Category Archives: Science

These 5 Countries Are Killing It in the Battle Against Climate Change

By Raya Bidshahri – When it comes to climate change, government leaders and politicians must begin to think beyond their term limits and lifetimes. They must ask themselves not how they can serve their voters, but rather how they can contribute to our species’ progress. They must think beyond the short term economic benefits of fossil fuels, and consider the long term costs to our planet.

Climate change is considered one of the greatest threats to our species. If current trends continue, we can expect an increase in frequency of extreme weather events like floods, droughts and heat waves. All of these pose a threat to crops, biodiversity, freshwater supplies and above all, human life.

Here are examples of a few countries leading the way.

Denmark: Considered the most climate-friendly country in the world, Denmark is on the path to be completely independent of fossil fuels by 2050.

China: Home to the world’s biggest solar farm, China is the world’s biggest investor in domestic solar energy and is also expanding its investments in renewable energies overseas.

France: Thanks to the production of nuclear energy, representing 80 percent of nationwide energy production, France has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions.

India: The nation is on the path to becoming the third-largest solar market in the world. Solar power has become cheaper than coal in India.

Sweden: Sweden has passed a law that obliges the government to cut all greenhouse emissions by 2045. With more than half of its energy coming from renewable sources and a very successful recycling program, the country leads many initiatives on climate change. more> https://goo.gl/PPrn3b

The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, And Status In The Twenty-first Century

BOOK REVIEW

The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-first Century, Author: Ryan Avent.

By Ryan Avent – The digital revolution actually is probably going to be as transformative as the industrial revolution and the big technologies like electricity and steam that we saw then were. I think this transformation has already begun, and ironically, the evidence of that is in the struggles that we’re seeing across lots of countries that workers are facing in terms of limited growth in wages, in terms of rising inequality.

What my book tries to point out though is that in fact the biggest effect is not going to be mass unemployment. The biggest effect of the digital revolution is not going to be massive numbers of workers who just can’t find any work; it’ll be that the work they find ends up being very low-paying, because the displacement effect of these new technologies is so great, and the economy is asked to absorb so many new workers, that that’s just going to put an incredible amount of downward pressure on wages. That’s the real short-run challenge, I think.

.. The difficulty I think, again, comes in deciding who is entitled to a share of that ownership. If you’re socialising the gains, is that limited to citizens of the country, and then are any immigrant workers second-class citizens? If you don’t limit it, then suddenly you probably have social pressure to shut out immigrants, and then that leaves people on the outside of the country all the poorer. more> https://goo.gl/1iz2EU

What Happens When Quantum Physics Meets Cryptography?


By Paulina Gomez – In today’s world of ever-increasing security threats and breaches, encryption is a common technique used to protect critical information from getting into the wrong hands. In cryptography, encryption is the process of encoding a plaintext message in such a way that only authorized parties can access it. The result of this process is encrypted information, also known as ciphertext. But how is this done exactly? The plaintext message is transformed using an algorithm (or cipher) to make it unreadable to anyone except those possessing special knowledge, which is referred to as the key.

Today’s state-of-art secure communications use advanced mathematics to protect in-flight data leveraging highly secure algorithms, such as in Ciena’s WaveLogic Encryption solution. Even though many cryptographic algorithms used today are publicly available, such as the popular Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), they are very difficult to crack in a reasonable amount of time given the computational power of today’s computers. In fact, the keys used in modern cryptography are so large that breaking the AES-256 standard would require “fifty supercomputers that could check a billion billion (1018) AES keys per second [and] would, in theory, require about 3×1051 years.”

The field of Quantum Cryptography is an area of security research and development focused on the introduction of new technologies that will offer more resistance to the computing power of quantum computers. Quantum cryptography draws its strength from the unpredictable nature of photons – the smallest particles in the universe. more> https://goo.gl/FTh77p

Five Things to Know About the Latest Gene Editing Breakthrough

By Ben Panko – In this study, scientists worked with the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system, which is kind of like cut and paste on for genes. It’s based on a naturally occurring immune system found in many bacteria species in which the microbes keep a “hit list” of virus DNA in their genomes so they can recognize future dangerous intruders.

If any of that DNA is present, the bacteria deploys enzymes called Cas (CRISPR-associated proteins), which precisely and efficiently snip out that DNA.

This research was notable for its use of viable embryos, or embryos that could likely develop into a baby if allowed to grow, reports Dina Fine Moran for Scientific American.

This is the first time this has ever happened on U.S. soil, but scientists in China have already been pushing the envelope for years. more> https://goo.gl/oxtpXQ

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Quantum Information: Changing the Rules of the Game

By Carl Miller – In the early 20th century, physicists found things going on at the subatomic level that were very hard to explain. Basic ideas of what it means to be in a “position” and “state” were called into question.

In my everyday life, I can put my car key on the kitchen counter, or I can leave it in my pocket, but I can’t do both. I may forget where I put it afterward, but unless one of my cats got to it, it’s still in one place or the other.

At the subatomic scale, things are … different. A key that behaved according to quantum rules could be both in my pocket and on the counter at the same time. And when I check to see where it is, it would randomly end up in one location or the other. This is the idea of quantum superposition, and it was eventually decided that, as strange as it seems, this concept provides the right way to explain the results of certain experiments.

