Dad pranks daughter with fake rejection letter because she cheats at Mario Kart


Dads are the masters of pranks.  

Thirteen-year-old Vivian has been working on her portfolio for more than ten years to get into Booker T. Washington High School, a magnet school for art. 

She didn’t know that the school would take her Mario Kart sportsmanship into consideration. 

When she opened the fake letter, Vivian was pretty disappointed about the rejection.

“I didn’t get in,” she says, on the verge of tears. 

Then her dad made her read it out loud. 

“We regret that we cannot offer a position at our school to anyone who would unpause a game of Mario Kart while her opponent was out of the room,” the letter reads. “You are free to reapply in the future once you learn to behave like a decent human being.”

Vivian burst out laughing, and her dad handed her the real letter from the school. 

When she read the acceptance out loud, the whole family celebrated with a screaming group hug. 

“I’m proud of you,” her dad beams. 

It’s pretty wholesome. 

from Mashable!

Understanding the inner workings of neural networks


Neural networks are a powerful approach to machine learning, allowing computers to understand images, recognize speech, translate sentences, play Go, and much more. As much as we’re using neural networks in our technology at Google, there’s more to learn about how these systems accomplish these feats. For example, neural networks can learn how to recognize images far more accurately than any program we directly write, but we don’t really know how exactly they decide whether a dog in a picture is a Retriever, a Beagle, or a German Shepherd.

We’ve been working for several years to better grasp how neural networks operate. Last week we shared new research on how these techniques come together to give us a deeper understanding of why networks make the decisions they do—but first, let’s take a step back to explain how we got here.

Neural networks consist of a series of “layers,” and their understanding of an image evolves over the course of multiple layers. In 2015, we started a project called DeepDream to get a sense of what neural networks “see” at the different layers. Itled to a much larger research project that would not only develop beautiful art, but also shed light on the inner workings of neural networks.

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Outside Google, DeepDream grew into a small art movement producing all sorts of amazing things.

Last year, we shared new work on this subject, showing how techniques building on DeepDream—and lots of excellent research from our colleagues around the world—can help us explore how neural networks build up their understanding of images. We showed that neural networks build on previous layers to detect more sophisticated ideas and eventually reach complex conclusions. For instance, early layers detect edges and textures of images, but later layers progress to detecting parts of objects.

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The neural network first detects edges, then textures, patterns, parts, and objects.

Last week we released another milestone in our research: an exploration of how different techniques for understanding neural networks fit together into a bigger picture.

This work, which we’ve published in the online journal Distill, explores how different techniques allow us to “stand in the middle of a neural network” and see how decisions made at an individual point influence a final output. For instance, we can see how a network detects a “floppy ear,” and then that increases the probability that the image will be labeled as a Labrador Retriever or Beagle.

In one example, we explore which neurons activate in response to different inputs—a kind of “MRI for neural networks.” The network has some floppy ear detectors that really like this dog!


We can also see how different neurons in the middle of the network—like those floppy ear detectors—affect the decision to classify an image as a Labrador Retriever or tiger cat.

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If you want to learn more, check out our interactive paper, published in Distill. We’ve also open sourced our neural net visualization library, Lucid, so you can make these visualizations, too.

from Official Google Blog

Negatives found in the attic discover a master photographer from the USSR


There are probably not many of us who haven’t heard of Vivian Maier, a street photographer whose work was discovered accidentally after it was sold at an auction. But she is not the only photographer whose marvelous work was discovered only after her death.

In 2017, Asya Ivashintsova-Melkumyan found a dusty box of 30,000 negatives in the attic of her home in Pushkin, Saint Petersburg. They belonged to her mother, Masha Ivashintsova, who took these photos between 1960 and 1999. Masha rarely showed her work to anyone, so Asya developed the films and what she discovered was astounding. A collection of poetic, documentary, emotional and gloomy photos testify of Masha’s life in and the time in which she lived.

Two girls in Vologda, USSR, 1979

Masha Ivashintsova was born in 1942 and she passed away in 2000. As her daughter Asya writes, she and her husband found the negatives in the attic in 2017, when the house was undergoing a renovation.

