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  • 20181021 ▶ Sunday October 21st 2018 @ 08:37:22 PM

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-22)


  • 20181021 ▶ Sunday October 21st 2018 @ 08:33:24 PM

    Tags: , by Michel Nault (2018-10-22)


  • 20181019 ▶ Friday October 19th 2018 @ 06:24:23 PM

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-19)


  • ompared with the sophisticated technology Russia employed to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election, the Soviet propaganda in Brutal Bloc Postcards, published by FUEL Design and Publishing, seems downright quaint. Many of these postcards, published by governments of the U.S.S.R. between the 1960s and 1980s, depict the bland, 1960s five-story concrete-paneled apartments known as “khrushchyovka” as if to say, “Look at the modern wonder of collective worker housing!” To Westerners, the boxy buildings telegraph the bleak authority of so-called poured-concrete “Brutalist” architecture, which was somehow popular with both democratic and totalitarian governments during the postwar years.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-19)


  • THE first floor is all about components: every type of switch, every cable and every screw can be found here, often in bags of thousands. The second floor is filled with circuit boards and small gadgets, from video cameras to headsets. The higher you go, the bigger and more sophisticated the devices get: smartphones, drones, hoverboards. On the top floor, the tenth, a blinding cornucopia of LEDs of every shape and colour assails the eyes.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-18)


  • 20181017 ▶ Wednesday October 17th 2018 @ 01:02:34 PM

    Also See: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-cannabis-legalization-1.4859177

    Tags: , by Michel Nault (2018-10-17)


  • The Beauty of Programming
    By Linus Torvalds (creator of Linux)

    I don’t know how to really explain my fascination with programming, but I’ll try. To somebody who does it, it’s the most interesting thing in the world. It’s a game much more involved than chess, a game where you can make up your own rules and where the end result is whatever you can make of it.

    And yet, to the outside, it looks like the most boring thing on Earth.

    Part of the initial excitement in programming is easy to explain: just the fact that when you tell the computer to do something, it will do it. Unerringly. Forever. Without a complaint.

    And that’s interesting in itself.

    But blind obedience on its own, while initially fascinating, obviously does not make for a very likeable companion. What makes programming so engaging is that, while you can make the computer do what you want, you have to figure out how.

    I’m personally convinced that computer science has a lot in common with physics. Both are about how the world works at a rather fundamental level. The difference, of course, is that while in physics you’re supposed to figure out how the world is made up, in computer science you create the world. Within the confines of the computer, you’re the creator. You get to ultimately control everything that happens. If you’re good enough, you can be God. On a small scale.

    And I’ve probably offended roughly half the population on Earth by saying so.

    But it’s true. You get to create your own world, and the only thing that limits what you can do are the capabilities of the machine and, more and more often these days, your own abilities.

    Think of a treehouse. You can build a treehouse that is functional and has a trapdoor and is stable. But everybody knows the difference between a treehouse that is simply solidly built and one that is beautiful, that takes creative advantage of the tree. It’s a matter of combining art and engineering. This is one of the reasons programming can be so captivating and rewarding. The functionality often is second to being interesting, being pretty, or being shocking.

    It is an exercise in creativity.

    The thing that drew me into programming in the first place was the process of just figuring out how the computer worked. One of the biggest joys was learning that computers are like mathematics: You get to make up your own world with its own rules. In physics, you’re constrained by existing rules. But in math, as in programming, anything goes as long as it’s self-consistent. Mathematics doesn’t have to be constrained by any external logic, but it must be logical in and of itself. As any mathematician knows, you literally can have a set of mathematical equations in which three plus three equals two. You can do anything you want to do, in fact, but as you add complexity, you have to be careful not to create something that is inconsistent within the world you’ve created. For that world to be beautiful, it can’t contain any flaws. That’s how programming works.

    One of the reasons people have become so enamored with computers is that they enable you to experience new worlds you can create, and to learn what’s possible. In mathematics you can engage in mental gymnastics about what might be. For example, when most people think of geometry, they think of Euclidian geometry. But the computer has helped people visualize different geometries, ones that are not at all Euclidian. With computers, you can take these made-up worlds and actually see what they look like. Remember the Mandelbrot set¾the fractal images based on Benoit Mandelbrot’s equations? These were visual representations of a purely mathematical world that could never have been visualized before computers. Mandelbrot just made up these arbitrary rules about this world that doesn’t exist, and that has no relevance to reality, but it turned out they created fascinating patterns. With computers and programming you can build new worlds and sometimes patterns are truly beautiful.

