Nanoplastics, Microplastics, Basketballs, Rice and Whales

Nanoplastics, Microplastics, Basketballs, Rice and Whales

Vice has a horrifying article on nanoplastics. I'll have to worry about them later though because Mirjam Guesgen trots out this amazing comparison:

"Microplastics are on the scale of micrometers, while nanoplastics are mere nanometers. To get a sense of just how small that is, imagine the difference between the size of a WNBA basketball (which is slightly smaller than the NBA equivalent) and a grain of rice."

If we're getting a rough sense of the difference from rice and basketballs what on earth could be the motivation to make it a WNBA basketball? How slightly smaller is it? Stack says:

"A standard NBA basketball has a diameter between 9.43 and 9.51 inches. In the WNBA, the basketball has a diameter of between 9.07 and 9.23 inches. Basketballs used in the NCAA are between 9.39 and 9.55 inches for men and 9.07 and 9.23 inches for women."

Around 5% smaller by diameter at most.

Also, is the WNBA / NBA distinction meaningful when we're not defining the type of rice? Basmati is 6-8 mm, so way more variability than basketballs. I don't even need to bust out the short grained varieties. This is so crazy I had to check out the plastics as well.

Guesgen says microplastics are on the scale of micrometers which is kind of what I had assumed too. But then I'm not a science journalist. Some light googling reveals that microplastics are fragments under 5mm. Some rice would be a microplastic, if it was plastic rice. I guess everything can be measured in micrometers but 5mm is 5000 micrometers. So what are nanoplastics? Maybe 5 micrometers and smaller?

"For particles smaller than 1 μm, they are defined as nanoplastics"

And:

"The term “nano” in nanoplastics tends to be contentious as many researchers follow the convention for nanoparticles that are defined as particles having a size approximately between 1 and 100nm."

Both from ScienceDirect.

So at the extremes that's five million times smaller, or to get a sense of just how much smaller imagine the difference between a grain of rice and around 1,300 blue whales, nose to tail. For the largest plausible nanoparticles, still about a whale. I'm not going to get into the gender.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Nanoplastics, Microplastics, Basketballs, Rice and Whales #etc #nanoplastic #microplastic #rice #whales #basketballs How much smaller is a nanoplastic than a microplastic? A lot more than I expected, and a lot more than claimed in a recent Vice article. )

Reviews for December 2023

Updated on Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Spoilers!

Movies

The Killer

The Killer

The Killer on Netflix looks like a lazy retread of any recent Liam Neeson movie or John Wick with an editor. But it's more than that for two reasons. The soundtrack is incredible, and the writing and tight editing do not allow the tension to slip for a minute. Although the plot is an assassin taking revenge on his employers it could have been an average Tuesday for a loss adjuster with nearly as much impact. Watch it.

Podcast

Death of a Codebreaker

Death of a Codebreaker

This was a really strange story - a spy, dead in a bag. Putin? Sex Game? Who knew? This podcast does a deep dive and doesn't come up with much. It's worth it for the guy who spent months trying to lock himself in a bag and the person that pointed out you could pull the zip apart.

Podcasts

Marianna in Conspiracyland

Marianna in Conspiracyland

Examining the conspiracy minded in the UK. Worth a terrifying listen.

TV

Lessons In Chemistry

Lessons In Chemistry

I haven't read the book yet, which is supposed to be pretty good, but I found the Apple TV adaptation to be a bit of a slog. Rainn Wilson is great as the cynical TV station manager and the TV series segments are the highlight. Apple's general model seems to be to buy up the rights to beloved books and then committee them into a slow painful death. Foundation was very much this way too. Slow Horses seems to be the brilliant exception.

(All images included with ITHCWY reviews are the property of their respective owners and are used to illustrate reviews only.)

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Reviews for December 2023 #reviews Reviews for December 2023 )

Links for December 2023

Updated on Tuesday, December 5, 2023
The Washington Post: “Do I Know You?” examines what it's like to have face blindness - The Washington Post

I'm on the who the hell are you end of this spectrum. #prosopagnosia

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Tom's Guide: By the way, did you know Alexa's annoying suggestions can be turned off? Here's how

Alexa, stop by the way apparently. Saving for future use. #alexa #shutup

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Bridgy Fed

The docs suggest just passing a fragment will post part of a page but this doesn't seem to work, so testing again with a parameter as well... #ithcwy

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San Francisco Examiner: How to download new Muni app on Apple App Store, Google Play | Transit

A new app and a new account... Is this just to escape the 2.8 rating? #muni #sfmta #sanfrancisco

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Links for November 2023

Do free will skeptics make their own point by being so dumb?

Free Will

What is it about free will skeptics and their insistence that we completely reorganize society based on their realization that nobody controls their own actions in any way? The Munk Debates just published Be it resolved, humans have free will, and it's a classic of the genre.

There is an interesting nugget at the start, which is how much of what we decide is based on extraneous factors. I'd love to go deep on that debate. I thought I wouldn't have time to write about this podcast as I needed to mop some floors. But my wife decided to steam clean them instead and so this post wouldn't exist without events that are completely beyond my control. But it also wouldn't exist if I wasn't interested and didn't want to write it.

Unfortunately instead of that debate we get the discussion about how with no free will criminals have no choice about commiting crimes and therefore we should not punish them. The first part of that may very well be true, much more on that subject here. The second part though shows such catastrophic misunderstanding that maybe it acts as a kind of proof. Nobody with free will could fail so comprehensively to follow their own argument to its logical conclusion, and so free will cannot exist.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Do free will skeptics make their own point by being so dumb? #etc #freewill If criminals have no choice in committing their crimes we also have no choice in how we treat them. )

Reviews for November 2023

Updated on Thursday, November 30, 2023

Spoilers!

