The Simpsons did it: Exploring the film trope space and its large scale structure

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How do you make a popular movie? A group of researchers ran a meta-analysis of various “cohesive elements or patterns” (tropes) to create a data-driven approach to writing stories, and drama seems to be king. Drama films — including war films, family terror, and dark sci-fi — usually employ tropes related to the description of villains, highlighting the general audience’s fascination with categorising evil characters, whether it be a “NightmareFace (a horrible face)” or, the slightly comic, “BaldOfEvil (the villain is bald)”. Read full article here

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Societal Issues

To curb drug deaths, communities turn to Reddit, texts and wastewater

With drug overdose deaths on the rise, authorities are attempting to curb the epidemic by tracking and sharing information in real time. In one unique effort, a nonprofit in New York City is using drug-testing equipment and stamping or marking habits of dealers to identify drug batches that may endanger users. Other approaches are also being used, such as monitoring drug-related chatter on Reddit and analyzing local wastewater for opioid and other drug levels. With the combination of these efforts, researchers hope to put a dent in the opioid crisis and reduce overdose deaths. Read full article here


A look inside the lab building mushroom computers

The Unconventional Computing Laboratory at the University of the West of England is pushing the boundaries of computing, working to see if mushrooms can be used to carry out computing and sensing functions. By stimulating the mycelium—the branching, web-like root structure of the fungus—researchers can get it to produce electrical activity and see if it can be used to create complex, multi-dimensional functions that are more precise than traditional computers. This could lead to a whole new world of possibilities, such as using mushrooms to create fault-tolerant, energy-efficient computers and even mapping neural networks. It’s truly a fascinating field of study – and one that could shape the future of computing. Read full article here

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