Stephen Hawking’s advice for a fulfilling career


“Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it.”

Last month, the American Psychological Association published an article that synthesised findings on this topic that stretch back as far as 1993. Research from Harvard professor Teresa Amabile found that “no matter the size of a goal – whether curing cancer or helping a colleague – having a sense of meaning and feeling a sense of progress can contribute to happiness in the workplace.”

But finding work with purpose can be hard for many.

The complete article

Bryan Lufkin — BBC

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The Hilarious (and Terrifying?) Ways Algorithms Have Outsmarted Their Creators


AI has started surprising us. Should we be scared or excited?

As the paper notes in its discussion—and you may already be thinking—these amusing stories also reflect the potential for evolutionary algorithms or neural networks to stumble upon solutions to problems that are outside-the-box in dangerous ways. They’re a funnier version of the classic AI nightmare where computers tasked with creating peace on Earth decide the most efficient solution is to exterminate the human race.

The complete article

Eric Limer — Popular Mechanics

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New Giant Viruses Further Blur the Definition of Life


For decades, descriptions of viruses have straddled life and nonlife, a divide that usually isn’t difficult to navigate. Their hallmark characteristics, namely their small size, tiny genomes and parasitic dependence on cellular hosts for replication, set them apart from all other living things despite their animation. But that story has gotten far more puzzling — particularly since the discovery of the first giant virus in 2003, which was so large that researchers initially thought it was a bacterium.

Several families of giant viruses are now known, and some of those giants have more than 1,000 genes; one has a whopping 2,500. (By comparison, some small viruses have only four genes.)

The complete article

Jordana Cepelewicz — Quanta

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The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything


It is always good to ask ourselves, once in a while, “Have I learnt anything, lately?”

There are two types of knowledge and most of us focus on the wrong one. The first type of knowledge focuses on knowing the name of something. The second focuses on knowing something. These are not the same thing. The famous Nobel winning physicist Richard Feynman understood the difference between knowing something and knowing the name of something and it’s one of the most important reasons for his success. In fact, he created a formula for learning that ensured he understood something better than everyone else.

The complete article

Farnam Street

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Why willpower is overrated


The famous marshmallow experiment showed that children who showed self-restraint went on to do better in their lives. But, what if people who look like they are resisting the temptation are not actually feeling the temptation that strongly in the first place.

If resisting temptation is a virtue, then more resistance should lead to greater achievement, right? That’s not what the results, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Sciencefound.

The students who exerted more self-control were not more successful in accomplishing their goals. It was the students who experienced fewer temptations overall who were more successful when the researchers checked back in at the end of the semester. What’s more, the people who exercised more effortful self-control also reported feeling more depleted. So not only were they not meeting their goals, they were also exhausted from trying.

The complete article

Brian Resnick — Vox

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World history would be very different without the blood moon eclipse of 1504


Interesting tidbit from history. How chance events impact future. Recommended by Aayush.

That’s what happened in 1504, in the place now known as Jamaica, when Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus performed a deception that would alter the world’s future, as Duncan Steel explains in his book Eclipse: The Celestial Phenomenon that Changed the Course of History. Without this illusion, colonization of the Americas as we know it—with all it entailed, including the massacres of an incalculable number of indigenous people—might not have been.

The complete article

Ephrat Livni — Quartz

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Author Ursula K. Le Guin has left us, and we’re now all Dispossessed


An important writer remembered.

The Dispossessed held a mirror up to American capitalism and culture in the form of the planet Urras and contrasted it with the anarchist-syndicalist “utopia” of the Odo on Urras’ moon, Anarres. Of all the books I read in my youth, that one stirred the greatest amount of internal debate. I was politically aware before, in the way teenagers who go to model Congresses and stage mock presidential debates are politically aware. But the “extremes” of The Dispossessedwere a direct assault on what I had been taught about the way the world works, while at the same time foreshadowing language I would hear from all political sides later in life.

The complete article

Sean Gallagher — Ars Technica

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