TTI/Vanguard: News on [next]; July 24, 2020 Newsletter

Like many others, we did not expect covid-19 to impact our plans for December 2020. Yet here we are. Our December [next] conference scheduled to be held physically in Scottsdale, Arizona, will be held virtually. We will resume physical meetings as soon as it is safe to do so. We are currently in the process of signing hotel contracts for four physical meetings in 2021.

In the meantime, we are excited about an upcoming virtual field trip to Stanley Black & Decker on Wednesday, August 19, 1:00–3:30 pm, EDT. CTO and friend of TTI/V Mark Maybury will be our host as we learn that the global toolmaker is active in business incubation (with its Techstars advanced manufacturing accelerator), venture funding (with Stanley Ventures), internal innovation (with Stanley X and factory automation), and cybersecurity (both internally and for its commercial products). During this virtual outing, we will learn about each of these programs and be introduced to a selection of sector-spanning startups, variously making plant-based machine oils, nanocrystalline alloys, a fall protection system, and customized 3-D-printed face masks and enhancements.

Registration for the virtual field trip - along with our virtual September conference - is open on the TTI/Vanguard website.

“I am not a crook!” Oops—sorry, wrong speech. MIT released an eerily believable deepfake video of President Nixon delivering a speech that, thank goodness, never occurred. The 7-minute video depicts a grieving Nixon addressing the nation with news that the moon landing had failed and announcing the tragic deaths of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. (Chris Piehota, virtual conference, Jun 2020; Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, Washington, D.C., Sep 2015)

If misinformation concerns you as much as it concerns us, do not miss upcoming September speaker Adam Kucharski, author of the best-selling book The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread—and Why They Stop. He will discuss the mathematical similarities between the spread of viruses, misinformation and more. (Paul Cohen, San Francisco, Dec 2014)

Now is not the time to *slack* off your cybersecurity efforts. Apparently last week’s Twitter hacked was aided by an employee posting credentials on a Slack channel which hackers accessed. (Bill Macaitis and Eric Brown, Washington, D.C., Sep 2015)

In an early step toward digitizing research and industrial chemistry endeavors, the Smart Stirrer serves as a low-cost, proof-of-concept, real-time multisensor. Drop it in your beaker and it performs double duty as a magnetic stir bar and data recorder/transmitter. (Danielle Wuchenich, San Francisco, Dec 2016)

NEOWISE doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well as Halley’s—but any comet is still magical to us. Check out a view of NEOWISE from the ISS here:

We reported last week on member firm Johnson & Johnson providing support for COVID-19 antibiotics. Godspeed again—this time in their unfaltering quest for a covid-19 vaccine. 
More data on the long-term physiological response to the virus is necessary to understand the efficacy and longevity of the body’s natural or induced immune response.

The stock market is not rational—and neither is our behavior. Six years ago member firm Fidelity discovered that the individual investors with the best performance were the ones who … forgot they had an account. That study may be more relevant now than ever before as the recent market volatility is bound to give anyone whiplash. (Dan Ariely, Atlanta, Feb 2008)

Apple is no stranger to being ambitious. They’ve just announced an ambitious plan to have a carbon-free supply chain by 2030. Still, Stanley Black & Decker—see field trip announcement, above—has a jump on them, being already well on the way toward carbon neutrality and aiming toward carbon positivity by 2030.

And not a moment too soon: Researchers at Oregon State University have, for the first time, confirmed a leak of seabed methane in Antarctica, without an influx of methane-eating bacteria to subdue its effect. (Kelly Wanser, San Francisco, Dec 2019; Peter Girguis, Salt Lake City, Dec 2009; James Lovelock, Washington, D.C., Dec 2007)

Even as the seabed is leaking methane, steps are being taken to reduce leakage of the greenhouse gas from cattle through selective breeding.

The famed Indy 500 racetrack will soon welcome autonomous vehicles. Teams representing dozens of colleges and universities will gather to compete in the first Indy Autonomous Challenge in October 2021. (Hendrick MotorSports, field trip, Charlotte, Dec 2010)

Marine mammals and other sea creatures deserve protection (Ellen Prager, Miami, Dec 2011); with this in mind, animatronics guru Roger Holzberg has developed robot dolphins that are not only life-sized but also life-like.  (Jon Snoddy, Pittsburgh, Jun 2019)

Researchers at Imperial College London have extended the MAPS-Elite optimization technique with a novel quality-diversity algorithm—dubbed Deep-Grid MAPS-Elite—that efficiently generates diverse, high-performing solutions to a problem, even in the presence of uncertainty. Robotic-control tests were conducted. (Scott Niekum, Austin, Feb 2016)

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”—John Lewis, 1940–2020