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Fen Tamanaha
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Fen Tamanaha

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Even when it's artificial, the face is the repository of history and experience; a place of memory.
 
This is so great! (via +Zadi Diaz)
A viral video shows a couple in their 20s transformed by makeup artists to be in their 90s. The process of seeing their aging evokes something beautiful.
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It looks like one of the cranes has been carefully lowering itself down next to one of the Lumina towers.
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Great read and an excellent example of engineers working the problem.
 
This is utterly, utterly fascinating (better then the movie!) Yes, its long. I wish it were four times longer!
Rather than hurried improvisation, saving the crew of Apollo 13 took years of preparation
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It's great to read about more of the activity going on behind the scenes.  
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It even works when you get it backwards!
 
Wow. Google Domains team wins a) April Fools' Day, and b) teh Internets.

http://com.google/
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Local Pac-Man!
 
If I was building an army of relentless killer robots, with enough money, I think I'd have it running down humans on open terrain with 100% success rate pretty quickly. Inner cities would be much harder. Live tests would be out of the question, so getting AI training data on how real humans flee in urban territory would be a big problem. Just thinking out loud...

Anyway in unrelated news, Google maps has a Pacman mode for April fools. Please demonstrate your survival strategies enjoy the fun.

:)
April Fool’s Day is imminent, which means that we’re about to see A) lots of unfunny people making awful attempts to prank everyone; and B) some people—often including big tech companies like Google and Blizzard—creating some brilliant things. Here’s one example of the latter.
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As someone used to managing the incredible complexity of the FastPass system, FastPass Plus and the MagicBands grant a welcome ability to reserve access to an attraction well in advance, but they greatly limit the set of attractions that you can choose from. It's been evolving a lot since it was first release, and I'm waiting with some anxiety to see what changes are yet to come.
 
This is terrific; I've always been a huge admirer of the engineering and attention to detail of the Disney parks, and this takes it to the next level. Hope they bring it to L.A. soon! 
The Magicband wields access to the park, replacing virtually every transaction you’d make inside. Bob Croslin If you want to imagine how the world will look in just a few years, once our cell phones become the keepers of both our money and identity, skip Silicon Valley and book a ticket to Orlando. Go to…
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Fen Tamanaha

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The Bigge and its little brother have arrived to remove the standing crane. 
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A nice set of animated graphics showing and discussing accelerating change.
 
+Yonatan Zunger almost every graph in this article is an animation, but it has a nice G+ default image. I wonder if the problem with sharing PDFs is picking the image. Shouldn't they just be a page?
As the Supreme Court considers extending same-sex marriage rights to all Americans, we look at the patterns of social change that have tranformed the nation.
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Wow, solar power is well under $1 per watt and dropping!
 
We're in the middle of a revolution. Most people will only realize it when it's almost over.
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I only wish ours were going to get as much sunshine as they'd get in Hawaii!
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You may look at it, but please don't press the button!
 
Half a million people are playing a weird Reddit game called the button. Here's how it works. http://boingboing.net/2015/04/02/a-half-million-people-are-play.html
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I'm impressed by the length of this ancestral asymmetry.
 
There's a new paper out in Genome Research which shows something rather fascinating that seems to have happened in human history, right after the agricultural revolution. The two graphs below show the number of men (left) and women (right) alive at various times in history whose genes are still around today. (We can measure this separately because Y-chromosome DNA is transmitted only through men, and mitochondrial DNA only through women) 

There are lots of reasons that you would expect this curve to increase as you move forward in time. The simplest part of this is the "common ancestor" effect. If someone is your ancestor, then all of their ancestors are your ancestors, too. This means that, as you go farther back in time, anyone who's along your family tree is an ancestor of a bigger and bigger chunk of people. In fact, once you go far enough back, you'll encounter a person who is a common ancestor for everyone in your population group, or even in the world -- and once you've encountered this first common ancestor, every one of their ancestors is a common ancestor, too! This means that a bit further back in time, you suddenly pass a second threshold: at that point, everyone who was alive then is either a common ancestor of everyone alive today, or of nobody alive today. (If you're curious about this, there are a few famous papers by +Douglas Rohde and a few others on this subject, where with a combination of historical population data and computer simulations, they managed to show that the most recent common ancestor of all humanity probably lived only a few thousand years ago, and in either southeast or northeast Asia: http://tedlab.mit.edu/~dr/Papers/Rohde-MRCA-two.pdf)

So because of this effect, you would expect that as you go far back in time, the number of people who are ancestors of people alive today would end up being a roughly fixed fraction of the population: everyone's either a common ancestor, or not an ancestor at all.

Now, the other important thing about the agricultural revolution is that it made the population boom: grain fields can support orders of magnitude more people than hunting and gathering or nomadic herding. (This is also why the agricultural revolution leads to the original rise of cities)

If you look at the curve on the right -- estimated number of women who are ancestors of living humans today, as a function of time -- you see exactly that. Right around 15,000 years ago (15kya), the number of women skyrockets, and starts to level off around 10,000 years ago. This is exactly what you would expect if nutrition suddenly improved by a lot, and it suggest that it was the early agricultural revolution -- that first cultivation of crops, rather than the rise of effective mass agriculture and the rise of early cities -- that had the biggest effect.

But the plot for men is bizarrely different. At 15kya, the gauge for men doesn't move. And then at 10kya, when the "big" agricultural revolution hits and cities start to emerge, the number for men plummets, only to recover and show the giant population-related spike around 5,000 years ago. At its most extreme, the ratio of female to male ancestors was 17:1!

What happened here? The authors suggest that this was most likely a cultural effect, rather than a mysterious plague which only affected men. My own quick summary of thoughts:

(1) The effects which created the initial surge in female long-term reproduction, around 15kya, don't seem to have affected men much at all. This suggests that we're seeing a huge nutritional effect on the success rate of pregnancies.

(2) The crash in male reproduction around 10kya suggests that most men were suddenly unable to reproduce, even as lots of women were doing so. This means that small numbers of men were having lots of children, and most weren't having any at all, or at least none which appear to have survived. Since you would suspect that most men might object to this, that suggests rather extraordinary application of force: i.e., the rise of the agricultural state brought with it tremendous power asymmetries and the rise of very wide polygyny. 

(3) Around 5kya, this effect seems to have vanished even more quickly than it appeared. If anything, that's more fascinating, because 5kya is already within visibility of the literary record. (The story of the marriage of Inanna, for example, contains some fairly clear allusions to the tension between nomadism and agriculture) A change this rapid, from extremely concentrated harems to some kind of more level marriage system, would seem to require a tremendous social event going with it, something big enough that I'm surprised that we don't see at least allusions to it in a wide range of early literary records.

In fact, this third point is enough to make me actively suspicious: this is a huge effect, something which would have defined human society for hundreds of generations and the response to which would likely have had effects for hundreds of generations to come. Its uniformity across geographic regions (colors in the graph) is similarly surprising: cultural shifts affecting the entire world don't Just Happen.

So I'm going to take this result with a great deal of caution until there's further confirmation, but the questions which it poses are fascinating, and this is clearly a direction worth more research.
An analysis of modern DNA uncovers a rough dating scene after the advent of agriculture.
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For those who have been waiting, there's a new Chromebook Pixel.
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