Jul. 20th, 2017 10:04 pm
[syndicated profile] dailykitten_feed

Posted by Tom "The Kittenmaster" Cooper

Please join me in putting paws in the air for today’s Star Kit, Dorian. She is an 8 week old Blue Russian from Edinburgh, Scotland.


Hello everyone, I have just adopt Dorian an amazing male Blue Russian kitten. I have him since 2 days now and is still on the “hiding & crying” mood. Hopefully soon will get used to the new environment and me 🙂


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Study finds gene variant increases risk for depressionA University of Central Florida study has found that a gene variant, thought to be carried by nearly 25 percent of the population, increases the odds of developing depression. People with apolipoprotein-E4, called ApoE4 for ... Read more

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In 1928, physicist Paul Dirac made the stunning prediction that every fundamental particle in the universe has an antiparticle – its identical twin but with opposite charge. When particle and antiparticle met they would be ... Read more

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HSE researchers examined the structure of online communities of Russian AIDS denialists – people who deny the reality of HIV and AIDS – and the manner in which they spread their ideas. The findings are ... Read more

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Tycho: We always offer a space for especially for indies with the PAX 10 - our cadre of experts selects their favorites from the submitted titles, and the chosen games get free booth space at the show.  We’re proud to announce the list!  Here is the link to the official page, but they are also right here!  Use whichever links you want.  They all go to the same places! Antihero by Tim Conkling Celeste by Matt Makes Games Inc. Cosmo’s Quickstop by Big Sir Games Keyboard Sports by Triband No Heroes Here by Mad Mimic Interactive Ship It by Think On Labs (First VR Game…
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Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "The Mysteries of SPACE" - originally published 7/19/2017

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

So Much Love for You

Jul. 20th, 2017 08:32 am
[syndicated profile] ittybittykitty_feed

Posted by Laurie Cinotto


 Well, THAT was amazing!

There's still a tiny bit trickling, so the total will rise just a wee bit, but get this, my dear friends, team IBKC raised $144, 284 this year!  This brings our all-time grand fundraising total to $894,005!  I was having a hard time wrapping my brain around all of this last night, so I added, and added again, and again, and again, and I kept getting the same numbers, so this must be right!

You all must be so exhausted after giving so much!!!

It truly is remarkable the way you give. I talk about this Community of ours all the time, and people are always impressed by you. Friends I have who work in the world of fundraising can hardly believe that you exist! You are such a rare, beautiful gem.

I appreciate your donations so much, and I am so happy to place this $144,284 in the capable hands of our Humane Society.  They will put it to good use, and so many cats and kittens will benefit from your generosity.

But your gifts are not just a monetary amount -- it goes way beyond that.

These gifts make our hard-working shelter staff and volunteers feel supported and appreciated. This work isn't easy on the soul.  Your donations illustrate that there is great value in the work they are doing. It lifts them.

You are putting something very positive into the world.  There are a whole lot of people who prefer being negative -- offering no solutions -- just criticism and complaints. You recognize there's a problem and know you can do something to help. You take action  -- you give.

Watching you give inspires other to do the same  -- to our shelter, and to other rescues. Your giving is contagious.

And personally, your gifts impact me profoundly.  Can you imagine how good it feels to have so many lovely people, most of whom you've never met in real life,  supporting you in this way?  I am so grateful for all of the love you show me -- not just during our fundraiser, but year 'round.

So, thank you for all of this.  I appreciate you big-hearted kitten lovers so much.  You are what's right in this world -- you are positive, you are good, you are inspiring.  Thank you for making this happen, dear Community.  We love you.

I'm far from done thanking you. I've got so many individuals that I need to give a "shout-out" to -- I'll be sharing that tomorrow. The list is long so it's going to take some time to put that together!

Thank you, beautiful friends.  You are amazing. You made something huge happen.
[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

Just over two years ago, the New Horizons spacecraft provided humanity with its first close-up photos of Pluto in history.

These images changed the way we see the icy world forever. What we learned was staggering. It has vast, smooth regions on its surface indicating they’re geologically young; mountains as tall as the Rockies but made entirely of water ice; strong implications of liquid water under its surface despite the bone-shattering cold temperatures on the surface.

The close encounter lasted only a few hours, because you have a choice: Get to Pluto in less than a lifetime, or spend more time there. Pluto is so far away that even New Horizons, barreling across the solar system at 14 kilometers every second, still took nearly a decade to get there. It was traveling so rapidly that the visit was short.


