A camera lens made from 32000 drinking straws

Artists Mick Farrell and Cliff Hayne have worked together to create a camera lens made from 32000 drinking straws, which produce an effect similar to what you would expect a bee sees. The specs of the lens are actually quite good too:

Haynes explains that the straws have a ‘raw’ f stop, where a 254mm long, 22mm wide straw gives an aperture of about f127, which they used as a starting point for exposure. each straw has its own density and hue, and the analogue creation gives a straight indexical rendering of whatever is placed directly in front of it.

Source: straw camera is an analogue lens made from 32000 drinking straws

Love makes you smarter, while sex makes you more logical

Love can actually make you a better person, able to easily tell emotions and improving your creative state, while sex improves your thinking in the here and now, as Nautilus writes:

In a 2013 study published in Brain Research using a mouse model, scientists found that sexual interaction between mate pairs had a positive effect on the brain’s ability to recognize things during periods of stress. Sexually experienced mice had increased expression of proteins associated with the development and maintenance of neurons when compared to a control group.

Though sex and love don’t always go hand-in-hand, just thinking about them can improve our cognitive skills. In a 2009 study, psychologists found that people who were primed by thinking about love or sex had an improved ability to complete creative and logical puzzles. In one test, the group had to complete four logic problems and three problems that required creativity. Participants that had been “love primed” performed best at the creative tasks, while the sex primed group proved the best at the logic problems. In a second test, the group had words related to sex or love flashed in front of them before being asked logic questions or questions requiring creative insight. Again, love priming inspired greater creative ability, while sex priming boosted logic. This, believe the authors, is because love makes us think about the future, which requires some measure of imagination and creative thinking. Sex, conversely, grounds us in the here-and-now, making us more able to tackle an immediate problem.

Interesting… maybe I’ve written better in the times when I’ve been in a relationship? I’ll have to check the records to find out.

Malaria draws mosquitoes to infected humans, and vice versa 

Sarah Zhang at the Atlantic writes about an interesting new discovery: The molecule that draws mosquitoes to infected humans, and causes infected mosquitoes to be more hungry for blood, known as HMBPP:

The discovery came by accident. Ingrid Faye, a molecular biologist at Stockholm University, was curious about a particular molecule made by malaria parasites called HMBPP. She wanted to drill into the details of how HMBPP affects mosquito immune systems, but her team ended up noticing some behavior too odd to ignore: The mosquitos—specifically, the species Anopheles gambiae they were studying—would go crazy for human blood with HMBPP. “The difference it made was just astounding,” says Faye. When given a choice between normal human blood and that either laced with the HMBPP or infected with malaria parasites, almost all the mosquitoes went for the latter two.

Source: The Parasite That Lures Mosquitos to Humans – The Atlantic

How to reboot civilisation after an apocalypse 

In this interesting TEDxTalk, science journalist Lewis Dartnell gives a talk on just how we would make sure humanity survives if a large apocalypse were to hit earth. And that’s by preserving knowledge.

I had a conversation with Wayne and some friends about this very same concept and what we would do in this scenario (Assuming that I don’t need shelter from zombies/nuclear fallout .etc). What I said was exactly what is said in this video: I would work to preserve the sum total of human knowledge. I just wish I had the apocalypse Kindle that is in this video to back up my argument.

As for what I would save… that is a tricky question. I’m a man who loves science, so my kneejerk reaction is to save as much science and maths information as possible. But I feel that a lot of our discoveries, while very important, can be done again. We can figure out the planets and their orbits again. We can learn that the Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Calculus can be reinvented.

What I would try and preserve would be things for humanity to survive long enough to rediscover these sciences, like medical textbooks, first aid guides, how to hunt, how to forge metals. I would also try and store as much of human history as I could. I believe that as a species we have done both incredible and horrible things, and that they need to be preserved forever. And of course, a printing press, so that my Kindle is not the only Book of Knowledge to exist.

The fear of eternity 

Bobby Azarian, Science Journalist at the Atlantic, talks about the existential fear of forever (Made into a more compact video above, but I personally like the article):

Woody Allen once said, “Eternity is a very long time, especially toward the end!” Eternity sounds great on the surface, but actually experiencing it may be an entirely different matter. For some people, the very notion of infinity sends chills up the spine. In fact, for many who suffer from “apeirophobia”—a term for the fear of eternity—the thought of an existence that goes on forever amounts to torture.

Not only is eternity an existential terror, but it would also be depressing. For as much of an ultraviolent gore-fest as the Hellsing series is, it gets into the idea of this. Alucard is depressed at the immortal monster he has become, and regrets his choice immensely. Every time I nearly fear death, I think of Alucard and then infinite nothingness doesn’t seem so bad.

I personally believe the best solution to this is made by my favourite existential comedy, Rick and Morty: Don’t think about it.

Donald Trump is Skynet

Cathy O’Neil, Bloomberg:

I think Trump is Skynet, or at least a good dry run. To make my case, I’ll first explain why Trump can be interpreted as an artificial intelligence. Then I’ll explain why the analogy works perfectly for our current dystopia.

Trump is pure id, with no abiding agenda or beliefs, similar to a machine-learning algorithm. It’s a mistake to think he has a strategy, beyond doing what works for him in a strictly narrow sense of what gets him attention.

As a presidential nominee, Trump was widely known for his spirited, rambling and chaotic rallies. His speeches are comparable to random walks in statistics: He’d try something out, see how the crowd reacted, and if it was a success — defined by a strong reaction, not necessarily a positive one — he’d try it again at the next rally, with some added outrage. His goal, like all TV personalities, was to entertain: A bored reaction was worse than grief, which after all gives you free airtime. This is why he could never stick to any script or teleprompter — too boring.

To be honest, sometimes I think an AI would be better at running America then Trump is.