Our Generation Ships Will Sink

As noted in Cory's review, Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora makes an undeniable case for ecological stewardship through a rigorous, gripping technological speculation about climate science, biology, space propulsion and sociodynamic factors. In this exclusive feature essay, Robinson explains the technology behind the best science fiction novel of 2015.

Poetry from a polymath games legend: Raph Koster's "Sunday Poems"

Game designer Raph Koster is a polymath. A legendary game-designer (Star Wars Galaxies, Ultima Online, etc), author of one of the seminal texts on game design (A Theory of Fun), visual artist, musician -- and poet.

Students force University of Missouri president to resign over lack of action on racism on campus

The University of Missouri's president Tim Wolfe resigns after protests.

At the University of Missouri, a graduate student went on a hunger strike, students and teachers marched and staged sit-ins, and 32 black football players refused to play until the university president, Tim Wolfe, resigned. Today, he did.

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Beautiful fractal landscape seems like eerie, epic ruins


"Poetic Fractals," writes Julius Horsthuis. "I use fractals for developing skills – they are exercises in framing, composition, typography, color and style."

In this four-minute journey through a computer-generated world, we see landscapes and massive fractal structures that seem eerily reminiscent of abandoned human places.

The music is "Reaching Land" by Patrick O'Hearn; the software used to render the world is Mandelbulb3D—available free of charge! Read the rest

Globe and Mail: TPP's copyright chapter will cost Canadians hundreds of millions


Canada's rock-ribbed bastion of pro-trade, pro-Tory ideology has come out against the Trans Pacific Partnership's Intellectual Property chapter in a leading editorial signed by the paper's editorial board. Read the rest

Some suggestions for sad, rich people


The Guardian's story about wealth therapists, who help one percenters cope with the stress of being rich in an era of widening wealth inequality, features quotes from some really awful-sounding, clueless people who compare the plight of the wealthy to the discrimination experienced by black people. Read the rest

Zoom in forever on fractal letters


I've been staring at F R A C T A L I S M for a fair few minutes. Read the rest

Now that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is finalized, the real fight starts


For most of a decade, government negotiators from around the Pacific Rim have met in utmost secrecy to negotiate a "trade deal" that was kept secret from legislatures, though executives from the world's biggest corporations were allowed in the room and even got to draft parts of the treaty. Read the rest

Professional skeptics on misinformation & hoaxes: anti-vaxx, Planned Parenthood


Gabriela writes, "Hopes&Fears starts the week with this roundtable in which we invite four professional skeptics to discuss the ins and outs of busting a hoax. From Ben Radford, deputy editor of The Skeptical Inquirer, to Susan Gerbic, founder of Guerilla Skeptics on Wikipedia, we discuss the real potential dangers of misinformation and disinformation in the digital age." Read the rest

The steampunk statues of Medellin, Colombia


Herman from Colombia's Proyecto Liquido writes, "This is part of Medellín Steampunk a city project that resulted from a partnership between Fractal and the Secretary of Culture of the Medellín Mayor's Office. Read the rest

How a retractable ballpoint pen works


Click, point goes out. Click, point goes in. Click. Click. Click. (Engineerguy)

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Sagan, Hawking, and Clarke have a gabfest (1988)


Watch these three guys discuss "God, The Universe and Everything Else," which includes extraterrestrials, creativity, science fiction, education, the Cold War, fractals, and so much more.

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Boston man hasn't showered for 12 years, prefers homebrew bacteria spray


Dave Witlock is a practical man. "I have not taken a shower in over 12 years," says the chemical engineer and Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate. "No one did clinical trials on people taking showers every day. So what’s the basis for assuming that that is a healthy practice?"

Twice a day, Mr. Witlock applies a live bacteria solution of his own design to his skin. To spread the bacteria to everyone else, he has founded a company called AOBiome and is selling a spray that contains live ammonia oxidizing bacteria (AOB), called Mother Dirt.

From the Mother Dirt website:

Modernization of the Skin Microbiome

The main premise of AOBiome is that human skin was historically colonized with Nitrosomonas, a form of Ammonia-Oxidizing-Bacteria (AOB). AOB have evolved a specialized purpose: they derive their energy solely from consuming (oxidizing) ammonia and urea.

Why do we believe this? AOB are extremely ubiquitous in nature. This is because they play a crucial role in the nitrogen cycle everywhere on the planet. As a result, anywhere that we find ammonia (even if it is thousands of feet below sea level & has never seen daylight), we will find a form of Ammonia-Oxidizing-Bacteria.

But there is one exception: The only place that ammonia exists without AOB is human skin. This seems like an incredible outlier. Knowing how sensitive Nitrosomonas and other AOB are to modern soaps and detergents, we hypothesize that it was modern hygiene and the obsession with “clean” that has stripped us of this crucial microorganism.

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All this crazy DeepDreaming fractal stuff, explained

Recode's Mark Bergen and Kurt Wagner take us through the internet's latest crazy craze, from top to endlessly repeating puppy-eyed bottom. It all begins with outcast AI rebels!

Once passé, deep learning, the subset of artificial intelligence focused on teaching machines to find and classify patterns in mass quantities of data, is now de rigueur across Google, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM and a host of other Silicon Valley companies. The trend has ignited an expensive race to scoop up scarce talent. And much of that expertise ties back to a cabal-like group of researchers who kept the futuristic field on life support 15 years prior.
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Procedurally-generated moths are wonderfully haunting, plausible

Straddling the odd line between science and nature, this amazing new procedural generator pays striking tribute to the dusty, incandescent bodies of moths.

With its sonar-reflective leaves, this carnivorous plant is saying to bats “please poop on me.”

National Geographic
Fun with poop and bats and flesh-eating plants of the Pacific.

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