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Siri is helpful most of the times, but she can get really sassy when users ridicule her.

Due to the new experiments that tech savvies have made, now you can hear Siri’s bold response to silly math question. The software program is very loved by iPhone users not only for its correct responses, but also for the sassy answers she gives back whenever ridiculed.

Siri may sometimes act like the geekiest computer program ever, but the voice service can be tough, too. Developers have foreseen users’ mockery and they have provided Siri with the right answers right from the very first moment it was introduced on the market.

It took users a couple of months after they have finally ceased to repeatedly test Siri’s abilities with annoying questions. Yet, this practice is now back in users’ attention after a silly question math triggered one of the sassiest responses from Siri.

Probably deriving her mocking style from her inventor, Apple’s late CEO, Steve Cook, Siri told users they have no friends when they asked her how much was zero divided by zero. Based on the videos that have been frantically uploaded ever since the first rumors had it that Siri can be sassy, too, the iPhone customer asked the voice program how much was zero divided by zero. To that, the program simply replied “And you are sad that you have no friends”.

There are, however, many more possibilities when it comes to Siri’s creativity. The program might also bore users to death with her detailed description of the math operation.

On the other hand, the service can portray the operation by telling customers to imagine that they have zero cookies that they divide to their non-existent friends.

This isn’t the first sassy observation that Siri has made; the Internet is filled with many tops and classifications inspired by the answers provided by the computer program. The most appreciated ones are those lines stemming from famous American movies.

Take, for instance, the question ‘what is the meaning of life?’ The program will only resume itself to saying ‘42’, the well-known line from the movie “A Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.

The same ironic response is obtained when users try to talk Siri into saying that other voice programs from competing companies are better. The female voice either fakes laugh or it replies that it has no idea what those programs are.

However, there has been a case when Apple’s Siri answered Nokia’s Lumia 900 when asked to name the best smartphone on the market. Developers have fixed this issue and now the program ridicules the interlocutor by saying that she was not aware there were other phones available.

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During a Q&A with Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, he revealed he thinks the future of the number one social network worldwide is creating a technology that will allow users to communicate via telepathy instead of text or pictures.

Such question and answer sessions with the young CEO are rather regular, and the latest one focused on the near-future impact of virtual reality in social networking. Zuckerberg laid out his hopes of making telepathic communication possible through advanced technology.

Allowing your friends to experience instantly your full and eloquent thoughts – only if you like – sounds like something that belongs more in a sci-fi movie, but Zuckerberg believes we’re closer than we think to having such a technology.

But that is at the end of a longer road that needs to be walked first. He explained that the process will first have users share more video content with their friends, then integrate virtual reality in communication situations by creating more immersive experiences.

After this step comes the possibility for technology that would give us the ability of sharing “full sensory and emotional experience with people whenever we’d like.”

Regarding his vision for Oculus – the company developing in the virtual reality industry – Zuckerberg said that it works toward making it possible for people to experience anything.

The ultimate goal, he said, is surpassing the physical impossibilities of the analog world and creating a medium where people can have new experiences that would otherwise remain only in the realm of wishful thinking.

If your head hurts thinking of the endless possibilities that come with creating such a powerful communication medium, it might be reassuring to hear it’s not just you. But Zuckerberg’s vision isn’t as far-fetched as one might think.

Today, we take photos and videos and share them with friends over the internet in order to let them in on our experiences. “Tomorrow”, we’ll shoot whole 3D scenes and share them on brand-new mediums with our friends as well.

Facebook’s AI research will also increase in precision and accuracy of what you’ll see on your News Feed, learning to show you exactly the posts you’d be interested in seeing. For example, if you post photos of dogs, the algorithm will understand that you would like to see more pictures of dogs from your friends’ posts.

Facebook’s goal is to help you connect with the people who most share your interests. In that sense, it’s no wonder that Facebook’s future is telepathy.
Image Source: NewsBeat Social

At this point, it is no longer surprising to find out that Google is actively promoting in search results links that come from its own services, such as Google+. Previous manipulations of returned results were always justified by the concept of offering the user the best experience they can, but that excuse might not work this time.

According to a recent study conducted by Tim Wu – the one responsible with coining the term “net neutrality” – under Yelp’s umbrella, Google is intentionally demoting search results in favor of content coming from its services. Without a doubt, such practices inevitably end up harming users along the way.

