Robot wars, Google trips, safer selfies and a bear-dog
Selfies can be hazardous to your health. That’s according to Russian police who have published brochures, signs and online notices warning the public about the dangers of unsafe selfies. Using the type of basic graphics usually seen on those pamphlets on the back of airplane seats, the guide illustrates things like taking selfies in front of trains, with firearms, falling-down mountains, with wild beasts as not okay. With over a hundred hurt and several dead unsafe selfie snappers reported, so far we've had a woman shoot herself in the head while trying to photograph herself holding a pistol, a man die after posing on a railroad and touching live wires and a dude holding up a selfie stick in a field was struck by lightning. It’s laughable, but also a very real thing, so next time you see a photo opportunity, think whether all those likes are worth your life.
You ever looked on the back of a R100 note before? You ever looked on the back of a R100 note before, on weeeeeeed, man? No? How about looking at anything on acid? We wouldn’t know (we didn’t inhale), but if you’re not partial to a bit of mind expansion then fret not, Google has come up with an algorithm experiment that makes everything look as if you’re tripping balls. Now that Google has made its Deep Dream software available you’ve probably noticed the trippy pictures turning up in your feed. It does this by using facial recognition software and then taking a picture and feeding it through a layer of artificial neurons, enhancing parts and then repeating the process until the result is positively psychedelic.
An American robotics company, MegaBots Inc, challenged Japan’s Suidobashi Heavy Industry to a duel. It was WW2 all over again with the Yank’s 15-foot tall, 12 000-pound Mark II, which needs to be piloted by two people and can fire paintballs, taking on the Japanese bot. Science fiction was the winner.
What do you call a female G.O.A.T?
Much sport was had this last week. So so much sport. And some of it was more socially relevant than other sport. Am I talking about how our ancient Springboks went and swept aside some no-mark World XV team? No, that really was a non-event that should be forgotten about immediately. On the other hand it’s definitely worth mentioning 20-year old Kagiso Rabada who broke all the cricket records with his outrageous debut for the Proteas in their ODI win vs. Bangladesh (only the second player ever to get a hat-trick on an ODI debut). That’s hard enough to top, but there was one athlete who did that this last week – step up, Serena Williams! She won again at Wimbledon, comprehensively as always. In the aftermath of her victory people have finally come around to debate something that has long been overdue: whether Serena is one of the best athletes of all time. The recognition of such greatness while the athlete is still active is a rare title which has in the past been awarded to the likes of Ali, Pele and Michael Jordan. I for one wouldn’t argue against it.
New Horizons’ Pluto Flyby
A little further away from home, this week we got our closest introduction to part-time planet, full-time space-lump Pluto – the insecure late bloomer of the galaxy. Yes, all of its friends are very impressive with their underarm hairs, deepening voices, gaseous bodies and beautiful planetary rings, but Pluto is still part of the gang, dammit. NASA’s New Horizons unmanned ship will fly past the dwarf planet on Tuesday 14 July at 49 600 kilometres per hour, busily collecting data with seven science instruments on-board. Having already received some impressive images of Pluto, this crossing will complete the initial reconnaissance mission of the solar system with the first-ever close-up look at the icy dwarf planet.
Fully living up to their national stereotype as the well-mannered, ultra-polite Ned Flanders of the world, a modern Canadian hero rose to the fore this week on a pavement in Toronto. Rest in peace, the world did not deserve a hero like you.
A Chinese man was somewhat surprised to learn that the puppies that he’d raised for two years were in fact endangered black bears. Despite not barking, pissing on fire hydrants, fetching the newspaper or being good boys, the pair managed to pass as dogs until the owner, Wang Kaiyu, read a pamphlet about endangered wild animals and realised the error of his ways. The bears have moved to the Yunnan Wild Animal Rescue Center and if anyone is needing to rehome their pet dogs, Wang is back on the market.