March comes in like a lion

Register today! The Power of Networks commences March 2, with Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld and Barbara Mittleman, cofounders of WayMark Analytics, each speaking about networks of people working together, as well as Princeton’s Daniel Cohen revealing his research on cell networks - and its vast applications from from biological to urban planning. Learn more from the Preconference Readings; see the full agenda and register here for the four Tuesdays in March. (Operational note: Once you register and are logged into the website, the “Register” button will thereafter be absent from the event webpage.)

Chinese American nuclear physicist Chien-Shiung Wu earned the moniker “first lady of physics” for her varied work that encompassed parity symmetry—as reflected in the radioactive decay of 60Co for which her male collaborators won the Nobel Prize—uranium enrichment during the Manhattan Project, and understanding sickle cell disease. Now she can be found on a U.S. postage stamp to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. (Erin Dolan, Austin, Feb 2016)

Submission of applications for the inaugural class of recipients of the Patrick J. McGovern Tech for Humanity Luminary and Changemakers to be awarded by the Computer History Museum  is now open (Gordon Bell and reception, San Jose, Feb 2012). Nominations of worthy individuals are open through March 28, 2021.

Laboratory-on-a-chip technology relies heavily on microfluidics, but it has been hampered by the cost and complexity of manufacturing devices. University of Bristol researchers are open-sourcing their low-cost microfluidics 3-d-printing process. (Bre Pettis, Salt Lake City, Dec 2009; Jon Schull, Detroit, May 2015, and San Francisco, Dec 2014)

Japan’s Fugaku supercomputer, having surpassed Oak Ridge’s Summit, is tackling the predicted effects of tsunamis. (Jack Dongarra, San Francisco, Dec 2019; TACC, field trip, Austin, Feb 2016; Satoshi Matsuoka, Tokyo, Jul 2012; James Kondo, Tokyo, Jul 2012)

Speaking of where things (like surplus water) are and are not, some of us like to geek out on maps. What makes a flat map of a round planet accurate is an ongoing source of debate, but here’s a new entrant—a two-sided flat disk—from physicists and mathematicians from Princeton and Drexel that seeks to solve the problem by “squashing the globe, as if we had run over it with a steamroller” to generate continuity across the equator. (Perry Peterson, Memphis, Sep 2006)

To get around, air taxis will soon be hitting the scene. So, will traveling in one be more like a taxi or more like an airplane? This article provides some insight. (Sebastian Thrun, virtual conference, Nov 2020)

Given that the cultural history of dreams is as long as humankind itself, it is surprising that the neuroscience of dreams—and awareness of dreaming—remains such a mystery. Several teams of researchers are breaking into lucid-sleepers’ dream states with arithmetic questions and other forms of direct communication. With further research, the day might come when dreamers will be able to directly provide a window into their internal world of fabricated memories.

A federal judge has cleared the way for California’s net neutrality law to move forward, dealing a blow to telecoms that might wish to serve as gateways for—rather than unobstructed conduits of—content. Other states could follow suit. (Jonathan Marks, San Francisco, Dec 2017; David Reed, San Francisco, May 2016; Vint Cerf, Philadelphia, Apr 2006)

Color us cynical … social media platforms have proposed yet another attempt at self-regulation. (NJIT field trip talk by Cody Buntain and Julie Ancis, Oct 2020; Renee DiResta, San Francisco, Dec 2019; Jonathan Taplin, Boston, Apr 2017)

Eric Schmidt (San Jose, Sep 2000) shared his views of China’s prowess in AI with Congress, saying “In the United States, we believe we are one or two years ahead of China, not five or ten.” Moreover, he cautions that China is far superior at facial recognition due to extensive data collection and analysis of its citizens. (Marko Papic, virtual conference, Sep 2020; San Francisco, Dec 2019)

We’d think after the past year we’ve had that IBM would be investing in—not divesting from—Watson Health. (Eric Brown, Washington, D.C., Sep 2015)

It is perhaps difficult for a modern student of Physics to realize the basic taboo of the past period (before 1956) … it was unthinkable that anyone would question the validity of symmetries under “space inversion,” “charge conjugation” and “time reversal.” It would have been almost sacrilegious to do experiments to test such unholy thoughts.--Chien-Shiung Wu