Is the Jetson-like future with flying cars finally here?

Is the Jetson-like future with flying cars finally here?

From The New Yorker: "There are more than four hundred startups in what is called the advanced air mobility industry. The term covers everything from actual flying-car-ish contraptions to more traditional-looking airplanes, but it generally refers to evtols. For the most part, these crafts bear a greater resemblance to helicopter-plane hybrids than to automobiles, and they can’t be driven on the road; they might better be described as electric aerial vehicles with the ability to hover and the no-fuss point-to-point flexibility of a car. Some are single-seat playthings: Jetson One, a Swedish company, has developed a craft that looks like a little aerodynamic cage and handles like Luke Skywalker’s X-wing. Others fly themselves: EHang, a Chinese company, has been testing an autonomous passenger drone with a quadcopter design."

The world’s most remote triathlon involves bird eggs, a volcano, and bananas

The triathlon in Rapa Nui brings back traditions that were repressed for hundreds of years.

From Atlas Obscura: "Spectators on shore point with outstretched fingers to the nearing athletes as they furiously raft towards land. Paddling past the numerous sea turtles that glide around the bay, Tumaheke Durán Veri Veri arrives first. He heaves his hand-woven raft onto the sand and runs barefoot up to the island’s main road. He then hoists a 44-pound bundle of bananas over his shoulders and begins to run. This is the Tau’a Rapa Nui; a demanding sporting event that honors the Rapa Nui’s ancestral tradition. It begins with the rafting, called Vaka Ama; followed by the banana-weighted run, the Aka Venga; and ends with a bodyboard-type paddle race: Natación con Pora."

Mysterious Roman dodecahedron found at amateur archeological dig baffles experts

Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group Roman artefact

From the BBC: "A mysterious Roman artefact found during an amateur archaeological dig is going on public display for the first time. The object is one of only 33 dodecahedrons found in Britain, and the first to have been discovered in the Midlands. The artefact is also one of the largest found, measuring about 3in tall and weighing 8oz. The 12-sided object was unearthed by a group of local volunteers. The mysterious objects date back as far as the 1st Century. Some experts believe they were possibly linked to Roman rituals or religion, but there are no references to them in any Roman texts. Richard Parker, secretary of the Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group, said it was a privilege to have handled the object, thought to have been buried about 1,700 years ago."

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In the early 1900s people became convinced they could be healed by light

A Spectro-Chrome, c. 1925

From JSTOR Daily: "Dinshah Ghadiali was born to a Persian family in Bombay in 1873. After studying math, science, and medicine in India, Dinshah traveled to the US in 1896 to give a series of public lectures. At the time, newly discovered x-rays were fascinating the public, and he focused his talks on them. He identified the rays as a manifestation of “the astral light on the physical plane.” In 1920, Dinshah introduced the Spectro-Chrome. It consisted of a metal box holding a 1,000-watt bulb that could be fitted with various colored glass filters. Dinshah claimed every chemical element was attuned to a specific set of light frequencies. For example, orange light stimulated respiration and thyroid function, while magenta wavelengths promoted love and well-being."

We know that AI training is outsourced to Africa because of the words it uses

Artificial Intelligence Innovation Centre appoints Director - TWI ...

From The Guardian: "If you’ve spent enough time using AI assistants, you’ll have noticed a certain quality to the responses generated. Some of the tells are obvious. The fawning obsequiousness of a wild language model hammered into line through reinforcement learning with human feedback marks chatbots out. Which is the right outcome: eagerness to please and general optimism are good traits to have in anyone (or anything) working as an assistant. Sometimes, the tells are idiosyncratic. In late March, AI influencer Jeremy Nguyen, at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, highlighted one: ChatGPT’s tendency to use the word “delve” in responses. In Nigeria, “delve” is more frequently used in business English than it is in England or the US."

The cave villages of France include houses, churches, and even castles

From Messy Nessy Chic: "The troglodyte homes of France are ancient rock dwellings dotted along quiet country roads of the Loire, or deep in the basin of Dordogne, and some were built 100 millions years ago by our planet’s first humans. During the Norman invasions of the ninth and tenth century, these intricate tunnels became escape routes for royalty. They were carved into the region’s tuffeau rock, a green-white limestone. Inside, temperatures were always about 10-15 degrees celsius (50-60). Time has turned the troglodytes into everything from cottages to mini-castles. The Loire Valley alone boasts 14,000 inhabitable, albeit mostly abandoned spaces today, but, up until the early 20th century, “troglo” homes were widely inhabited in France."

A time-lapse video of an Amish colony building a barn in 10 hours

Acknowledgements: I find a lot of these links myself, but I also get some from other newsletters that I rely on as "serendipity engines," such as The Morning News from Rosecrans Baldwin and Andrew Womack, Jodi Ettenberg's Curious About Everything, Dan Lewis's Now I Know, Robert Cottrell and Caroline Crampton's The Browser, Clive Thompson's Linkfest, Noah Brier and Colin Nagy's Why Is This Interesting, Maria Popova's The Marginalian, Sheehan Quirke AKA The Cultural Tutor, the Smithsonian magazine, and JSTOR Daily. If you come across something interesting that you think should be included here, please feel free to email me at mathew @ mathewingram dot com