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Submission + - Gaming Computers Use a Truly Astonishing Amount of Energy

merbs writes: Worldwide, gaming computers suck down $10 billion worth of electricity (or 75 terawatt hours) a year. Given that sales rates are projected to double by 2020, that figure is expected to do the same. The study finds that while gaming computers comprise just 2.5 percent of personal computers worldwide, they account for 20 percent of global computer energy use.

Submission + - The Nations That Will Be Hardest Hit by Water Shortages by 2040

merbs writes: Water access is going to be one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century. As climate change dries out the already dry areas and makes the wet ones wetter, we’re poised to see some radical civilizational shifts. For one, a number of densely populated areas will come under serious water stress—which analysts fear will lead to strife, thirst, and even violent conflict. With that in mind, the World Resource Institute has assembled a new report projecting which nations are most likely to be hardest hit by water stress in coming decades—nations like Bahrain, Israel, Palestine, and Spain lead the pack.

Submission + - By 2100, the Earth Will Have an Entirely Different Ocean

merbs writes: The ocean is in the midst of radical, manmade change. It can seem kind of crazy that one of the most immense properties on Earth—the ocean washes over 71 percent of the planet—could be completely transformed by a swarm of comparatively tiny, fleshy mammals. But humans are indeed remaking the ocean, in almost every conceivable way. The ocean we know today—that billions swim, fish, float, and surf in—that vast planetary body of water will be of an entirely different character by the end of the century: hotter, higher, trashier, and more acidic.

Submission + - How the Biggest, Most Expensive Oil Spill in History Changed Almost Nothing

merbs writes: Tthe biggest oil spill in US history, despite incurring the largest environmental fine on the books—$18.7 billion, handed down this month—has done almost nothing to change the nation’s relationship to oil. Five years after the spill, and, by BP’s count, $54 billion in projected total expenses, there have been no serious legislative efforts to improve the oversight or regulation of the United States’ still-expanding offshore oil operations. Public opinion of deepwater drilling barely budged during the ordeal; today, a majority of Americans favor doing even more of it.

Submission + - 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.

Submission + - 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.

Submission + - 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.

Submission + - 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.

Submission + - 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.

Submission + - 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.

Submission + - 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.

Submission + - 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.

Submission + - 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.

Submission + - 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.

We don't really understand it, so we'll give it to the programmers.

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