Play "The Founder" a dystopian startup business simulation

I'm playing Francis Tseng's dystopian startup business simulation called "The Founder." It's a bit like The Sims, but the goal is to run a successful startup. The game is played on your browser, no download required.

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Explore the galaxy in 3D with data from the Gaia satellite

Gaia is an interactive 3D map of the galaxy, coded by Charley Hoey and sourced from the eponymous mapping satellite's data: click, drag and scroll/pinch to change the viewpoint. It took a long time to load even on my desktop PC, but the results speak overwhelmingly for themselves.

The Gaia satellite by the European Space Agency is currently orbiting 1.5 million kilometers beyond the moon, twirling through the heavens and dutifully marking down the positions of every point of light it sees. I've processed the program's first batch of data to determine the 3D position of about 2 million stars. Click and drag to orbit, or scroll/pinch to zoom in and out, zoom all the way in to see our sun, just one star among millions. WebVR enabled!

Hoey explains in "torrenting the galaxy" what it took to model two million stars in the browser. Here's an official ESA image made from the same dataset; as beautiful as it is, the enormity of the data it represents seems absent.

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Simulations of black holes eating one another

Black holes swoop around one another in a slow, elegant dance, their orbits mo—THWUP! *belching noise*

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Traffic Simulation lets you create jams and experience the joy of abstract human misery is exactly what it says it is: a depiction of traffic that you can toy with and bend to your will. A useful reminder that no matter how easy you make it for humans (at least modeled ones) they will turn even the most benign cooperative herd activity into a snarling mess of opportunism and incapacitating self-interest. Read the rest

Elon Musk thinks we're probably living in a simulation

"Either we're going to create simulations that are indistinguishable from reality, or civilization will cease to exist," Musk says. (Recode)

More on the Simulation Argument here and here.

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Mathematician Edward Frenkel on whether the universe is a simulation

Regular BB readers know one of my favorite head trips is the idea that we're living in a simulation or control system of some kind. Decades before The Matrix, folks like Jacques Vallee, John Keel, Stephen Wolfram, Rudy Rucker, Hans Moravec, and Ed Fredkin explored this notion. And of course it's also been the subject of countless science fiction novels. In recent years, Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom developed a mathematical argument to support the mind-bending theory. A week ago, UC Berkeley mathematician Edward Frankel, author of Read the rest

Building an indoor hurricane at the University of Miami

This is how Hurricane Isaac looked on Tuesday, as it made landfall on America's Gulf Coast. If you've never been to the Gulf of Mexico, here is a key fact you should know: The water there is warm. While Pacific coastal waters might be in the 50s during August, and the central Atlantic coast is pulling temperatures in the 60s and 70s, the water in the Gulf of Mexico is well into the 80s.

And that makes a difference. We know that water temperature affects hurricane strength. But we don't understand the particulars of how or why at a detail level. To learn more about this (and other factors that make each hurricane an individual), researchers at the University of Miami are building a simulation machine. When it's complete, it will be a key tool in improving forecasts.

Peter Sollogub, Associate Principal at Cambridge Seven, says the hurricane simulator is comprised of three major components: The first is a 1400-horsepower fan originally suited for things like ventilating mine shafts. To create its 150mph winds, it will draw energy from the campus's emergency generator system, which is typically used during power outages caused by storms.

The second part is a wave generator which pushes salt water using 12 different paddles. Those paddles, timed to move at different paces and rates, can create waves at various sizes, angles and frequency, creating anything from a calm, organized swell to sloppy chaotic seas.

The third aspect of the tank is the tank itself, which is six meters in width by 20 meters in length by two meters high.

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