Month: August 2019

  • Why Things Become Unpopular

    first_imgA recent study has found that the fall of an item’s popularity mirrors its rise to popularity, so that items that become popular faster also die out faster, which is demonstrated by name trends. Image caption: Berger and Le Mens. ©2009 PNAS. In their study, Jonah Berger from the University of Pennsylvania and Gaël Le Mens from Stanford University and Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona have investigated why things become unpopular, and have found some surprisingly counterintuitive results. Their study is published in a recent issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.“While it is easy to see products, ideas, or behaviors catch on in popular culture, less in known about why such things become unpopular,” Berger told “We show how social dynamics drive cultural change, and examine the reciprocal interplay between individual decisions and collective outcomes. Aggregate changes in popularity shape individual choice, which in turn drives aggregate popularity.”To investigate how cultural tastes change over time, Berger and Le Mens analyzed thousands of baby names from the past 100 years in France and the US. (Because there is less of an influence of technology or advertising on name choice, baby names provide a way to study how adoption depends on primarily internal factors.) The researchers found a consistent symmetry in the rise and fall of individual names; in other words, the longer it took for a name to become popular, the longer it took for the name to fade out of popularity, and thus the more staying power it had compared to names that quickly rose and fell. The effect was robust, occurring in both countries and across various time windows.To find additional support for this relationship, the researchers also interviewed expecting parents on how likely they would be to give their children certain names. Afterwards, participants rated their perception of how trendy each name was. The results showed that parents viewed names that had experienced sharper recent increases in usage as fads, and avoided these names in accordance with this concern. As the scientists explain, these findings suggest that beliefs about the evolution of popularity may be self-fulfilling. There is no mathematical necessity that forces cultural items (such as names) that sharply increase in popularity to die out faster, but people’s beliefs have the ability to create this reality, since people don’t want to be seen as following the herd. This effect is an example of how psychological processes shape culture, in addition to the more widely known reciprocal dynamic, that culture can shape thought processes. Adolescents with unpopular names more prone to committing crime ( — “Why is everybody suddenly wearing those new sandals and listening to that new band? It’s so trendy!” A recent study has investigated this sentiment in order to understand why some cultural products and styles die out faster than others. According to the results, the quicker a cultural item rockets to popularity, the quicker it dies. This pattern occurs because people believe that items that are adopted quickly will become fads, leading them to avoid these items, thus causing these items to die out. Explore furthercenter_img Besides baby names, the symmetry between popularity rise and fall can carry over to other cultural items. For example, the scientists noted that similar outcomes have been observed in the music industry, where new artists who shoot to the top of the charts right away also fall quickly, and so have lower overall sales than those who rise more slowly. While this finding seems counterintuitive, since a quick rise in popularity would seem like a good thing, it shows that a backlash to perceived fads should be taken into account. As the researchers explain, people who want to ensure the persistence and success of particular items should seek to popularize the items at a slow but steady pace. “Managers often want their products to catch on quickly, and conventional wisdom would say that products which catch on quickly should be more likely to succeed,” Berger said. “Our results, however, show that the exact opposite can occur. Fast adoption can hurt success. We think these findings extend to a broad range of areas where choices signal identity. People often join social movements, choose products, or wear styles because of what it communicates about them to others, and in these domains of life, adoption speed should influence cultural success.”More information: Jonah Berger and Gaël Le Mens. “How adoption speed affects the abandonment of cultural tastes.” PNAS, 8146-8150, May 19, 2009, vol. 106, no. 20.Copyright 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Why Things Become Unpopular (2009, June 4) retrieved 18 August 2019 from read more