Two different searches were performed: first one included surfing on Google normally. Second one had a plugin – Focus on the User – added to the search, surfacing third-party reviewed sites in detriment of those coming from Google+.

According to the results, the second type of search generated the most user engagement, as they clicked on search results 45 percent more than during the first search. It’s not a subtle difference, as Tim Wu and Michael Luca, Harvard business professor and research partner have pointed out.

By altering the algorithms as to artificially favor websites from Google+, the giant tech company is creating a context for inferior content to be promoted instead of better third-party websites.

There are some, however, who think the study is not to be believed. For example, Danny Sullivan, an editor for Search Engine Land editor, thinks the study does nothing but state the obvious. At the same time, Sullivan pointed to the fact that the experiment’s conclusions might not be reflecting the situation as it actually is.

According to him, few users click on irrelevant links anyway, on one hand. On the other, Google+ reviews might sometimes be more helpful or relevant than others, such as those offered by Yelp.

Others, such as Jim Jansen, an information science professor from the Penn State University, think that this problem is bound to be self-correcting; if non-Google+ websites will be accessed more by users, the search engine algorithms will adapt accordingly by demoting Google+ reviews.

At the same time, the study’s bias is to be questioned as well. After all, it was Yelp which made it possible, a rival company which naturally wants to see its reviews ranking as highest as possible. Either way, Wu and Luca think this study is evidence that can be used in a future litigation against Google’s illegal anti-competitive actions.
Image Source: Vertical Response

After thousands of man-hours invested in the feature of facial recognizing, both Google and Facebook have gotten really good at it. Their algorithms have become so advanced that your face doesn’t even have to show up in the picture; the back of your head will soon be enough for Facebook to know it’s you.

When it comes to facial-recognition algorithms, Facebook has become a leading organization, with such innovative technology that it can now identify people in pictures as well as humans can.

With an astonishing 97 percent accuracy, Facebook’s algorithm dubbed DeepFace (really, Facebook?) can tell if it’s you in two different pictures, without any other source than the pictures themselves. Not even FBI’s identification system has such good scoring in accuracy.

DeepFace has received its training on one of the largest facial databases which incorporates more than 4 million facial pictures of roughly 4,000 individuals. Therefore, it’s gotten really good at analyzing faces by turning them into 3D models: this step is important, because it allows the algorithm to recognize the same face from different angles and under various lighting conditions.

According to an article on Facebook’s research, more than 120 million parameters are involved in this kind of facial recognition algorithms. But Facebook wants to take things to the next level: identifying people even when their faces are visible. In order to do this, the algorithm is trained to focus on body shape, hairstyle, clothing and posture.

With this upgraded algorithm, Facebook reported that the accuracy has reached 83 percent in cases of pictures of people whose faces aren’t showing. So the public wouldn’t freak out hearing the news, the giant tech company researched and developed the tool by using Flickr shots and not actual Facebook photos.

While Facebook’s algorithm is definitely impressive, Google has not been idle either. A new feature for Google Photos was announced last month and it has left people with their mouths wide open.

It is absolutely crazy what Google Photos’ search engine can do; not only can it differentiate between pictures of cats and dogs, but also search based on dog breeds. And this is the least of its capabilities.

Photos can also be searched and categorized based on a key word or an adjective that can describe the images you’re looking for. A demo showed that typing in “delicious” in the search bar promptly returns results of pictures of food and beverages.

Recognizing cats, dogs and food is all fun and games, but even when it comes to people Google Photos delivers. The search engine makes it clear that your searches can include “People, Places and Things,” and when you click the More link on the People option, you’ll have a list of all the people you’ve ever taken a photo of.

Such news advancing the recognition capabilities are becoming increasingly worrying – even for people who think nothing of the NSA’s blatant privacy invasion. There are plenty of applications for Facebook’s and Google’s algorithms outside identifying people in pictures, and the government would certainly be delighted to get its hands on either of them.
Image Source: IT ProPortal

NASA scientists have announced that on this June 30, everyone gets an extra second, making Tuesday a bit longer than any other day. Because Earth is slowing down its rotation in a very gradual way, scientists have found a way to account for that by introducing the concept of the “leap” second.

Daniel MacMillan from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre explains that, in theory, all days should last 86,400 seconds, which is how we use the time in our daily lives, measured in Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC.

