NASA:

Analysis was performed on the Kepler space telescope’s July 2015 planet candidate catalog, which identified 4,302 potential planets. For 1,284 of the candidates, the probability of being a planet is greater than 99 percent – the minimum required to earn the status of “planet.” An additional 1,327 candidates are more likely than not to be actual planets, but they do not meet the 99 percent threshold and will require additional study. The remaining 707 are more likely to be some other astrophysical phenomena. This analysis also validated 984 candidates previously verified by other techniques.

“Before the Kepler space telescope launched, we did not know whether exoplanets were rare or common in the galaxy. Thanks to Kepler and the research community, we now know there could be more planets than stars,” said Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters. “This knowledge informs the future missions that are needed to take us ever-closer to finding out whether we are alone in the universe.”

Nuts

Guy 3D prints his own teeth alignment molds:

As far as I know, I’m the first person to have tried DIY-ing plastic aligners. They’re much more comfortable than braces, and fit my teeth quite well. I was pleased to find, when I put the first one on, that it only seemed to put any noticeable pressure on the teeth that I planned to move- a success! I’ve been wearing them all day and all night for 16 weeks, only taking them out to eat. I’m planning on fabricating a bunch of retainers for the current position, which I can use – till I die – at night. They also happen to work very well as perfectly fitting whitening trays, when trimmed down a tiny bit. They’re also fantastic night guards- they’ve been protecting my teeth from nighttime grinding, without being bulky.

And, most importantly, I feel like I can freely smile again. That’s what’s most important.

Impressive.

Territory Studio created hundreds of screen graphics for the motion picture The Martian and they’re great:

As a story that is mediated by technology, hundreds of screens are employed across eight key sets, forming the lens through which the drama unfolds.

Working closely with NASA, Territory developed a series of deft and elegant concepts that combine factual integrity and filmic narrative, yet are forward looking and pushing NASA’s current UI conventions as much as possible.

Awesome.

Extreme Tech:

Back in 1999, scientists slowed light down to just 17 meters per second, and then two years later the same research group stopped light entirely — but only for a few fractions of a second. Earlier this year, the Georgia Institute of Technology stopped light for 16 seconds — and now, the University of Darmstadt has stopped light for a whole minute.

Fascinating article by Ben Popper on MLB’s Advanced Media division:

The latest expression of this boundless initiative is Statcast, a big data approach to sports that only a major league nerd could love. High-speed cameras and radar installed in every stadium capture the game in three dimensions and allow for real-time tracking and tabulation of each motion a player makes on the field. Fans watching an amazing replay of a diving catch can learn exactly how fast that outfielder’s first step was, if he broke in the right direction, and how that compares to his historical average.

Baseball has always had a strong statistical element to it. This just takes it one step further.

Great excerpt from a LWN.com article:

Krekel quoted former Facebook researcher Jeff Hammerbacher, who said: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That Sucks.” Instead of spending time on “getting us into space, flying cars, or whatever”, the best minds in IT are focused on how to get people to click more ads.

Web advertising has become invasive and hostile regardless of the platform. The advertising-driven business models have put reputable sites in a bad position, they either make less money or provide a better experience. This plus the above note make me think that this topic isn’t getting the attention it deserves.

Kate Meyer:

Unfortunately, some designers misinterpret minimalism as a purely visual-design strategy. They cut or hide important elements in pursuit of a minimalist design for its own sake—not for the benefits that strategy might have for users. They’re missing the core philosophy and the historical context of minimalism, and they risk increasing complexity rather than reducing it.

Great point. Minimalist strategy is one where you approach designing layouts and information architectures with the intent to reduce unnecessary cruft and focus on the user’s goals. It’s easy to get carried away and end up with something so spartan it’s barely usable.

Great article from UI and Us:

Nänni confirmed my theory: “You are absolutely right. A rectangle with sharp edges takes indeed a little bit more cognitive visible effort than for example an ellipse of the same size. Our “fovea-eye” is even faster in recording a circle. Edges involve additional neuronal image tools. The process is therefore slowed down.”

Professor Nänni is saying that rounded rectangles are literally easier on the eye. Put another way, compared to square-edged rectangles, rounded rectangles are more computationally efficient for the human brain. To me, this is a revelation. An idea that at the very least demands more investigation.

Rounded rectangles have been a staple of UI design since the dawn of the graphical user interface. Lately there has been an increasing number of sharp-edged rectangles used in UI designs, specifically in buttons and forms. For instance, Material Design uses nearly-straight edges throughout its UI components.

Gene Spafford:

In the late 1980s, around the time the Airbus A340 was introduced (1991), those of us working in software engineering/safety used to exchange a (probably apocryphal) story. The story was about how the fly-by-wire avionics software on major commercial airliners was tested.

According to the story, Airbus engineers employed the latest and greatest formal methods, and provided model checking and formal proofs of all of their avionics code. Meanwhile, according to the story, Boeing performed extensive design review and testing, and made all their software engineers fly on the first test flights. The general upshot of the story was that most of us (it seemed) felt more comfortable flying on Boeing aircraft. (It would be interesting to see if that would still be the majority opinion in the software engineering community.)

Well that’s one way to do it.

TechCrunch has a write up on Tim Cook’s Speech from EPIC:

We believe the customer should be in control of their own information. You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is.

Hard to say if customers will really see this for what it is someday. Google and Facebook have business models that work because people have already decided they are willing to give up privacy for service. Will that change as privacy concerns become more apparent? Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet on it.