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Avinash Pujala
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Before scientists can trust machine learning, they first need to understand how the machines learn.

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// Buried in this article is the announcement that Wolfram Open Cloud will be available in browser, for free. One of the most advanced AIs on the planet and the culmination of Wolfram's life work, and he opens up its guts to let anyone in the world dig in, learn, and play.

The digital age is awesome.

Coding the Wolfram language in its dynamic environment is a ton of fun. Try it out here:

via +Peter Asaro

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Mountain biking is fun, but this is ridiculous!

This is Danny Macaskill on the Inaccessible Pinnacle on the Isle of Skye.

He is a great mountain biker,  but he had to carry the bike up the last part of this scary peak.

The Isle of Skye is an island off the west coast of Scotland.   It's the largest of the Inner Hebrides, and the most northerly of the large islands in this group.    In the center of this island is a mountain range called the Cuillins, and the Inaccessible Pinnacle sits among these.

Skye has been occupied since Mesolithic times, and it appears in Norse poetry, for example in this romantic line:

"The hunger battle-birds were filled in Skye with blood of foemen killed."

Almost a third of the inhabitants still speak Gaelic, and apart from a few bigger towns, the population lives in crofting townships scattered around the coastline.  "Crofting"?  Yeah, a croft is a small farm with a wall around it.  

The only distillery on the Isle of Skye is the Talisker Distillery, which makes a rather famous single malt Scotch whisky.  It's in a village on the south shore.

I've always been fascinated by the Inner Hebrides and the even more exotic-sounding Outer Hebrides.  I'm annoyed at how all my visits to the British Isles have only taken me to the lofty centers of academe, not islands like this.  I don't know much about them, but anything that remote appeals to me: inaccessible pinnacles, inaccessible cardinals, the Taklamakan desert, the underground oceans of Europa....

You can see Danny Macaskill's whole journey along the Cuillin Ridgeline here:

Pretty impressive!  Beautiful scenery, too!

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Simply, mind-boggling!
Have We Finally Achieved Information Immortality?

The implications are profound—hinting at the possibility of human knowledge outliving us.
5D storage technology could be the thing that allows human knowledge to outlive us

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Maggie McNeill is a sex worker, a deep thinker, and an amazing writer. The article below is a great introduction to her: it's an interview she recently gave to Jeff Pearlman about the day-to-day of her work, and most of all about the kinds of people who she encountered. It's a fascinating set of stories, and the story of the clean-up worker after Katrina is going to stick with me for quite some time.

There are important things to learn from her writing.

First, that sex work is work. It can be pleasant or horrible, honest or dishonest, fulfilling or soul-crushing, just like any other work can.

Second, that many kinds of sex work — especially the work of escorts, call girls, and the like — are psychologically very complex. It's a mixture of companionship, therapy, desire, and sexuality. If you were to view this sector of sex work on a spectrum with other jobs, its closest relatives would probably be psychoanalysis and diplomacy.

And third, that people are really interesting. Her work has provided her with a chance to see people in profoundly honest moments, and her writing gives you a chance to peer behind the curtains of people's lives, and often see just how human they are.

The interview is a great start, but once you've gotten that, I highly recommend her site as a whole (, as well as her Twitter feed,@Maggie_Mcneill. 

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Life among the bone eaters

A hyena can bite with a force of 220 pounds. But they are fiercely loyal to their friends. So Marcus Baynes-Rock became friends with some.... and ran with them through the streets of an ancient Ethiopian city at night.

It's quite a story! Read more here:

Mathematicians will be amused to hear that graph theory plays a role.

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Technological Progress
All sorts of remarkable examples exist of the exponential progress of technology but I happened upon this one today and thought I'd share it with others.  Below is an image of a hard drive being loaded onto a plane via a forklift.  Also, in the link below you can purchase a key fob for $5.99 on Amazon.  The hard drive being loaded on the plane had 5mb of storage capacity.  The key fob has 16gb of storage capacity.  Judging roughly by size, they could have fit about 20 of those hard drives in that plane in 1956.  Thus, you'd need 160 planes to carry around in 1956 what you can carry in your pocket on a key ring today. 

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The astoundingly fascinating water bears!

Gizmodo: Frozen Tardigrade Brought Back to Life After 30 Years.
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