Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

January 14, 2020

Paris Musées releases Images of 100,000 Artworks to the Public for free

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 1:10 PM

Remember when the Art Institute of Chicago released 52,438 HD art images into the public domain? Paris Musees, a collection of 14 Paris museums, collectively said, “Tiens mon vin” (Hold my wine) and released 100,000 digital reproductions of artworks in the city’s museums as Open Access — free of charge and without restrictions — via its Collections portal. Paris Musées is a public entity that oversees the 14 municipal museums of Paris, including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais, and the Catacombs.

“Making this data available guarantees that our digital files can be freely accessed and reused by anyone or everyone, without any technical, legal or financial restraints, whether for commercial use or not,” reads a press release shared by Paris Musées.

At this stage, images available are of 2D artworks, such as paintings or photographs, that belong in the public sphere under a CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) license, which allows creators and owners of copyrighted or database-protected content to place those works in or as close as possible to the public domain. (Works still in copyright will be available as low definition files, so users can still get a feel for the museums’ collections online.)

It’s nice to see more and more organizations making their work available online for free under CC licenses.

Thanks to Metafilter for the initial link.

– Suramya

January 6, 2020

Using Math to figure out why One Knot Better Than Another

Filed under: Interesting Sites,News/Articles — Suramya @ 3:12 PM

Have you ever wondered why certain knots are more stable than others? Or have you stressed about which knot is the most suitable one to use in your specific usecase and had a disagreement with someone about the best option? If so then fear-not MIT researchers have developed a mathematical model to predict a knot’s stability and now you can argue for your choice with conviction that math supports your choice. From the paper’s abstract:

Knots play a fundamental role in the dynamics of biological and physical systems, from DNA to turbulent plasmas, as well as in climbing, weaving, sailing, and surgery. Despite having been studied for centuries, the subtle interplay between topology and mechanics in elastic knots remains poorly understood. Here, we combined optomechanical experiments with theory and simulations to analyze knotted fibers that change their color under mechanical deformations. Exploiting an analogy with long-range ferromagnetic spin systems, we identified simple topological counting rules to predict the relative mechanical stability of knots and tangles, in agreement with simulations and experiments for commonly used climbing and sailing bends. Our results highlight the importance of twist and writhe in unknotting processes, providing guidance for the control of systems with complex entanglements.

To give some more context, below is an extract from a SciTech Daily Article covering the research. To be honest I had to read the article a few times to understand what they were talking about but it sounded interesting. Not sure how useful it is but is definitely interesting. 🙂

In comparing the diagrams of knots of various strengths, the researchers were able to identify general “counting rules,” or characteristics that determine a knot’s stability. Basically, a knot is stronger if it has more strand crossings, as well as more “twist fluctuations” — changes in the direction of rotation from one strand segment to another.

For instance, if a fiber segment is rotated to the left at one crossing and rotated to the right at a neighboring crossing as a knot is pulled tight, this creates a twist fluctuation and thus opposing friction, which adds stability to a knot. If, however, the segment is rotated in the same direction at two neighboring crossing, there is no twist fluctuation, and the strand is more likely to rotate and slip, producing a weaker knot.

They also found that a knot can be made stronger if it has more “circulations,” which they define as a region in a knot where two parallel strands loop against each other in opposite directions, like a circular flow.

By taking into account these simple counting rules, the team was able to explain why a reef knot, for instance, is stronger than a granny knot. While the two are almost identical, the reef knot has a higher number of twist fluctuations, making it a more stable configuration. Likewise, the zeppelin knot, because of its slightly higher circulations and twist fluctuations, is stronger, though possibly harder to untie, than the Alpine butterfly — a knot that is commonly used in climbing.

The formal paper is published at: Science Mag.
Thanks to Slashdot for the initial link.

