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Students built a 16th-century engineer’s book-reading machine

  • Ramelli’s design likely inspired similar wheels that were built in the 17th and 18th centuries, several of which still exist, but it was probably more complicated than it needed to be.
  • “There are simpler objects you could build that would accomplish mostly the same goals,” says Matt Nygren, another former student who built the wheels.
  • “This is more extravagant than it is entirely practical.” A more efficient bookwheel, he adds, would be one structured like a Ferris wheel, with hanging, weighted cradles rather than shelves that move along a gear system.
  • At RIT, Juilee Decker, an associate professor of museum studies, has had her classes design visitor experiences around the bookwheel.
  • Museums have also expressed interest in the wheel: In Russia, the Museum of Languages of the World built its own version according to the RIT team’s plans, which are published online.

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Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: The rise and fall of the five stages of grief

  • He worked with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and co-authored her last book, On Grief and Grieving, and an interview he gave to the Harvard Business Review at the start of the pandemic went viral, as people sought to understand their emotional responses to the crisis.
  • She wanted to talk more widely about death and dying: helping terminally ill people come to terms with their diagnoses, helping caregivers and family members listen to them and support them while dealing with their own emotions, and encouraging everybody to live their life as fully as possible in the knowledge that their time on Earth is finite.
  • In Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's last book, On Grief and Grieving, she wrote that her theory of stages was "never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages".

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Crab Command and Control

  • In response, the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group, a surprisingly powerful consortium of fishermen, conservation groups (including the Center for Biological Diversity prior to the lawsuit), scientists, and staff from the CDFW created their risk assessment and mitigation program.
  • Once or twice a month during Dungeness crab fishing season, which normally runs from November 15 to July 15, scientists in the working group conduct a series of mini research projects looking at four risk factors for entanglements: how many whales and sea turtles are around, where whales are likely to forage, the number and locations of recorded entanglements, and information about fishermen, including their landing data, license numbers, and the locations of their traps.
  • As of May 15, draft rules were poised to give the working group’s data more power and to reduce Bonham’s role, making the risk assessment program the primary mechanism to reduce whale entanglements.

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Microsoft Says It’s Built a Top-Five Supercomputer in the Cloud for AI

  • It doesn’t have a clever name or an official Top500 ranking, but the supercomputer Microsoft built on Azure as a “dream system” for the non-profit AI research group OpenAI shows that cloud is a serious contender for the most demanding compute workloads, as AI models become extremely large and complex.
  • That’s a much faster design cycle than for most supercomputers, and it was possible because it leveraged the Azure infrastructure (and supply chain), combining “the best of a dedicated appliance and a hyperscale cloud infrastructure,” Microsoft CTO, Kevin Scott, said.
  • In a Build keynote, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman showed off a system trained by Microsoft’s newly open sourced Turing natural language generation model, which can write code based on verbal descriptions.

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Instagram star flaunted lavish lifestyle but was actually conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars, US prosecutors say

  • According to a federal affidavit, one of the alleged victims was the client of a New York-based law firm that lost nearly a million dollars in 2019.
  • Prosecutors allege Abbas is one of the leaders of a global network that uses computer intrusions, business email compromise (BEC) schemes and money laundering capers to steal hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • A criminal complaint filed last month alleges that Abbas and an unnamed person conspired to launder funds from a $14.7 million heist of a foreign financial institution in 2019.
  • Authorities said he was part of a BEC scheme that defrauded a client of a New York-based law firm out of about $922,857 in October 2019.
  • The FBI says in the criminal complaint that Abbas and others tricked a paralegal at the law firm into wiring the money meant for a real estate refinance into an account that Abbas and his co-conspirators were using.

