The pubs are finally re-opening here today. Good luck to them, but I think I'll continue to exercise judicious caution for a while longer yet

  • Pluto’s dark side spills its secrets — including hints of a hidden ocean - ”Images of the dwarf planet’s far side are revealing possible signs of liquid water, mysterious shards of ice and new theories for the frigid world’s birth.” An in-depth look at more of the discoveries of New Horizons.

  • The mysterious case of man who can read letters—but not numbers—exposes roots of consciousness - ”He’s holding a plate-size, green foam 8. When upright, it looks to him like an incoherent jumble. But when he rotates it 90°, the shape snaps into focus; it looks like ‘a mask.’ He begins to rotate the numeral back and forth, watching it melt and cohere over and over. He finally hands it to a nearby scientist, saying, ‘You gotta take that away.’” An unfortunate patient’s neurological disorder provides clues to the distinction between cognition and conscious understanding.

  • Big space - Astrophysicist Katie Mack explains the “boundaries” of the universe, or at least our universe: ”Space, as they say, is big. In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979), Douglas Adams elaborates: ‘You may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.’… I wish I could say that astronomers have a better intuitive grasp of all this. We don’t. Brains don’t really work that way.”

  • My Midlife Crisis as a Russian Sailor - Andrea Pitzer follows in the tracks of William Barents: ”Now, 423 years later, we see the long timbers that formed the base of the shelter where Barents and his men spent months praying not to die… Pacing out its dimensions—roughly 36 feet long by 22 feet wide—I walk through the space where the crew huddled in fear as a polar bear rampaged on their roof, trying to claw its way in.”

  • In Social Insects, Researchers Find Hints for Controlling Disease - Tips on social distancing from insect colonies: ”As with humans, fending off disease can be a tall order for social insects — a category that includes termites, ants, and many species of bees and wasps. Insect workers swap fluids and share close quarters. In most species, there is heavy traffic into and out of the nest. Some ant colonies are as populous as New York City.”

  • Did the Soviets Actually Build a Better Space Shuttle? - Been a while since we’ve had a piece about Buran: ”On Nov. 15, 1988, the Buran reusable orbiter, the crowning achievement of the Soviet space program, made its first flight. It would prove to be the Buran's last. But looking back 25 years later, some space experts say the USSR might have built a better shuttle, one that would have laid the groundwork for a new generation of launch vehicles, had it been able to weather the economic storms of the 1990s and the breakup of the Soviet Union.”

  • 1SecondPainting - ”1SecondPainting is a deep neural network trained on thousands of abstract paintings, including a number of pieces by Pollock, Delaunay, and more. This deep understanding of abstract art styles allows it to generate dozens of novel paintings in under a second.” I like the colours in this one

  • The World Carrot Museum - I double-checked the archives and it seems I haven’t previously featured this one: ”The first virtual museum in the world entirely devoted to the history, evolution, science, sociology and art of Carrots. The mission is to educate, inform and amuse visitors through the discovery, collection, preservation, interpretation and exhibition of objects relating to the Carrot. This site provides lots of interesting and useful information about the humble carrot.”

  • Reverse-engineering the adder inside the Intel 8086 - That’s a circuit, not a serpent: ”The magnified view shows how the adder is constructed from 16 stages, one for each bit. The upper row handles the top bits (15-8) and the lower row handles the low bits (7-0)… You might wonder why the 8086 contains both an adder and an ALU (arithmetic-logic unit). The reason is that the adder is used for address calculations, while the ALU is used for data calculations.”

  • Symphonies of Brown and Green – Beautiful British Pre-war British Travel Posters - Old railways posters are always good

Happy invoicing!