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March 26, 2019

First AI-generated artwork offered by a major auction house


From the Financial Times' "How to Spend It": "Last October, an ink-on-canvas portrait created using artificial intelligence was sold at Christie's New York. It was the first AI-generated artwork to be offered by a major auction house. The estimate was $7,000-$10,000. It went for $432,500."

Above, "Edmond de Belamy" by Obvious, the above-cited work.

Can the French collective Obvious paint one for you?

This Financial Times story is a good introduction to the brave new world of AI art.

March 26, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

First helicopter flight on Mars to take place next year

From geek.com:


NASA Will Send a Helicopter to Mars with 2020 Mission

NASA's Mars Helicopter, a small autonomous rotorcraft, will demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet.

Mars has welcomed rovers, landers, and orbiters, but it has never played host to a flying machine.

That will soon change.

When NASA's Mars 2020 Rover lands on the Red Planet, it will be carrying the Mars Helicopter, which — if successful — will be the first heavier-than-air vehicle to fly within Mars' thin atmosphere.

The small helicopter will enable scientists to remotely explore regions of the planet's surface far from its mothership's landing site, according to NASA.

It will be sent to Mars as a technology demonstrator, which means if it doesn't work, the Mars 2020 mission will still succeed.

"The Mars Helicopter's initial flight will represent that planet's version of the Wright Brothers’ achievement at Kitty Hawk and the opening of a new era," Susan Gorton, NASA's manager for the Revolutionary Vertical Lift Technology (RVLT) project, said. "For those of us whose research revolves around all things related to flight, that would be a remarkable, historic moment."

Considering the Martian atmosphere, the Mars Helicopter design team faces a number of daunting challenges.

At the surface where the Mars 2020 rover is targeted to land, the atmospheric pressure is equivalent to about 100,000 feet above the Earth's surface, NASA said.

No helicopter has ever reached even half that distance above Earth.


NASA engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are designing a Mars Helicopter that will be able to fly as high as about 15 feet above the Red Planet thanks to its two sets of rotor blades — each four feet long, tip-to-tip — spinning at 2,400 rotations per minute, which is about 10 times faster than an Earth helicopter.

The main helicopter body will also be really small — about the size of a softball — and weigh just under four pounds.

According to NASA, the plan at Mars is to attempt up to five flights, each one flying just a little farther and each lasting up to 90 seconds.

A solar array on the top of the vehicle will recharge the batteries, which will be used both to rotate the blades and to keep the vehicle warm, especially at night.

The helicopter will also be carrying a camera — nearly identical in capability to the average smartphone — to capture images of the Martian surface it flies over for transmission back to Earth.

If the Mars Helicopter works as planned, JPL scientists say future missions to the Red Planet could carry and deploy even more helicopters to extend the scientific reach of the landers they arrived on, by exploring the skies above Mars.

March 26, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

How to use quantum theory to make everyday life simpler/easier/better


This is a new, possibly recurring feature.

I used to have a bunch of them like "Salt & pepper shakers" but for whatever reason, with the exception of "BehindTheMedspeak," they've gone by the wayside.

But I digress.

You know how Ziploc bags sometimes seem sealed no matter which end you move the slider to?

Move it to the center: one or the other side will be unsealed.

It's an entangled particle-type thing: if one is one thing, the other has to be the other.

Everything's either-or, black or white, 0 or 1 in a binary world.

March 26, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kochia Hill, ablaze with red cypress


From Atlas Obscura:


The scrubby little kochia plants, otherwise known as summer cypress, are not much to look at for most of the year (below),


but at the end of the wet season they take on an extraordinary brilliant red color, lending them the name "Burning bush."


In Hitachinaka City at the Hitachi Seaside Park, a vast stretch of rolling hills is jam-packed with the vivid crimson bushes that sway with the breeze, with whimsical Oz-like roads winding throughout.

Outside of the park, kochia is more often gathered for the more mundane purpose of making brooms, but the park takes advantage of how spectacular it can be when planted in such abundance.

The park's gentle slopes are full of flowering plants year round, often in enormous, monochromatic displays, and also famous for its blue nemophilas, flowers with transparent blue petals.

Overlooking it all is a looming ferris wheel.

If You Go

To get to the park from Tokyo, take the JR Joban Line super express "Hitachi" to Katsuta Station. From Katsuta Station, take the local bus from bus stop #1 and get off at Kaihin-Koen-Nishiguchi. Note: Japan's wet season lasts from the beginning of June to mid-July, so if planning to see the kochi plants in bloom, make sure to plan your trip accordingly.

March 26, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

What is it?

Nice try

Answer here this time tomorrow.

Hint: bigger than a bread box.

Another: Made in Denmark.

A third: wood.

March 26, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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