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+ - The Presidential Candidate With a Plan to Run the US on 100% Clean Energy

merbs writes: Thus far, no other candidate has said they're going to make climate change their top priority. Martin O'Malley has not only done that, but he has outlined a plan that would enact emissions reductions in line with what scientists say is necessary to slow global climate change—worldwide emissions reductions of 40-70 percent by 2050. He's the only candidate to do that, too. His plan would phase out fossil-fueled power plants altogether, by midcentury.

+ - An AI Learned Magic: Tthe Gathering, Now Creates Thousands of New Cards

merbs writes: Reed Milewicz, a computer science researcher, wowed a major online Magic: The Gathering forum when he posted the results of an experiment to “teach” a weak AI to auto-generate Magic cards. Milewicz had trained a deep, recurrent neural network—a kind of statistical machine learning model designed to emulate the neural networks of animal brains—to "learn" the text of every Magic card currently in existence. Then he had it generate thousands of its own.

He shared a number of the bizarre “cards” his program had come up with, replete with their properly fantastical names (“Shring the Artist,” “Mided Hied Parira's Scepter”) and freshly invented abilities (“fuseback”). Players devoured—and cheered—the results.

+ - Apocalypse Neuro: Why Our Brains Can't Process the Gravest Threats to Humanity

merbs writes: Our brains are unfathomably complex, powerful organs that grant us motor skills, logic, and abstract thought. Brains have bequeathed unto we humans just about every cognitive advantage, it seems, except for one little omission: the ability to adequately process the need for the whole species’ long-term survival. They're miracle workers for the short-term survival of individuals, but the scientific evidence suggests that the human brain flails when it comes to navigating wide-lens, slowly-unfurling crises like climate change.

+ - How to Thrive in the Age of Megadrought

merbs writes: We know how to fight a regular drought. But how do you survive a megadrought? How might civilization persist when the water is short for five, ten, even twenty or thirty years—the sort of hefty timeframes for the rain-strapped spells likely to become more common as we tumble into the Anthropocene? A new study examines the biggest modern city to pull it off so far, and offers a guide to California and every other locale destined to see long dry spells as the planet warms—while new technology offers hope for increasingly parched parts of the world.

+ - Part of Antarctica Suddenly Started Melting at a Rate of 14 Trillion Gal. a Year

merbs writes: Sometime in 2009, a long-stable, glacier-filled region in Antarctica suddenly began to melt. Fast. A team of scientists with the University of Bristol made the alarming observation by looking at data from the CryoSat-2 satellite: The glaciers around the Southern Antarctic Peninsula, which had showed no signs of change through 2008, had begun losing 55 trillion liters (14.5 trillion gallons) of ice a year. And they evidenced no signs of slowing down.

+ - New MakerBot CEO Explains Layoffs, Store Closings and the Company's New Vision

merbs writes: MakerBot Industries is the public face of 3D printing. And whenever the public face of a nascent, closely-watched consumer technology undergoes a serious customer relations crisis, closes all of its retail stores, and lays off 20 percent of its staff, the impact is prone to ripple beyond the fate of a single company. Jonathan Jaglom, in other words, may be tasked not just with reversing the fortunes of MakerBot, where he’s just been appointed CEO, but an entire industry.

+ - The World's Most Wasteful Megacity

merbs writes: The world’s most wasteful megacity is a densely populated, steadily aging, consumerist utopia where we buy, and throw away, a staggering amount of stuff. Where some faucet, toilet, or pipe, is constantly leaking in our apartments. Where an armada of commerce-beckoning lights are always on. Where a fleet of gas-guzzling cars still clog the roadways. I, along with my twenty million or so neighbors, help New York City use more energy, suck down more water, and spew out more solid waste than any other mega-metropolitan area.

