"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
Hi, this is Greg Powell. I hope you'll enjoy one or more of these interesting topics from the world of business and beyond. Dan Powell, my son and collaborator, has researched the articles and written the summaries, so this is not a boilerplate message. We'd like to give you a weekly break to learn about something cool or, better yet, 5 Cool Things.

The Man Who Told America the Truth About D-Day (New York Times Magazine)

Ernie Pyle, a journalist from Indiana covering the US war effort during World War II, started out with the sunny sort of patriotic style often on display in newsreels from the period. That all changed when he became one of just 30 reporters embedded with the troops during the D-Day landings, 75 years ago this month. This article captures the way that Pyle’s experiences began to shape his writing, culminating in the draft found in his pocket after he was shot during the Okinawa landings. “‘To you at home they are columns of figures, or he is a near one who went away and just didn’t come back. You didn’t see him lying so grotesque and pasty beside the gravel road in France. We saw him, saw him by the multiple thousands. That’s the difference.’” Read more…

Doctored Video of Sinister Mark Zuckerberg Puts Facebook To the Test (The Guardian)

Recently, we covered the release of a “deepfake” video of Nancy Pelosi that surfaced on Facebook, which refused to delete it, citing free speech protections. That policy is now being put to the test with a new viral video of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “‘Imagine this for a second: one man with total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures,” the faux-Zuckerberg says. “I owe it all to Spectre. Spectre showed me that whoever controls the data, controls the future.’” Though the Zuckerberg in the video has an obviously-altered voice and mentions fictional James Bond villain Spectre, the creepy technology behind deepfakes continues to show why it’s poised to upend our understanding of global events. Read more…

AlphaZero AI Beats Champion Chess Program After Teaching Itself in Four Hours (The Guardian)

Once, the greatest chess players in the world were human beings. Today, AI programs battle for dominance, backed by different strategies and styles of “thought”. One such competition, in 2017, pitted former world champion Stockfish 8, an AI program that leverages human chess knowledge, against Google’s AlphaZero. AlphaZero is unique in that it accepts no input from human players, instead teaching itself how to play — which, in the case of chess, took just four hours. Against Stockfish 8 (and, by extension, all of humankind’s contributions to the game over the centuries), AlphaZero won 28 times, played to a draw 72 times, and never lost. Read more…


The Legacy of Hubble: One Image, a Quarter Million Galaxies (SyFy Wire)

You might be familiar with Hubble’s iconic Deep Field image, produced by focusing on a small patch of space for an extended period of time. Packed with galaxies of every age and description, the 1996 image has been recreated since with Ultra Deep Field and eXtreme Deep Field observations, which utilized longer exposures and covered larger areas of the sky. For 2019, the orbital telescope upped the ante yet again with the astonishing Hubble Legacy Field, made up of over 7500 observations of a patch of sky roughly the size of a full moon. The resulting photo not only captures more than 200,000 galaxies, but also more than 13 billion years of time. Read more…


The Invisible City Beneath Paris (The New Yorker)

As breathtaking as Paris is above the surface, there is another, equally fascinating and sprawling “invisible city” below, a network of tunnels and quarries around ten times the size of New York’s Central Park. Over 600 years, buildings such as Notre Dame and the Louvre were constructed from limestone mined from below, until it began to create sinkholes that swallowed entire streets and houses. In the 1700s, the catacombs took on a new purpose: the storage of millions of bodies of the city’s dead. In addition to a history of concealed criminal activity, the bones of the corpses lend the invisible city a menacing aura that persists to this day, as urban explorers journey anew into its depths. Read more…

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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