Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Supercomputer Watson suggests new recipes for adventurous cooks

Would you like discover new recipes? Created by a supercomputer? You can now ask Watson, IBM's supercomputer, to suggest an entirely new recipe for you that combines ingredients you might never have thought of putting together.

"Chef Watson" is an experiment to test if Watson could create entirely new and surprising recipes and ingredient combinations. After reading thousands of recipes and learning about food pairing theories and the hundreds of thousands of complex relationships between flavor compounds, Chef Watson has helped shape the public perception of the potential for cognitive computing.

You can try Chef Watson for free here or as an smartphone app.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Celebrities with PhDs or MDs

Which celebrity earned a Ph.D. or a M.D.? (The list below does not include undergraduate degrees, master degrees, or honorary doctor titles).
  • The heavyweight boxer, Vitali Klitschko, holds a Ph.D. from the Ukraine and his brother, another heavyweight boxer, Wladimir Klitschko, holds a Ph.D. from Kiev National University.
  • Brian May, Guitarist of Queen (Astronomy Ph.D.): He wrote his thesis on zodiacal dust clouds
  • Greg Graffin (Singer, Bad Religion) has a PhD from Cornell University. The PhD dissertation was entitledMonism, Atheism and the Naturalist Worldview: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology.
  • Dexter Holland (singer & guitarist: The Offspring) was a PhD candidate in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Southern California.
  • Dan Snaith (records as Caribou) has a Ph.D. in Mathematics
  • Mayim Bialik (Blossom, Big Bang Theory) has a Ph.D. in 2008 from U.C.L.A. in neurobiology. She did her dissertation on Prader-Willi syndrome.
  • Milo Aukerman (Punk band "The Descendents") got a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin. Dissertation title: "Analysis of Opaque-2 Function in Maize".
  • Miuccia Prada (Head of the Prada fashion house) has a P.D. in political science.
  • Condoleezza Rice has her PhD in political science from the Graduate School of International Studies at University of Denver, USA.
  • Gordon Brown has his PhD in history from the University of Edinburgh, UK.
  • Martin Luther King Junior received a PhD in systematic theology from Boston University, USA
  • General David Petraeus has a PhD from Princeton.
  • German chancellor Angela Merkel has a doctorate degree in physical chemistry.
  • Robert Vaughn (The man from U.N.C.L.E): Vaughn earned a Ph.D. in communications from the University of Southern California, in 1970. In 1972, he published his dissertation as the book, Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting.
  • The only president of the United States with a Doctorate was Woodrow Wilson, who received his in History and Poli Sci from Johns Hopkins in 1886.
  • Dan Grimaldi (Patsy Parisi) on The Sopranos has a PhD in Data Processing from City University of New York.
  • Peter Weller. In 2013, Weller successfully defended his Ph.D. at UCLA in Italian Renaissance art history titled Alberti Before Florence: Sources Informing “De Pictura".
  • Shaquille O’Neal: In 2012, the former NBA basketball star defended his Ph.D. in leadership and education from Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. Title: How Leaders Utilize Humor or Aggression in Leadership Styles.
  • Tennis player Mikhail Youzhny completed his Ph.D. in philosophy from Moscow University in 2010.
  • Former Major League pitcher “Iron Mike” Marshall obtained his Ph.D. in kinesiology from Michigan State University in 1978. His dissertation was entitled, A Comparison of an Estimate of Skeletal Age With Chronological Age When Classifying Adolescent Males for Motor Proficiency Norms.
  • Former quarterback Frank Ryan completed his Ph.D. in mathematics from Rice University in 1964.
  • Rachel Maddow received her Ph.D. in 2001. Maddow’s dissertation focused on AIDS health care reform in prisons.
  • Miuccia Prada (Prada Fashion House) earned her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Milan in 1973.
  • Former US secretary of defense Robert Gates obtained his Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet history at Georgetown University in 1974.
Actors working on a PhD:
  • James Franco is a Ph.D. student in English at Yale University. He also received his MFA from Columbia University in 2010. 
Actors with Medical Doctor Degrees (M.D.):
  • Ken Jeong (Community, The Hangover), M.D.
  • Graham Chapman (Monty Python), M.D.
  • Jonathan LaPaglia ("Cold Case"), M.D.
  • Jonathan Miller ("Beyond the Fringe"), M.D. As reported in IMDB, "As well as being a qualified doctor, he is a satirist, sculptor, photographer, author, television presenter, performer, and theatre, opera & film director."
  • George Miller ("Mad Max", "Babe", "Happy Feet" ), M.D. (Director)
Actors with an Doctor of Education (Ed.D)
  • In 1976, Bill Cosby earned a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) degree from the University of Massachusetts. For his doctoral research, he wrote a dissertation entitled, "An Integration of the Visual Media Via 'Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids' Into the Elementary School Curriculum as a Teaching Aid and Vehicle to Achieve Increased Learning".
See more here: http://onlinephdinnursing.com/2010/10-surprising-celebrities-with-phds/

Here is a list of celebrities with academic degrees (mostly B.A.s).

Here is a list of comedians with academic degrees (mostly B.A.s and M.A.s).

Here is a list of professional wrestlers with academic degrees (mostly B.A.s).

