Joan Sutherland, “la stupenda” RIP

Let’s spend a quite moment remembering the fabulous Australian soprano Joan Sutherland, who just died. Hat tip to Joyce DiDonato on Twitter (@JoyceDiDonato) who brought this to my attention and also posted this link to a fantastic performance by Dame Joan of Sempre Libera. Oh wait, that’s not a “quiet” moment, but it certainly is appropriate.

UPDATE: and here is a link to the same aria as performed in 1965. The tenor in the background is one Luciano Pavarotti.

Google is developing self-driving car technology

Sebastian Thrun, Distinguished Software Engineer at Google, has a fascinating post on the Official Google Blog today. An excerpt:

What we’re driving at

10/09/2010 12:00:00 PM
Larry and Sergey founded Google because they wanted to help solve really big problems using technology. And one of the big problems we’re working on today is car safety and efficiency. Our goal is to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use.

So we have developed technology for cars that can drive themselves. Our automated cars, manned by trained operators, just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard. They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe. All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles. We think this is a first in robotics research.

I want a car like this yesterday. Even more, I want every one else on the road to have a car like this the day before yesterday. Most people drive in ways that prove they do not deserve the privilege of controlling their own cars.