Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for January 11, 2020

in #rsslog2 years ago (edited)

A TED talk arguing that dinosaurs rose to evolutionary prominence because of efficient lungs; Linus Torvalds says, "Don't use ZFS."; AI improvements driven by qauge theory, from physics; The World Health Organization retracts opioid guidance; and a Steem photo-essay depicting the harvesting of Mason Bee cocoons

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First posted on my Steem blog: SteemIt, SteemPeak*, StemGeeks.


pixabay license: source.

  1. The secret weapon that let dinosaurs take over the planet | Emma Schachner - This TED talk by Emma Schachner was given in March, 2019 and it came across the site's RSS feed on January 8, 2020. In the talk, Schachner discusses the question of how dinosaurs came to the top of the evolutionary ladder for hundreds of millions of years of existence, starting in the Triassic Era. To explain this, she suggests that it was the dinosaur's lungs that gave them their strongest evolutionary advantage, because they were better for respiration in a time when the ground was not yet covered with grass, and the level of oxygen in the atmosphere was 15%, instead of today's 21%. In support of this claim, she says that birds are the closest living model for a dinosaur, and she distinguishes between bird lungs and mammalian lungs. Mammal lungs expand and contract and move around inside of the body. Birds, on the other hand, have stationary lungs that are locked into place by the ribs and they don't expand or contract, due to a mechanism known as vertebral pneumaticity. She says that this architecture gives birds a better ability to absorb oxygen than mammals. Additionally, she notes that paleontologists have been able to identify vertebral pneumaticity and forked ribs in dinosaur fossils, suggesting that they had a significant adaptive advantage over all other animals in a low-oxygen environment, including mammals in particular.

  2. Linus Torvalds: “Don’t use ZFS” - Torvalds says in an an e-mail that due to Oracle's history of litigation, he wouldn't merge ZFS into the Linux kernel without a letter saying it was ok from Oracle's chief legal counsel, or even Larry Ellison. He also says that the Linux commitment not to break applications in user space doesn't apply if people add things like ZFS to the kernel space on their own platforms. In an e-mail discussion, Torvalds puts it like this:
    Don't use ZFS. It's that simple. It was always more of a buzzword than anything else, I feel, and the licensing issues just make it a non-starter for me.

  3. An Idea From Physics Helps AI See in Higher Dimensions - Historically, the use of convolutional neural networks (CNNs) has made AI systems very good at a large number of tasks, from winning games like Chess and Go to driving autonomous vehicles. They have continued to struggle, however, with geometric problems that lack a "built in planar geometry". In 2016, researchers started working to address this shortcoming, and some are now reporting success. A team from the University of Amsterdam and Qualcom have developed "gauge-equivariant convolutional neural networks" that can detect patterns on spheres or asymmetrically curved objects. The team is comprised of Taco Cohen, Maurice Weiler, Berkay Kicanaoglu and Max Welling. These guage CNNs have outperformed other models in recognizing patterns in climate data, which naturally maps to a sphere. Other potential uses include: "improving the vision of drones and autonomous vehicles that see objects in 3D, and for detecting patterns in data gathered from the irregularly curved surfaces of hearts, brains or other organs." The gauge CNNs operate by making use of a physics principle called gauge equivarience, which arises out of gauge theory. Succinctly, the idea is to make sure that a measurement is independent of the frame of reference, or in other words, a measurement from one frame of reference must map to other frames of reference by a consistent and predictable function. The CNN, then chooses a single frame of reference, makes an assumption of gauge equivariance and converts data from other frames of reference into its standard frame of reference before looking for patterns. In addition to improving AIs ability to recognize patterns in curved spaces, this technique also lets AIs operate with less training data because they create equivalencies between multiple frames of reference. For example, a cat is still a cat if the picture is upside down, diagonal, or sideways.

  4. WHO formally retracts opioid guidelines that came under fire - In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that access to pain relief is a universal human right. In 2011 and 2012, it followed that declaration with reports stating that opioids are safe and effective when prescribed and used rationally, and that people need not fear becoming unintentionally addicted to the products. Last June, a report alleged that the 2011 and 2012 statements were tainted by commercial bias because they were based on research that used astroturf participants and was funded by a subsidiary of Purdue Pharmaceuticals, one of the dominant manufacturers of opioid pain relief drugs. In January, 2020, the WHO retracted the statements from 2011 and 2012.

  5. STEEM Harvesting Mason Bee cocoons - In this post, @solominer shows a number of photos of Mason Bee cocoons, pollen, and the bamboo that houses them. The photos are accompanied by textual descriptions of the insects and the steps that are needed to harvest about a hundred cocoons. After harvesting, the next step is to wash and dry the cocoons, and @solominer promises another post to describe that activity. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @solominer.)

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Thanks alot for featuring my mason bee post, I will post more soon.


This post has been manually curated, resteemed
and gifted with some virtually delicious cake
from the @helpiecake curation team!

Much love to you from all of us at @helpie!
Keep up the great work!


Manually curated by @solominer.

@helpie is a Community Witness.

 2 years ago Reveal Comment