    Most of the time you’re not doing that. You’re simply writing a program to do a certain task. In that case, you’re not creating a new world but you are solving a problem within the world of the computer. The problem gets solved by thinking about it. And only a certain kind of person is able to sit and stare at a screen and just think things through. Only a dweeby, geeky person like me.

    The operating system is the basis for everything else that will happen in the machine. And creating one is the ultimate challenge. When you create an operating system, you’re creating the world in which all programs running the computer live¾basically, you’re making up the rules of what’s acceptable and can be done and what can’t be done. Every program does that, but the operating system is the most basic. It’s like creating the constitution of the land that you’re creating, and all other programs running on the computer are just common laws.

    Sometimes the laws don’t make sense. But sense is what you strive for. You want to be able to look at the solution and realize that you came to the right answer in the right way.

    Remember the person in school who always got the right answer? That person did it much more quickly that everybody else, and did it because he or she didn’t try to. That person didn’t learn how the problem was supposed to be done but, instead, just thought about the problem the right way. And once you heard the answer, it made perfect sense.

    The same is true in computers. You can do something the brute force way, the stupid, grind-the-problem-down-until-it’s-not-a-problem-anymore way, or you can find the right approach and suddenly the problem just goes away. You look at the problem another way, and you have this epiphany: It was only a problem because you were looking at it the wrong way.

    Probably the greatest example of this is not from computing but from mathematics. The story goes that the great German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss was in school and his teacher was bored, so to keep the students preoccupied he instructed them to add up all the numbers between 1 and 100. The teacher expected the young people to take all day doing that. But the budding mathematician came back five minutes later with the correct answer: 5,050. The solution is not to actually add up all the numbers, because that would be frustrating and stupid. What he discovered was that by adding 1 and 100 you get 101. Then by adding 2 and 99 you get 101. Then 3 and 98 is 101. So 50 and 51 is 101. In a matter of seconds he noticed that it’s 50 pairs of 101, so the answer is 5,050.

    Maybe the story is apocryphal, but the point is clear: A great mathematician doesn’t solve a problem the long and boring way because he sees what the real pattern is behind the question, and applies that pattern to find the answer in a much better way. The same is definitely true in computer science, too. Sure, you can just write a program that calculates the sum. On today’s computers that would be a snap. But a great programmer would know what the answer is simply by being clever. He would know to write a beautiful program that attacks the problem in a new way that, in the end, is the right way.

    It’s still hard to explain what can be so fascinating about beating your head against the wall for three days, not knowing how to solve something the better way, the beautiful way. But once you find that way, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.

    Tags: , by Michel Nault (2018-10-17)


  • The CSS layout cookbook aims to bring together recipes for common layout patterns, things you might need to implement in your own sites. In addition to providing code you can use as a starting point in your projects, these recipes highlight the different ways layout specifications can be used, and the choices you can make as a developer.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-14)


  • When, suddenly and without explanation, Fan Bingbing, China’s most famous actress and its highest-paid celebrity, vanished, in July, conspiracy theories abounded. Had she been abducted? Was she in exile? Or had “the No. 1 beauty under the heavens,” as she is known, been having an affair with the Vice-President, and been forced into hiding? In China, where the movie industry favors fantasies and mysteries, the story of Fan’s disappearance suggested the kind of thriller in which she herself might star. But, last week, after an absence of more than three months, she resurfaced to issue a statement that could have earned her a part in a well-known TV drama series: the coerced public apology.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-13)


  • In this demonstration a client has connection to a server, negotiated a TLS 1.2 session, sent "ping", received "pong", and then terminated the session. Click below to begin exploring.

