Straight from my RSS feed
Whatever gets my attention
Links and micro-summaries from my 1000+ daily headlines. I filter them so you don't have to.
pixabay license: source.
- What a digital government looks like - This TED talk was posted in July of 2019 and came across the site's RSS feed on January 9. In the talk, Anna Piperal argues that digital governments, like the one that has emerged in Estonia during the last 20 years, can help restore trust in government by a country's citizens and can also restore trust in the citizens by government. Since 2001, she says, the country has moved many of the government's tasks online. These include tax payments, voting, and digital signatures of documents. She says there are just three things that Estonians must do in person: (i) Show up to receive digital ID documents; (ii) Get married or divorced; and (iii) sell real estate. Additionally, she claims, the country has nearly eliminated the "labyrinth of bureacracy" that is a feature of modern life in so many other countries. Further, she says that this was all accomplished through the application of a few key design principles: (i) Privacy and confidentiality of data must be guaranteed; (ii) "Once only" - the state cannot ask for the same data more than once, and cannot store that information in more than one place; (iii) Data ownership - the individual owns all data that is collected about them; She adds that the country is currently building a whole new range of services by adding artificial intelligence solutions to the mix, and also that the data is all backed up to external "data embassies" that are located outside of the country. As a down-side, she notes that when you add humans to the equation, the political power struggles and polarization of society continue to impact society. Another interesting facet is that the country has an e-Residence program that's attracting entrepreneurs from 136 countries all over the world. Interestingly, she claims in passing that the country uses a form of blockchain that they invented back in 2007, before the emergence of Bitcoin. I'd like to know more about that.
- NASA’s new exoplanet hunter found its first potentially habitable world - NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey (TESS) satellite was launched in April of 2018, and the agency just posted to arXiv announcing its first discovery of a potentially habitable planet. The planet is called, TOI700d, and it is about 1.2 times the size of the Earth. It orbits its red dwarf host star in a period of 37 days, and receives about 86% of the incoming light from its star as the Earth receives from our own Sun. A suite of computer simulations indicate that the planet may be rocky and have an atmosphere that helps it hold water, but there is also a possibility that it might be a gaseous planet, like a smaller Neptune. To get a better handle on the planet's composition, observations are needed with a sharper instrument, such as the James Webb Space Telescope which is planning to launch in March of 2021. The technique that TESS uses to find planets involves observing the change in starlight when the planet crosses between the star and the telescope. The device is able to survey 85% of the sky and is on the verge of completing its two year mission. This discovery aside, the article indicates that TESS has fallen far short of expectations.
- How to (Maybe) Find Your Own Little Amazing Meteorite - It is estimated that sixty or more tons of little tiny meteorites, called micrometeorites, fall to Earth every day. This means that people who are willing to do the work, may be able to find their own. To find them, this youtube video suggests you need a microscope, a magnet, a ziplock bag, and the "goop" in your rain gutter. To find them, the video suggests scooping the goop out of your rain gutter, putting a magnet inside the ziplock bag, then using the covered magnet to attract tiny particles onto the surface of the ziplock bag. There's a catch, though. In urban areas, other forms of microdebris can contaminate what you find, so it is recommended to do this in remote locations. Until 2017, it was believed to be impossible to find micrometeorites in urban areas, but Project Stardust in Oslo, Norway, changed all that by publishing a find of over 500 urban micrometeorites in a crowdsourced project. Based on the finds, researchers estimate that an average of 2 micrometeorites fall on every square meter of roof every year. They also observed that the micrometeorites in urban gutters tended to be much younger than micrometeorites that are recovered from remote locations like Antarctica.
Here is the video:
-h/t Real Clear Science
- Paul Krugman’s no good, very bad Internet day - Even Nobel Prize winners are vulnerable to social engineering scams, it would seem. Krugman apparently got targeted by two different Internet scams, and then tweeted about it. When he eventually realized that he was being scammed, the NY Times cybersecurity group stepped in to assist and he deleted the tweets. It's not clear whether he was targeted because of his celebrity or if it was just a random dialer. Anyway, the article closes with some good reminders for family members, especially those who are not digital natives: " Tell them that they should not click on that link in an email or a Facebook message, that Windows will not call them, and show them the Federal Trade Commission website report on phone scams.".
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