A zoom contact lens, Neanderthals, drone privacy, apocalypticism, and the gestures of tomorrow

1. A contact lens with zoom built in.

"Developed by a team led by Eric Tremblay at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the rigid contact lens covers the sclera, or whites of the eyes, making it larger than an ordinary lens. Within it are tiny aluminium mirrors, arranged in a ring around the centre. When light streams through, the mirrors bounce it around several times, causing objects to appear 2.8 times larger than they really are."


2. One theory for why Neanderthals died out: low-density living.

"No matter the precise cause of extinction, Churchill points out that Neanderthals lived at relatively low population density, which made them vulnerable to a variety of problems. (The title of his 2014 book on Neanderthal biology, archeology, and ecology, 'Thin on the Ground,' refers to this phenomenon.) He also suggests that 'thin' population structure led to some of the assumption that Neanderthals had lower cognitive abilities than humans, whereas actually humans just had more advantageous social arrangements. Higher population density leads to greater innovation, and the ability to plan, to specialize, and to express abstract thought. 'It’s now looking like Neanderthals had the full capacity to do that; they just weren’t doing it very much,' he said. 'It has more to do with demography than brains.'"

3. The president's executive order on drone privacy measures for Federal agencies.

"Information collected using UAS that may contain [personally identifiable information] shall not be retained for more than 180 days unless retention of the information is determined to be necessary to an authorized mission of the retaining agency, is maintained in a system of records covered by the Privacy Act, or is required to be retained for a longer period by any other applicable law or regulation."


4. On time and calendars and apocalypticism.

"By now, we are all of us more or less apocalyptic. Our calendar is itself based on the apocalyptic return of Jesus Christ, counting up from Anno Domini towards the End. And no sooner had we given up on Christ returning in AD 2000 before we immediately turned to another god, Quetzlcoatl, with the much ballyhooed End now moved to 2012 (a full eighth of the United States population expected the end of the world to come on December 21, 2012). As of 2013, 41% of Americans believed themselves to be living in the End Times as described by Bible, with a full third of Americans believing that the current civil war in Syria is a sign of the coming Apocalypse. Meanwhile, the Rapture Index, a weekly tabulation of End Times events that offers a handy numeric assessment of the probability of the Apocalypse, continues to hover around its all-time high."


5. Curious Rituals, a 2012 book about the new gestures of today and tomorrow.

"For some years I’ve been collating a list in a text file, which has the banal title “21st_ century_gestures.txt”. These were, or are, a set of gestures, spatial patterns and physical, often bodily, interactions that seemed to me to be entirely novel. They all concerned our interactions with The Network, and reflect how a particular Networked development, and its affordances, actually results in intriguing physical interactions. The intriguing aspect is that most of the gestures and movements here are undesigned, inadvertent, unintended, the hidden offcuts of design processes and technological development that are either forced upon the body, or adopted by bodies."


Today's 1957 American English Language Tip

dialogue (Lit.): 'cross-talking.' Conversation as opposed to monologue, to preaching, lecturing, speeches, narrative, or description; neither confined to nor excluding talk between two persons; SEE DUOLOGUE.


The Credits:  1. newscientist.com 2. bostonglobe.com 3. docs.google.com 4. berfrois.com / @Dan_E_Solo 5. curiousrituals.wordpress.com

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