    Tags: , by Michel Nault (2018-10-13)


  • The Vietnam War was a long, costly and divisive conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The conflict was intensified by the ongoing Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. More than 3 million people (including over 58,000 Americans) were killed in the Vietnam War, and more than half of the dead were Vietnamese civilians. Opposition to the war in the United States bitterly divided Americans, even after President Richard Nixon ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973. Communist forces ended the war by seizing control of South Vietnam in 1975, and the country was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam the following year.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-09)


  • One night about five years ago, just before bed, I saw a tweet from a friend announcing how delighted he was to have been shortlisted for a journalism award. I felt my stomach lurch and my head spin, my teeth clench and my chest tighten. I did not sleep until the morning.

    Another five years or so before that, when I was at university, I was scrolling through the Facebook photos of someone on my course whom I vaguely knew. As I clicked on the pictures of her out clubbing with friends, drunkenly laughing, I felt my mood sink so fast I had to sit back in my chair. I seemed to stop breathing.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-09)


  • The world stands on the brink of failure when it comes to holding global warming to moderate levels, and nations will need to take “unprecedented” actions to cut their carbon emissions over the next decade, according to a landmark report by the top scientific body studying climate change.

    With global emissions showing few signs of slowing and the United States — the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide — rolling back a suite of Obama-era climate measures, the prospects for meeting the most ambitious goals of the 2015 Paris agreement look increasingly slim. To avoid racing past warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over preindustrial levels would require a “rapid and far-reaching” transformation of human civilization at a magnitude that has never happened before, the group found.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-08)


  • Programming computers is a piece of cake. Or so the world’s digital-skills gurus would have us believe. From the non-profit Code.org’s promise that ‘Anybody can learn!’ to Apple chief executive Tim Cook’s comment that writing code is ‘fun and interactive’, the art and science of making software is now as accessible as the alphabet. 

    Unfortunately, this rosy portrait bears no relation to reality. For starters, the profile of a programmer’s mind is pretty uncommon. As well as being highly analytical and creative, software developers need almost superhuman focus to manage the complexity of their tasks. Manic attention to detail is a must; slovenliness is verboten. Attaining this level of concentration requires a state of mind called being ‘in the flow’, a quasi-symbiotic relationship between human and machine that improves performance and motivation.

    Coding isn’t the only job that demands intense focus. But you’d never hear someone say that brain surgery is ‘fun’, or that structural engineering is ‘easy’. When it comes to programming, why do policymakers and technologists pretend otherwise? For one, it helps lure people to the field at a time when software (in the words of the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen) is ‘eating the world’ – and so, by expanding the labour pool, keeps industry ticking over and wages under control. Another reason is that the very word ‘coding’ sounds routine and repetitive, as though there’s some sort of key that developers apply by rote to crack any given problem. It doesn’t help that Hollywood has cast the ‘coder’ as a socially challenged, type-first-think-later hacker, inevitably white and male, with the power to thwart the Nazis or penetrate the CIA.

    Tags: , by Michel Nault (2018-10-07)


  • Microsoft unveiled a bunch of Surface hardware during a press event in New York City last night. While matte black Surfaces, headphones with Cortana, and a new Surface Studio were the highlights of the hardware side, Microsoft unveiled an interesting change to its Windows operating system. Windows 10 will soon fully embrace Android to mirror these mobile apps to your PC.

    The Android app mirroring will be part of Microsoft’s new Your Phone app for Windows 10. This app debuts this week as part of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, but the app mirroring part won’t likely appear until next year. Microsoft briefly demonstrated how it will work, though; You’ll be able to simply mirror your phone screen straight onto Windows 10 through the Your Phone app, which will have a list of your Android apps. You can tap to access them and have them appear in the remote session of your phone.

    Tags: , by Michel Nault (2018-10-06)


  • Some time ago, I had the opportunity to conduct a simple workshop on the subject "From Design to Front-end" to my beloved colleagues. These are my thoughts on this subject, and on my experience leading the session.

    For more than half a decade I've been through tons of processes of getting from the designing of the client's ideas and dreams to the implementation of their sites, modern web applications or native apps. So, I'm confident that I've got something to share here.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-05)


  • On a cloudy summer afternoon in Istanbul, my ferry was slowly approaching the port of Eminonu. The view from the deck is something I can never get used to, no matter how many times I do the same trip over the Bosporus. As the sun started to set, the old city was showered in a golden-red colour and the silhouettes of the grand mosques took me back to the Ottoman era.

