1. After Google denied his request to photograph an Oklahoma server farm, an Irish artist flew a helicopter over it to get a better view.
"The joy of the internet is that it is always moving. We experience it as speed, mobility, freedom, flux – as an ethereal superhighway we visualise, if we do at all, as lines of light or pulses of pure energy. Irish digital artist John Gerrard brings this myth crashing down to earth in his new projected installation Farm. A camera very slowly pans around a vaguely sinister industrial complex in the middle of nowhere – well, Oklahoma. Cooling towers, pipes, blank walls, and a lonely basketball court are revealed in the silence and cruel sunlight. This is one of Google’s eight vast data farms where your emails and searches are sorted and remembered. The information superhighway ends here. The internet, says Gerrard, 'doesn’t not exist. It is physical.'"
2. Apple appears to be driving a sweet minivan loaded down with cameras and (it seems) LIDAR.
"There are two possibilities as to what it could be: A Google Street View competitor under development, or a secretive self-driving car project. Analyst Rob Enderle told KPIX that he suspects the latter, saying that it has "too many cameras" to be a Street View-type technology. Apple doesn't have a license to test self-driving cars itself, but according to Enderle, this doesn't rule it out — they could be working in partnership with a company that does. If so, it'd be the second major entrance into the field in less than a week. Uber has also recently announced it is investing heavily in self-driving car research."
+ What should be said: to create a self-driving car, you'd also need really good map data. So… it's not an either/or situation.
3. A dongle for smartphones that can test for HIV.
"Here’s how it works: The “dongle” device takes a prick of blood and tests it to see whether there are a higher-than-normal number of the antibodies that fight HIV and syphilis in the blood. That immune system reaction indicates that the patient is positive, explains Wan Laksanasopin, a biomedical engineering PhD student at Columbia who helped develop the device. The dongle attaches to any smartphone or tablet through the audio jack, and the device’s app reads the results, giving a diagnosis in about 15 minutes, Laksanasopin tells Quartz. (The team has so far only developed an iOS app for Apple devices.) The app provides directions to the health care worker administering the test, as well as the results."
4. Before rockets and before planes, people were obsessed with balloons.
"Vue d'optique shows the balloon launched by the Montgolfier brothers ascending from the Palace of Versailles, France, before the royal family, September 19, 1783. A sheep, a duck and a rooster were the only passengers aboard the first balloon flight."
5. The Russian space program has some unusual characteristics.
"Obviously, without enough qualified personnel at the remote construction site, Spetsstroi had little choice but to focus on facilities with the highest profile for visiting Moscow officials. Moreover, the work had to be done in a great haste, increasing the chances for mistakes and leading to a low quality of construction. In an unusual step, the Russian government organized 200-strong 'winter student brigade' to provide low-skilled labor in Vostochny beginning on February 1, even though normally such groups would only be available during summer. Official press releases did not elaborate whether members of the brigade would have to skip a semester. As many as 1,200 students were promised in Vostochny during the summer of 2015, Roskosmos said."
Today's 1957 American English Language Tip
desideratum. Something desired; something lacking or required. The great desiderata are taste and common sense.
The Credits: 1. theguardian.com 2. qz.com 3. sfgate.com / @DebGuadan 4. loc.gov / @slatevault 5. russianspaceweb.com / @chronsciguy
Winter Student Brigade