human teammates for processing. They think of her as a “fresher”— the kind of newly-hired employee that has traditionally done the support work for the team — but an especially industrious one.


One intern joked, “The best thing about working at SpaceX is the flexibility. You can work whatever 80 hours a week you want.”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/life-on-rocket-road-what-its-like-to-intern-at-spacex-2015-6#ixzz3drNfXOxK

When the history of the early 21st century is written, the defining event of the period may not be recalled as the global financial crisis or the rise of militant Islam. It may be the convergence of interests between China and Russia, which led them to create a united front against the US and the European Union, and to challenge the global dominance of western economic and political values.


will empirical evidence remain the arbiter of science?


information graphics


Sonifying data, brain-to-text system, fuzzballs and financial industry’s most wanted hacker

The ‘world’s largest IT project’ — a system with the power of one hundred million home computers — may help to unravel many of the mysteries of our universe: how it began, how it developed and whether humanity is alone in the cosmos. – See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/features/masters-of-the-universe#.dpuf

Author, essayist, and historian Stella Ghervas ― a visiting scholar at Harvard’s Center for European Studies ― was born in Moldova; studied in Russia, Romania, and Switzerland; and until recently taught in France.

Her transnational background, along with a mastery of six languages, makes Ghervas a living embodiment of one of her favorite ideas: that Europe is more expansive than most of us think. It’s a region, she said, that historically, culturally, and geographically includes not just the Western Europe of Britain, France, and Germany, but also Russia and a multitude of nations between the Baltic and the Black Sea. Of European history, she said, “We have to have this enlarged understanding.”


Nicky Ashwell has become the first UK user to receive what the makers call “the world’s most lifelike hand” — the Stepper bebionic small. The myoelectric device uses miniaturized components designed to provide true-to-life movements, mimicking the functions of a real hand.


German and U.S. researchers have decoded natural continuously spoken speech from brain waves and transformed it into text — a step toward communication with computers or humans by thought alone.


Everyone knows about visualizing data, but few have heard of sonifying data. Nevertheless, sound has great potential for organizing, interpreting and sharing scientific knowledge. Sound can also be a powerful tool to learn more about culture and the natural world. – See more at: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/06/15/chicago-blues-and-science-sound#.dpuf

China’s motive for reviving Pax Mongolica is clear. Its growth model, based largely on exporting cheap manufactured goods to developed countries, is running out of steam. Secular stagnation threatens the West, accompanied by rising protectionism sentiment. And, although Chinese leaders know that they must rebalance the economy from investment and exports to consumption, doing so risks causing serious domestic political problems for the ruling Communist party. Reorienting investments and exports toward Eurasia offers an alternative.
Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/china-russia-marriage-by-robert-skidelsky-2015-06#SCY1ZHSDGWrjW5vj.99

There’s a common notion that at the edge of every black hole lies a back door to the universe — an exit from reality into a new realm where fundamental laws of nature, like time, no longer behave the way that we understand them.

What happens once you cross this threshold is a long-standing mystery that the world’s leading scientists have been pondering for decades with little headway.

Now, a recent paper presented at a conference in Paris this week has proposed a solution by looking at black holes in a completely different way.

Taking a novel approach to this age-old problem, the theory proposes that there is no back door to the universe in the first place. Instead, black holes are impenetrable bodies, called fuzzballs.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-happens-if-you-touch-a-black-hole-2015-6#ixzz3dr3pivv7

Solar power now provides roughly 1% of the world’s electricity. It took 40 years to reach that milestone. But, as they say in tech, the first 1% is the hardest.


“To create a tool that may be responsible since its inception for a billion dollars in damages, and still to evade arrest despite all that up to this point, is just amazing to me,” Jackson said. “Until he’s in custody, and he’s in custody somewhere where he’ll stay in custody, I don’t think we’ll see the last of it.”


Twenty years ago this summer a single advertiser spent roughly $300-million trying to sell just one product. It was possibly the most expensive and most effective campaign since advertising was invented.


In many ways, Stratfor thinks the world of 10 years from now will be more dangerous place, with US power waning and other prominent countries experiencing a period of chaos and decline.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/stratfor-has-11-chilling-predictions-for-what-the-world-will-look-like-a-decade-from-now-2015-6?op=1#ixzz3dr6sE6rH

The group has spent over a decade trying to convince the world that it is a for-hire, cutting-edge intel firm with tentacles everywhere. Before their marketing campaign fooled Anonymous, it fooled wealthy clients; before it fooled clients, it hooked a couple of reporters. A breathless October 15, 2001, Barron’s cover story called Stratfor “a private quasi-CIA,” the evidence for which appears to be this quote from Stratfor chief George Friedman: “The CIA has to spend thousands of dollars a month to have an agent in, say, Teheran or Peshawar to monitor local newspapers or political developments that we can find on the Internet within a few hours.” In other words, they have Google. But Stratfor’s first big break had come in 1999 with a spate of glowing articles such as this January piece in Time, which reported Stratfor’s “striking” theory that the U.S. bombing of Iraq in December 1998 was “actually designed to mask a failed U.S.-backed coup.” That theory, like so much of Stratfor’s “intelligence,” was discredited long ago.


Scott knew that if he had a bigger operation—“a team of accomplices” was the way he put it to me—he could get cash from several tellers’ drawers and perhaps even get to the bank’s vault. The problem was that he had no criminal friends to turn to. There was no one he could trust to stay quiet about what he was doing—except for his own children. Maybe, he began to think, he should talk to Hayden and Abby about joining him.


