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  • Google’s Self-Driving Cars Aren’t as Good as Humans—Yet

    GOOGLE’S SELF-DRIVING CARS drive themselves. Except when they don’t, something that’s happened hundreds of times. But don’t worry. Only a handful of those instances might have ended badly had the human not taken over.The company announced today that its engineers assumed control of an autonomous vehicle 341 times between September 2014, and November 2015. That sounds like a lot until you realize Google’s autonomous fleet covered 423,000 miles in that time. And it’s worth noting Google’s cars have never been at-fault in a crash, and Google’s data shows a significant drop in “driver disengagements” over the past year.Of the 341 instances where engineers took the wheel, 272 stemmed from the “overall stability of the autonomous driving system”—things like communication and system failures. In other words, something broke. Chris Urmson, the project’s technical lead, doesn’t find this terribly troubling, because hardware is not where Google is focusing its energy right now. The team’s more concerned with how the car makes decisions, and will make the software and hardware more robust before going to market.The remaining 69 takeovers are more interesting—and important. They’re “related to safe operation of the vehicle,” meaning those times when the autonomous car might have made a bad decision. You haven’t read any breathless reports of these incidents because of Google’s simulator program. If the engineer in the car isn’t fully confident that the AI will do the right thing, she’ll take control of the vehicle. Later, back at HQ in Mountain View, she’ll plug all of the car’s data into a computer and the team will see just what the car would have done had she not taken the wheel. It’s a bit like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come showing Scrooge what may come to pass. According to data Google recently shared with the California DMV (as required by law), 13 of those 69 incidents would have led to crashes.Google’s cars have driven 1.3 million miles since 2009. They can recognize hand signals from traffic officers and “think” at speeds no human can match. They’ve been involved in 17 crashes, but have never been at fault. Google’s previously predicted they’ll be road-ready by 2020.At this point, the team usually can’t solve problems with a quick tweak to the code. “We’re not really in a situation where we say, ‘We should have put a one here and we had a two,'” Urmson says. The challenges are more far subtle and complicated. In a recent case, for example, the car was on a one-lane road about to make a left, when it decided to turn tight instead—just as another car was using the bike lane to pass it on the right. “Our car was anticipating that since [the other car] was in the bike lane, he was going to make a right turn,” Urmson says. The Google car was ahead and had the right of way, so it was about to make the turn. Had the human not taken over, “there would have been contact,” Urmson says. Avoiding repeating so fringe a case isn’t easy, but Google says its simulator program “executes dozens of variations on situations we’ve encountered in the real world,” which “helps us test how our car would have performed under slightly different circumstances.”Still, Google’s getting better. Urmson eagerly notes that its disengagement numbers have dropped over the past year. Eight of the 13 crash-likely incidents occurred in the last three months of 2014, over the course of 53,000 miles. The other five came in the following 11 months and 370,000 miles. Assuming those 13 incidents would have ended with a crash, that’s one accident every 74,000 miles—good, but not as good as humans. According to new data from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, Americans log one crash per 238,000 miles.Before bringing its technology to the market, Urmson says, Google must make its cars safer than human drivers (who cause more than 90 percent of the crashes that kill more than 30,000 people in the US every year). But it’s not banking on perfection. “You need to be very thoughtful in doing this, but you don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good,” he says. “We need to make sure we can get that out in the world in a timely fashion.”That means Google’s disengagement numbers must keep dropping. The downward trend will continue, Urmson says, though as the team starts testing in tougher conditions, like bad weather and busier urban areas, you’ll see occasional upticks. “As we push the car into more complicated situations, we would expect, naturally, to have it fail,” Urmson says. “But overall, the number should go down.”

  • Life Depends on Attitude

     An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer (contractor) of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.  The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and usedinferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.  When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."  What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.  So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built. If we had realized, we would have done it differently.  Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely. It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and withdignity. The plaque on the wall says, "Life is a do-it-yourself project."  Who could say it more clearly? Your life today is the result of your attitudes and choices in the past. Your life tomorrow will be the result of your attitudes and the choices you make today. 