    Among the many remnants of the Ottoman times scattered around this huge city, maybe the smallest – but for sure the tastiest – sits just a short walk from the port, on a small street behind the Yeni Cami (New Mosque) in Istanbul’s Bahçekapı district. It is the Haci Bekir shop, which has sold Turkish delights to sweet-toothed residents and visitors for more than two centuries.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-05)


  • When employees showed up for work on Friday, September 21st, at Telltale Games, there was nothing to suggest the day would be different than any other. The second episode of The Walking Dead’s final season would ship the following week; developers across multiple teams were busy with plans for in-progress titles.

    But only hours later, 250 people would find themselves with no job, no severance, and health insurance that would be gone by month’s end — just nine days.

    The woes of Telltale Games have deep roots. Earlier this year, The Verge published a report detailing years of nonstop crunch culture, toxic management, and frustration from developers who believed the company’s refusal to diversify gameplay had led to creative stagnation. After the company dismissed controversial co-founder and CEO Kevin Bruner in March 2017, former Zynga SVP and GM of games Pete Hawley stepped in as Telltale’s CEO in September. Then, in November 2017, 90 employees — roughly 25 percent of Telltale at that time — were laid off.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-05)


  • 20181004 ▶ Thursday October 4th 2018 @ 12:06:50 PM

    Tags: , by Michel Nault (2018-10-04)


  • Microsoft is currently running an interesting set of hardware experiments. The company is taking a souped-up shipping container stuffed full of computer servers and submerging it in the ocean. The most recent round is taking place near Scotland’s Orkney Islands, and involves a total of 864 standard Microsoft data-center servers. Many people have impugned the rationality of the company that put Seattle on the high-tech map, but seriously—why is Microsoft doing this? 

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-04)


  • ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS commonly used in foods and drinks have a toxic effect on digestive gut microbes.

    According to a study published in the journal Molecules, researchers found that six common artificial sweeteners approved by the Food and Drug Administration and 10 sport supplements that contained them were found to be toxic to the digestive gut microbes of mice.

    Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore tested the toxicity of aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k. They observed that when exposed to only 1 milligram per milliliter of the artificial sweeteners, the bacteria found in the digestive system became toxic.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-04)


  • From the road heading east, the apple trees of Beekman Orchards unfold in waves, rising and falling on a sea of verdant grass. Behind them, basking in the June sunlight, are row upon row of pinot noir, riesling, and traminette grapes. It’s for the vineyard that I’ve driven to this 170-acre estate in Berks County, an hour and a half northwest of Philadelphia. Beekman Orchards is a fourth-generation family enterprise, now carefully stewarded by Calvin Beekman, a large 59-year-old man with a calm voice and meat-hook hands.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-03)


  • In 2016, an anonymous confession appeared on Reddit: “From around six years ago up until now, I have done nothing at work.” As far as office confessions go, that might seem pretty tepid. But this coder, posting as FiletOFish1066, said he worked for a well-known tech company, and he really meant nothing. He wrote that within eight months of arriving on the quality assurance job, he had fully automated his entire workload. “I am not joking. For 40 hours each week, I go to work, play League of Legends in my office, browse Reddit, and do whatever I feel like. In the past six years, I have maybe done 50 hours of real work.” When his bosses realized that he’d worked less in half a decade than most Silicon Valley programmers do in a week, they fired him.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-02)


  • Starlite, the nuclear blast-defying plastic that could change the world
    Two decades ago amateur scientist Maurice Ward invented a material that could resist the force of 75 Hiroshimas. So why haven't we all heard about it?

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-01)


  • RIGHT NOW, IN A VAULT controlled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, there sits a 752-pound emerald with no rightful owner. This gem is the size of a mini­fridge. It weighs as much as two sumo wrestlers. Estimates of its worth range from a hundred bucks to $925 million.

    Eight years ago the emerald was logged into evidence by detectives Scott Miller and Mark Gayman of the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau. The two men are longtime veterans: 30 years for Miller, 28 for Gayman. They dress as the Hollywood versions of themselves, in wraparound sunglasses, badges dangling off long chains. Among Gayman’s career highlights is the time he busted Joe ­Pesci’s ex-wife for the hit she put out on her new lover. One thing they both hate is the emerald case. It’s a whack-a-mole of schemers. Detangling all the rackets and lies is, Miller says, "a puzzle from hell."

