Nuclear Tests, Canadian Music, Life-Extending Drugs, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, March 17, 2017


From the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, with a big tip o’ the nib to Esther S: Physicist declassifies rescued nuclear test films. “The U.S. conducted 210 atmospheric nuclear tests between 1945 and 1962, with multiple cameras capturing each event at around 2,400 frames per second…. For the past five years, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) weapon physicist Greg Spriggs and a crack team of film experts, archivists and software developers have been on a mission to hunt down, scan, reanalyze and declassify these decomposing films… Around 4,200 films have been scanned, 400 to 500 have been reanalyzed and around 750 have been declassified. An initial set of these declassified films — tests conducted by LLNL — were published today in an LLNL YouTube playlist (link is external).”

From A Journal of Musical Things: Explore Canadian Music History Online with New National Music Centre Collection Archive. “The new website, called NMC Collections Online, is a digital exhibit of the [National Music Centre]’s impressive gallery. The physical museum in Calgary houses over 2,000 historic artifacts and spans over 450 years of Canadian culture and technology. 150 of its entries are immediately available online, and about twice as many are planned by the end of 2017!”

Now available: a database of drug compounds intended to prolong life. ” The database has 418 compounds, curated from studies spanning 27 different model organisms including yeast, worms, flies and mice…. The database is freely available to the public, and is searchable according to compound name, species and effect on lifespan. The data can be presented as both tables and interactive charts. Functional enrichment analysis of the targets of the database’s compounds was performed using drug-gene interaction data, which revealed a modest but statistically significant correlation between the cellular targets of the database’s compounds and known age-related genes.”


The Wolfram language has reached version 11.1. “There’s a lot here. One might think that a .1 release, nearly 29 years after Version 1.0, wouldn’t have much new any more. But that’s not how things work with the Wolfram Language, or with our company. Instead, as we’ve built our technology stack and our procedures, rather than progressively slowing down, we’ve been continually accelerating. And now even something as notionally small as the Version 11.1 release packs an amazing amount of R&D, and new functionality.”

CNET: ​Vivaldi wants to make your web browsing history useful. “Where you’ve already been on the web turns out to be a pretty important predictor of where you’d like to go next. That’s why the next version of Vivaldi, a newer competitor to the likes of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, is putting browser history front and center.”

TechCrunch: Pinterest is now blocked in China. “China has blocked one of the few Western social media sites that had remained accessible to its population: Pinterest. The site has followed the example of Facebook, Twitter and many others after the photo sharing site was blocked in China, according to data from censorship monitoring organization GreatFire.”

TheNextWeb: Gmail now streams small video attachments instead of making you download them. “Videos over 25 MB are uploaded onto Google Drive automatically, which means they would have streamed anyway. But for smaller clips, like some funny recording you want to send your family – I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to explain how to open a downloaded attachment – it’ll at least make your life a bit easier.”


Recode: Why aren’t Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon joining the new anti-travel ban legal brief?. “…this new brief, which decries Trump’s renewed plan that has since been blocked by a federal judge, is lacking support from some of tech’s biggest players, including Facebook, Apple and Google, all three of which signed last month’s brief. Amazon is also missing; last month CEO Jeff Bezos said the company would devote resources to lobbying against the ban and the company has backed Washington state’s related lawsuit against Trump. But now those four companies, and others, are missing from a new amicus brief. And that feels odd. The travel orders are very similar, and both have been blocked by federal judges.”


CNET: Snapchat is the first social-media stop for most millennials. “College students turn first to the ephemeral-messaging app before Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, according to data released Thursday by LendEdu, an online marketplace for student loan refinancing. Fifty-eight percent of college students said they open Snapchat first, compared with 27 percent who chose Instagram, 13 percent who said Facebook and the 2 percent who opt for LinkedIn.”

Quartz: A West Virginia teen taught himself how to build a rapping AI using Kanye West lyrics. “The rapping AI was his first project, although he learned Python by building simple programs to do things like play Tic-Tac-Toe. [Robbie] Barrat says he ended up writing most of the original code in an afternoon, and spent the next few days optimizing the results. The most current iteration is trained on 6,000 Kanye West lines and can now generate speech that raps the words written by the AI, complete with semi-appropriate pauses.” Self-taught young man growing up on a farm in West Virginia. Good afternoon, Internet…

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