  • Microsoft investigates laptop battery drain with Windows 7

    first_img( — One of the Windows Vista problems that Windows 7 was supposed to solve was the drain on laptop battery life, but while Windows 7 has made a number of significant improvements, Microsoft is now investigating reports its new operating system reduces battery life even more dramatically when installed on some laptops. Explore further Users have reported on Microsoft’s TechNet forum reductions in battery life from two hours down to 30 minutes or less, with batteries failing to recharge fully. The battery life appears to decline over a short period, with another forum poster reporting the battery life dropped from 45 minutes to 15 or less over a couple of weeks.Some Windows 7 users claim their laptop batteries have been permanently damaged by drainage problems occurring after they installed the new operating system. Other users report the appearance of error messages suggesting they replace their laptop battery, even though it had been working well before the installation.Microsoft said it was investigating the issue in collaboration with their hardware partners. A spokesman said the problem of the error message appears to be related to the firmware (BIOS), since Windows 7 uses data derived from firmware to determine if the battery needs to be replaced. Battery problems were noted by some users during the Windows 7 beta testing period, especially by those using Netbooks, but the complaints began to pour in after the official release of Windows 7 for general consumers in October last year.Microsoft announced last Thursday it has so far sold about 60 million Windows 7 licenses, but it is unclear at present what proportion of users is affected by the battery drainage problems. Microsoft said it would update its TechNet forum as soon as the root cause has been identified, and will post information and guidance when it is available. The Microsoft TechNet forum and community is intended to support IT users of Microsoft products. Microsoft washes hands of Windows 98 More information: … ms/en-gb/categories/center_img © 2010 Citation: Microsoft investigates laptop battery drain with Windows 7 (2010, February 2) retrieved 18 August 2019 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

  • Making liquid power

    first_img( — Power is a game of supply and demand. Unfortunately, it is also a very time sensitive game. You not only have to make the right amount of power, but you have to make it at the right time. Power is largely a perishable commodity. It can be stored in a battery, for a limited amount of time, but eventually it will wear out. This can be an issue with human generated power, but when you deal with greener methods of power, like solar and wind, we don’t always have control over how much power is generated and when it is generated. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Making liquid power (2011, March 29) retrieved 18 August 2019 from Explore further More information: © 2010 Engineer aims to regulate varying wind power Since this creates a variety of issues with power generation, and potential waste, researchers have been interested in ways to store the power in the longer term. So, how do you keep your power in storage? You make it into a liquid.Scientists at Britain’s Highview Power Storage have figured out how to convert its excess energy into liquid air. The system that does this, which has been dubbed the CryoEnergy System, is like a very big power cold storage unit. The power uses the excess energy to power large refrigeration units. These units cool the powered air down to a temperature of -196 C, which causes it to liquefy. This air liquid, which is also known as cryogen, can then be stored in an insulated tank, that has an ambient pressure of about 1 bar. When the power is needed, at high demand times, the air can be released into a sealed space. When the liquid reaches boiling temp, above -196C, the liquid will expand more than 700% and being to spin that staple of power generation, a turbine.The energy return on the process is about 50%. The CryoEnergy System has been in use at Scotland’s Slough Heat & Power plant for the past nine months.last_img read more

  • Algorithmic trading to replace humans in the stock market

    first_img Citation: Algorithmic trading to replace humans in the stock market (2011, September 14) retrieved 18 August 2019 from © 2011 This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. The Foresight panel warns that this transition to algorithmic trading has its benefits and risks. They have found instances where computer trading can increase volatility in the market and cause massive damage. One example is what is known as self-reinforcing feedback loops. In this case, small changes such as data delays, loop back on themselves and create a bigger change. Normalization of deviance can also occur where risky events are seen as normal until the inevitable crash of the market occurs.Some benefits the panel sees are an improvement in liquidity, lower costs of transactions and greater market efficiency.The trend toward more and more algorithmic traders and the reduction in need for front-line traders is expected to increase. Similar to the use of physical robots in the manufacturing industry replaced human workers in places like automobile plants throughout the 20th century; the 21st century will likely bring the replacement of human workers throughout the global financial markets. The paper notes that while humans will be replaced in trading, the need for algorithm developers will be increased.The Foresight panel notes that human workers are made with hardware that is too slow and runs on limited bandwidth in comparison to their computer counterparts.The current paper from the Foresight panel is a work in progress designed to add to the growing evidence on the pros and cons of computer trading. The final report is expected to be released in the Fall season of 2012. ( — The UK Government’s Foresight panel, led by Dame Clara Furse, has released a working paper that points out that algorithmic trading, or high frequency trading, will soon replace human decision making when it comes to the stock markets. Many countries have already begun replacing humans with one third of the UK trading going to computers and three-quarters of trading in the United States being computer generated. US imposes new rules on high-speed traders Explore furtherlast_img read more