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Must-watch videos of the week

  • Researchers at Virginia Tech used high-speed motion capture to study the movements one snake species makes as it glides through the air.
  • They believe these flying snakes are able to jump several meters by using wavy, undulated movements.
  • Two kids, one appearing on BBC News and the other on Sky News, interrupted British broadcasts on the same day.
  • One family sprung into action to help a bear after it got a plastic container on its head at a Wisconsin lake.
  • Family members, who were out fishing, later learned that the container had been stuck on the bear's head for several days after authorities were unable to locate it.
  • While Reynolds did not appear in the original 2000 film, he played a role as Deadpool in 2009's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." Reynolds invited other stars from the franchise to join the call, which was a 20th anniversary reunion of the smash series.

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MIT-designed robot can disinfect a warehouse floor in 30 minutes -- and could one day be employed in grocery stores and schools

  • The university's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) worked with Ava Robotics -- a company that focuses on creating telepresence robots -- and the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) to develop a robot that uses a custom UV-C light to disinfect surfaces and neutralize aerosolized forms of the coronavirus.
  • While household cleaning solutions are able to reduce the spread of the virus, an autonomous robot capable of quickly and efficiently cleaning large areas such as warehouses or grocery stores could prove to be essential.
  • The team tele-operated the robot to teach it to navigate around the warehouse by setting up predefined waypoints, and the team said that it is currently exploring how to use the robot's onboard sensors to adapt to changes in the environment.
  • The UV-C array affixed to the top of the mobile robot emits a short-wavelength ultraviolet light that kills microorganisms and disrupts their DNA in a process called ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, the researchers said.

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Monocular Dynamic Object SLAM in Autonomous Driving

  • Some dynamic SLAM systems improve pose estimation based on the rigid body and constant velocity constraint, but without the explicit notion of objects.
  • Third, as a natural extension to the bundle adjustment in conventional SLAM, now we have to add tracked objects (tracklets) and dynamic keypoints on these objects, optionally with a velocity constraint from an assumed motion model.
  • The paper uses 2D object detection and low-level image features for 3D cuboid proposal generation and scoring.
  • CubeSLAM can generate some quite impressive demo, detecting and tracking 3D objects in dynamic scenes with temporally consistent cuboids in KITTI.
  • Static keypoints and camera pose are jointly optimized with camera-point error in the same way as ORB-SLAM.
  • ClusterVO proposed a more general way for dynamic SLAM, by representing objects as clusters of tracked keypoints (or point landmarks in the paper).

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The Sound of Places — Visualizing audio with R

  • If I correctly understood, a spectrogram is a visual representation of the sound frequency and amplitude over time.
  • From top to bottom, we have the sound sample from the camp, the trail, and Auckland.
  • Figure 6, 7, and 8, present the loudness scores (on top of the spectrogram) from the three samples.
  • Similarly to what we saw before, the camp audio sample has the lowest loudness score with values around the 1.0 mark (mean 1.10).
  • Next is the trail loudness score graph (mean 4.05), which shows an increase in loudness towards the end of the audio clip.
  • In this article, I show how I used R and the package soundgen to plot a spectrogram, oscillogram, and the loudness of three audio samples recorded in New Zealand.
  • For the complete source (which includes more visualizations), visit the GitHub repo at https://github.com/juandes/wanderdata-scripts/tree/master/sound-places.

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XRL: eXplainable Reinforcement Learning

  • The interpretability of the framework comes from the fact that each task (for instance stack cobblestone block) is described by human instruction, and the trained agents can only access learnt skills through these human descriptions, making the agent’s policies and decisions human-interpretable.
  • The resulting framework exhibited a higher learning efficiency, was able to generalize well in new environments and was inherently interpretable as it needs weak human supervision to give the agent instructions in order to learn new skills.
  • In Explainable Reinforcement Learning through a Causal Lens, action influence models are incorporated for Markov Decision Processes (MDP) based RL agents, extending structural causal models (SCMs) with the addition of actions.
  • Explanation generation requires the following steps: 1) defining the action influence model; 2) learning the structural equations during reinforcement learning; and finally, 3) generating explanans for explanandum.

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