Category Archives: Science

Updates from Siemens

Spaceport America Cup Student Competition Soars to 30,000 Feet, Now with Siemens Software Partnering
Siemens commitment to workforce development
By Chris Penny – Siemens Digital Industries Software’s academic partnering staff recently attended the Spaceport America Cup (SA Cup) for the first time as a sponsor. We are very excited to be working with these teams to provide software and training grants to help team excel in the design and manufacturing of their rockets. Leigh Anderson from the global academic team and Chris Penny from the US academic team met with virtually every team of 120 teams from 14 countries, and Chris gave two workshops on Siemens software featuring demonstrations in STAR-CCM+ for aerodynamic analysis.

We selected this competition to sponsor due to the sophistication of the student challenge, the opportunity to engage with and support these students, and the high level of industry support (many of which use Siemens software).

A great example of how this competition prepares students for the workforce could be seen when James Ferrese (University of Washington) who led the development of an advanced plasma actuator payload obtained on-the-spot job offers from Raytheon and Northrup Grumman after their design presentation. more>

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Hello From the Year 2050. We Avoided the Worst of Climate Change — But Everything Is Different

By Bill McKibben – Let’s imagine for a moment that we’ve reached the middle of the century. It’s 2050, and we have a moment to reflect—the climate fight remains the consuming battle of our age, but its most intense phase may be in our rearview mirror. And so we can look back to see how we might have managed to dramatically change our society and economy. We had no other choice.

There was a point after 2020 when we began to collectively realize a few basic things.

One, we weren’t getting out of this unscathed. Climate change, even in its early stages, had begun to hurt: watching a California city literally called Paradise turn into hell inside of two hours made it clear that all Americans were at risk. When you breathe wildfire smoke half the summer in your Silicon Valley fortress, or struggle to find insurance for your Florida beach house, doubt creeps in even for those who imagined they were immune.

Two, there were actually some solutions. By 2020, renewable energy was the cheapest way to generate electricity around the planet—in fact, the cheapest way there ever had been. The engineers had done their job, taking sun and wind from quirky backyard DIY projects to cutting-edge technology. Batteries had plummeted down the same cost curve as renewable energy, so the fact that the sun went down at night no longer mattered quite so much—you could store its rays to use later.

And the third realization? People began to understand that the biggest reason we weren’t making full, fast use of these new technologies was the political power of the fossil-fuel industry. Investigative journalists had exposed its three-decade campaign of denial and disinformation, and attorneys general and plaintiffs’ lawyers were beginning to pick them apart. And just in time. more>

Updates from ITU

Here’s how we can build public trust in self-driving vehicles
By Chaesub Lee – The automotive industry is undergoing extraordinary transformation.

The future of transport looks to be electric; highly automated; and – increasingly – shared.

This transformation is ambitious, and this ambition is very welcome.

In mobility, we can impact billions of people’s lives for the better.

We can save countless numbers of lives. We can improve environmental sustainability. And we can expand access to the many opportunities that mobility brings.

New technologies are at the heart of this transformation, and international standardization will be essential to ensure that these technologies are deployed efficiently and at scale.

That is why the ITU membership includes Volkswagen Group and Hyundai – and a diverse range of other automotive industry players such as China’s Telematics Industry Application Alliance, Continental, Bosch, BlackBerry, Tata Communications and Mitsubishi Electric.

By joining the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, ICTs, they are helping to shape international standards that protect and encourage key investments, improve road safety and help build intelligent transport systems. more>

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Are ‘you’ just inside your skin or is your smartphone part of you?

By Karina Vold – Most democratic constitutions shield us from unwanted intrusions into our brains and bodies. They also enshrine our entitlement to freedom of thought and mental privacy. That’s why neurochemical drugs that interfere with cognitive functioning can’t be administered against a person’s will unless there’s a clear medical justification. Similarly, according to scholarly opinion, law-enforcement officials can’t compel someone to take a lie-detector test, because that would be an invasion of privacy and a violation of the right to remain silent.

But in the present era of ubiquitous technology, philosophers are beginning to ask whether biological anatomy really captures the entirety of who we are. Given the role they play in our lives, do our devices deserve the same protections as our brains and bodies?

After all, your smartphone is much more than just a phone. It can tell a more intimate story about you than your best friend. No other piece of hardware in history, not even your brain, contains the quality or quantity of information held on your phone: it ‘knows’ whom you speak to, when you speak to them, what you said, where you have been, your purchases, photos, biometric data, even your notes to yourself – and all this dating back years.

