Up, up & away! Newsletter

Please join us as we kick off our global start-up series with Israel on January 26th. Our current schedule is below with more great places (think UK, Africa, more!) in development.  Register today!

Israel Startup Forum: Tuesday, January 26, 2021, 1:00 PM–3:30 PM EST
New Zealand Startup Forum: Tuesday, February 9, 2021, 1:00 PM–3:30 PM EST
Germany Startup Forum: Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 1:00 PM–3:30 PM EST

Those terms of service that nobody but TTIV editorial board member K. Waterman (Atlanta, Feb 2014) reads can pack a punch. Twitter and Facebook flexed those terms and conditions muscles this week, removing President Trump from their platforms. Google and Apple booted Parler from their Play and App stores, and Amazon Web Services has denied Parler the opportunity to rent its server space, thereby taking it down altogether. That means organizing a mass protest for the inauguration next week just got harder, as Yochai Benkler (Boston, Sep 2007; Denver, May 2003) notes in this analysis. Moreover, Airbnb (Robin Chase, Atlanta, Feb 2014; Sundar Arunrarajan, Boston, Apr 2017) is nixing bookings in the DC area for next week. Whether it is the responsibility of Big Tech to step up in extraordinary circumstances or whether their power is too extreme is a matter of debate.

Speaking of Washington, DC and the Bay Area, TTIV is furiously plotting our return to physical meetings. Stay tuned for dates for Washington, DC (September) and San Francisco (December)..

Piling onto an already challenging week, an international research team has detected a temperature threshold for photosynthesis from observational data at a global scale: 18C for C3 plants and 28C for C4 plants, but with no corresponding threshold for the oxygen-in–carbon dioxide-out process of respiration. Once the respective temperature limits are exceeded, photosynthetic uptake of CO2 will decrease, “tipping the balance of ecosystems from carbon sink to carbon source and accelerating climate change.” When will this happen? All too soon, is the estimation: 2040–2050. (Michael Mastrandrea and Noah Diffenbaugh, San Francisco, Dec 2014) www.news.nau.edu/duffy-tipping-point/#.YAHWGNhKiUm

But here’s a ray of good news: Interim results from phase-1/2 trials of TTIV member Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot, refrigerator-only-storage, adenovirus-based vaccine indicates that 90% of the 805 participants developed anti-COVID antibodies within one month of vaccination, and all did so within two months. J&J  expects results of phase-3 trials in a couple of weeks, with the hope of receiving U.S. emergency use authorization by March. By summer, additional trials should provide information on the added benefit—if any—of a booster shot.

Tim Berners Lee shares his thoughts on what he would like to see as the next evolution of the Web: decentralization. (Brewster Kahle, San Francisco, May 2016; regional meeting, Internet Archive, Jun 2016) www.nytimes.com/2021/01/10/technology/tim-berners-lee-privacy-internet.html

With a year’s lead time to warm up to an all-digital CES, the tech show’s announcements included Wi-Fi 6E, new gizmos—such as a chest-adhering COVID warning device; a headless, pawless robotpet (Mita Yun, San Francisco, Dec 2019); an in-home vertical farm (Gene Giacomelli, St. Louis, Sep 2008); GE’s flying car concept (Sanjiv Singh, Pittsburgh, Jun 2019; Sebastian Thrun, virtual meeting, Dec 2020); and a tongue-in-cheek-essential item: $300 smart lipstick—and winners of the Global Tech Challenge.

Aviation—personal or otherwise—is a significant source of pollution. In an effort to produce zero-impact airplanes, a team of MIT researchers propose a jet fuel–electric hybrid engine that would nearly eliminate the production of NOx pollutants by converting the thrust from the jet engine’s gas turbine into electrical energy to power wing-mounted propellers or fans, while in the meantime adding emission controls to the gas turbine to clean the exhaust, as is done with earthbound diesel engines. www.techxplore.com/news/2021-01-concept-hybrid-electric-plane-aviation-air.html

A Columbia University researcher is using CRISPR to insert specific DNA sequences into E. coli cells, using them as a data storage medium (Sri Kosuri, San Diego, Feb 2015; Karen Strauss, Seattle, Mar 2020). George Church (virtual meeting, Dec 2020; regional meeting, Boston, Jun 2015) considers this an important step forward due to the durability of in vivo DNA storage, compared to the degradability of DNA stored outside of cells. www.newscientist.com/article/2264383-crispr-gene-editing-used-to-store-data-in-dna-inside-living-cells/

Linking Sensitive Data, a new book by Australian academics Peter Christen and Thilina Ranbaduge, discusses their use of encryption and encoding techniques from Internet banking to protect the alignment of personally identifying information from revealing an individual’s identity. (e.g., Jeff Jonas, San Francisco, Dec 2014) www.techxplore.com/news/2021-01-explore-privacy.html

As if laying undersea cable weren’t challenging enough already, cables have a tendency to twist and curl up. A pair of researchers at Norway’s SINTEF also happen to be avid rock climbers, as are TTI/Vanguard editorial board members Steven Cherry and Z Holly. They—the Norwegians, that is—having recognized that the physical behavior of cabling and belay rope is similar, are developing industry guidance on how to estimate torsion loads and are designing equipment to monitor operations and serve as test rigs to evaluate the capacity of a cable to tolerate torque. www.techxplore.com/news/2021-01-climbing-belay-device-common-subsea.html

Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.–-David McCullough Jr.