+ - How Google Searches Are Promoting Genocide Denial

merbs writes: If you use Google Turkey to search for “Ermeni Krm”, which means “Armenian genocide” in Turkish, the first thing you’ll see is a sponsored link to a website whose purpose is to deny there was any genocide at all. If you Google "Armenia genocide" in the US, you'll see the same thing. FactCheckArmenia.com may reflect Turkey’s longstanding position that the Ottoman Empire’s systematic effort to “relocate” and exterminate its Armenian population does not qualify as a genocide, but it certainly does not reflect the facts. The sponsored link to a credible-looking website risks confusing searchers about the true nature of the event. Worse, it threatens to poison a nascent willingness among Turkish citizens to recognize and discuss the horrors of its past.

+ - How to Download a Genocide

merbs writes: On the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, an investigation into how technologies of remembrance help preserve and illuminate the past:

If my great grandfather Albert had not changed his last name, from Chorbajian to “Merchant,” which he said was a direct translation, on the day before he wed his Anglo-American bride, it would be stamped on my birth certificate. Only now, thanks to my grandfather and some powerful new technologies helping to shed light on the Armenian plight, am I beginning to come to grips with the heritage that begat, then transformed my name.

+ - A 2-Year-Old Has Become the Youngest Person Ever to Be Cryonically Frozen

merbs writes: After losing a long battle with brain cancer, 2-year-old Matheryn Naovaratpong became the first minor ever to be cryogenically frozen. This is the story of how a Thai girl was frozen in Bangkok and shipped to Arizona to have her brain preserved in liquid nitrogen, while her doctor parents search frantically for a cure.

+ - The Last Time Oceans Got This Acidic This Fast, 96% of Marine Life Went Extinct

merbs writes: The biggest extinction event in planetary history was driven by the rapid acidification of our oceans, a new study concludes. So much carbon was released into the atmosphere, and the oceans absorbed so much of it so quickly, that marine life simply died off, from the bottom of the food chain up. That doesn’t bode well for the present, given the similarly disturbing rate that our seas are acidifying right now.

+ - Smartphone-Enabled Replicators Are 3-5 Years Away, Caltech Professor Says

merbs writes: In just a few years, we could see the mass proliferation of DIY, smartphone-enabled replicators. At least, Caltech electrical engineering professor Ali Hajimiri and his team of researchers thinks so. They’ve developed a very tiny, very powerful 3D imager that can easily fit in a mobile device, successfully tested its prowess, and published the high-res results in the journal Optics.

+ - Your Porn Is Watching You 2 2

merbs writes: Thirty million Americans regularly watch porn online. That’s a lot more than fess up to it, even in anonymous surveys: In 2013, just 12 percent of people asked copped to watching internet porn at all. But thanks to pervasive online tracking and browser fingerprinting, the brazen liars of America may not have a say in whether their porn habits stay secret. Porn watchers everywhere are being tracked, and if software engineer Brett Thomas is right, it would be easy to out them, along with an extensive list of every clip they’ve viewed.

+ - The World Lost an Oklahoma-Sized Area of Forest in 2013, Satellite Data Show

merbs writes: Oklahoma spans an area in the American South that stretches across almost 70,000 square miles. That’s almost exactly the same area of global forest cover that was lost in a single year. High resolution maps from Global Forest Watch, tapping new data from a partnership between the University of Maryland and Google, show that 18 million hectares (69,500 square miles) of tree cover were lost from wildfires, deforestation, and development the year before last. The maps were created by synthesizing 400,000 satellite images collected by NASA’s Landsat mission.

+ - Who Most Accurately Predicted the Explosion of Clean Energy Markets? Greenpeace.

merbs writes: The US Department of Energy says we're in the midst of an “energy revolution,” and a report from Meier Consulting shows that just about no one saw it coming. The world’s biggest energy agencies, financial institutions, and fossil fuel companies, seriously underestimated just how fast the clean power sector could and would grow.

Meier identifies one group that got the market scenario closest to right, however, and it wasn’t the International Energy Agency or Goldman Sachs or the DOE. It was Greenpeace.

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