In 2014, the United States Supreme Court used this observation to justify the decision that police must obtain a warrant before rummaging through our smartphones. more>

Updates from Ciena

5 reasons why it’s time to evolutionize your network, now.
We’ve reached a tipping point. Carrying on with legacy network infrastructure is no longer a long-term option.
By Chris Newall – While the benefits of modernizing networks are clear – reduce network footprint, energy and support costs; scale to support new apps, services and use cases; and enhance end-customer experience – there are also significant change management and service continuity challenges to get over. In an attempt to avoid disruption, or in an attempt to extend ROI on their existing assets, many service providers simply limp on with their legacy infrastructure.

This common strategy of delaying modernization projects and building new overlay networks on old infrastructure has more or less worked until now, but time is running out.

So, what’s changed and why is the network modernization conversation more urgent now?

There are lots of reasons why many are now at a critical point with legacy infrastructure, and why network modernization is now a matter of urgency:

  1. Legacy networks are increasing technology and business risks
  2. Legacy skills are dying out, leaving your operations vulnerable
  3. High network costs are eating into already slender margins
  4. New apps need more capacity than legacy networks can provide
  5. Unpredictable demand peaks are getting bigger and more frequent

Most services providers have been talking about network modernisation with vendors and partners for years. We all know that replacing legacy networks with modern, efficient, scalable infrastructure can help you reduce your network footprint, reduce energy and support costs, and scale on demand to support bandwidth-intensive apps and use cases. more>

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Updates from Siemens

Siemens Case Study: Lean Digital Factory Project

By Gunter Beitinger – In October 2017, Siemens launched their Lean Digital Factory (LDF) program. Combining a group of experts from different business functions and technology units, its purpose is to define a conceptual holistic digital transformation roadmap for all factories of the operating company Digital Industries (DI).

To fully capture the value of using big data in manufacturing, the plants of DI needed to have a flexible data architecture which enabled different internal and external users to extract maximum value from the data ecosystem. Here, the Industrial Edge layer comes into the picture, which processes data close to the sensors and data source (figure).

The Industrial Edge and data lake concept will enable a more powerful solution than any other data storage and utilization concept:

  • The MDP will be a colossal storage area for all manufacturing data and will be tremendously powerful for all user levels
  • The MDP data platform is a centralized and indexed aggregation of distributed organized datasets
  • Big data will be stored in the MDP independently of its later use, this means as raw data
  • In combination with Industrial Edge, the MDP is the pre-requisite for effective and scalable cloud computing and machine learning
  • The Industrial Edge is used in this architecture for multiple purposes like data ingestion, pre-preparation, security-gate, real-time decisions.
  • Highly integrated, but module and service-based ecosystem functionalities.

In DI, it can be challenging to harness the potential of digitalization at full scale due to installed proprietary software solutions, customized processes, standardized interfaces and mixed technologies. However, at Siemens, this doesn’t mean that we ran a large standardization program before leveraging the possibilities of data analytics and predictive maintenance in our plants.

To get rubber on the road at large scale, we required an architectural concept which allowed us to develop applications, scale up and transfer solutions from plant to plant, from engineering to shop floor as well as supplier to customer and reuse identified process insights from one application to another. more>

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This Is Your Brain on Nationalism

The Biology of Us and Them
By Robert Sapolsky – To understand the dynamics of human group identity, including the resurgence of nationalism—that potentially most destructive form of in-group bias—requires grasping the biological and cognitive underpinnings that shape them.

Such an analysis offers little grounds for optimism.

Our brains distinguish between in-group members and outsiders in a fraction of a second, and they encourage us to be kind to the former but hostile to the latter. These biases are automatic and unconscious and emerge at astonishingly young ages. They are, of course, arbitrary and often fluid.

Today’s “them” can become tomorrow’s “us.” But this is only poor consolation. Humans can rein in their instincts and build societies that divert group competition to arenas less destructive than warfare, yet the psychological bases for tribalism persist, even when people understand that their loyalty to their nation, skin color, god, or sports team is as random as the toss of a coin.

At the level of the human mind, little prevents new teammates from once again becoming tomorrow’s enemies.

The human mind’s propensity for us-versus-them thinking runs deep. Numerous careful studies have shown that the brain makes such distinctions automatically and with mind-boggling speed. Stick a volunteer in a brain scanner and quickly flash pictures of faces. Among typical white subjects in the scanner, the sight of a black man’s face activates the amygdala, a brain region central to emotions of fear and aggression, in under one-tenth of a second.

In most cases, the prefrontal cortex, a region crucial for impulse control and emotional regulation, springs into action a second or two later and silences the amygdala: “Don’t think that way, that’s not who I am.” Still, the initial reaction is usually one of fear, even among those who know better.

