Each day Document has an agenda: news from the underread corners of the world, and the web, that might not end up crossing your path. Discoveries, curiosities, essential cultural dispatches—with this information, go forth.
The crisis in Syria has reached “unprecedented levels.”
As the Syrian government and Russian continue continue to take place, 13 million people across the country are still indire need of humanitarian support. With the Syrian conflict entering its eighth year, The Guardian spoke to Panos Moumtzis, the UN’s Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis about the need for a ceasefire and why the last two months have been the worst since the conflict began due to access being blocked by Syrian government officials.
“There is a misperception that the de-escalation areas have resulted in peace and stability. If anything, these have been serious escalation areas,” said Moumtzis, who renewed a call for a political response to the crisis. “We feel really outraged. Dramatic developments have been building up and it has reached a point where we can no longer stay silent. These are multiple fires we have to respond to, with a dramatic deterioration in many places.”
Scientists analyze Twitter to reveal how Americans think about the future.
It might seem logical that people who think about the future are better at planning for it, but, until now, there has never been any evidence to back that up. Psychologists at Emory University have analyzed over 40,000 Twitter users to find out if thinking about the future impacts how you live your life on a daily basis. And it does—but not for the reasons you might think. It’s not that these users were more focused on what may or may not happen to them, it’s that they were better at waiting for rewards. The website Science Daily explains what these results means for psychology studies and how scientists can use Twitter to harness yield further revelations about our psychological traits.
“The estimated 21 percent of American adults who use Twitter tend to be younger and more technologically literate than the general population. But researchers behind the paper add that Twitter’s demographics are not that far off from the general population in terms of gender, economic status and education levels. And the percentages of Twitter users living in rural, urban and suburban areas are virtually the same.”
Uncertainty may help automoted drones to make better decisions.
Drones have to make complex and accurate decisions about where they go and how they get there. But the most important aspect isn’t how they calculate information, it’s how they remember and learn from it because memory creates uncertainty—something that’s vital when it comes to decision making. Researchers at MIT have developed a new piece of technology called NanoMap, which allows drones to navigate through our cityscapes and countryside when flying at highspeeds through densely popluated areas. The technology assists the drones with remembering where they’ve been and helps them to use memory rather than what’s in front of them to inform their route.
“Overly confident maps won’t help you if you want drones that can operate at higher speeds in human environments,” says graduate student Pete Florence, lead author on a new related paper developed by MIT. “An approach that is better aware of uncertainty gets us a much higher level of reliability in terms of being able to fly in close quarters and avoid obstacles.”
The darkest building on earth comes to the Winter Olympics
British-based architect Asif Khan has revealed his creation for the Hyundai Motor pavilion for this year’s winter games in Pyeongchang. The building – coated in Vantablack (which holds the world record as the darkest man-made substance) – gives the illusions of stars suspended in space. Even at the height of the sun, the paint’s ability to absorb 99 percent of the light that hits its surface means, no matter the environment, the building will appear as a black void. Speaking to the design website, Dezeen, Khan—who describes himself as a “closet astronaut”—said he “wanted to create the impression of a window cut into space.”
“It’s a preoccupation of mine, trying to create experiences to better understand where we are now as humans, placing ourselves in the big picture. I’m interested in that feeling of the sublime when you pull back the curtain of reality. It’s a different way of experiencing architecture.”
America’s lost rolls of film finally get developed.
Last year photojournalist Ron Haviv asked members of the public to submit their undeveloped film rolls to try and curate an archive of lost moments of American history, trapped in 9mm canisters and unseen to this day. In a Medium post for The World Press Photo Foundation, journalist and photography lecturer Alison Stieven-Taylor chronicles his journey and the real-life stories umasked along the way, including one set of pictures taken in Germany during the War.
“These photographs were taken by Valentina, then a young woman was about to emigrate to the United States. The photograph shows a group of people with luggage standing beside a vehicle. They are smiling, but as we learn from the caption, the smiles mask the shock felt by those in the picture who are being left behind’.”
The traveling salesmen who sold Moog Synthesizers door to door across America.
The lives of traveling salesmen have been the crux of many a short story, but the reality is rarely as exciting or poignant as fiction might have you think. But then, David Van Koevering was different. He sold Moog Synthesizers up and down the country and changed the sound of the American psychedelia forever. Journalist Connor Towne O’Neill, writes about the life of David Van Koevering for Red Bull Music Academy.
“A happening was happening. Radio spots for the show promised to “play with your mind, with your body and heighten the horizons of your soul.” It was, they said, a “new concept in sound… here to stimulate your feelings, thoughts and your love for your fellow man.”
The instrument capable of such revelations was the Minimoog, the new, portable synthesizer from the R.A. Moog Co., who had for the past seven years been pioneering electronic synthesis. The man using it to heighten the horizons of your soul was David Van Koevering – a tall salesman with a Van Dyke beard and horn-rimmed glasses; the man whom Bob Moog once called a cross between Colonel Sanders and P.T. Barnum – part salesman, part evangelist, part amateur historian of sound.”