UTS is also dubbed the “atomic time” because of the exceptionally predictable electromagnetic evolutions that happen inside cesium atoms – which gives us the exact duration of a second.

Just so you can wrap your head around how reliable these transitions of the cesium clock are, try to grasp its accuracy to one second in 1,400,000 years – that’s its margin of error. However, an average day – a full rotation of the Earth – usually lasts about 86,400.002 seconds.

This happens because the Earth is in the middle of a gravitational struggle – a sort of braking force – with the Sun and the Moon, causing it to gradually slow down its rotation. According to scientific estimations, the average solar day has last measured 86,400 seconds around the year 1820.

One would argue 2 milliseconds – less than the time it takes you to blink – is not something that needs to be measured and kept account of. But when these two thousands of a second keep repeating every day for 356 days, you almost get an entire second.

Even though the fact that Earth’s rotation is slowing down was calculated on average, each specific day has its own unpredictable variation. Plenty of other factors are involved in the day’s length, but the atmosphere is one of the most important. Leap seconds are usually inserted at the middle (June 30) of the year or at the end of it (December 31).

Typically, the clock would change from 23:59:59 to 00:00:00. But June 30’s leap second was inserted as to move the UTC from 23:59:59 to 23:59:60, and then on July 1, it passes to 00:00:00 .

Unlike in theory, the way systems incorporate the leap second in practice is by turning them off for one second. Because previous leap seconds have created a great deal of hassle for some computer systems, there are some who decided to ignore them altogether.

Leap seconds first became a thing in 1972, and until 1999, they would usually come very close to one another, almost in each year. However, after 2000, only three other leap seconds were introduced. June 30 will mark the fourth to be added since 2000.
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Space scientists have long been fascinated with Saturn’s age. They’ve tried to determine it over and over again in the past, with each experts adopting a different approach and causing an endless debate among members of the scientific community.

One baffling mystery in the particular is how the gas giant manages to stay so hot without an additional energy source, since planets typically cool off as they become older.

Thomas Mattsson, manager of the high-energy-density physics theory group over at Sandia National Laboratory, gave a statement saying that “Models that correctly predict Jupiter to be 4.5 billion years old find Saturn to be only 2.5 billion years old”.

But now an article posted earlier this week, on June 26, in the journal Science, says that the planet’s hydrogen molecules may have given away its secret age. Experiments conducted with the help of Sandia’s Z Machine could finally prove an old, untested theory from 80 years ago.

First put together by two (2) physicists – Eugene Wigner and Hillard Bell Huntington – in 1935, the proposed theory states that molecular hydrogen, which is usually an insulator, will begin to act like a metal if it’s squeezed by enough pressure. It will break and split into individual hydrogen atoms, all while setting free electrons that are capable of carrying a current.

Mike Desjarlais, one of the researchers from the Sandia National Laboratory, gave a statement infirming that this theory could explain Saturn’s temperature as helium rain is created when metallized hydrogen mixes with helium inside a dense liquid.

The mysterious energy source that the planet taps into to keep warmer than it should be its age may very well be helium rain, which can easily alter the planet’s evolution.

A team of researchers ran some test with the Sandia Z Machine. They magnetically compressed hydrogen while keeping it at a fairly low temperature, rather than by heating it up, and when the gas had gotten compressed enough that it was more than twelve (12) times its initial density, the researchers noticed that the hydrogen started being atomic, as opposed to molecular.

It’s a remarkable discovery that could make space scientists second guess everything they think they know about Saturn, especially the planet’s age.

One of the popular computerized models that already exists looks at a Jovian planet’s radiation and heat emission in order to determine its age. It says that as a planet gets older, it should also get colder. This model says Jupiter is 4.5 billion years old, while Saturn is only 2.5 billion years old.

The team from Sandia National Laboratory did admit that their results have to be introduced into astrophysical astrophysical models in order to find out just how much the transformation that hydrogen suffers affects the age gap between Sarurn and Jupiter.

But the working theory is that Saturn is also 4.5 billion years old, it only appears younger using the above mentioned model due to its helium rain.

Experts on the subject say that the finding is most likely to cause debate in the scientific community for years to come in order to reach a new consensus.