According to Asya, all of the photos were taken between 1960 and 1999. Her mother Masha was heavily engaged in the Leningrad (today’s St. Petersburg) poetic and photography underground movement between the 1960s and 1980s. She had three big loves throughout her lifetime. Asya writes that they “defined her life, consumed her fully, but also tore her apart.” Her three partners were geniuses of their time, and Masha reportedly believed she was a pale figure in comparison with them. This is why she never showed her photos, poetry, and diaries to anyone during her life.

Leningrad, USSR, 1974 | Masha Ivashintsova with her lover, photographer Boris Smelov

 Moscow, USSR, 1976 | Melvar Melkumyan with his and Mahsa’s only daughter, Asya

Masha’s lover Viktor Krivulin | Novolukoml, Byelorussian SSR, 1979

In 1981, Masha was unwillingly committed to a Soviet mental hospital for the first time. As Asya writes, she thinks she sometimes sees “a warning, a sort of premonition of coming future events in her photography.” In 2000, Masha died in her daughter’s arms after a battle with cancer.

I see my mother as a genius, but she never saw herself as one — and never let anybody else see her for what she really was.

As an attempt to pay a tribute to her mother, Asya started a website where she publishes some of Masha’s work and tells her story. I find Masha’s photos emotional and sometimes gloomy and intense. I believe her work testifies of her time, her thoughts and strong emotions she felt. Take a look at more photos below and make sure to visit the website an Instagram page. There you can read more about Masha and see more of her work.

Nevsky Prospekt | Leningrad, USSR, 1975

Melvar Melkumyan | Moscow, USSR, 1983

Leningrad, USSR, 1977

 | Asya and her dog Marta | Leningrad, USSR, 1980

Toy store «Detsky Mir» | Dzerzhinsky Square, Moscow, USSR, 1983

Leningrad, USSR, 1981

Melvar Melkumyan, | Moscow, USSR, 1979

Leningrad, USSR, 1976

Marta | Leningrad, USSR, 1978

Village near Lake Sevan, Armenia, 1976

Leningrad, USSR, 1978

Stalin | Leningrad, USSR, 1978

[via Radio Free Europe; lead image: a self-portrait of Masha Ivashintsova]

from -Hacking Photography, One Picture At A Time

O.J. Simpson Finally Revealed How He Would Have Committed The Murders He Totally Didn’t Commit

oj simpson parole hearing

Getty Image

If you watched the first season of American Crime Story, the 30 For 30 documenting the events that inspired it, or were old enough to actually remember watching O.J. Simpson lead seemingly every single law enforcement officer in Los Angeles on a slow-speed highway chase in a white Ford Bronco, then you’re undoubtedly familiar with the technically unsolved murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.

Simpson visited seemingly every single golf course in America on the hunt for whoever was responsible for the killings after he was acquitted in 1995 until karma did everyone a favor 12 years later when he was arrested for armed robbery and kidnapping in an ill-fated sports memorabilia exchange in a Las Vegas hotel room. An LAPD officer theorized Simpson would admit to the killings after he was released from prison, but the finally-convicted felon hasn’t come clean since being released on parole last summer.

However, Fox recently reminded everyone that Simpson basically confessed over a decade ago when they announced they’d be airing an interview he conducted prior to the release of the eventually unreleased If I Did It, a book that laid out how he would have pulled off the double murder if he had, in fact, played a role. They aired the footage last night in a truly bizarre special that really only leads to one conclusion: he definitely did that shit.

Uproxx compiled some of the most damning clips, including one in which he hypothetically describes getting hypothetically ready with a hypothetical accomplice named “Charlie”:

He also talked about blacking out before coming back to his senses covered in blood in a clip that ends with him laughing hysterically for no apparent reason:

At some point in the interview, God realized it would be a good idea to stop letting Simpson say the word “hypothetically,” and he had essentially confessed to the killings by the time it came to the end:

If it makes you feel any less gross, the Brown and Goldman families— who were awarded millions of dollars in (largely unpaid) damages in a civil suit— were consulted before the interview was aired and gave the network their blessing. They might never get the entire truth, but this has to count for something.


