Mathematics, Planetary Physics, Staircases, More: Tuesday Afternoon Buzz, May 10, 2016


MIT and other institutions have gotten together and launched a mathematical objects database. “The ‘L-functions and Modular Forms Database,’ or LMFDB, is a detailed atlas of mathematical objects that maps out the connections between them. The LMFDB exposes deep relationships and provides a guide to previously uncharted territory that underlies current research in several branches of physics, computer science, and mathematics.” This is so beyond me I can’t even do sample searches.

A new Web site can help teach astronomy and planetary physics. “The website allows faculty to load a solar system to the page and have their students adjust the size, density, gravity, etc. of the stars and planets to learn about orbits, habitable zones around stars and more. Site visitors also can zoom in and out and track orbits on the simulation, and anyone who wants to save their own simulations can create an account.” I was able to play with the demo, so it looks like this is open to everyone, and not just UMT faculty.


Google Street View has added a bunch of… staircases? “Historic staircases in Hong Kong’s concrete jungle can now be viewed by people anywhere in the world on a computer or smartphone using the Street View function of Google Maps, Headline Daily reported Tuesday. Among the 14 streets with stone steps that are part of the collection, Duddell Street in Central, which has been featured in movies, features four gas lamps that are nowhere else to be found in the city and earn it the nickname Gas Lamp Street.”

Bing is testing a Twitter carousel in its search results. Screenshots in the article.


MakeUseOf: The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide. “Windows 10 makes data backups effortless. Amidst many changes, Microsoft has been stepping up its backup game without dropping tried and tested features. Windows 10 is well prepared for the cloud based storage revolution and still offers everything you need to secure files locally. We have summarized every native backup, restore, recovery, and repair option we could find on Windows 10. Use our simple tips and never despair over lost data again!”

From TIME: How to talk to your kids about Snapchat.


Facebook is strongly denying meddling with trending topics. “Facebook’s earlier statement about having neutrality guidelines left it unclear whether any contractors hired to curate the trend had potentially violated those rules. But now Stocky’s statement bluntly calls into question the allegations by Gizmodo’s sources.”

Is Instagram the most powerful tool in fashion? I know fashion like a duck knows quantum physics. “With over 400 million monthly users, Instagram is the eighth largest social networking platform in the world. But in the fashion world, it’s probably number one. Last year the Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded the app its media award, previously bestowed upon journalists and photographers. And arguably, Instagram has shifted more product more directly than any of those.”


Chinese regulators are cracking down on Baidu. “Internet regulators opened the investigation after the death of Wei Zexi, a college student with cancer who had taken a therapy found through an online advertisement on Baidu. On Monday evening, China’s Cyberspace Administration said Baidu must change its system by the end of the month, by attaching ‘eye-catching markers,’ as well as risk warnings, to all paid results. It also said ads must comprise only 30% of results displayed on a page.”

Remember that mention last week I made of a giant cached of hacked e-mail credentials? it might be fake. “There’s probably a good reason why a Russian hacker wanted to dump a supposed cache of 272 million account credentials to popular email services for less than $1. That reason: The trove claiming to have millions of accounts from Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, Russian email service and others, appears to be fake.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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