There's a Duet in the Flash/Supergirl Musical Crossover Called 'Superfriends' Because These Shows Are Adorable

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The Flash/Supergirl crossover is quickly becoming the televisual equivalent of that one puppy you follow on Instagram that, whenever it does the slightest thing, you transform into a total mess of d’awwwing and squealing and delight, because goddammit, how can something be this cute? How cute? Superfriends references…

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Source: io9

Infiniti’s breakthrough new engine has nothing to do with electric cars

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Infiniti VC-Turbo

A
breakthrough!

Infiniti

Last year at the Paris Motor Show, Infiniti revealed a
breakthrough new engine technology. And it was neither a hybrid
nor an electric powerplant.

It’s called the VC-Turbo, and it’s important.

The world is busy these days thinking about an electric-car
future, but the vast majority of the vehicles on the road are
powered by internal combustion engines and will be for decades.

And before you start thinking that IC engines are yesterday’s
dirty tech, don’t forget that automakers have been continuously
innovating them for a century. They no longer belch plumes of
black smoke, and in many cases, automakers have been able to
extract impressive MPGs from them. Ironically, with all the extra
weight that modern safety and technology features are adding to
vehicles, fuel-economy from efficient IC motors has gone down.

So car companies are working hard to claw back good gas mileage,
in large part because they’re up against more stringent
government fuel-economy and environmental regulations (those
regulations might be rolled back under the Trump presidency, but
for now they’re still in place).

The new VC-Turbo is a great example on how much innovation is
underway. In a statement, Infiniti said the 2.0-liter,
four-cylinder power plant “promises to be one of the most
advanced internal-combustion engines ever created.”

The VC stands for “variable compression,” and it means that the
new motor can modulate its compression ratio to optimize its
performance. According to Infiniti, it combines the torque of a
diesel motor with a high-performance gas engine — minus the
emissions problems that small-displacement diesels confront.

The CVT of turbosInfiniti QX Sport Inspiration ConceptThe VC-Turbo could wind up in Infiniti’s newest
vehicles.
Infiniti

The VC-Turbo is to engines what a continuously variable
transmission is to shifting gears: It can locate the ideal
compression ratio for a given driving condition. Infiniti has
been working on the technology for 20 years and thinks it will
enable the automaker to offer better performance with a
four-cylinder motor, replacing six-cylinder power plants.

CVTs are somewhat controversial — auto enthusiasts don’t much
like them. But they do serve up superior gas mileage. The
VC-Turbo isn’t likely to incur similar complaints because it
could solve a problem with turbocharged engines: the “lag”
between hitting the accelerator and the power coming on. This
issue has long been seen as a compromise that just has to be
dealt with if you want turbo advantages. But automakers have been
getting better and solving the turbo problem.

The VC-Turbo will go under the hoods of Infiniti vehicles in
2018.

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This tiny wearable can tell you when you need a drink

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This tiny wearable can tell you when you need a drink

Image: SHANSHAN YAO/NC STATE UNIVERSITY

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed an ideal wearable to pair with a fitness tracker for those extra sweaty workouts: a tiny Bluetooth-sensor that tracks skin hydration.   

The sensors have much more potential than just reminding runners to drink up after a 5K — according to the research team, the hydration-tracking tech could be a valuable tool for monitoring vulnerable people working in stressful, hot conditions. 

“It’s difficult to measure a person’s hydration quantitatively, which is relevant for everyone from military personnel to athletes to firefighters, who are at risk of health problems related to heat stress when training or in the field,” John Muth, a co-author of a paper describing the work, said in a statement. 

The researchers also believe the sensors can be applied in medicine as an unobtrusive method to track hydration data and even cosmetics as a means to determine the effectiveness of moisturizers. 

The flexible sensors consist of two electrodes that monitor the “electrical properties of the skin,” which are made of an elastic polymer composite that contains conductive silver nanowires. They can be worn on an adhesive chest patch (as seen below) or on a wristband. 

The wristband and chest patch both include a full suite of monitoring tech and Bluetooth capabilities. That way, the data it collects can be wirelessly transmitted to other devices for monitoring.

The sensors, seen here, are small and flexible enough to fit comfortably in a wristband wearable.

The sensors, seen here, are small and flexible enough to fit comfortably in a wristband wearable.

Image: Shanshan Yao/NC State university

Existing tech for monitoring body hydration is typically expensive, and it involves rigid probe-like devices, whereas these sensors could cost as little as one dollar to produce, with total manufacturing costs of the patch and wrist wearables in line with those of comparable tracking devices, like the Fitbit. For comparison, the researchers claim the monitor they measured their sensor against in tests costs $8,000.    