But, despite the rapid flyby, there’s an advantage to moving faster than a speeding bullet: There are other targets out there in the inky depths of the outer solar system, and if you plan things right, you might just get to see them, too.

Even before the Pluto encounter, astronomers started trolling that region of space to look for another suitable target. They found one: 2014 MU69, an icy chunk of debris likely at most 20 – 40 kilometers across. It orbits far, far past Neptune, 6.5 billion kilometers from the Sun. It’s part of the Kuiper Belt, a rag-tag collection of material left over from the formation of the solar system, itself. If you don’t count Pluto (and I do), the first Kuiper Belt Object seen was only in 1992, and we now know of thousands.

But they’re so far away and so small that it’s hard to know what they’re like in detail. And that’s why MU69 is so important. New Horizons will show it to us up close for the first time.

The plan is for the spacecraft to fly within 10,000 km of MU69 on January 1, 2019. Maybe closer. But, to do that, we need to know more about it. How big is it? What shape is it? Is there anything else around it that could interfere with the flyby, like moons, rings, or debris?

These things are difficult to determine, but astronomers got a big clue this week due to geometry. In this case, the stars literally aligned.

Well, the Earth, MU69, and a star aligned. On July 17, 2017, from certain points on Earth, MU69 appeared to pass directly in front of a faint star. Astronomers call this kind of event an occultation, and when it happens, the star’s light is blocked, and it seems to momentarily disappear! In a sense, in this case, we’re in the shadow of MU69.

The occultation provides critical information: Because we know how fast MU69 is moving across the sky, the length of time the star blinks out tells us the width of MU69.

But there’s more. If you observe the occultation from different locations, you see different parts of MU69 passing in front of the star. If it’s a perfect sphere, then some locations will see a shorter occultation because the star cuts a chord behind it, not the full diameter. In fact, the shape, itself, can be determined by how long the occultation lasts at different positions on Earth.

map of occultation

Map showing the path of the shadow of 2014 MU69 across the Earth. Credit: SwRI

So, New Horizons scientists dispatched telescopes to South America, where the shadow of MU69 was determined to fall across the Earth. In all, a couple of dozen small (40 cm) ‘scopes were deployed, equipped with cameras to record the event.

And…. They caught it! At least five telescopes saw the star blink out. That, too, is very useful: If a ‘scope didn’t see it, then that provides an upper limit to the size of MU69 as well. The entire occultation lasted less than two seconds, too, so timing and location were everything, here.

animation of occultation

Animation of the star blinking out as MU69 passed in front of it. This is actual data from the event; the time between frames is 0.2 seconds. Credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI / Emily Lakdawalla


The data are still being processed, and we should have some numbers soon. I’ll note that there were two predicted occultations of two different stars before July 17, but nothing was seen. That means MU69 is probably smaller than previously thought, which, in turn, means it might be more reflective — if we know the distance and how bright it is, then its size depends on how shiny it is. A darker object would have to be bigger to look brighter, so even this non-detection tells us more about it.

My friend and super-solar-system-science communicator Emily Lakdawalla has more about the efforts to record this event. She also wrote a nice piece on what we knew about MU69 from a couple of years back, too.

I can’t stress enough just how difficult this sort of event is to plan! MU69 was only discovered in 2014 using Hubble images. It has a visual magnitude of 27 — that means the faintest star you can see with your unaided eye is 250 million times brighter! Then, using those images, the team had to calculate an orbit for it, and do so with such precision that they could extrapolate where it would be over the next year or two and see if it would pass in front of any stars. Then, they had to plan the logistics of all that travel, coordinating the mission and making sure the data were recorded. Yet, as difficult as all that was, they were able to do it so well and with such accurate timing that several of the telescopes did in fact see the star blink out.

Mind you, MU69 is far, far too faint to even see with the telescopes used. So, the astronomers had to keep taking data and hope.

And it paid off. Now, armed with more data, they’ll be able to plan the upcoming encounter with a little more confidence. As for what we’ll actually see when New Horizons gets to MU69, well, no one really knows.

If we did, it wouldn’t be exploration now, would it? But in less than 17 months, we’ll find out.


