I’ve long held that coffee is an essential writing fuel. Of course, it’s not what it used to be. Luckily. When I was a kid in 1970s New Zealand, ‘bought coffee’ came in pyrex containers that had been left on the edge of restaurant buffet tables to stew through the day and turn into a kind… More Pondering the mysteries of essential writing fuel – coffee
This week’s landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was a landmark in space history – not because the comet apparently bore a passing resemblance to the Kardashian backside that was competing for place in the news, but because surface gravity on 67P is about one millionth Earth’s. You don’t land so much as drift in and try like hell to stay there. Add to that the… More Why this week’s comet landing is way better than celebrity butt-fests
Private-enterprise orbital ventures aren’t just an American dream. Last week, New Zealand’s own Rocket Lab unveiled their commercial booster. It’s called Electron. Very cool. It’s not a big rocket – 10 tonnes of carbon composite and 18 metres long. But it’ll put 110kg into a 500 km orbit, with the help of locally developed Rutherford LOX/ kerosine engines. And… More Cool! New Zealand joins the orbital rocket club – for real
According to reports I’ve read, a US congressional candidate recently alleged that his opponent, the incumbent Congressman, had been killed and replaced with an artificial body double. Look-alike artificial doubles? Secret assassinations in the Ukraine? Cool! I always knew US politics were more interesting than New Zealand’s. So – what’s happening? I have several hypotheses: (a) The allegation is literally true… More Is your elected representative a robot body double?
These days I am seldom able to go shopping for groceries without having my quiet thoughts about the latest bargains interrupted by ear-piercing shrieks of hysterical pain and terror. It’s the exact sound you’d expect a child would make while being brutally slaughtered by the local psychopath. But when I go rushing around the corner to the rescue,… More One of life’s great mysteries
It’s 64 years since Alan Turing – the genius behind the concept of modern computing – suggested a test for machine intelligence. Have a conversation with a computer. If it fools 30 percent of people into thinking it’s human, it’s sentient. The other week, apparently, a chatbot programmed to behave like a 13-year old did just… More No, a chatbot didn’t really pass the Turing Test last week
The other week the Wellington, New Zealand commuter rail network was rolling along doing what commuter lines do. And then this happened. A friend of a friend saw it happen. Wham! Mercifully, only two people were slightly injured. I was out of town, but came by that night on my way home and saw the… More An ‘operational incident’ to them. Total train wreck to me.