Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for January 12, 2020

in rsslog •  13 days ago  (edited)

The US announces a new particle collider for 2030; Deploying drones in fruit orchards; Teaching database design in a world of uncertainty; IEEE Spectrum's weekly selection of awesome robot videos; and a Steem essay describing a Prevent, Solve, Manage framework for dealing with problems


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

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  1. The US is building its first new particle collider in decades on Long Island. Stephen Hawking called the technology a 'time machine.' - According to an announcement from the US Department of Energy on Thursday, Jan 9, 2020, the US will begin construction on a new particle collider at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. At the moment, the site in Long Island, NY, is the location of the only operational particle collider in the US, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, and that collider will be shutting down in 2024 to make room for the new one, which could be operational by 2030. To save on costs, the new collider will retain one of the rings from the existing collider, but it is still expected to cost somewhere between $1.6 billion and $2.6 billion. It is hoped that the new Electron-Ion Collider (EIC) will give insights into the ways that quarks and gluons are arranged, and the reasons why they are so tightly bound together. It is also hoped that it will provide new understandings to explain why the spinning of quarks inside a proton only accounts for about 1/4 of the proton's spin. In a practical sense, the article asserts that possible advances from the collider include knowledge about "how to zap cancer cells, improve batteries and electronics, or power future technologies that haven't even been imagined yet." Because particles turn into the same sort of "hot soup" that existed at the time of the Big Bang when they collide, Stephen Hawking once described particle colliders as a sort of time machine.

  2. Drones Make Fruit Farmers More Efficient - According to Olga Walsh, thousands of dollars are saved every year through the deployment of crop sensors, and the technology also helps to improve the efficiency of agricultural inputs like water and fertilizer. Additionally, drones can assist in minimizing the environmental impact of agricultural production. Walsh's work, focusing specifically on fruit orchards, found the following additional areas of impact: (i) Creating inventory records of tree sizes; (ii) Tracking the quality and health of trees; (iii) Water, pest, nutrition, and disease management; (iv) yield estimates; and (v) Photography and video recording for marketing purposes. In addition to accomplishing all this work, the unmanned aerial vehicles also perform the work faster than humans, and they can function in areas of the light spectrum where human eyes cannot see. In addition to researching the technology, Walsh's team also provides outreach and education to agricultural workers in Idaho.

  3. How I teach database design - Daniel Lemire says that database design textbooks still teach from a model that was created when it was possible to believe that data structures would be fixed and predictable and unaffected by corporate reorganizations, mergers, and acquisitions. He goes on to argue that if this idealized world of development ever existed, it is gone now, and the "waterfall model is naive to the point of being actively harmful". So, he says he teaches his students to insulate the user from the database structure as much as possible and to think critically about database design textbooks. This does not mean to be haphazard in design, but instead he says he teaches students to agonize over every decision so that they do not wind up boxing themselves in. Additionally, he says that he exposes students to as much real-world data as possible.

  4. Video Friday: Samsung Unveils Ball-Shaped Personal Robot - This week's weekly selection of awesome robot videos from IEEE Spectrum includes: a promo video from a mischievous ball robot; A CES demo of Agility Robotics biped Digit robot; Actuated bionic flaps from Foldaway Haptics on a Mercedes-Benz concept car, also from CES; A "Full body powered exoskeleton" from Sarcos; Reachy, an open source interactive robot from Pollen Robotics; and more...

    Here is Reachy:

  5. STEEM Prevent, Solve or Manage - In this post, @spectrumecons offers an economic framework for dealing with problems. According to the framework, a problem can be dealt with by one of three tools: (i) Prevent; (ii) Solve; and/or (iii) Manage. The author goes on to describe each of those possibilities and - through the use of Venn diagrams - rank the outcomes of applying one or more of those strategies in terms of control and risk for the person who faces the problem. Next, the article moves on to considering the same framework in the context of predictability and costs. In conclusion, the author suggests that this model offers a useful "rule of thumb" for dealing with problems, but adds that all problems are unique, and need to be researched individually. The post goes on to anticipate that future articles by @spectrumecons will apply this model to problems in areas ranging from health, crime, and housing to immigration, money, and leadership. Finally, the author announces their free Udemy course, ‘Guide to the Steem Ecosystem’, which includes 56 videos with a total viewing time of 13.5 hours. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been assigned to this post for @spectrumecons.)


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