– Suramya

January 3, 2020

Computer made from 32 strands of DNA can now compute the square root of 900

Filed under: News/Articles,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 4:28 PM

Early this century (around year 2000 onwards) there were three main projects goingon in parallel, each of which promised to be the next great breakthrough in Computing which would change the world. These were: DNA Computing, Optical Computing and Quantum computing. Then, something changed and Quantum computing took over. In the past few years the tech news & papers have primarily focused on Quantum Computing breakthroughs (which to be fair have been quite significant) and Optical & DNA Computers on the other hand seemed to have dropped off the map with hardly any news coming from that front. But that has just changed. Thanks to the efforts of Chunlei Guo and his colleagues at the University of Rochester, New York we now have a working DNA computer that uses 32 strands and can compute the square root of square numbers 1, 4, 9, 16, 25 and so on up to 900. This might not sound like much but is a pretty big deal as now that we can create a system that uses chemistry to compute square roots we can probably get DNA circuits to do anything.

The prospect of programming molecular computing systems to realize complex autonomous tasks has advanced the design of synthetic biochemical logic circuits. One way to implement digital and analog integrated circuits is to use noncovalent hybridization and strand displacement reactions in cell‐free and enzyme‐free nucleic acid systems. To date, DNA‐based circuits involving tens of logic gates capable of implementing basic and complex logic functions have been demonstrated experimentally. However, most of these circuits are still incapable of realizing complex mathematical operations, such as square root logic operations, which can only be carried out with 4 bit binary numbers. A high‐capacity DNA biocomputing system is demonstrated through the development of a 10 bit square root logic circuit. It can calculate the square root of a 10 bit binary number (within the decimal integer 900) by designing DNA sequences and programming DNA strand displacement reactions. The input signals are optimized through the output feedback to improve performance in more complex logical operations. This study provides a more universal approach for applications in biotechnology and bioengineering.

The paper published in “Small” has more details but is behind a paywall (which sucks) so I don’t have much more details than what the New Scientist article and the paper abstract share. At the price they are asking I don’t think its value for money just so that I can satisfy my curiosity about the breakthrough. If you disagree and download the paper, please share 🙂

Looking forward to more such news (in a accessible journal) in 2020.

– Suramya

January 2, 2020

Thoughts around Doctor Who: Spyfall Part 1

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 8:51 PM

Watched the new episode of Doctor Who and I absolutely love Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, she is a much more accurate representation of the character than Peter Capaldi who is a great actor but didn’t do the character justice in my opinion. Plus the storylines for Jodie’s Doctor have been a lot more interesting and fun than the previous season. I know a lot of ‘fans’ are against this iteration of the Doctor because it doesn’t fit their stereotypes, prejudice or whatever but that’s their problem. I love this iteration. However that being said I have mixed feelings about this episode.

The remainder of the post contains spoilers!!!

For the first 20-30 mins of the episode my reaction was mostly ‘meh’, they ripped off as much of James Bond as they could without getting into legal issues. This includes having ‘C’ as the head of MI6 and lots and lots of gadgets which were used for moving the plot along and showing off the spy skills of the group. In this episode the Doctor and team use the gadgets given to them a lot more often than the Tardis and the Sonic for some reason and that combined with a threat that didn’t really sound interesting made for a boring start of the episode.

Last Warning, Big Spoilers ahead!!!

Then suddenly things became a lot more interesting towards the end of the episode. That last min twist, yes that one was mindblowing. I didn’t expect that at all and I can’t wait to see how they will take this forward. Finding out that the Master was behind all their troubles was a shock. Plus this iteration of the Master appears to be a lot more interesting than Missy. She was a very poor villain and I found her to be more annoying for the most part than dangerous. This version seems to be a mix of the Master as played by John Simm and Roger Delgado which is fantastic. Lets see how they take it forward but so far it looks good.

The companions for this Doctor are mostly ok, no major feelings for any of them either for or against.

Lets see what happens next when the remainder of the story this Sunday. Though I will be traveling at that time so I will probably have to wait till Monday to watch it.

– Suramya

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