With other hydration monitoring wearables primed to hit the market later this year, this type of tech could soon become another standard measure in our increasingly trackable lives. Just be sure to get your own water bottle when it comes time to fuel up.    

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Lando Calrissian Ponders a Very Important Baby Gift in This Excerpt From Star Wars Aftermath: Empire's End

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One of the most significant events between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens is the birth of Han and Leia’s son Ben. In this exclusive excerpt from Empire’s End, the final installment in Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy, it turns out Lando’s been a bit too busy to pay much attention to his old…

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Source: io9

Humans fold as AI comes up aces in poker competition

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Now computers can bluff.

This should be a terrifying thought, but it’s a breakthrough moment, watched by thousands of people across 151 countries on the Twitch network, all of them witness to the first time a computer artificial intelligence (AI), Libratus, soundly beat four of the world’s best poker players at heads-up no-limit Texas Hold’Em.

“At a high level, this means now that we have proven the ability for an AI to do strategic reasoning in imperfect situations has surpassed that of humans,” said Carnegie Mellon University Professor of Computer Science Tuomas Sandholm on Tuesday during a press conference following the AI victory at Rivers Casino “Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence: Upping the Ante” tournament in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Backed by 600 nodes from the Pittsburgh Super Computer Center Bridge’s computer, Libratus played 200 hundred hours of poker over 20 days against four poker pros: Dong Kim, Jimmy Chou, Daniel McAulay and Jason Les. Nearly two years after its predecessor, Claudico, lost almost a three-quarters of a million dollars in chips in a similar competition, Libratus won decisively by more than $1.7 million chips (no actually payouts were made during this competition; the four human players split a $200,000 purse).

Winning aside, the accomplishment may be remembered as a turning point in the annals of AI.

While previous AIs have already beaten human pros in games like chess and, more recently, Go, these games are essentially tests of an AI’s raw computing power. Chess has many possible outcomes, and Go has even more. But poker is a different animal.

To master no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em, Libratus needed to approach hands the same way a human does: where a player bluffs or bets in a way that belies the actual quality of their hand. It’s the essence of fuzzy logic, where people’s actions and intents do not necessarily align.

Humans are afraid to do these kinds of actions; the bot is fearless.

Chess and Go are perfect information games, Libratus programmer and PhD student Noam Brown told me in an interview after Libratus’ win. The AI searches through all the reachable states to find the optimal path in the game tree, the best possible move.

Poker, on the other hand, is a game of incomplete information, since you don’t know what cards your opponent has, or, in Texas Hold ‘Em, what community cards will be drawn later in the hand. “You no longer know what state you’re in,” says Brown. “You know you’re in some number of states.”

The possible outcomes also depend, not only on the hidden and still-to-be-drawn cards, but also on how your poker opponent has played, so the idea of searching through a game tree no longer applies. 

Libratus is also the first game-playing AI that did not observe human players to learn its game. “We gave it the rules of the game and we had the bot play against itself, starting from scratch.” Ultimately Libratus played trillions of hands before facing its first human opponent.

During that time, Brown said, Libratus had to come up with a new strategy for finding hidden information and hiding its own information to its advantage. The AI isn’t, though, exactly bluffing. “Libratus is always going to do what it thinks is going to make the most money possible,” he said. Thus, some of its actions could look like bluffing. “You could see the bot making really innovative moves like betting huge amounts of money on small pots,” he said. “Humans are afraid to do these kinds of actions; the bot is fearless.”

Going into the tournament, however, Libratus’s victory was far from assured. Brown said on Tuesday that he hoped the pros wouldn’t try as hard as they did. “They were very good at finding any weakness in the bot,” he said. Most of the pros said they thought they would do better. Choo called it one of the most challenging experiences in his life.

“Halfway through the challenge, we really thought we were going to win and we were beaten very soundly,” said McAulay, echoing other players who called the almost daily losses “demoralizing.” 

Halfway through the challenge, we really thought we were going to win and we were beaten very soundly

What may be even more remarkable about Libratus’s historic win is that the computer behind it wasn’t even running at full capacity. With over 19 million core hours of computing and 2,600 terabytes of generated data, the tournament only used 46 percent of Bridges’s computational capacity, said Nick Nystrom, PSC’s senior director of research on Tuesday. While Libratus was besting four poker pros, the rest of the super computer was working on other problems like finding new cures for cancer and investigating next-gen nuclear power. 