For all this pessimism, there is a crucial difference between humans and those warring chimps. The human tendency toward in-group bias runs deep, but it is relatively value-neutral. Although human biology makes the rapid, implicit formation of us-them dichotomies virtually inevitable, who counts as an outsider is not fixed. In fact, it can change in an instant. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Humanity is carried on the voice
By Nicholas Epley – Hard-thinking people have spent millennia trying to articulate what distinguishes us from all other creatures. Is it having opposable thumbs? Walking upright? Using tools? Thinking analytically? This question finally got a fairly clear answer several years ago thanks to researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Germany, who brought in 105 human two-year-olds in order to compare their intellectual performance on essentially two different measures of IQ with that of 106 chimpanzees and, just for good measure, another 36 orangutans.

In tests that required reasoning about physical objects—things such as being able to track where a reward is placed under a cup, or being able to use a tool to solve a problem—the toddlers were basically neck and neck with the other primates in their performance. But in tasks where some social intelligence was involved, where subjects had to be able to track what was going on in someone else’s mind and respond accordingly—such as following the path of someone’s gaze, or understanding what someone was intending (but failed) to do—the human toddlers crushed the competition.

It makes sense that we’re good at this sort of social thinking: we are literally built for it. Our human brain stands out in the animal kingdom for its relatively gigantic neocortex—the fat part just above your eyes. What’s all that neural capacity good for? Lots and lots of things, but what it really seems to be designated for is social stuff.

If you look across primate species, what you see is that the size of the neocortex relative to the rest of the brain is positively correlated with the size of the social group that primate species inhabits. The larger the social group, the larger the neocortex relative to the rest of the brain. Human beings are the most social of all primates, and we also have the largest neocortex relative to the rest of the brain.

Living in large social groups requires having a tremendous amount of neural capacity to keep track of who knows what, who believes what, who likes what, who should be trusted and who should be avoided, and so on. Living in large social groups is also easier if you have some capacity to anticipate others’ actions before they make them, meaning that the ability to interpret somebody’s behavior in terms of an underlying mental state or goal is also invaluable. It’s our social intellect, not our thumbs, or our posture, or anything else, that makes human beings so special. more>

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Updates from Ciena

How photonic control plane advancements are benefiting network operators
A photonic control plane is not new to optical networks, but new capabilities are changing how operators can benefit from it.
By Paulina Gomez – To achieve better business outcomes in this new world of over-the-top competition and demanding, connected users, providers are on a journey to realizing the Adaptive Network™. They are evolving their networks to a more programmable infrastructure that can scale and respond on demand to meet unpredictable traffic requirements. At the foundation of this programmable infrastructure is an agile, resilient photonic layer that will allow operators to maximize efficiencies through new levels of agility, increased automation and simplified operations.

As I explained in a recent blog, there is a growing need for a flexible grid, reconfigurable photonic layer foundation in next-gen networks – one that leverages the combination of the latest coherent technology and a CDC-F ROADM infrastructure with increased automation to quickly adapt to dynamic customer demands.

A photonic control plane automates numerous network functions, radically simplifying operational processes and increasing network efficiency through accelerated service turn-up and the ability to remotely reconfigure the network.

Although a photonic control plane is not new to optical networks, its capabilities have been evolving to deliver new levels of intelligence and programmability to the optical network leveraging real-time analytics and SDN control to drive new efficiency opportunities for next-gen networks.

Let’s explore the key benefits gained by operators who deploy a photonic control plane and how it is helping them successfully transform their networks. more>

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Updates from ITU

Meet your virtual avatar: the future of personalized healthcare
ITU News – Tingly? Sharp? Electric? Dull? Pulsing?

Trying to describe a pain you feel to your doctor can be a difficult task. But soon, you won’t have to: a computer avatar is expected to tell your doctor everything they need to know.

The CompBioMed Centre of Excellence, an international consortium of universities and industries, is developing a program that creates a hyper-personalized avatar or ‘virtual human’ using a supercomputer-generated simulation of an individual’s physical and biomedical information for clinical diagnostics.

There is a rapid and growing need for this kind of technology-enabled healthcare. 12 million people who seek outpatient medical care in the U.S. experience some form of diagnostic error. Additionally, the World Health Organization estimates that there will be a global shortage of 12.9 million healthcare workers by 2035.

Greater access to technology-enabled healthcare will allow doctors to make better and faster diagnoses – and provide the tools to collect the necessary data.

The Virtual Human project combines different kinds of patient data that are routinely generated as part of the current healthcare system, such as x-rays, CAT scans or MRIs to create a personalized virtual avatar. more>

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