Douglas Hopkins

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The writers Russians don't read – and you should

A new survey has found that living writers are not much favoured in Putin’s Russia, and there are many reasons why, but readers are missing out<p>Asked to name their country’s greatest writers in a new survey, Russians stick with the classics. The Levada Center’s survey of 1,600 Russians is topped, …

Literature

Boston Dynamics' New Robot Is A Tiny Friendly Dog With An Extra Limb

Cute and alien<p>Robots are not like us. They may inhabit the same spaces, and they may mimic life in their movements, but the kinds of bodies that lend themselves to metal and springs are not the same as those built from flesh and bone. No one knows this better than Boston Dynamics, the formerly …

Self-Driving Cars Are Coming, but Self-Driving Tractors Are Already Here

Agriculture is using AI and the Internet of Things to plant crops better.<p>These days, there's a lot of hand-wringing over the possibility of self-driving cars on our roads. But we've largely overlooked the fact that, in the fields just off the side of the highway, vehicles have already been driving …

Farming

Amazing Optical Illusion Makes The Louvre’s Pyramid Disappear

When I.M. Pei designed a 70-foot-tall glass pyramid to be erected in an old parking lot in front of the Louvre, critics called the structure “a gigantic, simmering gadget” and “an annex to Disneyland.” Over two decades later, the glimmering glass entrance people once feared would be a blight on the …

Louvre

Veterans will finally see the Nazi encryption machine they cracked in World War II

The story of the Enigma machine is pretty well known. It was a cipher used by the Nazis to send coded messages during World War II. The Brits cracked the machine and the war ended a lot sooner than it otherwise might have.<p>But the Germans had another, vastly more complicated cipher, which they used …

World History

The adorable reason why the Queen's granddaughter was holding her purse in that iconic royal portrait

When Queen Elizabeth II turned 90 years old last month, the British monarchy released a series of gorgeous portraits shot by legendary photographer …

Mastering the Delicate Art of Responding to Compliments

You’re wearing a new sweater to a family gathering, and an in-law tells you how great you look in it. Although pleased that your outfit is …

Psychology

Mikhail Gorbachev: Putin Is an Obstacle to Progress

The present Russian regime need have no delusions that conservatism is a panacea for our problems, lulling themselves with the belief that for the …

Russia

Who knew a rock-sorting robot could be so mesmerizing?

*Blinks*<p>A couple of artists have teamed up with the Czech-German Future Fund to create a vacuum robot that can sort rocks. The result is much more mesmerizing than that description, I promise.<p>The robot is called Jller, named for the German river where the aforementioned rocks were collected. Jller …

Facebook Live

This facial recognition app 'may bring end to public anonymity'

FindFace is a new Russian smartphone app that lets users take photos of strangers and identify them with 70% reliability.<p>From The Guardian:<p>Unlike …

Machine Perception

5 ways to search Gmail that everyone should know about

In a perfectly productive world, your inbox would have a place for every email with every email in its place. But it’s easy to let messages stack up …

Handy

Home energy storage is the driving force of the future, claims Tesla trailblazer

When it comes to grabbing headlines with visions of the future, few can beat entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk. He’s behind SpaceX, the rocket company that he sees as a vehicle to his dream of colonising Mars.<p>Better known, perhaps, are his Tesla electric cars, an increasingly common sight in the …

Switzerland is opening the world's longest-ever railway tunnel

Nowadays, the mountains are of course breached by several major tunnels and highways, a network that has brought hitherto remote valleys within several hours' journey of major cities. The Alps, nonetheless, still form a speed-slowing barrier between Southern and Northern Europe even today. Starting …

Trains

Russia's love for damned lies and statistics

Opinion polls can make or break a government but in Russia they are used very differently - as part of a strategy to manufacture consensus. Fiona …

Russia

Correction: Sheryl Sandberg-Commencement Speech story

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — In a story May 14 about a commencement speech by Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg and previous stories about the death of her husband, Dave Goldberg, The Associated Press reported erroneously the cause of his death. Sandberg said an autopsy showed he died of a heart attack while …

