Sunday Pot-pourri #2

Every Sunday I publish a pot-pourri of interesting things I came accross in the past week plus some suggested material.

  • Reading #1: Artificial intelligence (more specifically, deep learning) is now able to automatically translate not i) rare and ii) previously unknown languages. It is an astonishing feat because deep learning techniques usually need i) loads of data, and ii) previous examples to yield good results. A caveat though is that this new technique needs prior knowledge of the progenitor language. Future AI research in this area will probably focus on rare and unknown languages from unknown progenitors. More here.
  • Reading #2: “To see the world in a grain of sand and ..”, wait William! how much sand is there on earth? Surely we must know since glasses and chips are all around us, right? It turns out that no-one knows how much there is or how much is being mined. And this is a problem: we need sustainable sand extraction. More in this Nature comment.
  • Reading #3: I thought I knew what stretching was and why I was doing it … until I read this eye-opener: Stretching has almost no measurable benefits.
  • Lecture: A great lecture about Marcus Aurelius and the meaning of stoicism (before it was cool.) Lots of insights. No eye candies. No fluff.
  • Music: I’ve recently watched the excellent film-documentary Maria by Callas. Naturally, the music of the week is her wonderful interpretation of Bellini’s Casta Diva aria (from Norma.)
  • Cooking: Salmon & Vegetables in (cast-iron) skillet. Warm up your skillet to medium to medium-high heat (or use your oven if you feel like it); coat it with olive oil; then add the salmon fillets. Resist the temptation to move them around. After about 5 minutes, arrange the vegetables (your choice) around the salmon. Sprinkle with sea salt, and black pepper. Add rosemary at the end if you like. Eat with rice on the side. Simple and nutritious.
  • Video: an inspiring artistic vision of humanity’s expansion into the Solar System

Previous Pot-pourri

Sunday pot-pourri #1

Every Sunday I publish a pot-pourri of interesting things I came accross in the past week plus some suggested material.

  • Reading #1: Ever wondered why Roman concrete structures are still standing even when battered by sea waves for 2,000 years while modern constructions erode over few decades? It has been discovered recently that the secret lies in the incorporation of volcanic ash. But the original recipe remains unkown. Roman Concrete.
  • Reading #2: What is Data science? The Harvard Data Science Review aims at defining and shaping what it is or what it should be … by listing what it is not. Data Science: An Artificial Ecosystem.
  • Reading #3: The pre-Islamic history of Arabia is mysterious, fascinating, and … almost completely unknown. But things are changing fast. A New History of Arabia, Written in Stone.
  • Figure: The World fertility rate is expected to converge to about 2 (i.e., around a zero population growth rate) by 2100.
  • Video: An ode to design, architecture, and photograhy

Next Pot-pourri