TTI/Vanguard: Science Sizzles this Summer

In 1931, “A Hundred Authors Against Einstein” was published to refute Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. When asked about the book, Einstein retorted by saying “Why 100 authors? If I were wrong, then one would have been enough.”

“CEO” might soon have a second meaning as an increasing range of firms consult with and bring on epidemiologists to guide their reopenings.

On his Twitter page, Mark Maybury (Washington, D.C., Oct 2014; MITRE field trip, McLean, Sep 2015) shows off the face mask he 3-D printed using the personally fitted, open-source design from MyMask Movement. (Jon Schull, San Francisco, Dec 2014; Bre Pettis, Salt Lake City, Dec 2009)

Follow the money and see where it goes … Sequoia Capital is sending $1.35B in venture funds to India and Southeast Asia. This move seems contrarian amidst a contraction of international money flows, but the mammoth investor has long been one of the region's largest funders.

It all comes down to choosing your materials well: Sandwich a nanometers-thin layer of metal between two sheets of dielectric material with an antireflective coating, and the result is a highly transparent, conductive sheet that could be used as a solar panel coating, solar-cell window, large interactive display, or windshield display. (Francis McInerney, Seattle, Mar 2020; Venkatesh Prasad, Detroit, May 2015)

Windows do more than let in light and, potentially, generate electricity; they are also infamous for heat leakage from buildings. Instead of glazing glass or sandwiching air between panes for insulation, a British–German team of researchers propose “water-filled glass” to keep buildings cool in hot climates and warm when it’s cold out (the water would circulate through wall piping and perhaps be connected to a heat pump in extreme climates). Sounds good; let’s just hope the building doesn’t spring a leak. (Tian Li, Washington, D.C., Sep 2018)

What if lidar technology could lose its bulk and high price? Researchers at the University of Colorado have developed a wavelength-steering chip that uniquely directs the angle of each frequency. “Since the beams are easily controlled by simply changing colors, multiple phased arrays can be controlled simultaneously to create a bigger aperture and a higher resolution image.” Advanced optics of this type will give autonomous vehicles—cars, robots, you name it!—a leg up. (André Luckow, Washington, D.C., Sep 2019; NYU field trip, Brooklyn, Jun 2018; Gregory Dobler, Austin, Feb 2016; Mark Maybury, Washington, D.C., Sep 2014; Steve Cousins, Boston, Apr 2014; Russ Tedrake, Boston, Apr 2014)

So, with lidar-on-a-chip-enhanced AVs, their AI still needs to make good, ethical choices of how to behave on the roadways. A North Carolina State University researcher proposes the agent–deed–consequence model to inject nuance as AIs make moral judgments by considering whether the agent’s intent is good/bad, whether the proposed action is good/bad, and whether the action’s outcome is good/bad. (John Leslie King, Robert Charette, and Tae Wan Kim, Pittsburgh, Jun 2019; Sanjiv Singh, Pittsburgh, Jun 2019)

Citizen scientists can substantially improve the understanding of progress toward the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals for mitigating climate change by tracking well-defined indicators in their local environments. (Lotfi Belkhir, Washington, D.C., Sep 2018)

Unsurprisingly, China is tackling COVID-19 with a high-tech, data-heavy approach. It is too early to see how well their process is working at curbing the virus, but we’ve already seen enough to say that the tracing, tracking, facial recognition, and mining of apps for data likely will not work in countries with stricter privacy laws. (Aditi Kumar, Seattle, Mar 2020; Andreas Weigend, San Francisco, Feb 2017)

Maybe we can kick this thing with more collaboration? The NIH is already recruiting volunteers for clinical trials, as a part of “Operation Warp Speed,” a partnership led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to bring a vaccine to the masses as quickly as possible. (Dominic Suciu, Seattle, Mar 2020; Alicia Jackson, San Francisco, Dec 2015)

In the meantime, patients can find solace—and help—in the event they develop PTSD as a COVID-related side effect (or due to other trauma), thanks to the application of supervised machine learning to a broad suite of stress responses measured in emergency departments. (Ben Shneiderman, Washington, D.C., Sep 2015)

Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world. Science is the highest personification of the nation because that nation will remain the first which carries the furthest the works of thought and intelligence.Louis Pasteur