Big Tech &
Google brings Halloween to life using augmented reality (3 minute read)
Google has updated its augmented reality models on Google search with Halloween-themed options. There is now a dancing skeleton, costumed animals, ghosts, and more. Users can find the feature on their mobile devices by searching 'Halloween' on the Google search app or in the browser and selecting 'Summon up a 3D ghost' at the prompt. Some examples of the models are available in the article.
Netflix is raising the price of standard and premium plans in the US (1 minute read)
Netflix will raise the prices of its standard and premium plans in the US over the next two months. The new standard plan is $14 a month, and the premium plan is $18 a month. Netflix raised prices in Canada earlier this month and the price increase in the US was expected. The company recently stopped offering free trials in the US. It is unclear whether prices will increase in Netflix's other markets.
Great Barrier Reef: Scientists find reef taller than Empire State Building (4 minute read)
A 500m high coral reef has been found north of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. It is the first such discovery in 120 years. Scientists used an underwater robot called SuBastian to explore the reef. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef, but it has lost more than half of its corals since 1995 due to climate change. The new reef is detached from the Great Barrier Reef. At 1.5km wide, it is one of seven other tall reefs in the region. 3D maps of the reef are available in the article.
The Most Famous Paradox in Physics Nears Its End (25 minute read)
Theoretical physicists can now say with confidence that information can escape a black hole. While most physicists have long assumed this, a new set of calculations has confirmed it. In the new theory, information gets out through the workings of ordinary gravity with a single layer of quantum physics. Einstein's general theory of relativity states that the gravity of a black hole is so intense that nothing can escape it, but scientists have found that additional semiclassical effects become dominant when black holes get extremely old, transforming the black hole into an open system where information can spill out.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Machine Learning Attack Series: Image Scaling Attacks (3 minute read)
An image scaling attack involves hiding a smaller image inside a larger image so that an image is completely different when it is resized. This can be used to poison training data or to make machine learning models recognize different objects, as most models will resize images before processing them. The machine learning model will process the resized image rather than the original image, even though the two images are completely different. An example is available in the article.
Mario on Vim (GitHub Repo)
This is an implementation of the classic Mario game in Vim. It requires the vim-game_engine plugin to work. A GIF demo is available in the repository.
There’s no place like the perfectly sized home for the mighty mantis shrimp (6 minute read)
Scientists have determined that mantis shrimp will fight longer and harder for burrows of ideal size by pitching them against each other in a competition over preferred burrows. There were two stages of the experiment, one where the shrimp could freely choose unoccupied burrows of varying sizes, and another stage where the shrimp were randomly matched against each other to fight over a preferred burrow. The researchers found that the mantis shrimp would fight longer and harder and be more likely to win when the volume of the contested burrow closely matched with the shrimp's body length. This showed that the animals would exert maximum effort for something that is 'just right', demonstrating the mantis shrimp's ability to assess the value of contested resources.
Can lab-grown brains become conscious? (13 minute read)
Brain organoids, miniature human brains grown from human stem cells, have become common in labs that study the properties of the brain. An experiment in 2019 reported coordinated waves of activity in some brain organoids that resembled the kind of brain activity seen in premature babies. It is unknown whether this is an indication that the brain organoids were conscious. Researchers are calling for a set of guidelines to guide the humane use of brain organoids and other experiments that could achieve consciousness. To develop these guidelines, scientists need to first define what consciousness is.