Do-It-Yourself Gene-Editing Kit for biology education

Biophysicist and entrepreneur Josiah Zayner offers a do-it-yourself kit that allows you to cut, past, and string genes from one organism to another - on your kitchen table.

Moving genes from one organism to another used to be done only by big-budget labs. Three years ago, UC Berkeley developed the CRISPR gene-editing tool. CRISPR stands for 'Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats', which refers to a protein(Cas9) that can use an RNA guide to make highly specific cuts in DNA. This allows unprecedented abilities to edit DNA. Zayer is the first to make the CRISPR tool kit available to the masses.

The DIY gene-editing kit allows altering bacteria and yeast (which can change color, fragnance, or living requirements). The DIY CRISPR kit is available for 120$: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/diy-crispr-kits-learn-modern-science-by-doing#/

Read more here: Do-It-Yourself Gene-Editing Kit Transforming Biology | Sci-Tech Today

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Visions of a technology-enhanced future

Chinese technology giant Baidu, Samsung, and Microsoft produced interesting conceptual videos of what the near future might look like.

Shih-Ting Hung | Baidu : Beyond Technology from Shih-Ting Hung on Vimeo.

Samsung predicts this kind of future:

The tech companies’ visions share a lot in common, including:
  • Augmented reality as a part of everyday life
  • Big touchscreen surfaces everywhere
  • Real-time speech and text translation
  • Tablets
  • Remote health monitoring, especially of the elderly
Additionally, it is interesting that some other predictions were not included in the videos, such as self-driving cars, drones, VR headsets (such as Microsoft's HoloLens).
You might also be interested in Corning's video of near-future technology and Microsoft's vision of the future (2011).

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A short history of Santa Claus - from saint to secular

Santa Claus (Coca Cola version)
Santa Claus is a complex social-cultural phenomenon that developed over centuries.

  • Historically, Santa Claus is based on Bishop Nicholas of Myra who lived from 280-343 a.D. in Greece. He was made a Saint in 900 a.D. His Saints Day is December 6, which is the traditional 'Santa Claus' day in many European countries. St. Nicholas gave money and gifts to children but he did not like to be seen when he gave away presents. Therefore, he left his presents during the night. This turned into the modern day practice of telling children that Santa Claus will not arrive unless the children go to sleep early.
  • Leaving food: The catholic saint was merged with non-christian figures, such as Father Christmas and the Norse god Odin. During Yule time, Odin would visit every house on his horse Sleipnir. Children  would place their boots near the chimney (or outside of the door) with food for Sleipnir. During the night, Odin would enter the house through the chimney and reward them for their kindness with food, candy or gifts. The tradition still continues in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. The food for Sleipnir became milk and cookies for Santa; the boots become stockings hung on the chimney. Other norse influences are the Yule log and the mistletoe (Read more about the mistletoe tradition here). 
  • Influences: The modern Santa Claus was most strongly defined by Dutch and American influences. In the Netherlands, the figure is called 'Sinterklaas'. Dutch settlers brought the 'Sinterklaas' tradition to the US where the name changed into 'Santa Claus'. After arriving in the US, several poems, songs, and stories extended and changed the figure of Santa Claus. Instead of a horse, he now used reindeer. His workshop was placed at the North Pole, he was given an army of elves, and a wife (Mrs Claus was added by a 1956 popular song by George Melachrino, "Mrs. Santa Claus", and the 1963 children's book How Mrs. Santa Claus Saved Christmas, by Phyllis McGinley). 
  • Animals: In Europe, Santa Claus uses either horse, a donkey, or reindeer. In the US, his animals changed, most importantly due to the 1823 story "A Vist From St. Nicholas", better known today as "The Night Before Christmas". In this poem eight reindeer were introduced as Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder and Blixem (Dunder and Blixem came from the old Dutch words for thunder and lightning, which were later changed to the more German sounding Donner and Blitzen). The ninth, and most famous reindeer, was not added until 1939 by a poem about Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer by Robert L. May of the Montgomery Ward Company; followed by the popular 1949 song by Johnny Marks about "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".
  • Helpers: The European 'Sinterklaas' or 'Samichlaus' has often a helper called 'Black Peter/ Père Fouettard'. While Santa is the friendly gift-giver, Black Peter's job is to punish children who did not behave well. Similar to Black Peter, several European Alpine regions know a devil-like creature called Krampus who punishes naughty children. In Germany, Santa is linked to angel-like baby Jesus ('Christ Child') who brings gifts. The German word 'Kristkind' became Santa Claus' name 'Kris Kringle'. In the US tradition, Santa has a workshop full of elves who make all the gifts. However, in several Scandiavian countries, Santa is an elf himself (called Nisse or Tomte).
  • Outfit: In many European countries, Santa Claus wears a Bishop's attire. In the US, his religious looks were changed to a more secular apparel (a fur-lined red suit and a soft hat). Santa's outfit became standardized through the 1920s and firmly established through the work of Coca-Cola Company commissioned illustrator Haddon Sundblom who developed advertising images using Santa Claus in 1930.
Santa Claus can therefore be considered a product of cultural globalization and a merger of many traditions.

The Origin and Evolution of Santa Claus
by herrimanjoe. From Visually.