Because it's Friday: 30 days on a cargo ship

This time-lapse taken during a cargo ship’s 30-day voyage from the Red Sea to Hong Kong is strangely hypnotic (via Kottke). In addition to the beautiful scenery, it also makes you appreciate the logistics behind loading and unloading a container ship! If you have a 4K monitor, be sure to watch it full-screen. That’s all from the blog for this week. Enjoy your weekend, and we’ll be back with more on Monday.
Original Post: Because it's Friday: 30 days on a cargo ship

Because it's Friday: Line Rider

Line Rider is a simple web-based game: draw a line (or a series of lines), and watch an animated sledder ride along it like it was a snow slope. It’s remained much the same since it was created in 2006 by Boštjan Čadež as a student (although I note it does now support touch/stylus controls to draw lines). It might seem like a simple toy, but people have used it to create some amazing works, like this Line Rider course set to In The Hall of the Mountain King.  If you enjoyed that, you might also enjoy this entire movie created in Line Rider. The soundtrack is amazing.  That’s all from us for this week. We’ll be back with more on Monday. See you then!
Original Post: Because it's Friday: Line Rider

Because it's Friday: Death Risk

Humans are notoriously bad at understanding risk, and perceptions of danger can vary wildly depending on how the possibility is presented. (David Spiegelhalter recently published an excellent review paper on this topic, and it’s a great read even for non-statisticians.) The media has an influence here: wall-to-wall coverage of rare, geographically-contained events like terrorist attacks inflate our sense of risk, especially compared to common, widespread factors like disease or accidents. YourCauseOfDeath.com presents risk in a very simple way. It chooses a random cause of death and presents it to you. It doesn’t correct for factors like sex, age, or medical history: it just rolls a random number and presents causes at a rate according to their actual prevalence. (I assume the data come from the CDC, so it probably does assume you live in the USA.) Click through a couple…
Original Post: Because it's Friday: Death Risk

Because it's Friday: Big Little Songs

I really enjoyed the HBO Series Big Little Lies: fantastic story, writing and acting, and while I do wish it had been set in the original Sydney, the transplanted Monterey location was admittedly a great fit. The series also has an amazing soundtrack, including an eminently re-listenable title track. In fact, one of the best things about the series was being introduced to the music of Michael Kiwanuka. It’s a unique mix of Philadelphia soul, heavy on the choir, and with an infusion of disco strings. The title track from the album, Love and Hate, is on heavy rotation in my playlists now. That’s all from us here at the blog for this week. Have a great weekend, and we’ll be back on Monday.
Original Post: Because it's Friday: Big Little Songs

Because it's Friday: Blue skies or SkyNet?

I enjoyed attending the O’Reilly AI conference in San Francisco this week. There were many thought-provoking talks, but in the days since then my thoughts kept returning to one thing: incentives.  One way of training an AI involves a reward function: a simple equation that increases in value as the AI gets closer to its goal. The AI then explores possibilities in such a way that its reward is maximized. I saw one amusing video of a robot arm that was being trained to pick up a block and then extend its arm as far as possible and set the block down at the limits of its reach. The reward function for such an activity is simple: the reward value is the distance of the block from its original position. Unfortunately, the robot learned not to carefully pick up and…
Original Post: Because it's Friday: Blue skies or SkyNet?

Because it's Friday: Can't find the one

Radiohead as long been one of my favourite bands. The band members were classically trained, so there’s always something interesting in the arrangement or melody to appreciate, even for musical ignoramuses like me. For example, the lovely song Videotape appears to be written with an unusual rhythm — the beat isn’t actually where it appears to be. This Vox video explains: You can hear the difference in this live performance at Bonnaroo, which unlike the studio version includes drums. That’s all for us for this week. We’ll be back on Monday, reporting from the EARL conference in London. See you then!
Original Post: Because it's Friday: Can't find the one

Because it's Friday: Total Eclipse in the Park

Here in the US, it’s been Eclipse-mania for a the past week or so, culminating in the totality event across much of the country on Monday. My husband and I were lucky enough to catch total eclipse on a glorious day — thanks to the City of St Louis for putting together a great watching event in Jefferson Barracks Park, and for the weather gods for keeping the sky free of clouds. Here’s a picture of us just a few minutes before totality — you can even see images of the soon-to-be-eclipsed sun on the ground, thanks to the camera obscura image through the small gaps in the trees. Seeing the totality event with my own eyes through was truly awe-inspiring: if you ever have chance to see it yourself, do it: photos don’t really do it justice. Nonetheless, Derek Muller…
Original Post: Because it's Friday: Total Eclipse in the Park

Because it's Friday: The Shepard Tone

I haven’t seen the Dunkirk movie yet, but the video below makes me want to see it soon. It turns out it contains an auditory illusion: the “Shepard Tone”, which sounds like it’s continually rising but really isn’t. (It turns out that many of Christopher Nolan’s past movies have included it as well.) There’s more explanation in the accompanying article at Vox. That’s it from the blog for this week. Have a great weekend, and see you back here on Monday.
Original Post: Because it's Friday: The Shepard Tone

Because it's Friday: How Bitcoin works

Cryptocurrencies have been in the news quite a bit lately. Bitcoin prices have been soaring recently after the community narrowly avoided the need for a fork, while $32M in rival currency Etherium was recently stolen, thanks to a coding error in wallet application Purity. But what is a crypto-currency, and what does a “wallet” or a “fork” mean in that context? The video below gives the best explanation I’ve seen for how cryptocurrencies work. It’s 25 minutes long, but it’s a complex and surprisingly subtle topic, made easy to understand by math explainer channel 3Blue1Brown. That’s all from the blog for this week. Have a great weekend, and we’ll be back on Monday.
Original Post: Because it's Friday: How Bitcoin works