Magna Carta, the largest ancient shipwreck ever discovered, cosmic inflation and placentas on a chip

  • Indeed, as the liberals had feared, the century of European peace that began in 1815 came crashing down in 1914, with the First World War. The replacement of liberalism by statism and nationalism was in large part to blame, and the war itself may have delivered the death blow to liberalism. In the United States and Europe, governments enlarged their scope and power in response to the war. Exorbitant taxation, conscription, censorship, nationalization, and central planning—not to mention the 10 million deaths at Flanders fields and Verdun and elsewhere—signaled that the era of liberalism, which had so recently supplanted the old order, was now itself supplanted by the era of the megastate.


For nearly thirty years, a phantom haunted the woods of Central Maine. Unseen and unknown, he lived in secret, creeping into homes in the dead of night and surviving on what he could steal. To the spooked locals, he became a legend—or maybe a myth. They wondered how he could possibly be real. Until one day last year, the hermit came out of the forest


There are still five communist regimes, including China, the most populous nation in the world, as well as North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cuba. The legacy of communism is evident in Russia’s brazen seizure of the Crimea and its open support of pro-Russian militants in Eastern Ukraine. Professors in American colleges continue to teach that Marxism is just a good idea that has never been really tried.


As the report explains, unconventional drilling brought in over $43 billion to annual U.S. GDP and created 2.7 million jobs, which is nearly half of the total jobs added to the nation’s economy since 2005. However, the U.S. is currently stuck “in an unproductive, divisive, and often misinformed debate about our energy strategy, which threatens our nation’s economic and environmental goals.”


While anchored offshore, the divers explored the shallow depths. Along with the usual fare — sponges and other bottom-dwelling sea animals — they discovered something quite extraordinary: a massive shipwreck. Rotting corpses and dead horses were strewn nearby. Subsequent dives would wash away the macabre first impression. The ship was brimming with beautiful artifacts: statues, glasswork, pots, weapons…

What the divers found, confirmed by archaeologists and scientists over the following century, was a 2,000-year-old Roman merchant vessel filled with Greek treasure. To date, it remains the largest ancient shipwreck ever discovered, “the Titanic of the ancient world,” as Brendan Foley, an archaeologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, describes it.


‘It’s true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure why take the chance?’
Ronald Wilson Reagan (40th President) 1981-1989


Cosmic inflation isn’t speculative anymore. Thanks to our observations of the CMB and the large-scale structure of the Universe, we’ve been able to confirm exactly what it predicted. It was the very first thing that we know of that occurred in our Universe, it set up (and happened before) the Big Bang. And stay tuned: there’s possibly even more to come!

View story at Medium.com

Everyone is prone to a fallacy known as confirmation bias: once you’ve chosen sides in a particular debate, you’re more likely to notice evidence in favor of your point of view and less likely to notice evidence on the other side. This is why liberals and conservatives seem to live in different factual universes. Facts that support a liberal worldview circulate more widely in liberal circles than in conservative ones, and vice versa.


People in emerging countries have more faith in the market than those in developed societies.


“Never let your opponent pick the battleground on which to fight. If he picks a battleground, let him fight there by himself.” So spoke Franklin D. Roosevelt, four-time U.S. president and political animal extraordinaire.


As we celebrate Magna Carta and our own independence, let’s think about reclaiming our ancient liberties.


Google’s image recognition software, which can detect, analyze, and even auto-caption images, uses artificial neural networks to simulate the human brain. In a process they’re calling “inceptionism,” Google engineers sought out to see what these artificial networks “dream” of—what, if anything, do they see in a nondescript image of clouds, for instance? What does a fake brain that’s trained to detect images of dogs see when it’s shown a picture of a knight?


The writer Norman Mailer once observed: “Conservatives are people who look at a tree and feel instinctively that it is more beautiful than anything they can name. But when it comes to defending that tree against a highway, they will go for the highway.” Francis challenges that spirit of the utilitarian, that ugly materialism that says growth will save mankind from the muck in the rivers, the smog in the air and the tar in our souls.


To make the placenta on a chip, a team of researchers used human tissues to create a semi-permeable membrane between a chamber of maternal cells taken from a placenta and a chamber of fetal cells taken from a sample of umbilical cord. They tested it with glucose and found that the device transferred the sugar from mother to child just as the body would.


Computer scientists Ahmed Elgammal and Babak Saleh from Rutgers University define creativity as “the originality of the product and its influential value”, and used this definition to create a kind of “art network” based on how similar paintings are to earlier works. This barometer of originality, dubbed the “time machine experiment”, looked at elements including everything from colour and texture to the type of scenes depicted.

The pair then applied these measurements to a database of some 62,000 paintings, and enabled the algorithm to draw parallels between these creative works, from more modern paintings to those from the distant past.


In 2020 Google plans to launch a self-driving car which has already driven nearly one million miles without causing an accident; it doesn’t get tired and irritable, swerve into lamp posts or require a driving test. The in-built chauffeur comes in the form of a rotating LIDAR laser taking 1.3 million recordings per second, and it’s a better driver than you. By eliminating the element of human blunders, driverless cars are forecast to reduce motor accidents by up to 90% in the US according to McKinsey. That might imply a substantial impact on the insurance industry, with liability potentially shifting to car manufacturers