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Researchers have long known that rats have a very similar physiology to that of humans and thus make good test subjects for various cures and drugs meant to help the medical community better understand a condition and hopefully spark some advancements in the field.

But a recent study has shown that they’re much more similar to human beings than just that. In fact, Pixar might have been closer to reality than anyone ever thought when they made Ratatouille. It turns out that fictional rat Remy is not the only member of the species to dream about the things he wants to do and the places he wants to visit. Real life rats do that too.

Researchers at the University College London reveal that, during their tests, rats who were shown a treat that they were unable to physically reach, later dreamed about how they could reach it after falling asleep. Essentially their hopes and dreams of reaching the snack manifested in their sleep.

The process is not only similar to what the human brain does while we’re asleep, but it can also help better explain the phenomenon.

Hugo Spiers, lead researcher and neuroscientist from University College London (UCL), gave a statement explaining what exactly a rat’s brain does: “It’s like looking at a holiday brochure for Greece the day before you go – that night you might dream about the pictures”.

For their study, published in the journal eLife, Spiers and his team placed four (4) rats on a track that had a T-shaped structure with some food at the end of one of the arms. Access to the snacks was prevented with the aid of a transparent barrier that allowed the animals to see the tasty treats as well as the rout to them, but also kept them from getting to it.

After trying and failing to reach the food, the subjects were moved in a sleeping chamber for about an hour. The researchers then removed the transparent barrier and returned the rodents to the track.

What they noticed was that the rats quickly formed a map of the surrounding environment in their hippocampus while exploring the track and the T-shaped structure. The lead researcher explained that while the animals were asleep, the hippocampus areas in their brains replayed journey though this map, which in turn is believed to help strengthen their memories of the place.

Neurons known as “place cells” are responsible for storing memories about locations and forming mental maps. Monitoring rats in their sleep has revealed that these place cells linked to the arm with food still remained active even while the animals were asleep, while the cells linked to the empty arm were inactive while the animals were asleep.

When moved back into the maze, their cells light up in the exact same pattern as they did while the creatures were asleep.

But rats are more impressive that that. Spiers informs that while the frats are resting, their hippocampus areas also build bits and pieces of a future that’s yet to come.

And in a remarkable turn of events, he explains that because of the similarity between the rat hippocampus and the human hippocampus, this could very well explain why patients who have suffered damage to their hippocampus area have trouble imagining future event.

The team plans to conduct further research into how rats use sleep to think a problem through and figure out which approach is the most likely to get them to their desired destination. They want to establish a stronger link between the two processes.

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Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader is following the trend that has been gaining popularity in the recent months of users preferring the more private sharing in detriment of the more public usage of social platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

What happened is that Amazon has released a new feature allowing Kindle owners to share quotes and recommendations in private via various mobile messaging apps; so far, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and texting are on the list of compatible messaging services.

Sharing favorite quotes from books was previously supported through Facebook and Twitter, or other social networks that make it possible for the Kindle user to reach an entire social network with one post.

But, as explained in a blog post by Amazon Kindle Senior Vice President Russ Grandinetti, it was feasible to assume that your favorite quote might not always be the perfect quote for all your friends.

Plenty of Kindle readers are excited about the possibilities resulting from this feature. Being part of a book club has suddenly become even easier and more interesting. The private sharing option can be used for the members to get into more in-depth conversations based on the book they’re currently reading – and all that in a private conversation via messaging apps or email.

Instead of simply posting a Facebook status update whenever you want to make a book recommendation, the new feature allows you to share it in a more personal fashion, as you can now target the friends who you think you also enjoy the book and send them private messages supported by Kindle.

Already available on Kindle for Android, the upgraded feature also enables users to share highlights, quotes and recommendations with specific friends. Customer support for Kindle e-readers regarding the upgrade will also be made available later this year, according to company spokespersons.

What’s even more interesting is that Amazon also made it possible for the friends you share a book quote or recommendation with to immediately start reading the book you suggested.

It will be just like when you receive a link of a video: a simple click on it will give access to a free book preview in the browser, right then and there. No need to install the app, sign up, or sign into their account; reading can commence instantly.

It might not sound like much, but this upgrade is part of Amazon’s strategy of expanding its readership and customer base, as it removes the friction between receiving a social share and accessing an instant read.

