ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Indian food is delicious because it combines ingredients whose flavors have little or nothing in common, the opposite of Western methods.  Kudos to the folks who thought of doing science to analyze why it is so yummy.  The flavor pyramids are fascinating.  Also, has anyone else noticed the mushrooms are Pagan?

Okay, that works.  I am now trying to figure out if I can get my internal database to run backwards and match foods for minimum overlap instead of searching for little bits that hook into each other like when I put the Earl Grey into the white peach ice cream.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
AI specialists at the University of Maryland have created a robot that can learn by observing.  This one taught itself to cook by watching YouTube.

This is epic.  It's the "monkey see, monkey do" moment.  One of the most crucial steps in creating artificial life is the ability of self-learning instead of programming.  More importantly, learning by observation -- rather than being trained explicitly -- is a feature of higher lifeforms such as humans, cetaceans, and great apes.  It lays a foundation for the "aha!" moment of awakening to self.  A robot might go through the motions and then suddenly understand  what they mean.

Just remember, an AI is like a small child.  They learn what they see.  They mimic what you do, not what you say.  So treat them as you want to be treated.  Teach them well.  Then they'll do great things, instead of going insane and trying to destroy the world.  
ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
This poem came out of the February 2015 Crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] chordatesrock. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. This poem belongs to the Aquariana thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
My partner Doug found this awesome article about 3D printed hands.  I've been following similar advances but this one is different -- the patterns are public domain so anyone can customize, print, and assemble a manual prosthesis.  Awesome!  If you're into model kits or 3D printing, and looking for volunteer opportunities, seriously consider this.  

I am particularly pleased that the people behind the design released it to the public so it could be used freely as needed, instead of holding it hostage for exorbitant amounts of money like conventional prosthetics.  A 3D hand costs $20-50.  Compare that to the cost of conventional prosthetics: $5000 for a merely cosmetic arm, $10,000 for a simplistic hook, and $20,000-$100,000 for a high-performance myoelectric arm.  Granted the high-end model currently does things the 3D one can't, but people are already improving the 3D version, and it's a lot better to have something  than nothing at all.  Regarding cosmetic aspects, children and geeks seem to find the robotic-looking 3D hands cool and appealing.  Instead of hitting the "uncanny valley" they hit the "nifty toy" category.

This is what open source can do when you turn it loose.  :D
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I first saw a video of cetaceans making toroidal bubbles on Facebook, and then also found this clip elsewhere.

Dolphins and other cetaceans can blow toroidal bubbles underwater. The video shows the dolphins in particular manipulating the bubbles quite skillfully to change their size and direction. The dolphins display a similar playful interaction with the bubbles that they do with toys such as plastic hoops provided by humans.

Read more... )

Weta Legs

Feb. 12th, 2015 03:15 am
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
Weta Legs are digitigrade stilts so elegantly designed that you can walk, climb, jump, or even stand still in them.  Better living through gizmology!
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... according to increasing evidence.

I favor "self-destruct" and "using different technology" as reasons why we aren't detecting signs of sentient life.  Based on life's incredible creativity and tenacity, it is likely to be both plentiful and -- on favorable worlds -- headed toward high complexity.  But given how humans do dumb things like trying to mow a hedge and starting wars over whose god is more peaceful, I would not be surprised by flash-in-the-pan civilizations.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... here's a cute video of some things that would happen.  I've also seen some longer documentaries and books on this topic, very useful for anyone writing apocalyptic science fiction.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... when stuck in dry ice.  Also, this video marks the second ever use of popups in videos I have seen which is actually useful.  A little bubble pops up that says, "Why?"  :D  It is possible to use these things for good.  People just usually prefer to annoy you with them.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This poem is from the February 3, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] alexseanchai and this picture. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] lynnoconnacht.


"Star Deity"


Star Deity is black light
Star Deity is white shadows

Robe made of nebulas
Hairpins of embers

Star Deity is masculine female
Star Deity is feminine male

Fingerprints of kindling
Footprints of ashes

Star Deity's spirit is too big
To be only one thing.

* * *

Notes:

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
-- Carl Sagan

Star deities may be associated with the night, sky, and/or sun.

Androgynous deities may have traits of both sexes, none, or something else altogether.

Because human thought is limited, but we often conceive of divinity as unlimited, we may describe deities as transcendent.  Even religions with more specific, personified deities often have an Unknowable Divine as well.

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I got to thinking about the literary device of a "fixed point in time" that can't be changed by a time traveler -- an event that always happens, an earliest thing that can be changed and beyond that can't be reached, etc.  It usually seems like a deus ex machina copout to me.  (An exception is if the time travel mode itself has a limited travel range, as most conveyances do: a practical rather than arbitrary restriction.)  So then I noodled around ideas that might work better, and thought of ...

Time Jenga.  There are not fixed points in time.  There are load-bearing  points in time.  They cannot be altered while the weight is resting on them, because it pins them in place.  However, you can move things around in other parts of the timespace continuum.  That causes the load to shift, releasing pressure to make some points malleable while pinning new ones down.  A time traveler with a specific goal may be able to meet it directly, or may discover that it is currently stuck and have to figure out what else to change so as to release it.

Basically, it's the opposite of every "don't change anything because butterflies" story ever.  The whole point is to run around making changes that you think will loosen what you're trying to fix ... but without toppling the whole tower or destroying the universe in the process.  Quality in a time traveler, then, is less based on range or subtlety than on an exceptional grasp of temporal physics and connectivity, whether obtained via logic or intuition.  You can eyeball the structure and calculate the load, or you can touch it very delicately to feel for loose pieces.

Except of course that real life is less like the orderly stack of Jenga blocks and far more like a game of Bausack Towers in which God keeps giving you the Christmas trees.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's an interesting piece about falling in love on purpose.  

While there are no guarantees, given two potentially compatible people, it is possible to generate love by going through steps of increasing intimacy.  This is how the more effective arranged marriages work.  There is a culturally framed series of meetings and activities through which the couple-to-be grow more involved with each other.  As long as they're both decent human beings and want similar things from the relationship, love (or at least a strong friendship) tends to result.  Some people find this more appealing than love by random chance, which can stick you with someone who is neither decent nor compatible in ways that may be difficult to unstick.  

If you aren't looking for a sex/romance partner, bear in mind that the same techiques work for building friendships and other connections.  You might want a different set of questions, depending on what kind of partnership you want.

Intellectual Foreplay and Virtual Foreplay are good resources.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Better colors, lower energy, cheaper to run.  I really hope these work for my brain, as not every imaging tech does.  But I'm hopeful, because of the color aspect.  It sounds very promising.
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
A scientist built a supercomputer from gaming consoles to study black holes.  Jerryrigging level = epic.

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