Libratus only competed heads-up with the poker champs, so it’s not clear if the AI would come out on top at a full table of nine people. However, Brown says it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch if there were more players and that he focused on two-player matchups because it was easier to measure performance.

Even though Libratus is a poker-playing AI, it’s not necessarily a “Poker AI.” “The research wasn’t focused on poker — the research used poker as a test bed for research,” Brown told me.

“The algorithms are actually game-independent,” said Professor Sandholm, adding that the AI’s ability to take any imperfect situation and output a strategy has implications for everything from negotiation and bargaining to military uses and some forms of finance.

Brown explained that while the team has yet to look at any specific areas where they can apply the AI capabilities, he has no doubt it can be used across a wide set of applications. “Any of them can be modeled as games of imperfect information and the algorithms can be applied pretty much out of the box.” 

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Your Bra Size Is a Myth

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In a world of vanity sizes and mysterious designations like “medium,” you usually have to try clothes on before you have any clue if they fit. Bra sizing would seem to be different, since it involves numbers and math, but I’m here with bad news: There is no such thing as Your One True Bra Size.

Nobody Even Agrees on How to Measure Yourself

It sounds scientific: You just measure your ribcage and your bust, and then use a simple formula to convert those measurements to a bra size consisting of a number and a letter (for example, “34B”). Here’s the typical formula, but as we will see, it varies:

  • Your band size (the number) comes from a measurement of your chest that does not include your breasts. Some instructions have you measure under your breasts; some ask you to measure above, basically right under your armpits.
  • Your cup size (the letter) comes from the difference between the band size and your bust measurement. In some versions of the formula, you simply subtract. In others, you add a few inches (often four) to your band size before comparing the two numbers.

The variations in the formula would all be fine if they worked out to give you about the same size, but they don’t. I did a little experiment to illustrate this.

I took my measurements above, at, and under the bust and plugged them into a variety of calculators. Most instructions ask you to wear a bra that already fits you well, and in fact I have such a bra: a 34D in the Warner’s brand. Let’s see how the various calculators stack up:

Warner’s doesn’t have a calculator, but they do have an instructional video. I followed the instructions, and came up with 33D. Since band sizes only come in even numbers, that sounds like a pretty good endorsement for me taking a 34D in their brand.

The bottom line here: following a brand’s instructions may help you find the right size bra in that brand, but don’t expect that size to help you find the right bra in another brand.

Cup Sizes Mean (Almost) Nothing

It’s tempting to assume that a cup size means the size of the cup. If you’re a D, for example, you might think any bra with a D cup should fit your breasts. But it turns out that a 32D and a 40D, for example, do not have anywhere near the same volume of space in the cup. People who sew bras need to buy the right size underwire for each cup, and this chart comparing underwire size to bra size reveals the relationship. A 32D (in this brand, anyway) uses the same size wire as a 38A.

This quirk is behind what’s known as the sister sizes: bra sizes that have the same fit in the cup but different fit in the band. If you wear a 36C, for example, a 34D is the same cup with a shorter band. Confusing? Look at the chart in this guide:

There’s a further confusion in mapping the letter sizes to measurements: once you get beyond a D, everyone seems to have a different idea of what letter comes next. Some brands go right to E, F, G, and so on, while others double up: DD and then DDD before moving on to another letter. HerRoom uses a metric they call Universal Cup Size to reconcile these differences between brands, so that can help if you’d like to try a new brand and want a clue for where to start. But what if the brand you want isn’t on their list, or if you’re at a brick-and-mortar store without a conversion chart?

Your Best Bet: Just Try Them On

You’re never going to get a complete answer about bra sizing just by poring over charts and calculators, in the hope you’ll ever be able to just walk into a store, pick up a bra in X size, and take it home knowing it’ll fit comfortably. At some point you have to actually try the bra on and evaluate how well it fits. Briefly, you’re looking for something where:

  • The band sits horizontal (not pulling up or down at your back).
  • Your breasts fill out the cups without leaving gaps or spilling over.
  • The straps don’t slide off your shoulders, or dig in.
  • The wire (if there is one) doesn’t poke you; that could mean the cup is too small.

Going back to our initial experiment, where you start in a properly fitting bra: it’s not cheating to just look at the tag. If it fits, it fits.

Besides the size of the bra, fit also depends on the shape. For example, some bras are cut for a rounder breast, and others for a more teardrop shaped breast. At the end of the day, bras are like any other clothes: the tag hints at how it will fit, but only trying it on will answer the question for sure.

Illustration by TK. Photos by Travis Wise, VisualHunt, and Joe Goldberg.

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