Going further, two particles can be linked, or “entangled,” in a superposed state, which means that observations of the two will always agree, no matter how far apart they happen to be. more> https://goo.gl/CJp8Za

Updates from GE

Three Reasons Why You Should Invest In Smart Cities Now
By Gary Shapiro – Smart cities are the urban landscapes of the future. Powered by the ubiquitous connectivity of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities collect data on a variety of factors – from pollution to traffic – and employ that data to make cities safer and more sustainable.

By 2050, the majority of the world will be living in cities – now is the time to lay the groundwork for smart building and infrastructure.

City rules shape how energy is used and how buildings are designed. As digital infrastructure evolves, the rules that govern it will become only more complex.

It’s no secret that drawing the best and brightest to a company isn’t just a matter of compensation. The workers who will add the most value over the longer term want to live and work in places that offer them affordable, sustainable housing, timely and safe transportation and a clean and pleasant atmosphere. more> https://goo.gl/AkbCZE

The Scaramucci effect: what White House havoc means for the world

The Trump administration is now a beacon of dysfunction. Allies, and enemies, are taking note.
By Leslie Vinjamuri – What does this mean for US leadership?

For some, Trump’s heavy-handed, even aggressive unilateralism is a symptom, not a cause, of the country’s relative decline.

According to this view, the country’s investment in liberal internationalism is an outdated strategy predicated on the historical need to counter the Soviet threat. It was designed for a different time, when the US’s military and economic power far surpassed that of any of its European counterparts, even when combined. The country’s retreat from the global stage is long overdue, so the argument goes.

In the absence of a clear national security imperative, foreign interventionism is both bad strategy and bad for the US. Trump’s style may be repugnant – but his America First instincts are not wrong.

But this is shortsighted.

Soft power is crucial to US leadership, more so now than ever before. In an era in which power is diffuse, and problems do not respect national borders, the capacity of any nation to influence others depends on the goodwill of a large number of state and non-state interests. more> https://goo.gl/qhPfM8

Updates from GE

CEO Transition: How Jeff Immelt Reinvented GE
By Dorothy Pomerantz & Matthew Van Dusen – It started with a simple conversation in 2009. GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt was at the company’s Global Research headquarters in Niskayuna, New York, chatting with scientists about embedding sensors in jet engines. When jet engines run, they don’t only power planes — they generate trillions of bytes of data that can provide an enormously valuable window into their inner workings. The insights could allow GE to optimize the machines’ operations and even lead to better engines in the future. But what was the company doing with that data?

Soon after that fateful conversation, Immelt set GE on a path to becoming a new kind of enterprise: a digital industrial company that could unlock productivity from connected machines.

The company Immelt is handing over to his successor, John Flannery, is greatly changed from the one he inherited. Immelt transformed the company by spinning off its real estate, financial services and media divisions, including its stake in NBCUniversal, for tens of billions of dollars.

The moves stabilized GE after the 2008 financial crisis. Immelt then strengthened the core of GE by focusing on power infrastructure, buying the energy assets of the leading power company Alstom in 2015 and merging GE Oil & Gas with Baker Hughes in 2016 to create the world’s largest energy services business. “His enduring legacy is the portfolio transformation,” John Rice says.

Under Immelt, GE also took stands on issues that were important to customers. The company’s Ecomagination initiative helped moved the environment to the top of the corporate agenda. more> https://goo.gl/kdzfHM

Updates from Georgia Tech

Smart Cities
By T.J. Becker – Cities have been around for thousands of years, so urbanization is hardly a new phenomenon — but it’s happening now at an unprecedented pace.

In 1950 about 30 percent of the world’s population lived in cities, a number that shot up to nearly 55 percent by 2016 and is expected to hit 60 percent by 2030, according to United Nations statistics. This dramatic growth brings challenges on a variety of fronts, transforming “smart cities” from a catchy phrase into a critical endeavor.

“Smart cities is a highly complex area, encompassing everything from resiliency and environmental sustainability to wellness and quality of life,” said Elizabeth Mynatt, executive director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for People and Technology (IPaT) and distinguished professor in the College of Computing, who is co-chairing the new council. “Although Georgia Tech has been working in this area for some time, we’re organizing research so we can be more holistic and have combined impact.”

“Instead of discrete projects, we’re moving into a programmatic approach,” agreed Jennifer Clark, associate professor of public policy and director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Urban Innovation. “Smart cities research touches on everything from computing and engineering to the social sciences. It’s a different way of thinking about technology — not just in the private sector but also the public sector — so we make cities more efficient and economically competitive places.” more> https://goo.gl/DtKr9K

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The Future of Military Robotics Looks Like a Nature Documentary

By Gregory C. Allen – Every type of animal, whether insect, fish, bird, or mammal, has a suite of sensors (eyes, ears, noses), tools for moving and interacting with its environment (arms, beaks, wings, fins), and a high-speed data processing and decision-making center (brains).

Humans do not yet know how to replicate all the technologies and capabilities of nature, but that these capabilities exist in nature proves they are indeed possible.

Humans do not know what the ultimate technological performance limit for autonomous robotics is. But it can be no lower than the very high level of performance that nature has proven possible with the pigeon, the goose, the monkey, the mouse, or the dolphin.

The United States is far from the only country interested in these capabilities. In 2015, Russian scientists celebrated their development of a robotic “cockroach,” which they said would be an ideal platform for secretly recording conversations and taking photographs. One can easily imagine such a cockroach being outfitted with venom and an injector needle, making it an ideal platform for covert assassination as well. more> https://goo.gl/Wd1Ecv