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-01)


  • In the mountains east of the city, just beyond the curving road up Sir Lowry’s Pass, workers maneuver heavy machinery to stab at the ground near Steenbras Dam, drilling deeply with steel pipes to bring forth water.

    They are trying to tap into the Table Mountain Group aquifer, which holds water in a vast lattice of narrow rock fractures beneath the Cape Fold mountains that ring the city. Cape Town has eyed the aquifer as a water source for nearly two decades, but plans were accelerated during a three-year drought in which reservoirs shriveled to the point that Mayor Patricia De Lille threatened to shut off water to homes and businesses, a doomsday scenario branded as Day Zero.

    Cape Town, which wants to diversify its water sources beyond reservoirs, is not the only municipality on a subterranean quest. In increasingly dry conditions, cities from Australia and the Middle East to the American Southwest are pursuing groundwater, either as an integral piece of their future water supply or as an emergency stopgap measure.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-10-01)


  • Hire people who aren't proven
    Hiring is broken on so many different levels, and it starts right there, at the job offer description. It then continues all the way down to the actual interview process.

    I'd like to unfold here some prescriptions about how I think startups should hire.

    Most jobs positions out there regarding the job role go like this "10 years experience in job role, proven experience in whatever the responsibilities are, high proficiency in infinite technology set, already built successful whatever, ability to work well in a team, exceptional references from previous companies"

    When I read such things, here's what I read instead: "We're looking for a candidate who is: at least a one time World Cup Champion, two times FIFA World Cup awards winner, best scorer of the season, proven ability to work well in a team, exceptional references from previous teams".

    How many people are really a good fit for this position? Two, maybe three on Earth. The reality is that you're not going to get them.

    If your company's job position looks like you're looking for unicorn you're doing it wrong and you'll never get what you're after.

    If there's anyone else in the world that can come up with your same conclusions with the same degree of confidence, it means that there are enough data points to objectively say this is a great player. If that's the case, you and your startup won't be able to hire the player. Someone will steal him from you.

    You have to go after people that aren't proven and you need to be really good at evaluating them with much less data points. In short, you need to be extremely good at forecasting.

    Don't hire like FAANG companies, don't use their best practices, don't use their super oiled processes, don't play their same games with the same rules.

    Google, Amazon, Netflix, Apple have thousands of candidates and might need an object baseline to judge them. You don't.

    Google's interview best practices strictly focused on algorithms and data structure questions won't help you in your interview process. Amazon's bar-raiser won't help you either.

    If you play their games when hiring people, you're going to lose every single battle.

    Instead of relying on easy observable data points and measurable metrics (coding challenges, rankings, pedigrees and riddles) look for answers in non-measurable realms, in domains where there are fewer, if not none, data points, looks for areas that are not easy measurable, where there's no yet predefined scripts or manuals, and where new simple heuristics can win overpowered standardized common wisdom.

    Here's what instead you should do in your hiring process, try to find an answer to these four questions:

    Can this candidate do the job?
    Will this candidate be motivated?
    Will this candidate get along with coworkers?
    What this candidate will be in three, six, twelve months from now?
    Everything you ask and everything you do during the interview should have the ultimate object of augmenting the details of each one of those four questions.

    Discover how do they deal with complexity? Don't do whiteboard coding on riddles or puzzles. (This is partially the reason why I decided to start Type12)

    Learn how do they respond to real-world problems? Don't ask "Why are manhole covers round?" Who gives a shit to why are manhole covers round. Pair-program with them instead and learn how well they break through blocks.

    Don't ask questions that if you just happen to know the answer to, you're golden, and if you get stuck in a situation where you have to work something out on the fly, you can easily get stuck in a mental wedgie that makes you look like a complete moron.

    Cut luck out of your system.

    Ultimately, look for very-high-dimensional vectors, such as smartness, attitudes, motivation, dynamic learning, courage, that can't be easily tested or represented by a basis vector or on a scale.

    While on the surface these may sound just contrarian, what most of these do is to optimize for something long term/less measurable where the incumbents are constrained by time and what can be measured.