MIT embarks on ambitious plan to build nuclear fusion plant by 2033


MIT announced yesterday that it and Commonwealth Fusion Systems — an MIT spinoff — are working on a project that aims to make harvesting energy from nuclear fusion a reality within the next 15 years. The ultimate goal is to develop a 200-megawatt power plant. MIT also announced that Italian energy firm ENI has invested $50 million towards the project, $30 million of which will be applied to research and development at MIT over the next three years.

Nuclear fusion offers quite a few benefits over other energy production methods, including nuclear fission. Nuclear fusion stands to be more efficient, cleaner and safer than other methods, but it has been rather hard to put into action. The process generates incredibly high temperatures and requires a lot of energy input — an amount that has outweighed outputs so far — and those issues have prevented nuclear fusion from becoming a viable energy source to date.

The extremely high temperatures require that magnetic fields, rather than solid materials, confine the hot plasma in which the fusion reactions take place. MIT and CFS plan to use newly available superconducting materials to develop large electromagnets that can produce fields four-times stronger than any being used now. The stronger magnetic fields will allow for more power to be generated resulting in, importantly, positive net energy. The method will hopefully allow for cheaper and smaller reactors. The research team aims to develop a prototype reactor within the next 10 years, followed by a 200-megawatt pilot power plant. "If MIT can do what they are saying — and I have no reason to think that they can’t — this is a major step forward," Stephen Dean, head of Maryland-based advocacy group Fusion Power Associates, told Nature.

The team sees their work as being complementary to what will take place at the ITER tokamak fusion reactor currently being built in France. That project has attracted a lot of attention and funding, but it has also gone way over budget and has hit a few delays. It reached its construction halfway point last year — after beginning in 2013 — and those behind it are aiming to starting running experiments in the facility by 2025.

"This is an important historical moment: Advances in superconducting magnets have put fusion energy potentially within reach, offering the prospect of a safe, carbon-free energy future," MIT President Rafael Reif said in a statement. "As humanity confronts the rising risks of climate disruption, I am thrilled that MIT is joining with industrial allies, both longstanding and new, to run full-speed toward this transformative vision for our shared future on Earth."

Via: Gizmodo

Source: MIT

from Engadget

HBO Released A Star-Studded Trailer For The ‘Andre The Giant’ Documentary

andre the giant documentary trailer hbo


André the Giant might not be the most creative stage name in the history of professional wrestling, but it might be one of the most iconic. The 7′ 4″ Frenchman played a major role in putting what would eventually become the WWE on the map and was the first company member to cross over into the mainstream thanks to his performance in The Princess Bride— widely regarded as the second-best movie starring a professional wrestler behind John Cena’s The Marine.  

Last year, HBO revealed they were giving Bill Simmons a shot at redemption after cancelling his virtually unwatched talk show Any Given Wednesday when they announced he would be producing an Andre the Giant documentary. The network previously put out a trailer promising a film in the vein of the 30 For 30 series Simmons created while working at ESPN, and with a month to go until it premieres, they’ve released a second one filled with a number of celebrities who got to know Andre over the course of his sadly shortened life.

The last trailer promised interviews with Hulk Hogan and Billy Crystal, and it appears plenty of other former coworkers and co-stars will make an appearance in the film— including Rob Reiner, Robin Wright, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s going to be hard for any of them to top the anecdotes that Ric Flair shared about Andre’s ungodly drinking abilities, but it looks like this is shaping up to be the definitive documentary about the wrestler’s life.

Andre the Giant is slated to air at 7 PM on April 10.


This is what your smartphone is doing to your brain — and it isn’t good


Dopamine versus serotonin top image

  • Scientists aren’t sure if technology is destroying our brains, but they’re pretty confident it’s addictive and can lead to depression.
  • It’s also slowing down our thinking processes.
  • And some tasks are better done off the phone, research suggests.
  • This is an installment of Business Insider’s "Your Brain on Apps" series that investigates how addictive apps can influence behavior.

