Fridaygram: Code Jam, Titan ice, super recognizers

AUG 30, 2013
Author PhotoBy +Scott Knaster, Google Developers Blog Editor

Google Code Jam is a time-honored tradition in which coders around the world solve programming problems for glory and cash prizes. The 10th annual Code Jam finals took place last week in London, and when the dust settled and the flying fingers stopped typing, the winner of the coveted title Code Jam Champion 2013 was Ivan Miatselski. The champion (also known as mystic) bested 45,000 entrants to win the competition.

Code Jam participants get to use whichever programming language they want, and they chose dozens, including Python, Java, C++, and even COBOL, Fortran, Smalltalk, and Mathematica. This year’s devilish final round involved solving five challenges in four hours, including puzzles about driving around a traffic circle backwards and finding a drummer for your band. If you missed it, don’t worry: Code Jam 2014 is on the way.

As we switch from enigmatic problems to mysterious celestial bodies, there’s news that Saturn’s moon Titan is continuing its shady ways. According to new research, Titan could have a thick crust of ice, very different from previous theories. Geophysicist Doug Hemingway of UC Santa Cruz says “Already things on Titan were hard to explain. This makes it even worse.” Indeed, Titan is a pretty weird place, with its methane atmosphere that comes down in rain and forms lakes.

Finally, would you like to meet a restaurant waiter who remembers you across visits, even if they’re years apart? That’s the story of Julian Lim, a super recognizer who recalls almost every face he’s ever seen. This superpower even works across many years, as super recognizers can pick out people who have grown up and changed substantially. Researchers studying this phenomenon have found more than 20 super recognizers so far. Some of them didn’t realize they had a special ability and assumed everyone else could do it too.

On Fridaygram, scientists are heroes, space news is amazing, nature never ceases to surprise, and fun is important. We hope your weekend is filled with wonder and general cool stuff.