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Meet the First Woman to Win Math’s Most Prestigious Prize

As an 8-year-old, Maryam Mirzakhani used to tell herself stories about the exploits of a remarkable girl. Every night at bedtime, her heroine would become mayor, travel the world or fulfill some other grand destiny.

Today, Mirzakhani — a 37-year-old mathematics professor at Stanford University — still writes elaborate stories in her mind. The high ambitions haven’t changed, but the protagonists have: They are hyperbolic surfaces, moduli spaces and dynamical systems. In a way, she said, mathematics research feels like writing a novel. “There are different characters, and you are getting to know them better,” she said. “Things evolve, and then you look back at a character, and it’s completely different from your first impression.”

Learn more about Maryam Mirzakhani at wired.

Turns Out the U.S. Has Its Very Own Species of Ant-Zombifying Fungus

Zombie ants, the ghostly slaves of a mind-controlling fungus seen creeping around places like South America for years, have now been spotted in the United States. But don’t panic—they’ve probably been here all along, and we only just now noticed.

Scientists at Penn State have for the first time shown that a fungus here in the U.S. invades the brains of ants, manipulates them into a very specific spot in the forest, and kills them before raining down spores on their comrades.”

Learn more from wired.

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American History: Now in Color! 

In An American Odyssey, published by Taschen, you can now see striking color photographs of the U.S. that predated autochrome photography by almost 20 years.

All of the postcard images are curated from the private collection of Marc Walter, the early results of a photolithographic process — something Wired dubbed “what Instagram would have looked like in the 1800s” because of the surreal, dreamlike quality of the photochroms’ colorings.

On the unique process:

Photochrom photographers would start the process by coating a printing plate with a light-sensitive emulsion and then exposing a glass plate photo negative onto it. Unlike modern four-color printing process that can represent millions of colors by overlapping tiny dots of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink, the inks mixed for Photochroms were mixed by hand in an attempt to perfectly match the yellow-green sunblasted scrub brush that surrounds the Grand Canyon or the aquamarine ocean water of the Bahamas. The photographers would erase the entire plate except for the area reserved for that specific color and make 10-15 more plates to fill out the composition. Photographic details were preserved, but an emotive, if slightly artificial, range of color was added.

Bonus: Learn more about the coloring process, history, and more over at the helpful FAQ by Taschen.

Images: “A Monday Washing, New York” and the cover of the new volume by Marc Walter and Sabine Arqué, a collection that spans from 1888-1924 from the Detroit Photographic Company, courtesy of Taschen books. 

Invoke the word autocorrect and most people will think immediately of its hiccups—the sort of hysterical, impossible errors one finds collected on sites like Damn You Autocorrect. But despite the inadvertent hilarity, the real marvel of our mobile text-correction systems is how astoundingly good they are. It’s not too much of an exaggeration to call autocorrect the overlooked underwriter of our era of mobile prolixity.

Without it, we wouldn’t be able to compose windy love letters from stadium bleachers, write novels on subway commutes, or dash off breakup texts while in line at the post office. Without it, we probably couldn’t even have phones that look anything like the ingots we tickle—the whole notion of touchscreen typing, where our podgy physical fingers are expected to land with precision on tiny virtual keys, is viable only when we have some serious software to tidy up after us. Because we know autocorrect is there as brace and cushion, we’re free to write with increased abandon, at times and in places where writing would otherwise be impossible. Thanks to autocorrect, the gap between whim and word is narrower than it’s ever been, and our world is awash in easily rendered thought.

The Fasinatng … Frustrating … Fascinating History of Autocorrect | Gadget Lab | WIRED

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Science Graphic of the Week: Inside a Lizard’s Regenerating Tail

"Anoles are curious little lizards capable of ditching their tails when they feel threatened. This self-amputation, called autotomy, takes about 25 days for the tail to regrow. A paper published today in the open-access online journal PLOS ONE describes the genetic process anoles use to regenerate."

Learn more from wired.

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I did these twin pieces to illustrate a short tale by Tullio Avoledo in Wired Italy. It is a special number with a number of science-fiction stories, a sort of hommage to the Amazing Stories magazine.

The story is about a portrait of Saint Thomas Becket from the Renaissance which is found to hide and older, mysterious picture below. This second picture is only visible when looking at the canvas under a special light. It is confirmed that it dates from the XVI century, and it is the portrait of a WWII german soldier.

Thank god for time travel.

New Post has been published on http://www.tinyhouseliving.com/binishells/

Binishells

The technique is speedy and, according to Bini, costs start at just $3,500. A cluster of Binishells might look like a sci-fi film set, but the materials to build one could be found on any job site.” – Wired via small & tiny home ideas.

See more at small & tiny home ideas. Below is a video of a large Binishell being inflated.

Subscribe to Tiny House Design

How Microscopic Ocean Life May Help Make It Rain

"Clouds can carry millions of pounds of water, but that doesn’t mean rain and snow just happen. Hundreds of thousands of water vapor molecules need to freeze together as ice before they are heavy enough to fall to the ground. But, the water molecules need a bit of dust or other microscopic matter to latch onto in order to get started, and some of the best bits for forming ice are pieces of once-living cells. Scientists now believe a lot of the organic matter in clouds is released into the air by breaking waves in the ocean.”

Learn more from wired.

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