  • Learn a new language at your own pace

    For most of us, full or even part-time education is unrealistic, thus narrowing the options to night classes or self-teaching. In the past that would have meant cassette tapes and books. Not any more.Babbel.com is an award-winning, online programme that uses modern educational methodology and state-of-the-art technology to make learning a language easy. The concept is based on quick, bite-size lessons presented in an entertaining visual style. You’re engaged by visual flash cards, screen prompts and aural repetition. It’s the clever way to train the brain.Launched in Berlin in 2008 by a group of educationalists and software developers, Babbel now extends to 13 languages including Spanish, French, Dutch, Polish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Swedish and English. All content has been developed by a team of foreign language teachers and native speakers.It’s available both on web and as an app and currently boasts over 16 million users. Registration is free so you can sign up for a quick taster session. Thereafter it costs £8.95 a month, £17.85 for three months or £29.70 for six months to gain full access to the courses.Take a beginners course if you’re starting from scratch or refresh your knowledge, learn grammar and take special business versions in German or English if you want to make a good impression. There’s even a new culinary course for those who want to know the difference between Manchego viejo and curado.Working online or via mobile means you have the flexibility to study any time. Babbel Mobile for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android means you can use time that might have otherwise been wasted – such as commuting – productively. The app is free to download and lets you create a database to expand your vocabulary. The Babbel apps contain 2,000–3,000 vocabulary words per language, accompanied by images and pronounced by native speakers.The big strides are to be made online – here there are more than 6,500 hours of content accessible through rich, innovative and entertaining teaching modules.As you complete lessons, you'll see green rectangles fill in on an overall progress tracking bar on your account dashboard. As you advance through the program, new modules reveal themselves so you’re always moving forward.As you progress you will tackle grammatical concepts and verb conjugation tutorials while the voice recognition system means you can practise pronouncing the words without fear of anyone mocking your mangling of their language.Babbel has its own social network too, meaning you can try out and improve your new-found language skills within its userbase of over seven million around the world. Find someone to learn with – or simply meet someone interesting via the chat feature, with messages or on the message board.Sign up to Babbel and start learning a new language. It’s a great way of keeping your mind active and it’s practical, too. In fact, it could open up a whole new world.Start learning a new language online with Babbel. It's fast, fun and fully interactive. Try for free today.

  • How hard is it to complete an Ironman?

