Image for post
Image for post

Dear Reader,

In our internal team chat, we sometimes share tweets from @year_progress — a progress bar that tells us how much of the year is over. During bad times, we tell each other, “Look how much of the year we’ve pulled through already!” (And during the good, we go “My god, is there only that much time left?”).

That bar nears completion now, and it’s time to ring in the new year. Since this is the fourth issue of Analog, it also means we’ve officially printed a whole years’ worth of articles! …


Image for post
Image for post

From backyards to backstreets, evolution marches on.

A towering grey mountain reaches up to the dazzling blue sky, almost as of balanced on its toes. Its sides are sheer, and drop away sharply to the ground, hundreds of feet below.

Embedded in its sides are countless little nooks and crannies, large enough to make a nest or resting spot and a strategic vantage point from where to survey all the goings-on below. Or, with a sweeping spread of wings, perhaps even stage a swooping vertical ambush on passing food.

This is the kind of place where peregrine falcons like to live. Large, open expanses of sky, abundance of pigeons and other prey below, and a high perch from which to observe it all. …


Image for post
Image for post

Hello, Snipette readers,

We’re very, very excited to announce that we have taken the next step on our journey: Snipette now has its own website!

That’s right — you can now also read our articles by visiting www.snipettemag.com. Of course, Medium was our first home, so we’ll continue publishing there, too. The website is still in beta, so if you find any errors or bugs, please report them to snipettemag@gmail.com.


Image for post
Image for post

The world, and your phone, is dependent on chemicals. What happens when they run out?

When you hear the word “elements”, you probably think of the Periodic Table. A large uneven grid, listing all the elements known to humans, organised by chemical traits, and shaped more like a couch than a table if you ask me. Here is where you’ll first look if you want to find out about Hafnium or Terbium or some other random element that most people have almost never heard of.

These days, you can also find out about most of these elements using a small, electronic device that fits in your pocket. And I don’t mean through Google.

The average smartphone contains about 75 elements, spanning nearly three quarters of the Periodic Table. …


Image for post
Image for post

Are AI trained with computers and data? Yes — but first, you need a human.

Look closely at the image on the screen. Scrutinise each pixel. Trace out the houses, the buildings, the lamp-posts. Select and mark the edge of the road. Don’t forget to note the moving traffic.

Do it carefully, do it well. Every pixel has its place.

Sounds like the mind of a self-driving car? Actually, it’s the job description of those who help train one.

When one thinks of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, one thinks of computer programmers pounding out code at their terminals. You’d think of downloading vast libraries of pictures, clicking “Analyse”, and letting the computer figure out the rest. …


Image for post
Image for post

How to measure the immeasurable — and why it can sometimes go wrong.

Different people have different swearing habits. Some people spew out expletives at the drop of a hat, while others feel uncomfortable hearing one, let alone speaking it.

Me, I’m somewhere in the middle. I rarely swear — but thats because I’m saving the words for when I really need them.

Actually, studies have shown that bad language can actually be useful. Dr. Richard Stephens is a senior lecturer at UK’s Keele University. His area of interest is swearing, though he also studies other things like alcohol, hangovers, and the correct way to apologise.

In a 2009 experiment, Dr. Stephens found that yelling curse-words improves pain tolerance. …


Image for post
Image for post

How your next word is predicted — and how you can make it more accurate.

Have you ever cursed the autocorrect on your phone?

Tried typing someone's name, maybe, and had it changed to a random, entirely unrelated word about eleven times in a row before it registered as the actual thing?

(Granted, brown people probably have this problem more than white people, given that "saree" keeps turning into "Sarah" and not the other way around, but I'm sure you've had your differences.)

Have you ever sent a message to someone, only to realise that it made no sense, or worse, meant something entirely different and possibly suggestive?

Then, it’s time to train your keyboard.


Image for post
Image for post

Do users have a ‘body’ that exists independently from the online profile?

Is there life after deletion?

That’s a question that has never been answered. Or rather, it’s been answered many different times by many different people, but we have no way of knowing which of those answers, if any, are accurate.

Some people like to believe that a deleted user isn’t deleted forever; that even after deletion, a user can be re-registered in a different profile. They say that, even after a user’s digital profile is deleted, their “body” still exists in some metadigital “physical” space, and can come back to life one day by inhabiting a new profile.

A few take this idea even further. They say that a body can manifest itself in many profiles at once. Two seemingly different users could actually be one and the same person. …


Dear Snipette readers,
This 11th of June, we are celebrating our second anniversary. (!!!)

That is not a sentence we ever expected to be able to write. Neither are the ones that follow.

Image for post
Image for post

We have gained 300 followers. Three hundred people who decided they liked what we had to say and read our work week after week. We’ve worked with a dozen authors, dedicated people who have taken time out of their doubtless busy lives to write a few thousand words for us and stuck around through edits and re-edits.

Through all of this, we have only you to thank. It is your act of reading our work every week, your highlights and comments, and other interactions that keep us going. After all, we write for the reader, and the reader alone. …


Image for post
Image for post

Why does the Earth spin one way and not the other? There’s a logical reason.

The Sun sits, a big bright blob in the centre of the Solar System. Small and smaller balls spin round in concentric circles — or ovals, if you want to be perfectionist.

Sprinkle two rings of still finer stuff — not round, but all manner of rough, jagged and irregular shapes. Add some cold icy comets if you like. And finally, a splash of stars to set he background.

There you have it: your familiar picture of the Solar System at a glance.

But the Solar System is not a glance. Once you’ve learnt where each planet stays, you’ll eventually raise the question: which way do they move? …

About

Badri Sunderarajan

Books reader, Websites coder, Drawings maker. Things writer. Occasional astronomer. Alleged economist. Editor@Snipette.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store