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How Muzak Shaped A Conformist America

Muzak Vintage Ad Woman

Source: Flickr

Although it might be easier to ignore in an age where nearly ever American carries thousands of songs in their pocket, the unmistakable sound of Muzak still haunts us all. An estimated 100 million people (nearly a third of America’s population) are exposed to Muzak’s background music each day, whether in an elevator, on hold with the cable company or elsewhere. Although the Muzak brand technically went bankrupt in 2009 and lost its name in 2013 after new owners moved in, its technology set the stage for almost a century of bland, instrumental music that became the soundtrack to postwar America and continues to this day.

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Your World This Week, Volume IX

IBM’s New “Rodent Brain” Chip Could Make Your Phone Super Smart The line between human intelligence and technology is thinning with every passing day–and IBM’s latest chip further diminishes it. Known as…

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How Computers “Sing” Love Songs

So, we’ve never really seen anything like this before. Martin Backes–who somehow finds the time to be an artist, DJ, hacker, composer and designer–has actually come up with a way to program pathos.

Backes’ fully automated machine endlessly sings top ’90s love songs and, according to Backes, “as the computer program performs these emotionally loaded songs, it attempts to apply the appropriate human sentiments. This behavior of the device seems to reflect a desire, on the part of the machine, to become sophisticated enough to have its very own personality.”

You have to see it to understand it–and we highly recommend that you do.

Your World This Week, Volume VI

Kepler 452b Earth Comparison

An artist’s concept drawing of Earth (left) and Kepler-452b (right). Source: NASA

Newly Discovered Earth-Like Planet Could Very Well Support Life

NASA recently declared that its Kepler spacecraft found “Earth’s bigger, older cousin.” Kepler-452b, located about 1,400 light years away, marks the first discovery of a planet whose size and distance from its star are comparable to Earth. While there are still many questions left unanswered, researchers know that Kepler-452b has a 385-day year and receives about the same amount of energy from its star that Earth does, and suspect that it has an atmosphere and a rocky surface.

What all this means, of course, is that Kepler-452b may very well support life. In 2017–when NASA launches the TESS satellite–and in 2018–when the James Webb Space Telescope becomes operational–we may get some answers. NASA states that these new projects could illuminate details about other planets’ colors, seasons, weather, and even vegetation. Find more at CNN.

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