    Stuart Anderson has recently returned from the Ironman World Championship in Kailua Kona, Hawaii Jonathan Wells 10 NOVEMBER 2015 • 10:15AMAn Ironman Triathlon is widely regarded to be one of the most challenging and physically demanding single-day sporting events in the world. And, comprising a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride and topped off with a regulation length marathon, it’s not difficult to understand why.However, despite their fearsome reputation, the demand for these endurance races only seems to be increasing. Just last week, The World Triathlon Corporation announced an additional World Championship qualifying race for the UK in Weymouth. But just how hard are these races, and what does it take to complete one?Stuart Anderson triumphant at the finish line of the 2015 World Ironman Championship in HawaiiStuart Anderson is a five-time World Ironman Championship finisher, and member of Team Freespeed. He recently returned from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, where 2,425 athletes took part in the 39th Annual Ironman Championship. I spoke to Anderson about the trials and tribulations of this exhausting event, and the challenges he faced along the way."The race is very physical, from start to finish," says Anderson. "There is an almost continuous level of mental pressure and you need to be able to find a balance between enough pain to ensure that you’re being competitive and so much pain that you need to rest.•  At 84, he's not just any old IronmanWhatever you have is left completely rinsed from your being - both physically and mentally - after you cross the lineStuart Anderson"On race day you need to be able to draw upon ‘your bank’ of training that led you to this race. It’s this that gives you the confidence to push through the pain when your mind is telling you to stop."Ironman Triathlons begin with a gruelling 2.4-mile swim. The dramatic start sees thousands of competitors surging forward into the water at the sound of the starting canon. Anderson, who completed his swim section in 1 hour 9 minutes, explains how difficult it can be to gauge an appropriate level of speed and power so early on in the race."I’ve taught myself to be totally calm on the start line of a race," says Anderson. "In an Ironman, you begin treading water surrounded by a couple of thousand other athletes. And then the start cannon fires and you propel yourself forward, fighting for clear water."It’s not unusual to take a kick to the face or to be generally knocked around when so many athletes are in such close proximity, but it’s not normally intentional - it’s just racing! And I tend to just not think about the next segment of the race until I’m within about 400m of the shore. Only then do I rehearse my transition from swim to bike in my head."I plan everything; from the order I’ll put my cycle helmet and sunglasses on, to exactly where upon exiting the transition area I’ll jump on my bike. This is particularly crucial to ensure that valuable time is not squandered."The thousands of athletes tread water as they prepare to take on the 2015 World Ironman Championship•  JurassicMan Extreme: how to out-tough the IronmanNot only are different muscle groups called upon for the sports of swimming and cycling, the environments are also completely unalike. Despite managing an impressive 4 hour 51 minute bike ride, I ask Anderson whether such a marked transition takes its toll on your body?"For the swim, I’m typically in the water for around an hour, going flat out. In Hawaii this was an out-and-back, so at the turn point the water was about 30m deep. It can be very choppy when there’s a swell and this is what affects how you feel when you exit the water. But, thankfully, this year it was reasonably calm."In previous years it has been rough, I’ve swallowed too much sea water and then felt disorientated when reaching the transition zone."But the transition from cycling to the run is the hardest one. When I step off my bike, my legs feel really wobbly - they have to transition from being gluteus and quadricep-dominant to the calf and hamstring muscles taking over. They can feel really strange, almost as if they’re not firing properly. But I know that this is normal so I try not to let it concern me. You have to ignore any twitches or pain and press on."Over the course of an Ironman Triathlon, an athlete will burn around 8,000 calories. Given that this is over three times the recommended daily allowance for an adult male, there is no way that Anderson could hope to replace this level of nutrition. He does, however, do his best.•  Confessions of an accidental Ironman"My refuelling is done on the bike and on the run. During the 112-mile bike section I’ll eat two Clif Bar Blocs every 20 minutes. These are a little like fruit pastilles, but will provide me with the calories and electrolytes I need to continue. I’ll drink a litre of water every hour and then, when I switch to the run, I’ll swap the Blocs for Clif Bar Gels - which contain the same amount of calories but are in liquid form."Anderson believes the run, which he completed in 3 hours 41 minutes, to be the hardest section of the triathlon. "You utilise every pound of energy you have during the marathon," he tells me. "You leave it all out there. Whatever you have is left completely rinsed from your being - both physically and mentally - after you cross the line."The first ten miles of the run is just when everything hurts. So it is imperative that you establish a rhythm and hit your target pace. But, before you know it, you’ve run those ten miles and so you’ve then just got to stick to your pace. It’ll hurt more if you speed up, but it won’t hurt less if you slow down - so just stick to that target pace."•  10 things you need to know about Ironman triathlonsAn Ironman Triathlon includes a 112-mile central bike sectionIronman Triathlons are raced across the same three distances wherever they are staged in the world. However, Anderson explains, what really makes some events harder than others is the different weather conditions and environmental factors. For example, he tells me, at the World Championship this year in Hawaii, the temperatures were pushing 40 degrees Celsius."Ironman Hawaii was crazy hot. This year we had to run for an hour and a half in almost 40 degree heat. And Kona is also particularly hard for other reasons. It's an open ocean swim without a wetsuit, and the bike segment is windy with 1300m of vertical ascent. So, even though the distances are the same irrespective of location, these factors can definitely make one race much harder than others."To make it to the finals in Hawaii, Anderson placed third in his 40-44 age category in Ironman Maastricht. The majority of competitors, like Anderson, are amateur. "The Pro system," he tells me, "is slightly different. There is a points system and the fastest 50 males and 35 females are selected from a league table based on their performance in Ironman races throughout the year."So, with an overall time just shy of 10 hours - at 9 hours 52 minutes - Anderson seems an appropriate authority to comment on what separates the Iron-men from the average men. Broad strokes, what does it take physically and mentally to complete an Ironman Triathlon?"My coach, Richard Hobson," reveals Anderson, "would say that with the right attitude, anyone can complete an Ironman. All they need is the correct training program and conditioning. But to race it and be competitive at the same time? Now that takes a very special calibre of athlete!"Stuart Anderson takes on the third section of the World Ironman Championship

  • 27 Essential Things Every Man Needs to Know (and Know How to Do)

