WHEN THE 16TH-CENTURY alchemist Robert Greene of Welby added books to his collection, he had some signature ways of making them his own. His name appears everywhere in them: inscribed as R. Green and Robertus green de welbe, or even half-translated into Greek as ροβερτωσ χλωρωσ. He sometimes scraped away a former owner’s signature and superimposed his own in its place. He checked his manuscripts against more authoritative copies: where a few lines were missing from the alchemical treatise On the Secrets of Nature, he gave them in the margin. On the Secrets was supposed to be the work of Ramon Llull, the Catalan polymath revered in England as an alchemical luminary, so it was important that Greene’s copy recorded his instructions in full.

The annotations in Greene’s books rehearse some typical tactics from the unwritten playbook of alchemical self-styling. Conveniently forget your close contemporaries in the craft (as when Greene obliterated the name of his contemporary, Giles Du Wes, from his books); promote whatever ancient origins you can for your learning, even if they must be invented. Play up the fidelity of your practice to the alchemical theory of an esteemed predecessor, like Llull. English alchemical tradition predicated itself on Llull’s authority and on his legendary partnership with medieval English kings, but this was pure fabrication, as the historical Llull would have nothing to do with alchemy and never set foot in England. Robert Greene claimed to have studied his “Raymond Lull” and the “misticall writing of the most noble philosophers” dutifully, but still, he only discovered their true meaning through experiment. Proper alchemical procedure is learned first from reading books, and only fully understood and “proved” via experience; so, cast yourself as an incisive reader and savvy practitioner. Tag your books with a little Greek graffiti for an impression of academic credibility and a hermetic mystique.

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A young polar bear, likely female, was lured into a specially-made cage by a stack of fish splashed with fish oil after it held a village of Dzhebariki-Khaya under a brief siege. 

Residents were asked to keep children at home after the polar bear was seen stealing dog food, sleeping in backyards, and attacking local men who were trying to scare it away. 

Finally the bear was caught in the evening of 11 May.

‘This is an absolutely unique case, the first in the history of Russia and Eurasia when such a rare species from the Arctic habitat went this far south into the mainland. There is no explanation into why this happened yet’, said Roman Smetanin, head of Yakutia’s BioResources directorate who took part in the bear-hunting operation. 

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Black Victorian house in Pacific Heights, San Francisco.

Jupiter in ultraviolet, Hubble.

The Launch Configurable Keyboard is engineered to be comfortable, fully customizable, and make your workflow more efficient.

The Kiss, Edvard Munch, 1892.

Little Cutie, Kathrin Federer, 2020.

It seemed inevitable that Elon Musk would eventually get into a Twitter war over whether Mars can be terraformed. When you’re on Twitter, he told Businessweek in July, 2018, you’re “in meme war land.” “And so essentially if you attack me,” he said, “it is therefore okay for me to attack back.”

Musk, the CEO and lead designer of SpaceX, wants to “make life multiplanetary,” starting with Mars. “Public support for life on Mars is critical to making it happen,” he tweeted last week. The red planet is relatively close to the Earth and once harbored surface seas and rivers, and it still has ice and a subsurface lake. Its weather is surprisingly workable, too. Mars’ surface temperature range (–285 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit) isn’t too far off from Earth’s (–126 to 138 degrees Fahrenheit). The problem is Mars’ atmosphere now has 0.006 bar of pressure, where one bar is the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level on Earth. Not only does this mean that dangerous levels of radiation reach the surface unchecked, but humans need at least 0.063 bar to keep our bodily liquids from boiling (this is called the Armstrong limit).

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We all laughed when the physicist Alan Sokal wrote a deliberately silly paper entitled Transgressing the boundaries: towards a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity, and managed to get it accepted by a journal of social and cultural studies, Social Text.

But in 2002, on the 22nd of October many of us began hearing rumors that two brothers managed to publish at least five meaningless papers in physics journals as a hoax - and even got Ph.D. degrees in physics from Bourgogne University on the basis of this work!

The rumor appears to have begun with an email from the physicist Max Niedermaier to the physicist Ted Newman, and it spread like wildfire. I received copies from many people, and soon there was a heated discussion of what this meant for the state of theoretical physics. Had the subject become so divorced from reality that not even the experts could recognize the difference between real work and a hoax?

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Switzerland’s spy chief will leave his post, the government said on Wednesday, after a newspaper reported he had fallen out with the defence minister over his handling of a scandal involving a cryptography firm linked to the CIA.

Jean-Philippe Gaudin, elevated in 2018 to head Switzerland’s NDB intelligence service under then-Defence Minister Guy Parmelin, will be replaced by Juerg Buehler on an interim basis, the government said in a statement.

The Tages-Anzeiger paper reported that tensions developed between Gaudin and current Defence Minister Viola Amherd in part because he waited too long to inform her about the affair involving Crypto AG.

For decades, the Swiss company sold encryption devices while being secretly owned by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Germany’s intelligence service, which could freely read what it encrypted. (https://reut.rs/3eEZwNh)

The NDB gave no reason for Gaudin’s departure, saying only that he would take up a “new challenge” in the private sector.

A spokesman for the intelligence service did not immediately comment on the newspaper report. Gaudin could not be reached for comment.

Reports about CIA involvement in Crypto have circulated in Switzerland for years, in particular after the arrest in the 1990s of one of the company’s salesmen in Iran, which accused him of leaking encryption codes to its Western rivals.

But new details emerged in early 2020 when Swiss authorities said they were investigating reports that the CIA and the German BND spy service had used Crypto’s encryption technology to crack other nations’ top-secret messages, stirring an outcry in officially neutral Switzerland.

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Bronze Caryatid Mirror with Aphrodite, found in Greece, ca. 460 BC.

Building a programming language from scratch is no easy feat. In addition to creating the compiler, defining the standard library, and supporting tools like editors and build systems, you need to design the language — will it be imperative or functional? What systems will the language be used for? Will it have metaprogramming capabilities? 

Zig, a member of our Open Source and Nonprofit Program, is a general-purpose programming language and toolchain for maintaining optimal and reusable software. It’s simple yet robust, and has portable SIMD. For the team working on Zig, the decision to build a language that was intentionally designed for their needs wasn’t made lightly. To learn more about what inspired this journey, we sat down with Loris Cro, one of the team members working on the project.  

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Methadone Skies - Retrofuture Caveman (2021).

Mitch Murder - Then Again.