    That's where you discover talents, that's when you hire great people.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-09-28)


  • At the age of 12, Coss Marte began dealing drugs in New York City. At 15, he was sent to prison for a year. That’s when he began to learn how things worked behind bars.

    “This guy next to me was serving 12 years,” says Coss. “We started cooking together.”

    That was the first of three stints in prison - including New York’s famously brutal Rikers Island prison. Each time, Coss existed on “prison burritos”, a regular makeshift snack for US inmates.

    “Instant noodles, potato chips, Cheezits. If you get lucky, you steal an onion from the mess hall,” he says. “You shuffle it up, you throw in a little bit of ketchup, mayonnaise maybe. I’ve had people tell me it tastes like Taco Bell.”

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-09-28)


  • Rice University scientists have developed micron-sized calcium silicate spheres that could lead to stronger and greener concrete, the world's most-used synthetic material.

    To Rice materials scientist Rouzbeh Shahsavari and graduate student Sung Hoon Hwang, the spheres represent building blocks that can be made at low cost and promise to mitigate the energy-intensive techniques now used to make cement, the most common binder in concrete.

    The researchers formed the spheres in a solution around nanoscale seeds of a common detergent-like surfactant. The spheres can be prompted to self-assemble into solids that are stronger, harder, more elastic and more durable than ubiquitous Portland cement.

    "Cement doesn't have the nicest structure," said Shahsavari, an assistant professor of materials science and nanoengineering. "Cement particles are amorphous and disorganized, which makes it a bit vulnerable to cracks. But with this material, we know what our limits are and we can channel polymers or other materials in between the spheres to control the structure from bottom to top and predict more accurately how it could fracture."

    He said the spheres are suitable for bone-tissue engineering, insulation, ceramic and composite applications as well as cement.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-09-28)


  • How to Build a Low-tech Website?
    Our new blog is designed to radically reduce the energy use associated with accessing our content.

    Tags: , , by Michel Nault (2018-09-28)


  • Juan Guerrero Chapa was craving his favorite frozen yogurt. It was early in the evening on May 22, 2013, and he and his wife, Julia, left their Southlake home and drove a few minutes away to the sprawling, upscale shopping district known as Town Square. Around 6 p.m., they parked their burgundy Range Rover in front of Victoria’s Secret and strolled down the block to Yumilicious.

    Guerrero, a 43-year-old with a ruddy face and slick black hair, was wearing crisp blue jeans and a black polo. Julia, her auburn hair pulled back into a ponytail, had on sandals, black pants, and a red blouse. They paid for their frozen yogurt, ate it on a bench in front of the store, and then headed down the block to Nine West, where Julia browsed for shoes. Nothing about the couple stood out among the denizens of Southlake.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-09-28)


  • The sun formed 4.5 billion years ago, but it’s got around 6 billion years more before its fuel runs out. It will then flare up, engulfing the inner planets. And the expanding universe will continue—perhaps forever—destined to become ever colder, ever emptier. To quote Woody Allen, eternity is very long, especially toward the end.

    Any creatures witnessing the sun’s demise won’t be human—they’ll be as different from us as we are from a bug. Posthuman evolution—here on Earth and far beyond—could be as prolonged as the Darwinian evolution that has led to us—and even more wonderful. And evolution will speed up; it can happen via “intelligent design” on a technological timescale, operating far faster than natural selection and driven by advances in genetics and in artificial intelligence (AI). The long-term future probably lies with electronic rather than organic “life.”

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-09-28)


  • n Ray Bradbury’s horror short story, ‘The Next in Line’ (1955), a woman visits the catacombs in Guanajuato, Mexico. Mummified bodies line the walls. Lying awake the next night, haunted by her macabre tour, she finds that her heart ‘was a bellows forever blowing upon a little coal of fear … an ingrown light which her inner eyes stared upon with unwanting fascination’. 