    This list can apply to men and women, but sometimes guys just need an extra reminder.1. Keep a durable toolbox stocked with the basics: hammer, screwdrivers, nails, etc. You should be able to fix 90 percent of anything that goes wrong in your home.2. Know how to change a diaper without whining about it.3. Take up a hobby and be passionate about it. Work is work, and family time is family time, but you should have one thing that’s yours.4. Invite your mom out at least every 6 months or so—just you and her. Breakfast, brunch, tea–whatever. Just take her out and listen.5. Take your dad out to a ball game every now and then. He’s dying to just spend a few hours with you over beer and hot dogs. He regrets he didn’t do this with you more when you were younger.6. When you can, pick up the tab without being asked and don’t make a big deal out of it.7. Know basic first aid, not just CPR. Know what to do when someone goes in shock, how to immobilize a broken bone, how to apply pressure or dress simple wounds, how to relay information to a 911 operator.8. Be able to cook a great meal (an appetizer, a salad, and a main course) and know how to pair it with wine. Spaghetti doesn’t count, aim higher.9. Learn how to recognize when a woman is venting and shut up. She doesn’t want you to solve her problem. If she does, she’ll ask.10. Know how to drive a manual transmission. It’ll take you a couple hours to learn and you’ll never forget how to do it.11. Have one go-to method of knowing how to start a fire without a match or lighter. The Boy Scouts have three.12. Have a bank account separate from your checking and savings. Every paycheck, put 5 to 10 percent of it in said account. Same thing for your 401k–add to it.13. Read one great book every month. Take your time with it and understand it.14. Have one toast ready at a moment’s notice. Similarly, know how to give a great speech. The perfect speech will earn you enormous respect.15. Be able to dance when asked. You don’t have to be Fred Astaire, just move your arms and legs a bit—the girl you’re on the dance floor with is there to have fun.16. Know how to change a flat tire. Don’t complain when you have to perform the task.17. Always compete strongly, and lose graciously—win graciously, too.18. Own a filing cabinet and keep all important paperwork in there. W-2s, birth certificates, tax stuff—anything you can’t afford to lose.19. Spend at least 5 minutes a day catching up on current events. Don’t just read the Local and Sports sections—venture into the World and Politics sections, as well.20. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re about to cheat, know that you’ll feel completely miserable afterwards.21. Always date your wife, girlfriend—significant other. Get off the couch.22. When someone you’ve just met asks you a friendly question, answer them. Then ask them one back, and listen.23. Don’t look for approval from anyone other than you and your own set of moral codes.24. If you feel like something’s wrong with you physically, go to a doctor. A lot of illnesses can be stopped if caught early enough.25. Remind yourself that your job doesn’t define you.26. Always compliment her shoes (or anything you know a woman put a little extra effort into).27. Confidence is everything. Know yourself and what’s important to you–that’ll get you there. (And if you don’t feel confident, fake it—it’ll happen eventually—don’t be cocky, just hold your head high and show poise.)