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Ethereum Hacks

Jul. 20th, 2017 02:12 pm
[syndicated profile] bruce_schneier_feed

Posted by Bruce Schneier

The press is reporting a $32M theft of the cryptocurrency Ethereum. Like all such thefts, they're not a result of a cryptographic failure in the currencies, but instead a software vulnerability in the software surrounding the currency -- in this case, digital wallets.

This is the second Ethereum hack this week. The first tricked people in sending their Ethereum to another address.

This is my concern about digital cash. The cryptography can be bulletproof, but the computer security will always be an issue.

Issue 64

Jul. 20th, 2017 12:00 am
[syndicated profile] haskell_weekly_feed

Posted by Haskell Weekly

Welcome to another issue of Haskell Weekly! Haskell is a purely functional programming language that focuses on correctness, productivity, and expressiveness. This is a weekly summary of what’s going on in its community.


  • Announcing: the new unliftio library

    For the past few years, Francesco Mazzoli and I have discussed issues around monad transformers — and the need to run their actions in IO — on a fairly regular basis. I wrote the monad-unlift library a while ago to try and address these concerns.

  • Type safe dimensional analysis in Haskell

    Years ago my colleague Gustavo asked how I would represent physical units like m/s or kg*m/s^2 as types so the compiler can check that they match up and cancel correctly. F# supports this natively, but it felt weird to have it baked into the type system.

  • Morgan Stanley open source: hobbes

    Over the last few years, I have been developing hobbes — a programming language, JIT compiler, and database system — as part of my work for Morgan Stanley. It has become a critical piece of infrastructure in our low-latency, high-volume trading applications.

  • NStack is hiring Haskellers in London (onsite/remote) (ad)

    NStack lets data scientists and analysts to do sophisticated data work in the cloud without a team of engineers. Come help us build the platform for composable, data-driven microservices, using a mixture of Haskell and Linux systems tech. Reply via the link or email

  • Demystifying Haskell assignment

    This post clarifies the distinction between <- and = in Haskell, which sometimes mystifies newcomers to the language. Most languages use only one symbol to assign values (such as = or :=), so why does Haskell use two?

  • Moving beyond types

    If you look at the original property-based testing library, QuickCheck, tests are very closely tied to types: The way you typically specify a property is by inferring the data that needs to be generated from the types the test function expects for its arguments. This is a bad idea.

  • Get started with sending SMS in Haskell

    Functional programming languages are gaining in popularity so let’s hop on that Haskell bandwagon. With Haskell, you can write clean, concise, and expressive code.

  • A modest scraping proposal

    Our platonic ideal of a Haskell library is something that exports a single, coherent concept in such a way that it never needs to be reimplemented. This is not that: scraping is a dirty, error-prone, highly contingent endeavor.

  • State machine testing with Hedgehog

    This is a really nice way to specify and test effectful systems. It’s much more effective than example-testing with canned action sequences. There’s also a lot of potential for test reuse: anything implementing the same interface can use the same property.

  • The world’s fastest extensible effects framework

    I uploaded a new version of monad-skeleton-0.1.4, an operational monad library. As a result of performance optimization in the new version, extensible, the extensible effects library based on it, is now much faster than the other well-known libraries.

  • Free monad cheatsheet

    The free monad allows you to build your own custom monad. This lets you use the do notation for whatever you want. I find that a lot of the tutorials on the Free monad have too much build-up, and it’s hard to figure out what the code should actually be at the end.

Package of the week

This week’s package of the week is language-ninja, a library for dealing with the Ninja build language.

Call for participation

Do you have a beginner-friendly issue you want some help with? Email to get it included here!

In brief

TressFX 4 Simulation Changes

Jul. 20th, 2017 02:11 pm
[syndicated profile] gpuopen_feed

Posted by Rys Sommefeldt

TressFX 4 introduces a number of improvements. This blog post focuses on three of these, all of which are tied to simulation:

  • Bone-based skinning
  • Signed distance field collisions
  • Sudden shock handling

We’ve also have a couple of bonuses in the sample code.  Although not directly part of TressFX, you may find them useful.  They are:

  • Compute-based skinning
  • Marching cubes

Bone-based Skinning

TressFX 3 introduced fur support, which essentially means that each hair root can move with the underlying skinned mesh.  This was done by streaming out post-skinned triangles, then using those triangles to compute transforms for root hairs.  This method is great in that it’s pretty general – it doesn’t matter how the vertices were skinned, and it could also handle blend shapes for example.  The drawback is that it relied on knowing which triangle controlled which hair, which was assigned during export of the hairs from Maya®.  If the mesh changed or reordered, or split differently due to material assignments, the hair indices would need to be remapped as well.  There was also a fair amount of runtime cost associated with deriving transforms from the triangles for use on the hair.