  • Some Polynesian islanders combined binary and decimal math

    first_img The sum of digits of prime numbers is evenly distributed Explore further Gottfried Leibniz introduced binary numbers to the western world in the 18th century, proclaiming their practical advantages and pointing out that learning binary addition and multiplication tables would be much easier than learning decimal ones. Nevertheless, while a binary system became the basis for computers, binary numbers never became part of everyday western life. We are used to a decimal system—we have 10 fingers and 10 toes, after all— and while a base 2 system may have its advantages, those long strings of 1s and 0s seem unnatural.Hundreds of years ago, the people of the island of Mangareva in French Polynesia developed a way to use binary math while eliminating the problem of every long numbers. They did this by combining a binary with a decimal system. Bender and Beller learned about this system when studying the Mangarevan language and Mangarevan historical records.The Polynesians who arrived in Mangareva over 1,000 years ago used a decimal system, as other Polynesians did. However, by A.D. 1450, the Mangarevans were using a system that combined base 10 and base 2. In the Mangarevan language, there are words for the numbers 1 through 9, as with all decimal systems. After that, the system turns into a binary one, with words for 10, 20, 40 and 80. This mixed system simplifies mental arithmetic but doesn’t make it hard to express large numbers. The researchers believe that the hybrid system played a useful role in Mangarevan culture, where people often traded large quantities of goods or offered them as tribute. The Mangarevans used their system to count objects considered highly valuable, including coconuts, fish and octopuses. Today, the Mangarevan language risks extinction. The number of speakers has decreased from about 1,600 in 1987 to 600 in 2011, despite the island’s population remaining stable. The Mangarevans have adopted the Arabic digits and the decimal counting system used by much of the world. Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ( —When we think of binary math, we think of computers. A number system with only two digits makes calculations quick and easy. However, binary numbers can be very long and, therefore, unwieldy. While binary numbers might be great for machines, decimal numbers are shorter and more comfortable for people to use. A system that combines the benefits of base 2 and base 10 could be ideal. Andrea Bender and Sieghard Beller of the University of Bergen in Norway have discovered that the Mangarevans of French Polynesia used such a hybrid system at least 500 years ago. Their research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Two of Leibniz’s examples for binary notation and calculation. Credit: (c) PNAS, Published online before print December 16, 2013, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1309160110center_img Citation: Some Polynesian islanders combined binary and decimal math (2013, December 17) retrieved 18 August 2019 from © 2013 More information: Mangarevan invention of binary steps for easier calculation, PNAS, Published online before print December 16, 2013, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1309160110 AbstractWhen Leibniz demonstrated the advantages of the binary system for computations as early as 1703, he laid the foundation for computing machines. However, is a binary system also suitable for human cognition? One of two number systems traditionally used on Mangareva, a small island in French Polynesia, had three binary steps superposed onto a decimal structure. Here, we show how this system functions, how it facilitated arithmetic, and why it is unique. The Mangarevan invention of binary steps, centuries before their formal description by Leibniz, attests to the advancements possible in numeracy even in the absence of notation and thereby highlights the role of culture for the evolution of and diversity in numerical cognition. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