All day long, we’re inundated by interruptions and alerts from our devices. Smartphones buzz to wake us up, emails stream into our inboxes, notifications from coworkers and far away friends bubble up on our screens, and "assistants" chime in with their own soulless voices.

Such interruptions seem logical to our minds: we want technology to help with our busy lives, ensuring we don’t miss important appointments and communications. 

But our bodies have a different view: These constant alerts jolt our stress hormones into action, igniting our flight or flight response; our heartbeats quicken, our breathing tightens, our sweat glands burst open, and our muscles contract. That response is intended to help us outrun danger, not answer a call or text from a colleague.

We are simply not built to live like this. 

woman phone smartphoneOur apps are taking advantage of our hard-wired needs for security and social interaction and researchers are starting to see how terrible this is for us. A full 89% of college students now report feeling "phantom" phone vibrations, imagining their phone is summoning them to attention when it hasn’t actually buzzed. 

Another 86% of Americans say they check their email and social media accounts "constantly," and that it’s really stressing them out. 

Endocrinologist Robert Lustig tells Business Insider that notifications from our phones are training our brains to be in a nearly constant state of stress and fear by establishing a stress-fear memory pathway. And such a state means that the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brains that normally deals with some of our highest-order cognitive functioning, goes completely haywire, and basically shuts down.

"You end up doing stupid things," Lustig says. "And those stupid things tend to get you in trouble." 

Your brain can only do one thing at a time

Scientists have known for years what people often won’t admit to themselves: humans can’t really multi-task. This is true for almost all of us: about 97.5% of the population. The other 2.5% have freakish abilities; scientists call them "super taskers," because they can actually successfully do more than one thing at once. They can drive while talking on the phone, without compromising their ability to gab or shift gears.

How dopamine and serotonin circulate differently in the brainBut since only about 1 in 50 people are super taskers, the rest of us mere mortals are really only focusing on just one thing at a time. That means every time we pause to answer a new notification or get an alert from a different app on our phone, we’re being interrupted, and with that interruption we pay a price: something called a "switch cost."

Sometimes the switch from one task to another costs us only a few tenths of a second, but in a day of flip-flopping between ideas, conversations, and transactions on a phone or computer, our switch costs can really add up, and make us more error-prone, too. Psychologist David Meyer who’s studied this effect estimates that shifting between tasks can use up as much as 40% of our otherwise productive brain time.

Every time we switch tasks, we’re also shooting ourselves up with a dose of the stress hormone cortisol, Lustig says. The switching puts our thoughtful, reasoning prefrontal cortex to sleep, and kicks up dopamine, our brain’s addiction chemical.

In other words, the stress that we build up by trying to do many things at once when we really can’t is making us sick, and causing us to crave even more interruptions, spiking dopamine, which perpetuates the cycle.

More phone time, lazier brain 

Our brains can only process so much information at a time, about 60 bits per second.

The more tasks we have to do, the more we have to choose how we want to use our precious brain power. So its understandable that we might want to pass some of our extra workload to our phones or digital assistants.

But there is some evidence that delegating thinking tasks to our devices could not only be making our brains sicker, but lazier too.

The combination of socializing and using our smartphones could be putting a huge tax on our brains.

Researchers have found smarter, more analytical thinkers are less active on their smartphone search engines than other people. That doesn’t mean that using your phone for searching causes you to be "dumber," it could just be that these smarties are searching less because they know more. But the link between less analytical thinking and more smartphone scrolling is there.  

We also know that reading up on new information on your phone can be a terrible way to learn. Researchers have shown that people who take in complex information from a book, instead of on a screen, develop deeper comprehension, and engage in more conceptual thinking, too.

Brand new research on dozens of smartphone users in Switzerland also suggests that staring at our screens could be making both our brains and our fingers more jittery.

In research published this month, psychologists and computer scientists have found an unusual and potentially troubling connection: the more tapping, clicking and social media posting and scrolling people do, the "noisier" their brain signals become. That finding took the researchers by surprise. Usually, when we do something more often, we get better, faster and more efficient at the task. 