Self-improvement

The Coming Horror of Virtual Reality

If Kitchen, a five-minute virtual-reality demo created by the Japanese studio Capcom, were a short film, few viewers would be moved to panic by its misery of horror-movie clichés. In the demo, which has been making the rounds at tech conferences in recent months, you begin strapped to a chair in a …

Virtual Reality

The Information Age is over; welcome to the Experience Age

Twenty-five years after the introduction of the World Wide Web, the Information Age is coming to an end. Thanks to mobile screens and Internet everywhere, we’re now entering what I call the “Experience Age.”<p>When was the last time you updated your Facebook status? Maybe you no longer do? It’s been …

App Store

The Biggest Question About The Beginning Of The Universe

Our Universe is expanding, getting less dense and cooling today, teaching us that it was hotter and denser in the distant past. If we extrapolate backwards in time, we can reach epochs where:<p>gravitation hadn’t yet had time to collapse matter into clusters, galaxies or even stars,<br>• the temperature of …

Universe

How Was the Impossible Project's I-1 Camera Made?

The company’s CEO and CTO talk past, present and future.<p>When Polaroid announced that it would cease production of its film for Polaroid cameras in 2008, instant photography fans were stunned. It was then that the Impossible Project was founded. The company’s first order of business was to buy up …

Technology is not going to crush the language barrier anytime soon

In a recent <i>Wall Street Journal</i> article, technology policy expert Alec Ross argued that, within a decade or so, we'll be able to communicate with one another via small earpieces with built-in microphones.<p>No more trying to remember your high school French when checking into a hotel in Paris. Your …

Language

How Photographer Ansel Adams Captured an Image Exactly How He Saw It in His Mind’s Eye

In his latest video, Evan “The Nerdwriter” Puschak takes a look at the stunning work of legendary American photographer Ansel Adams and the process …

Photography

The 'great smoky dragon' of quantum physics - Scienmag: Latest Science and Health News

This news release is available in German.<p>Since the 17th century, science was intrigued by the nature of light. Isaac Newton was certain that it …

Can IBM's Watson Beat Cancer at Its Own Game?

Teaching computers to play games has taught us a lot about AI, but the next challenge is working on real-world problems.<p>Late tonight, Google's AI program AlphaGo will take on Lee Se-Dol, the second-ranked Go player in the world, in a five-day, live-streamed match that will test the limits of …

The Next Big Tech Revolution Will Be In Your Ear

Experts in UX, AI, and product design weigh in on the next big modality in computing.<p>“I wish I could touch you,” Theodore says, laying in bed. He’s met with silence. Rejection. Until she speaks up, tentatively. “How would you touch me?”<p>It’s a famously poignant scene from the movie <i>Her</i>, as the …

Artificial Intelligence

Incredibly complex machine plays music with marbles

There have been plenty of impressively elaborate musical machines in recent years, but this might top them all. Swedish band Wintergatan has crafted a Musical Marble Machine that, as the name suggests, churns out tunes using 2,000 marbles (technically, ball bearings). It's a pretty involved effort …

Bass Guitar

A new experiment could let us ‘see’ quantum entanglement for the first time

While it would be incredibly cool to be the first person ever to witness quantum entanglement with your own eyes, the experiment has been designed to answer some important and far-reaching questions, such as what does quantum entanglement actually look like, and what does it feel like to be …

Quantum Mechanics

Google AI Is Starting To Figure Out Where a Photo Was Taken Based Solely on the Background

Forget where you shot that landscape or selfie? Google will remember that for you, using only clues in the image itself.<p>Image recognition software has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years, fueled in part by the increasing sophistication of artificial intelligence. While companies like …

Artists Covertly 3D Scanned Nefertiti's Bust And Released It Online

Busted<p>Nefertiti belongs to the ages. Does her likeness belong to the people? That’s a question for philosophers and museum curators to debate, but thanks to an enterprising group of secretive scanners, it has a practical answer: yes. Using Microsoft Kinect scanners hidden under scarves, Nora …

Dominate Calculus With a Few Easy Tricks

How do you integrate with a computer? Let's start with an example.<p>Suppose a car travels only in the x-direction. It starts at x = 0 m with a velocity …