Solar Parhelion

Also called Sun Dogs, “they can be seen anywhere in the world during any season, but are not always obvious or bright. Sun dogs are best seen and most conspicuous when the Sun is near the horizon.”

Quantum Supremacy


(artist’s drawing of Google’s quantum computer chip)

In October, Google built a quantum computer that solved an incredibly hard problem in 200 seconds — a problem the world’s fastest supercomputer would take 10,000 years to solve. This is called “quantum supremacy”, and has been compared to the Wright Brothers’ first flight.

”Until recently, every computer on the planet — from a 1960s mainframe to your iPhone, and even inventions as superficially exotic as ‘neuromorphic computers’ and DNA computers — has operated on the same rules. These were rules that Charles Babbage understood in the 1830s and that Alan Turing codified in the 1930s. Through the course of the computer revolution, all that has changed at the lowest level are the numbers: speed, amount of RAM and hard disk, number of parallel processors.

But quantum computing is different. It’s the first computing paradigm since Turing that’s expected to change the fundamental scaling behavior of algorithms, making certain tasks feasible that had previously been exponentially hard. Of these, the most famous examples are simulating quantum physics and chemistry, and breaking much of the encryption that currently secures the internet.

I’m sure this will go well.

More here.

Surprise, Bastards!

From Birth.Movies.Death. comes this great news …

A curious thing happened over the weekend: roughly halfway through Saturday, while the rest of the world was entirely focused on the goings-on at this year’s big D23 Expo, Netflix dropped something of a bombshell announcement – as recent rumors had indicated, the Breaking Bad movie was completed, and would hit the streaming service on October 11th.

And there’s even a poster.

Our Precious Bodily Fluids

 

Is fluoride making us idiots? Was General Jack D. Ripper right after all?

Probably not. Lots of limitations on the most recent study, including long-term vs episodic fluoride exposure, controlling for lead exposure, noisy data, and a couple of individuals with extremely low IQ’s that may have thrown the entire data set. Also, previous studies indicated problems only at extremely high fluoride exposures – much higher than typical water fluoridation.

But don’t let that prevent us from getting a good panic on!

And There’s A Podcast

Two episodes in to HBO’s new miniseries and I’m hooked. Thanks for the recommendation, Droog!

The attention to detail is amazing, all the way down to the slightly fucked up font used in the credits. There’s a great interview with writer/producer Craig Mazin on Vice regarding his motivation to get it right.

Chernobyl accomplishes this, in part, by adhering as closely as it can to historical fact. Every major character save one—a nuclear physicist played by Emily Watson—has a real-life counterpart, from the scientist in charge of cleanup efforts (Valery Legasov, played by Jared Harris), to the wife of a firefighter at the scene of the explosion (Lyudmilla Ignatenko, played by Jessie Buckley). The clothing Chernobyl’s characters wear, the cars they drive, the cigarettes they smoke, the glassware they drink from, the wallpaper in their homes—all of it is staggeringly accurate, a product of more than two and a half years of research.

So anyway, podcast. It provides additional information for each episode in the five-part series, so watch an episode and then give the podcast a listen.

Adam Savage’s One Day Build

Because I’m done for the day.

One Day Builds are back! Adam takes us through another spaceship model build, this time utilizing his trusty vacuum former, sheet styrene, and years of experience from his special effects modelmaking days. As the spaceship takes shape, Adam introduces several new tools and tips for this kind of modelmaking, and shows the versatility of this kind of build.