  • 7 Tips on How to Write the Perfect Online Dating Profile

    1. Use the best one-person photo you’ve taken in the last six months as your profile picture.Forgo the group shot with 20 of your closest sorority sisters or frat bros “crushing it” on Spring Break. There’s nothing wrong with group photos with friends, but using these photos in your online dating profile only adds confusion to a potential date’s first impression. It also reeks of questionable self-esteem. (What, you’re not confident enough to put yourself out there on your own?) And if you’re thinking ab2. Avoid the following photo clichés anywhere in your profile:WomenPetting a tiger: You’d be surprised how many women have traveled to the tiger temple in Thailand—I must have seen hundreds of these shots in my time.Jumping in the air: These shots are usually taken on a beach or on top of a mountain. Cute if you’re a teenager, but we’re adults now, so skip it.Fake finger mustache: You don’t need guys picturing you with facial hair.MenShirtless selfies: I don’t care how ripped your abs are, I don’t care how Ryan Gosling-esque your pecs may be, girls don’t really like shirtless pics from strangers. It screams “I’m vain and I’m going to be the pretty one in this relationship.”Smoldering looks: Research shows that a man who looks directly into the camera comes off intimidating to women. It also looks like they’re trying too hard. Stay loose, look away from the camera and go with a candid shot. It sounds ridiculous, but looking away from the camera gives you a sense of mystique—more of a challenge. Don’t laugh, it works.Toothy smiles: Nothing wrong with a grin, but don’t go overboard. You bare too many teeth and you begin to chart creepy waters. You’ll have plenty of time to show her your flashy smile when you meet her. On the other hand, women—every photo you post should be of you smiling—research shows that’s what works.Men and WomenFlash photography: Flash photography on cheap point-and-clicks and smartphones age you horribly. It magnifies every wrinkle and pore—not a good first look.Newfangled filters: Everyone knows what you’re doing when you use hazy, out-of-focus filters and oversaturation. Save that hokum for Instagram. Instead, use natural light—outdoorsy photos at the beach, the mountains, or the corner table on a patio café.3. Write your profile in your normal, conversational language.As much as people use acronyms like OMG, LOL and BTW in instant messages and texts, stay away from Internet shorthand—it’s poor form. If you’re looking for a meaningful relationship, do you really want to date someone who expresses themselves like a junior varsity cheerleader? As for exclamation points, Mark Twain said; “One should never use exclamation points in writing. It is like laughing at your own joke.”4. Don’t write an unnecessarily long profile. A short profile is a red flag. If you’re not thoughtful enough to write a decent profile, people are going to think you can’t even hold up your end of a conversation. That being said, an unnecessarily long profile marks you and a pretentious blowhard. In my experience, a simple three-to-four line paragraph, per category, is most effective. Remember, this is the Internet—everyone is skimming for keywords and interesting opening lines at best. The more you write, the faster their fingers will click to the next profile.5. Make sure you’re extremely specific in your profile description.Telling potential mates that you “like to laugh” and you “like to travel, and listen to music” is only going to do you more harm than good. Who doesn’t like to laugh? And everyone loves to listen to music. Be extremely specific. What do you like to laugh at? Woody Allen movies? Buzzfeed lists? Big Bang Theory reruns? All three describe a specific person.6. Be honest about your physical description.It should go without saying, but a lot of people do it—don’t lie, especially about your age or weight. These lies will catch up with you—like when you actually meet in person. That said, while you’re browsing the personals assume everyone is shaving a few years (and pounds) off their profile.7. Don’t let your profile stagnate.Don’t be afraid to get in your profile and mix it up every week or so. Play around with new profile photos, new intros, and updated stats. This maintenance will let others know you’re still in the game. Most people tend to pass on profiles that haven’t been active for more than a couple weeks.Remember, you’re not there to attract everyone in the dating pool, ultimately just your one perfect match. You’ll go on a few awkward first dates before you find your match, but your flawless profile will ease the pain of the journey.