In TressFX 4, we switched to a more direct skinning model, as was used in Monster Hunter Online.  When exporting the hair, you select the mesh as before, but instead of exporting a list of triangle assignments you are exporting bone indices and weights for each hair root.  Additionally, there is a table of bone names so they can be easily remapped to the engine’s bone indexing.

Signed Distance Field (SDF) Collisions

Dynamic signed distance field generation enables high fidelity collision response.

Our biggest feature addition for simulation is the introduction of a dynamic signed distance field collision system.  This enables high-fidelity collision with dynamically animated, skinned meshes.

The included demo generates three signed distance fields – one for the body, and one for each hand of our skinned character.  Breaking it up this way allows us to focus resolution where needed. We wanted to show response to individual fingers, for example.  Each signed distance field is updated every frame.

Sudden Shock Handling (SSH)

SSH is another new feature in TressFX 4. The main purpose of this is to handle fast moving animations. When the character changes its speed or direction, it generates a high acceleration and consequently a big external force. Since TressFX hair simulation uses an iteration-based constraint solver, when a high acceleration gets applied, hair can easily lose its physically-correct shapes and shows unpleasant elongation.

Sudden shock handling mitigates these issues by propagating acceleration from the root of the hair to the tip according to a weighting factor.  The weighting factor varies between zero and one.  At one, the fur will move completely rigidly – thus giving an alternative to full simulation for a form of simulation level of detail.  In addition to the weight, there’s a threshold setting to only enable it under fast motion.

Fast motion can cause stretching. Sudden shock handling handles these situations better, as well as providing a form of simulation level of detail (LOD)


The sample code includes a few extra tidbits as well.  One is a compute-based skinning system, including a Maya exporter that will export mesh geometry, along with skinning weights.  We used this to skin the mesh that serves as input to the signed-distance field system.

To help visualise the signed distance field, we have also included a compute-based marching cubes visualisation system.


We’ve covered quite a bit of the changes to simulation in TressFX 4, from changes to existing approaches (bone-based skinning), new features (SDF collisions and sudden shock propagation), and some related bits in the sample code (compute-based skinning and marching cubes).  There’s still quite a bit more we’ve changed and added that we hope to cover in later posts.


Rys Sommefeldt looks after the Game Engineering group in Europe, which is part of the Radeon Technologies Group at AMD. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

The post TressFX 4 Simulation Changes appeared first on GPUOpen.

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The discovery that the brain can generate new cells – about 700 new neurons each day – has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan ... Read more

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For more than a decade, people have used social media to express themselves and inform and engage users across the globe. Now, a new study by Florida State University researchers examines the impact rising temperatures ... Read more

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Dogs’ ability to communicate and interact with humans is one the most astonishing differences between them and their wild cousins, wolves. A new study published today in the journal Science Advances identifies genetic changes that ... Read more

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Several studies have reported associations between proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) use and dementia. New research published on July 18 in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), puts these claims to rest. The ... Read more

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A study by researchers from Loma Linda University School of Public Health and the Czech Republic has found that timing and frequency of meals play a role in predicting weight loss or gain. Using information ... Read more

How to have a big, healthy brain

Jul. 20th, 2017 12:49 pm
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What’s good for the heart is also good for the brain. Individuals who had better cardiovascular health in young adulthood had larger brain volume and less abnormal brain tissue (relative to their total head size) ... Read more

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“War for the Planet of the Apes,” the latest movie in the enduring “Planet of the Apes” franchise, took the top spot at the box office on its opening weekend and is one of the ... Read more

Dirty-Minded Decorators

Jul. 20th, 2017 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Jen

Aw, look at the sweet cake for Sarah-Maude's second birthday:



Although, those balloons look a little odd, don't they? Let's take a closer look...

[eyes bulging] Great Scott! Hide the children!!

And I KNOW you see what I see, people, so don't even try to accuse me of having my mind in the gutter. It's the Fireman cake all over again.

Eric N., thank goodness this was for a safely oblivious 2-year-old. Still, given how obvious those balloons are, I'm pretty sure I'd steer clear of this bakery in the future. Unless it was for a bachelorette party, of course.


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