  • Distinguishing between humans and computers in the game of go

    first_img © 2017 The researchers, C. Coquidé and B. Georgeot at the University of Toulouse, and O. Giraud at the University of Paris-Saclay, have published a paper on their statistical analysis of go games played by humans and computers in a recent issue of EPL.”We think our work indicates a path towards a better characterization and understanding of the differences between human and computer decision-making processes, which could be applied in many different areas,” Giraud told the researchers explain, go is a particularly good platform to investigate how computers solve complex problems due to the vast number of possible moves a player can make at any turn. On a 19×19 go board, there are 10171 possible legal positions (compared to “just” 1050 in chess). In addition, the number of possible games of go was recently estimated to be at least 1010^108. Such numbers are gigantic even for a computer, making it impossible for any program to simply use brute-force methods to analyze all possible moves and games. Instead, computers must use more sophisticated approaches. In the new study, the researchers constructed databases of 8000 games played by amateur humans; 8000 games played by the software Gnugo, which uses a deterministic approach; 8000 games played by the software Fuego, which uses a Monte Carlo approach; and 50 games played by the software AlphaGo, which has become famous in the past couple years for beating world champion human go players. The researchers then built networks for each database that capture information about the patterns of moves on the go board. One of the most interesting results is that the networks based on software—especially Gnugo—have large numbers of “communities,” which are parts of a network that are strongly linked within themselves but weakly linked to the rest of the network. As the researchers explain, the presence of these communities indicates that the software programs are creating many different types of strategies that are different from other types of strategies; that is, their strategies are varied and diverse. By comparison, the networks based on human games have fewer communities and more large hubs with lots of direct links, indicating that human strategies were more related to each other and less diverse. Explore further While enlightening, these results are not unexpected, as they correspond to some previous observations of computers playing go. For instance, in 2016 and 2017, human analysts watching AlphaGo compete against world champions were often surprised and puzzled by the strategies that the computer used. Overall, the researchers found that the statistical differences between the computer- and human-generated networks are much larger than the variability within each network, indicating that the differences are statistically significant and could potentially be used to distinguish between groups of human-played games and computer-played games. Further, the results show that it’s not necessary to analyze thousands of games, as the differences could be significant even for the relatively small 50-game database from AlphaGo.As a consequence, the researchers propose that the statistical differences could be used to design a new kind of Turing test, similar to the original test in which a person tries to tell whether they are interacting with a human or a computer by asking questions. The new version of the Turing test would involve playing go games instead of asking questions, and then performing statistical tests to identify characteristic features of human and computer players.The researchers also expect that it would be interesting to use similar statistical methods to investigate the differences in how humans and computers approach other complex problems besides go. From this data, it may be possible to gain a better understanding of how computers “think.””We would like to study in more detail the origin of the differences between the human-generated and computer-generated networks, to see how they reflect in terms of differences in strategies used in the game,” Giraud said. “We are also planning to apply these techniques to other areas where computers and humans are present, starting with other board games such as chess.” More information: C. Coquidé, B. Georgeot, and O. Giraud. “Distinguishing humans from computers in the game of go: A complex network approach.” EPL. DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/119/48001 Citation: Distinguishing between humans and computers in the game of go (2017, November 6) retrieved 18 August 2019 from Google’s new Go-playing AI learns fast, and even thrashed its former self (—By analyzing the statistical features of thousands of go games played by humans and computers, researchers have found that it’s surprisingly easy to tell whether a game is being played by a human or by a computer. The results point to fundamental differences in the ways that humans and computers solve problems and may lead to a new kind of Turing test designed to distinguish between the two. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Journal information: Europhysics Letters (EPL) Computers and humans use different kinds of strategies when playing go, pointing to fundamental differences in solving problems.last_img read more

  • Musical Instruments To Be Exempt From Restrict

    first_imgMusical Instruments To Be Exempt From Restrictions On… Jacqueline Larma by NPR News Robert Benincasa 8.27.19 6:41am An international endangered species convention meeting in Geneva is close to exempting musical instruments from trade restrictions on rosewood.The restrictions under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – commonly referred to as CITES – treaty went into effect in 2017, after strong demand for high-end rosewood furniture in China led to conservation worries and violence in areas that produce the wood.But as NPR reported in 2017, there were some unintended consequences.Rosewood is prized as a tonewood, responsible for a characteristic resonant tone in everything from guitars to cellos and clarinets. Following the 2017 restrictions, the musical instruments industry lost tens of millions of dollars in sales and traveling orchestras feared their instruments would be seized at international borders. Both sectors had to deal with a bureaucratic permit process.Instrument makers and musicians pushed for the exemption, writing in a convention brief that without it, “the world of music and culture will lose certain instruments that produce the highest quality tones, with no corresponding conservation benefit.”They got their wish Monday as a key CITES committee approved it. If finalized as expected this week, the exemption will allow finished musical instruments as well as parts and accessories containing rosewood to be transported freely around the world without permits.Trade in raw-material rosewood would remain regulated and subject to permits granted by individual countries.”Today was really the culmination of three years of productive dialog across musical instrument stakeholders, parties to the convention and also conservation groups,” said League of American Orchestras lobbyist Heather Noonan.In a written statement to NPR, Lisa Handy, director of forests campaign at the Environmental Investigation Agency, an advocacy group, called the exemption “a reluctant compromise.””We remain concerned this could set a bad precedent,” Handy wrote. “It will be even more imperative that the sourcing and manufacturing processes are well-controlled to ensure that rosewood-producing countries, which are struggling to control illegal loggers and trafficking…receive the international support they need to implement the convention.”Representatives of two top U.S. makers of acoustic guitars, Pennsylvania-based C.F. Martin and Co. and California’s Taylor Guitars, said they support the convention’s efforts to control rosewood trafficking, but stress the musical instruments industry was never the problem.Scott Paul, Director of Natural Resource Sustainability at Taylor, said the rosewood regulation was hastily drafted, causing bureaucracies around the world to issue “an obscene amount of permits.”Frank Untermyer, Supply Chain Director at Martin, said the regulations’ administrative burden on his company, as well as the impact on the global reach of music “cannot be overstated.”Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.last_img read more