  • The Most Beautiful Places in China

    China’s vast and diverse territory endows the country with some of the most beautiful natural scenery on earth. From the picturesque karst landscape in Guilin and Yanshuo to the precipitous pillars in Zhangjiajie, from the colorful lakes in Jiuzhaigou to the Rainbow Mountains in Zhangye, China’s diverse natural beauty is as impressive as its splendid culture.Zhangye's Danxia Landscape — Rainbow MountainsThe Danxia landscape in Zhangye is vividly named “Rainbow Mountains” by many due to its dazzlingly colors.Danxia (丹霞 /dan-sshya/) means 'red, red clouds'. In China's remote northwest, Zhangye is ignored by ordinary travelers, but deeply loved by photographers.The landscape is composed of curvy, layered, multihued formations, most of which are several hundred meters high. When the sun shines on them, their colors appear in full vibrancy. It looks like an oil painting when the vast red rock formations are simply set against a pure blue sky.The best time to visit Zhangye is from June to September when the weather is most comfortable. The best time to take photo of these mountains is in the morning and during sunset, especially sunset, when the colors change continuously, showing yellow and red layers covered by a light gray layer.The Yellow Mountains — Sunrises and Seas of CloudAn image of a twisting pine tree growing from a curiously-curved rock pops into Chinese minds when they hear of the Yellow Mountains.These mystical and mist-ical mountains are the most beautiful and most famous in China. Their classic attractions are grand dawns and their “four natural wonders”: peculiar pines, oddly-shaped rocks, seas of clouds, and hot springs.About 300 km (200 miles) west of Hangzhou and 500 km (300 miles) southwest of Shanghai, direct flights from Shanghai to Huangshan city take only 30 minutes, then it's about 1½ hours to the scenic area. A bus from Hangzhou to the Yellow Mountains takes only about 2½ hours.Hong Village — Nine Centuries QuaintHongcun is a picturesque village with beautiful watery scenes round its lotus ponds and bridges, as well as charmingly crafted architecture. Villagers have diverted water into "house gardens" and "water yards", which exist only in this village. The village, in its breathing-taking setting, looks like a Chinese painting. The village attracts many Chinese art students to practice their skills.Hongcun was a setting for “the best Chinese film of all time” — Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.Hong Village is at the foot of the Yellow Mountains, and they are usually combined on a tour. See our 3-Day Yellow Mountains and Hongcun Village Tour.Wuyuan — China’s Most Beautiful Rural AreaWuyuan is hailed by Chinese travelers as "the most beautiful countryside in China". The classic image of Wuyuan is rural life under colorful blossoms. The best time to visit Wuyuan is from early March to mid-April when the land is covered in a yellow carpet of rape flowers. The time to see the flowers may be slightly different each year, so please check with your travel advisor when planning your trip. Fall foliage is another highlight of the area.Wuyuan is just 50 km (30 mi) south of Huangshan (Yellow Mountain City).Xiapu — Mudflats and Traditional Seaside LifeXiapu is a hidden gem, yet to be discovered by ordinary travelers. The area has picturesque mudflats and a simple lifestyle, and is deeply loved by photographers from all over the world.The scenery changes constantly. Sometimes there is sea water, and sometimes just mud, with seaweed drying on bamboo poles. Fishermen and seaweed harvesters make a living there, in harmony with the tides that sweep through. Zhangjiajie — Precipitous PillarsThe precipitous pillars in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park are the inspiration for the Hallelujah Mountains in Avatar.Zhangjiajie is famous for its towering peaks, grotesque rock pillars, and deep valleys. The forest of massive pillars is one of the best muses for photographers in China.The Li River & Yangshuo — China’s Most Beautiful Karst LandscapesThe Li River is like an artist's masterpiece, bounded by classic sheer karst hills, which have inspired many poets and ink painters. It is listed as one of the world's "Top 10 Watery Wonders" by America's National Geographic Magazine and the World's "15 Best Rivers for Travelers” by CNN Travel.A Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo is the essence of all Guilin tours, offering an easy and relaxing way to enjoy the picturesque scenery.Chinese tourists first think of Yangshuo when looking for natural beauty. Yangshuo is famous for its karst hills and rivers. Taking a bamboo raft or having a cycling tour into the countryside, you can enjoy the idyllic, painting-like scenes. The Yuanyang Terraced Fields — Steps to Heaven"If you are a traveler, but have never been to Yuanyang,                     Yuanyang will feel sad for you; if you are a photographer, but have never been to Yuanyang,                     God will feel sorry for you!”There are many things that you know will never be surpassed once you see their beauty. And you will find Yuanyang's terraced fields are the most beautiful terraces in the world, once you have been there.Jiuzhaigou — Colorful Alpine LakesJiuzhaigou, in remote west China, has inspired dreams of a colorful fairyland among many travelers. Jiuzhaigou features multicolored lakes surrounded by vast mountain forests. These lakes change color throughout the day and year. The colors come from the reflections of surrounding mountainsides and algae and minerals in the lakes.Fall is the most beautiful season in Jiuzhaigou, when the landscape changes color, providing a vivid backdrop of autumnal hues — an unspoiled, dazzlingly beauty rarely rivaled in China.Tibet — Lofty Mountain SplendorTibet, locked in the Himalayas, holds travelers' imaginations of the lost Shangri-la. From the unspoiled sacred lakes to the world’s highest peak — Mount Everest; from the vast untouched Changtang Grasslands to the depths of the Yarlung-Tsangpo Canyon, the Roof of the World is filled with awe and pristine beauty.