For those interested in testing the new feature, Amazon has provided a few examples; just go and try either Divergent, The Book Thief, or The Hobbit.
Image Source: Cult of Macx

V404 Cygni has only been active three times before. NASA’s archives have confirmed that the black hole had similar X-ray outburts in 1938, 1956 and 1989.

According to NASA’s recent information, a dormant black hole wakes up after 26 years to swallow nearby star leaving scientists in awe. The recent discovery gives scientists the possibility to study the behavior of the massive black hole.

The European Space Agency and NASA have managed to capture images of an incredibly unusual space behavior on Thursday evening. Their systems for space investigation reported that an unidentified source began emitting X-rays and gamma rays.

At a closer look, scientists noticed that the source of the rays was the dormant black hole, V404 Cygni, which has been inactive in the past 26 years. Apparently, these pauses are specific for this space phenomenon, which only becomes active when a nearby star gets too close to its atmosphere.

Based on the data that scientists received on Thursday evening, V404 Cygni has even swallowed its orbiting star; thus, explaining the sudden outburst of gamma and X rays. These explosions usually appear in space whenever a star dies or it is consumed by another celestial body.

Researchers have spent the past hour estimating the location of the dormant black hole and figuring out some additional information in relation to its activity. They were thus, able to infer that both the black hole and the orbiting star are located in out Milky Way galaxy, at approximately 8,000 light years away from the Earth.

The first signs of activity were spotted on June 15 in the surrounding area of the Cygnus constellation. NASA and ESA have used all their gamma-ray-based systems of investigations starting on June 18 in order to get more data about the black hole.

V404 Cygni is currently one of the biggest sources of light in space due to the flashes of rays that it is emitting. Normally, Crab Nebula it is the brightest object in the sky, but the recently awoken black hole has managed to outshine it.

The first official accounts on the black hole were registered in 1989 when the space object was last active. Back then, scientists first detected the orbiting star and concluded that it is half the size of the Sun.

By studying its revolving movements around the unidentified object, NASA experts eventually concluded that the object is a massive black hole, whose size could be twice the diameter of the Sun.

Archived documents suggest that the black hole was also active in 1938 and 1956. Given the rare outbursts of the object, scientists will spend the following period investigating its activity.

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HoloLens is the project that NASA and Microsoft have been developing to facilitate astronomers work on ISS.

Judging from the recent rumors that the two companies have been touting, NASA and Microsoft have joined hands to bring HoloLens into space. The augmented reality device sets out to conquer space after traveling around the world.

Microsoft has been promoting many virtual devices in the past months in an attempt to prepare the upcoming launching of the much-awaited software Windows 10. Yet, no customer or analyst had foreseen the announcement that Microsoft and NASA made on Thursday afternoon.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has joined hands with the computer software company, Microsoft to bring HoloLens to the International Space Station. Scientists justified their decision to begin utilizing such devices on the ISS by explaining the press that these gadgets could be extremely useful for astronomers when carrying out outer space missions.

Microsoft, on the other hand, tried to meet the astronomers’ needs by providing the device with two modes, the Remote Expert Mode and the Procedure Mode. The first mode allows space researchers to use Skype in order to communicate with scientists on Earth.

Thanks to this mode, NASA experts on the ground will practically take part in all missions. Moreover, they will be able to quickly and effectively guide astronomers whenever a problem might occur on the ISS.

The second mode, the Procedure Mode, was designed to provide better autonomy to users. This version is in keeping with the customer model; therefore, it provides a series of information for the objects that astronomers might be interacting with in space.

Much like the commercial version, the information will be displayed on the augmented reality monitor of the headset.

NASA takes great confidence in the benefits that Microsoft’s devices could bring to their ISS research programs. According to Sam Scimemi, the director of the ISS program, many more augmented reality devices could be integrated in astronomers’ work in the future as they have proven themselves very useful on many occasions.

The HoloLens gadget has been tested in NASA’s Weightless Wonder C9 Jet laboratory. The low gravitation tests have proven that HoloLens works perfectly in space as it does on Earth.

NASA plans to add many more devices to its space missions in the future. OnSight is another project that the administration is developing with the help of Microsoft, which gives scientists the possibility to simulate life on Mars based on the information the Curiosity rover has gathered, so far.

Although no exact dates have been yet provided, NASA and Microsoft plan to send HoloLens into space by the end of the year.

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