The Weekend Nerdiary

Episode 10

I keep expecting the Internet to run out of things to share, but no! This week we'll do some more mind-blowing on Mars, read about our brain-simulated future, build some watches (and Ferraris), and learn how to pronounce Beijing properly. Onward!

=- Space invaders -=

The Mars hits keep on coming! Here's the first 360-degree panorama from the surface:

And here's the first sound of the Martian wind!

And the absolutely best: Before you watch the following video, make sure you've got your sound on and you're sitting down. THIS IS FROM ANOTHER PLANET. It's an absolutely amazing 3.5 minutes.

Eagle-eyed watchers saw an interesting pattern in the parachute as it deployed...

And considering NASA has a history of putting not-so-secret easter eggs in missions like this, it didn't take long for the global nerdiary to figure out what it meant...

"Dare mighty things" is a line from a speech given by Teddy Roosevelt to the Hamilton Club in Chicago on April 10, 1899.

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

And if you're mind hasn't shattered yet, someone put together an interactive list of every space probe currently flying through the universe that we're still in contact with...

[[ Shiny new things ]]

Excellent gift idea: Evil Genius Labs makes laser engraved, 4 inch slate tile coasters of everyone's favorite classic microchips...

Rotate Watch Kits takes the Ikea Effect to a whole new level with DIY watchmaking kits!

{ Code code code code code }

Someone made an interactive real-time water electrolysis fluid WebAssembly!

Ok, this is bonkers: Software engineer Justine Tunney has built something called the Actually Portable Executable, which is essentially a truly universal program that can be run on ANY operating system. Here's an explanation of why it's so mind-blowing (from user Gaelan on Hacker News):

"Windows, macOS, Linux, and BSD all (usually) run on Intel processors, so in theory it should be possible to write a program that runs on all three. However, despite ultimately using the same instruction sets, the four OSes use different formats to store metadata about the programs, and have different ways for programs to communicate with the operating system. Justine Tunney created two things:

  1. Actually Portable Executables, a clever way of formatting a program so that all four OSes interpret it a valid program in their own format.
  2. Cosmopolitan libc, a library for communicating with the OS that handles each OS's interface, allowing programs to work on all four."

And Justine's own explanation about why it hadn't been done before...

"[This] the simplest project that could have happened decades ago. Anyone could have built it. There's never been a technical reason why an x86 binary can't run on all x86 operating systems. It's just that traditionally only operating systems publish C libraries, and they have no incentive to spend money supporting their competitors. So it's the kind of project that could only happen if it was done by an indie developer just trying to have fun."

Two examples of programs that show the power of this creation (and these won't be the last clever things we see...):

  • Justin's own project Redbean, which is a web server that itself is a ZIP file (you have to read the full description to appreciate how inception-level bonkers this is) and that can serve 1,000,000+ requests per second on a cheap personal computer.
  • A universal Lua intepreter built using Justine's libary. Still work-in-progress, but runs everywhere!

** Play time **

Unreal Engine posted a preview video of their upcoming MetaHuman Creator, which allows for artists to quickly build lifelike 3D human characters for their games. Check it:

!! Truth is stranger than truth !!

TIL It's actually "Bei-jing" (w/ a hard j) not "Bei-zhing" as we Americans usually pronounce it...due to something called Hyperforeignism. Read for details!

|| Long(ish)reads ||

If you're a Black Mirror-esque scifi fan, Lena is an eery but excellent short story that's worth the read...

"MMAcevedo (Mnemonic Map/Acevedo), also known as Miguel, is the earliest executable image of a human brain. It is a snapshot of the living brain of neurology graduate Miguel Álvarez Acevedo (2010–2073), taken by researchers at the Uplift Laboratory at the University of New Mexico on August 1, 2031. Though it was not the first successful snapshot taken of the living state of a human brain, it was the first to be captured with sufficient fidelity that it could be run in simulation on computer hardware without succumbing to cascading errors and rapidly crashing..."

:: Pretty pixels ::

Artist Kim Keever is a former NASA intern and student of thermal engineering. He drops color pigments into a water tank and shoots 100 megapixel images which are, well, amazing...

Danny Ivan is a 3D artist who creates mind-blowing digital patterns.

.. /dev/urandom ..

Ever wonder how Ferraris get built? Yes of course you did, and now you shall know:

That's it for this week! Thanks again for playing along. If you enjoyed this, feel free to forward to someone else who might as well. If you got this from a friend, subscribe here.

Until the next one,

Copyright © 2021 NLH Heavy Industries, LLC. All rights reserved.

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