Books

The Secret

The Secret

The Secret is Jack (None) Reacher installment #28. It's one of the handful that flashback to Reacher's MP days which are usually high value. It's a little thin - goes through all the right motions but there isn't that much to it. If you're a Reacher fan you're going to read it. If you're not then it's a bad place to start.

Music

Go Your Own Way

This Cranberries cover of Go Your Own Way is pure joy.

Podcasts

Shiny Bob

Shiny Bob

Scottish legal scandal around an alleged cabal of gay judges.

The Bugle

The Bugle

The Bugle is a news comedy show, a more discursive and less organized but often very funny version of the News Quiz which Andy Zoltzman has also started hosting.

TV

Still Up

Still Up

Still Up, is a romedy about two insomniacs, one also agoraphobic. At moments it's very funny, and snort your drink out your nose funny not funny because it's so naff. That's worth watching for. It sometimes goes too long between nose cleaning but given the dearth of good sitcoms at the moment that's pretty easy to forgive.

The Lincoln Lawyer Season 2

The Lincoln Lawyer Season 2

More Lincoln Lawyer. It's about the same as the first season, worth watching and a little more comfortable in its skin but also very conventional.

(All images included with ITHCWY reviews are the property of their respective owners and are used to illustrate reviews only.)

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Reviews for November 2023 #reviews #video #leechild #andrewchild Reviews for November 2023 )

Animation of US PM2.5 Air Pollution in 2023

Updated on Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Air pollution on July 4, 2023

The video below shows PM2.5 air pollution in the United States from February to November 2023. The frame above is the impact of fireworks on the 4th of July. It's a blink and you miss it moment in the video but a pretty incredible impact.

I started this project in February expecting it to be more of a long term thing. Unfortunately, Purple Air started charging for their API in November, more than I was willing to pay for this project.

In terms of wildfires this year the big story in the continental US has been Canada belching plumes of smoke down across the East Coast. I didn't include Hawaii or Alaska in the map and so there is nothing for the tragic Lahaina fire on Maui.

To make the video I had a Google Apps Script running that pulled the Purple Air sensor data hourly. I then wrote an app to periodically render the data to frames using my shapefile library to plot the US and then interpolating the air quality for each pixel from the nearest sensors. The frames are stitched together at 60 frames per second using ffmpeg and final production was in DaVinci Resolve with music from Filmstro.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Animation of US PM2.5 Air Pollution in 2023 #etc #video #purple Video showing US PM3.5 air pollution in 2023 using Purple Air sensor data. )

Rob 2.0

Updated on Friday, April 5, 2024

A robot head

If I'm going to be replaced with AI then I may as well be the person to do it. I need an AI Rob that I can be proud of and that's going to take some work.

My approach so far is to generate some training data. I've answered lots of questions in a spreadsheet. This is an ongoing project and there will be dot releases as I work towards a usable product (one that I can just plug into email or Teams). Probably this is going to require a mix of fine tuning and retrieval augmented generation (RAG). To start with I'm just fine tuning GPT 3.5 Turbo from OpenAI.

Fine tuning was painless. As usual the difficult part was randomly trying different versions of Python to find one that would coexist with some stubborn dependency (tiktoken in this case, which will live with Python 3.11 but is very unhappy with Python 3.12).

You can try this below - just leave a comment and Rob 2.0 will reply. Anything you post goes through the regular moderation system, this is just to stop spam. any legitimate questions are fair game (and likely to make it into the training corpus if the answer is no good!).

Due to safety systems it doesn't swear like the real thing. That might require a different model / corporate host at some point in the future. I'll update this post as I make progress.

Updated 2023-12-20 00:46:

I had most of a day spare today and so decided to get a little closer to my own personal singularity. Rob 2.1 is live and answering your questions in the comments below.

The first thing I did was add a few hundred more questions and answers to my training data set. I then fine tuned GPT 3.5 on the new data.

I wanted to get the LLM trinity - prompt, retrieval augmented generation (RAG) and fine turing. Initially I thought that I could just use the OpenAI assistant API to get there, and I got as far as coding the whole thing up before stubbing my toe on a harsh reality. It only supports retrieval for gpt-3.5-turbo-1106 and gpt-4-1106-preview. Hopefully this changes at some point but no way to get everything I need from assistants yet.

Not a big deal - I rolled up my sleeves (and also GitHub Copilot's sleeves) and added my own RAG based on the Q&A training data and refined my prompt to include the most relevant answer as well as some more specific instructions. It's pretty basic - whatever you ask is compared to the existing question library using cosine distance of OpenAI embeddings. Maybe I'll add a vector database if I have the patience to answer enough questions about myself, but a brute force in memory search works fine for now.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Rob 2.0 #code #openai #ml #agi An AI version of Robert Ellison. You can ask questions by leaving a comment. )

Hunter's Moon Time lapse

The Moon and Jupiter on October 28, 2023

A time lapse video of the Hunter's full moon of October 28, 2023 with Jupiter and three Galilean moons rising right behind it. The photo above shows the moon with Jupiter below and to the right. The video has close ups of both.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Hunter's Moon Time lapse #timelapse #video #moon #jupiter Time lapse of the Hunter's full moon and Jupiter with Galilean moons. )

BLR SFO

Updated on Saturday, October 21, 2023

BLR SFO

Google Pixel 6 Pro 19mm f3.5 1/357s ISO32

AI175

Updated 2023-10-21 21:25:

Timelapse of AI 175, an Air India 777-200 flying from Bangalore (Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru) to San Francisco. Take off, landing and a mercifully short in flight segment of this sixteen and half hour odyssey.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: BLR SFO #photo #plane #blr #sfo #video #bangalore BLR SFO )