  • Why Being a Statistician is the Wave of the Future

    Getty ImagesThe demand for statisticians in a corporate world becoming increasingly dominated by analytics-based thinking is certain to increase. With the ability to quantify and explain uncertainty, the best statisticians can combine the ability to intensively crunch numbers and tell a story in plain English. These "renaissance" statisticians are the wave of the future, and they here to stay.Analytics Drives BusinessAnalytics is the study and discovery of potentially lucrative patterns in vast amounts of data. In the data-driven and information-heavy business world the modern economy operates in, applying analytics is the quick and efficient way to forecast performance and anticipate results of business decisions. Statisticians specialize in the field of analytics and are able to correlate seemingly disparate bits of information (e.g. weather patterns in India against the market price of tea) to recommend purchasing strategies for Starbucks to maximize returns for their shareholders. Information that leads to even a marginal increase in net income can mean the difference between meeting investor expectations and falling short; statisticians can make a difference.Quantifying and Explaining RiskCompanies are thrilled to have as much data as they can get their hands on showing consumer preferences, product performance in key markets, and demographic patterns; but what good is this data to anyone if no one can explain it? The statistician who can crunch the numbers, present insights visually, and then relate an action-driven story or recommendation in plain English is like finding buried treasure. The more data there is and the longer it's collected means greater demand for the statistician.Real-Time Voluminous Data Will Only GrowUse of the internet increased globally 566% since the year 2000 with the greatest annual growth rates occurring in the developing world (the Middle East - 2,639%, Latin America - 1,310%, Africa - 3.607%). The implication of this observation to the amount of data collected in the future suggests that there will only be more and more information available for the business world to analyze, test, and scrutinize to decipher insights with tremendous commercial potential. Companies with weak analytics capabilities can expect to fall behind unless they actively recruit, motivate, and retain teams of statisticians. See: How to become a statisticianThe quantitative mindset of the statistician will only become more valuable over time as the availability of data online increases. Skills in regression analysis, interpretation, visualization, programming, and operations research can enable game-changing decisions; this information will be valued tremendously well into the next decade and beyond.

  • 10 Films That Predicted the Future

    Many popular movies are set in the future, but some of the advanced technologies they portray eventually, amazingly, became realities our world."Total Recall"While a car may not exactly drive itself like in this movie, there are cars that will park without the steering from the driver."Back to the Future"Some of the technology featured in "Back to the Future" has become a reality. Smart technology you can wear is now part of everyday life."Short Circuit"Military robots may not be as personable as the star of this movie, however, the machines can be used in many situations. Most are operated by programming."War Games"Computer hacking can be child's play or serious business. This movie depicted both worlds and highlights how scary both can be."The Jetsons"A robot that vacuums the floors may have once seemed far fetched, but now these devices are sold in most home goods stores."Minority Report"Touch devices are commonplace, but yet looked so cool in this movie. Nearly every consumer will encounter a touch screen in their daily life, even if they do not have a touch device of their own."The Truman Show"Reality TV is now more popular than standard programming with many viewers. There are more reality series being tested each season by all major networks.<img class="image" src="http://file2.answcdn.com/answ-cld/image/upload/f_jpg,w_672,c_fill,g_faces:center,q_70/v1/tk/view/cew/5a9de663/eac96fd748b7255166646041bdb4786be339a8e3.jpeg" alt=""The Hitchhiker" s="" guide="" to="" the="" galaxy"'="" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"Although the Internet has been around for decades, the film hit on how crucial it would become in our everyday lives.""Blade Runner"The brightly lit billboards in this movie are now something many see on a daily basis. While standard billboards still exist, digital billboards have also become commonplace."Gattaca"This movie alludes to many advances in medicine and concepts like genetic testing. These are all very real parts of medicine and evolve constantly.These movies may seem to be crystal balls into the future. However, in most cases, the things movies predict never happen. But at the same time, only time will tell...!

  • Here Are 20 Unbelievable Places You Would Swear Aren't Real... But They Are.

    SCIENCEThis world of ours is full of beautiful places, places of truly epic proportions. I've hand picked 20 places that really made me go "Wow!", places that really take the cake when it comes to awe-inspiring beauty. So without further ado, the 20 most amazing places on this beautiful planet of ours:Wisteria Flower Tunnel - JapanZhangye Danxia Landform - ChinaTianzi Mountains - ChinaTulip Fields - NetherlandsMount Roraima - South AmericaLake Retba - SengalZhangye Danxia Landform - ChinaTunnel of Love - UkraineMendenhall Ice Caves - AlaskaSolar du Uyuni - BoliviaAntelope Canyon - ArizonaBamboo Forest - ChinaBlack Forest - GermanyFields of Tea - ChinaHang Son Doong - VietnamHitachi Seaside Park - JapanLake Hillier - AustraliaLavender Fields - FranceNaico Mine - MexicoRed Beach - ChinaThis is just the tip of the iceberg, there are thousands of equally unbelievable places all over the world. So get out there and start exploring the world!

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