Computer Scientists Figure Out What’s the Longest Distance You Could Sail at Sea Without Hitting Land

Back in 2012, a redditor by the name of "Kepleronlyknows" wondered what's the longest distance you could travel by sea without hitting land. And then s/he hazarded an educated guess: "you can sail almost 20,000 miles in a straight line from Pakistan to the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia."

Six years later, two computer scientists--Rohan Chabukswar (United Technologies Research Center in Ireland) and Kushal Mukherjee (IBM Research in India)--have developed an algorithm that offers a more definitive answer. According to their computations, "Kepleronlyknows was entirely correct," notes the MIT Technology Review.




The longest path over water "begins in Sonmiani, Balochistan, Pakistan, passes between Africa and Madagascar and then between Antarctica and Tierra del Fuego in South America, and ends in the Karaginsky District, Kamchatka Krai, in Russia. It is 32,089.7 kilometers long." Or 19,939 miles.

While they were at it, Chabukswar and Mukherjee also determined the longest land journey you could take without hitting the sea. That path, again notes the MIT Technology Review, "runs from near Jinjiang, Fujian, in China, weaves through Mongolia Kazakhstan and Russia, and finally reaches Europe to finish near Sagres in Portugal. In total the route passes through 15 countries over 11,241.1 kilometers." Or 6,984 miles. You can read Chabukswar and Mukherjee's research report here.

via the MIT Technology Review

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A Free Oxford Course on Deep Learning: Cutting Edge Lessons in Artificial Intelligence

Nando de Freitas is a "machine learning professor at Oxford University, a lead research scientist at Google DeepMind, and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute For Advanced Research (CIFAR) in the Neural Computation and Adaptive Perception program."

Above, you can watch him teach an Oxford course on Deep Learning, a hot subfield of machine learning and artificial intelligence which creates neural networks--essentially complex algorithms modeled loosely after the human brain--that can recognize patterns and learn to perform tasks.

To complement the 16 lectures you can also find lecture slides, practicals, and problems sets on this Oxford web site. If you'd like to learn about Deep Learning in a MOOC format, be sure to check out the new series of courses created by Andrew Ng on Coursera.

Oxford's Deep Learning course will be added to our list of Free Online Computer Science Courses, part of our meta collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Infographics Show How the Different Fields of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics & Computer Science Fit Together

Ask anyone who's pursued a career in the sciences what first piqued their interest in what would become their field, and they'll almost certainly have a story. Gazing at the stars on a camping trip, raising a pet frog, fooling around with computers and their components: an experience sparks a desire for knowledge and understanding, and the pursuit of that desire eventually delivers one to their specific area of specialization.

Or, as they say in science, at least it works that way in theory; the reality usually unrolls less smoothly. On such a journey, just like any other, it might help to have a map.




Enter the work of science writer and physicist Dominic Walliman, whose animated work on the Youtube channel Domain of Science we've previously featured here on Open Culture. (See the "Related Content" section below for the links.)

Walliman's videos astutely explain how the subfields of biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and computer science relate to each other, but now he's turned that same material into infographics readable at a glance: maps, essentially, of the intellectual territory. He's made these maps, of biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and computer science, freely available on his Flickr account: you can view them all on a single page here along with a few more of his infographics..

As much use as Walliman's maps might be to science-minded youngsters looking for the best way to direct their fascinations into a proper course of study, they also offer a helpful reminder to those farther down the path — especially those who've struggled with the blinders of hyperspecialization — of where their work fits in the grand scheme of things. No matter one's field, scientific or otherwise, one always labors under the threat of losing sight of the forest for the trees. Or the realm of life for the bioinformatics, biophysics, and biomathematics; the whole of mathematics for the number theory, the differential geometry, and the differential equations; the workings of computers for the scheduling, the optimization, and the boolean satisfiability.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

A Turing Machine Handmade Out of Wood

It took Richard Ridel six months of tinkering in his workshop to create this contraption--a mechanical Turing machine made out of wood. The silent video above shows how the machine works. But if you're left hanging, wanting to know more, I'd recommend reading Ridel's fifteen page paper where he carefully documents why he built the wooden Turing machine, and what pieces and steps went into the construction.

If this video prompts you to ask, what exactly is a Turing Machine?, also consider adding this short primer by philosopher Mark Jago to your media diet.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

via BoingBoing

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Google Launches a Free Course on Artificial Intelligence: Sign Up for Its New “Machine Learning Crash Course”

As part of an effort to make Artificial Intelligence more comprehensible to the broader public, Google has created an educational website Learn with Google AI, which includes, among other things, a new online course called Machine Learning Crash Course. The course provides "exercises, interactive visualizations, and instructional videos that anyone can use to learn and practice [Machine Learning] concepts." To date, more than 18,000 Googlers have enrolled in the course. And now it's available for everyone, everywhere. You can supplement it with other AI courses found in the Relateds below.

Machine Learning Crash Course will be added to our list of Free Online Computer Science Courses, a subset of our collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

via Google Blog

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David Lynch Teaches Typing: A New Interactive Comedy Game

Typing programs demand some patience on the part of the student, and David Lynch Teaches Typing is no exception.

You’ve got 90 seconds to get acclimated to the cruddy floppy disc-era graphics and the cacophonous voice of your instructor, a dead ringer for FBI Deputy Director Gordon Cole, the hard-of-hearing character director David Lynch played on his seminal early 90s series, Twin Peaks.

Things perk up about a minute and a half in, when students are instructed to place their left ring fingers in an undulating bug to the left of their keyboards.

That second "in"? Not a typo (though you'll notice plenty of no doubt intentional boo-boos in the teacher's pre-programmed responses...)




The bug in question may well put you in mind of the mysterious baby in Lynch’s first feature length film, 1977’s Eraserhead.

On the other hand, it might not.

David Lynch Teaches Typing is actually a short interactive comedy game, and many of the millennial reviewers covering that beat have had to play catch-up in order to catch the many nods to the director’s work contained therein.

One of our favorites is the Apple-esque name of the program’s retro computer, and we'll wager that frequent Lynch collaborator, actor Kyle MacLachlan, would agree.

Another reference that has thus far eluded online gaming enthusiasts in their 20s is Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. Take a peek below at what the virtual typing tutor’s graphics looked like around the time the original Twin Peaks aired to discover the creators of David Lynch Teaches Typing’s other inspiration.

David Lynch Teaches Typing is available for free download here. If you’re anxious that doing so might open you up to a technical bug of nightmarish proportions, stick with watching the play through at the top of the page.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her March 20 in New York City for the second edition of Necromancers of the Public Domain, a low budget variety show born of a 1920 manual for Girl Scout Camp Directors. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Learn to Code with Harvard’s Popular Intro to Computer Science Course: The 2017 Edition

In recent months, Harvard has been rolling out videos from the 2017 edition of Computer Science 50 (CS50), the university's introductory coding course designed for majors and non-majors alike. Taught by David Malan, a perennially popular professor (you'll see why), the one-semester course (taught mostly in C) combines courses typically known elsewhere as "CS1" and "CS2."

Even if you're not a Harvard student, you're welcome to follow CS50 online by heading over to this site here. There you will find video lectures (stream them all above or access them individually here), problem sets, quizzes, and other useful course materials. Once you've mastered the material covered in CS50, you can start branching out into new areas of coding by perusing our big collection of Free Online Computer Science Courses, a subset of our larger collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Note: Harvard's CS50 is also available as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) on edX. Also taught by David Malan, the course can be taken in a self-paced format for free. Find it here.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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