But the researchers think there’s something different going on when we engage in social media: the combination of socializing and using our smartphones could be putting a huge tax on our brains.

Social behavior, "may require more resources at the same time," study author Arko Ghosh said, from our brains to our fingers. And that’s scary stuff.

Driving texting smartphone

Should being on your phone in public be taboo?

Despite these troubling findings, scientists aren’t saying that enjoying your favorite apps is automatically destructive. But we do know that certain types of usage seem especially damaging.

Checking Facebook has been proven to make young adults depressed. Researchers who’ve studied college students’ emotional well-being find a direct link: the more often people check Facebook, the more miserable they are. But the incessant, misery-inducing phone checking doesn’t just stop there. Games like Pokemon GO or apps like Twitter can be addictive, and will leave your brain craving another hit.

Teens TextingAddictive apps are built to give your brain rewards, a spike of pleasure when someone likes your photo or comments on your post. Like gambling, they do it on an unpredictable schedule. That’s called a "variable ratio schedule"and its something the human brain goes crazy for.

This technique isn’t just used by social media, it’s all over the internet. Airline fares that drop at the click of a mouse. Overstocked sofas that are there one minute and gone the next. Facebook notifications that change based on where our friends are and what they’re talking about. We’ve gotta have it all, we’ve gotta have more, and we’ve gotta have it now. We’re scratching addictive itches all over our screens.

Lustig says that even these kinds of apps aren’t inherently evil. They only become a problem when they are given free reign to interrupt us, tugging at our brains’ desire for tempting treats, tricking our brains into always wanting more.

"I’m not anti technology per se," he counters. "I’m anti variable-reward technology. Because that’s designed very specifically to make you keep looking."

Lustig says he wants to change this by drawing boundaries around socially acceptable smartphone use. If we can make a smartphone addiction taboo (like smoking inside buildings, for example), people will at least have to sanction their phone time off to delegated places and times, giving their brains a break.

"My hope is that we will come to a point where you can’t pull your cell phone out in public," Lustig says.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This indoor farm in New Jersey can grow 365 days a year and uses 95% less water than a typical farm

from SAI

Scientists found a new type of water in diamonds, holy crap


Scientists found a new type of water in diamonds, holy crap

Image: Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Scientists have found a new type of water known as Ice-VII from diamonds deep in the Earth’s crust. This type of ice is about 1.5 times as dense as what we’re used to (Ice I), with a different atomic composition similar to what’s most commonly found on ice moons orbiting Jupiter or Saturn.

As the name implies, there are several types of ice that distinguish our common variety of frozen water from Ice-VII, each more dense than the last. Ice-VII has been compressed, with oxygen atoms in a cubic structure as opposed to the hexagonal structure of Ice-I. The necessary pressure to create it can be found on Earth, but our planet is mostly too warm to form Ice-VII, let alone keep it stable. 

Diamonds can form up to 400 miles beneath the Earth’s surface, but materials trapped within them don’t always survive up to the surface.

“Usually the extremely deep minerals that come up to the surface are not stable once they experience low pressures,” mineralogist George Rossman told the Los Angeles Times. “They crack and whatever inclusions they had in them are lost. But if a diamond comes up fast enough, it doesn’t change.”

The scientists in question were looking for a rare kind of carbon dioxide when they discovered this first instance of Ice-VII on Earth. Other known sites of its existence are Jupiter’s moon Europa, and Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus.

from Mashable!

John Oliver launches into hilarious 25-minute cryptocurrency rant



Bitcoin has been in the news so much over the past few months that you’d be hard-pushed not to have heard about it by now.

Understanding it is a different thing altogether, though.

Well, fear not: John Oliver’s got you covered. In the clip above from Last Week Tonight, Oliver explains everything from Bitcoin to Blockchain.

The best bit? The whole segment about BitConnect and one very, very passionate employee. Read more…

More about Bitcoin, John Oliver, Last Week Tonight, Cryptocurrency, and Entertainment

from Mashable!