Google Street View images are filled with cars. That is a simple and pedestrian truth, and one which artificial intelligence researchers have taken advantage of to do something surprising. By analyzing car type, they were able to make predictions about the demographic information of the people in the cities they studied.
At its best, virtual reality is transportative: It will let you scale a simulated cliff face, or come face-to-teeth with a T-rex. You can have those experiences from your living room, but of course, you need a virtual reality headset, and for that, you have two broad categories to choose from—a low-end contraption that uses your smartphone, or a fancy rig that requires a PC.
With more than 2 billion monthly active users, Facebook can keep tabs on nearly a third of the world's population. Whether you visit the social network daily (as 1.32 billion people do) or only log on to RSVP to events, you should be aware of how much of your personal data you're giving to the site, and the company behind it.
Some researchers say the Babylonians invented trigonometry—and did it better. A long-debated tablet known as Plimpton 332, featuring 3,700-year-old scrawls from a Mesopotamian scribe, is the subject of a new study in the journal Historia Mathematica this week. A team of modern mathematicians claim that new analysis reveals the relic as the oldest ever example of trigonometry, the math that explains relationships between the elements (sides and angles) of triangles. Their findings might make Hipparchus turn a perfect 90 degrees in his grave: The Greek genius often credited as the father of trig didn't come up with it until 1,000 years later.
Even though VR headsets are small enough to strap onto your face, they can make objects in the virtual scene seem far off in the distance. The headsets accomplish this immersive, visual trick by having two key optical parts: screens inside that display the images, and magnifying glass-like lenses between your eyes and those screens. It's those lenses that allows a virtual dinosaur to look as if it's in the scene in front of you, and not just on small screens inches from your eyes.