  • Husains toys for Delhi boys

    first_imgThe art market might be reeling under slowdown blues, but that hasn’t stopped Siddhartha Tagore, director of city-based gallery Art Konsult from carrying on with the third edition of the bi-annual auction that he hosts. Tagore agrees that the market is ‘very down’. ‘We have been working on the auction for some time and about 60 per cent would make us safe,’ says an optimistic Tagore.   The Autumn Auction by Art Bull will feature more than 100 works by masters, emerging and contemporary artists and also folk and tribal art. ‘When we started, we wanted to promote some of the young and promising artists. We are featuring some of their works here,’ says the gallerist. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Going under the hammer will be works by MF Husain, FN Souza, SH Raza, KG Subramanyan, Ram Kumar, Jamini Roy, Manjit Bawa. A rare oil on canvas by Ramkinkar Baij is also up for auction.   Art enthusiasts will get the chance to pick up impressionist works by Jamini Roy, Souza’s work on silk, Manjit Bawa’s miniature and Husain works from his Horse Series. Husain’s toys — which he made during the struggling phase of his career and which are very hard to come by because most of them haven’t been preserved — are also going to be on sale. First time buyers on a budget can focus on the emerging artist category where prices will start at Rs 75,000 and go up to Rs 3 lakhs. In the contemporary section also, prices begin at Rs 75,000. prices in the Masters section will start at Rs 5 lakhs and go up to a few crores.DETAILAt: The Park Hotel, 15 Parliament Street When: 21 November Timings: 6 pm onwardslast_img read more

  • State of mind

    first_imgOxford Bookstore Connaught Place hosted the eighth edition of Zubaan, series of critical conversations, How Juvenile is Juvenile, on 25 August. The panelists included Joachim Theis (Chief Child Protection, UNICEF India), Achal Bhagat (psychiatrist and psychotherapist), Suneeta Dhar (Director, JAGORI), Atiya Bose (Director, Policy and Advocacy, AANGAN Trust). The discussion was moderated by Enakshi Ganguly Thukral (Co-founder and Co-director, HAQ Centre for Child Rights). Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The session focussed on certain question like – Who is a juvenile and who is not? Can age be the only defining factor to determine an issue that has such wide ranging implications and ramifications? How does one look at the juvenile justice act that is currently under discussion? How will it impact consensual sex? Will it bring greater number of people under the ambit of the criminal law? How do we look upon the issue of ‘maturity’ and ‘criminality’ in a young person? Is not the idea of a ‘heinous offender’ of 16 years a reflection of a society determined to punish rather than reform? Can we ensure safety of women and society by punishing juvenile offenders like adults? Zubaan is an independent feminist publishing house based in New Delhi. It was set up as an imprint of India’s first feminist publishing house, Kali for women, and carries forward Kali’s tradition of publishing world quality books to high editorial and production standards. It works in the areas of the humanities, social sciences, as well as in fiction, general non-fiction, and books for children.last_img read more

  • Beautifully meshed

    first_imgThe show titled Tactile and Intangible Melodies by Robin Passi that started off on 21 August at Alliance Francaise De in the Capital displays works made up of mirrors and wire mesh. The pieces displayed were along the path between sculpture and relief, art and design and the art object and art installation. Passi used mirrors of different sizes to catch reflections of different parts of the environment which creates new relations between space and form. Using mirrors and wire-mesh, he used its flow which pulls together the myriad of reflecting mirrors into a mythical stream of light. So in a sense elements of the tactile and tangible world and evokes intangible myths were been used. But like all myths there has to the some reality for their intangible messages to latch onto, to be believable. His metal orbs with mirrors in them, which, when hung from trees remind one of how bird-lovers carry their caged song-birds to hang from their branches to hear their melodies. These mirror-encrusted globes evoke birdsong in the visual form of reflections. The works reflected the artiste’s search for meaning from the raw material of day-to-day life, and in doing so he gave us hope for a future filled with creativity, variety and sensitivity.last_img read more