    Our present era is one in which the heart of culture is blowing hard upon a coal of fear, and the fascination is everywhere. By popular consent, horror has been experiencing what critics feel obliged to label a ‘golden age’. In terms of ticket sales, 2017 was the biggest year in the history of horror cinema, and in 2018, Hereditary and A Quiet Place have been record-breaking successes. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, sales of horror literature are up year over year – an uptick that industry folk partly attribute to the wild popularity of Netflix’s Stranger Things (2016-). And the success isn’t merely commercial. Traditionally a rather maligned genre, these days horror is basking in the glow of critical respectability. As The New York Times remarked this June, horror ‘has never been more bankable and celebrated than it is right now’.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-09-28)


  • I started my decade-long turn as an international blood smuggler in 2004 with a mundane task: packing. I gently stacked a dozen half-liter glass vials into two soft-sided picnic coolers. The bottles held the components of a syrupy mix, a powerful medicine made from the immune system particles collected from thousands of people. A nurse would infuse the syrup into my veins, a treatment to keep my immune system under control, to halt its potentially paralyzing attacks on my nerves.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-09-28)


  • 18 Coolest, weirdest and fastest racing and concept cars built in USSR, including ten of most famous record-breaking soviet cars.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-09-26)


  • The marvelous thing about libraries (well, one on an infinite list of marvels…) are the remarkable rabbit holes of investigation and imagination you fall into. Recently, I spent a lot of time with materials related to infection getting ready for our exhibition Germ City. I did not expect to run into a kitchen staple while reading up on cholera, and yet:

    Black Pepper is a remedy I value very highly. As a gastric stimulant it certainly has no superior, and for this purpose we use it in congestive chills, in cholera morbus, and other cases of a similar character.

    Black pepper as a cure for anything, let alone something as virulent as cholera was news to me. The above passage comes from 19th century physician John Milton Scudder’s 1870 book Specific medication and specific medicines. In the 19th century “specific medicine” referred to a branch of American medicine, eclectic medicine, that relied on noninvasive practices such as botanical remedies or physical therapy.[i] As an eclectic practitioner, Scudder’s work was not mainstream, regular medicine, so I wondered if perhaps that was why pepper should come up as a remedy. Surely, pepper only belongs in the kitchen not the medicine cabinet. But doing more research, it turns out that black pepper, Piper nigrum, originally from India, has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-09-25)


  • 20180925 ▶ Tuesday September 25th 2018 @ 11:14:18 AM

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-09-25)


  • On the facade of the Ministry of Justice in Paris, just below a ground-floor window, is a marble shelf engraved with a horizontal line and the word ‘MÈTRE’. It is hardly noticeable in the grand Place Vendôme: in fact, out of all the tourists in the square, I was the only person to stop and consider it. But this shelf is one of the last remaining ‘mètre étalons’ (standard metre bars) that were placed all over the city more than 200 years ago in an attempt to introduce a new, universal system of measurement. And it is just one of many sites in Paris that point to the long and fascinating history of the metric system.

    “Measurement is one of the most banal and ordinary things, but it’s actually the things we take for granted that are the most interesting and have such contentious histories,” said Dr Ken Alder, history professor at Northwestern University and author of The Measure of All Things, a book about the creation of the metre. 

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-09-24)


  • The icy ball at the outer edge of the solar system was considered a planet from its discovery in 1930 until 2006, when a global astronomy organization made the decision to designate it a dwarf planet instead.

    Now a group of scientists has taken aim at that hotly debated decision, arguing in a new paper that the definition of a planet that the International Astronomical Union (IAU) used to downgrade Pluto’s status has been inconsistently applied — not just in recent decades but over the past two centuries.

    “What we’re doing is fact-checking,” said Philip Metzger, a planetary scientist at the University of Central Florida and the lead author of the paper, which was published online Sept. 5 in the journal Icarus. “There are 120 examples I found of scientists in the recent published literature violating the IAU definition, calling something a planet even though the IAU definition says it’s not a planet. The reason planetary scientists do this is because the IAU definition is not useful for science.”

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-09-24)


  • Ancient Eurasia saw more than a little prehistoric hanky-panky, a new study shows. It finds the ancestors of modern humans interbred with Neanderthals and another type of prehuman not just once, but several times.

    And the genes of these ancient Neanderthals and Denisovans live on today, in modern Europeans, Asians and in the Melanesians of Papua New Guinea and other Australasian islands.

    The study, published in the journal Science, helps confirm earlier theories that human ancestors didn’t interbreed with other hominin species until after they left Africa. There’s a barely a trace of Neanderthal in Africans living today.

    Tags: by Michel Nault (2018-09-24)