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Curating the Internet: Science and technology micro-summaries for October 19, 2019


7 months ago6 min read

A circular economy to protect river from industrial salt use; A docking-box completes the autonomous picture for the Skydio autonomous drones; Yale researchers use AI to find patterns in biological cells; A claim that Google's automatic deletion is just window-dressing; a Steem photo-essay on the American Kestral; and a Youtube video of NASA's first all-female space walk

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  1. A circular economy for salt that keeps rivers clean - In this TED talk, organic chemist, Tina Arrowood points out that the global volume of fresh water in rivers is so small that they are particularly vulnerable to industrial activity's. Focusing on salt, which gets into rivers in large volumes because of its use melting ice and snow on roadways, she proposes a three step process to keep the rivers healthy. (1.) Reuse/recycle water; (2.) Reuse/recycle salt; and (3.) Develop recycled salt users. She adds that northern China and northern India have already adopted this program in order to rehabilitate their rivers, but she suggests that other countries should adopt them in order to keep their own rivers healthy before they need to be rehabilitated. Because China and India have already adopted this program, membranes that accomplish the water purification through reverse-osmosis already exist. Osmosis is the process that happens naturally in our body to balance salt levels in bodily fluids. In reverse osmosis, high pressure is used to flip the process, purifying some water and producing a heavily salinated concentration in other water. After reverse osmosis, the salty water can be converted into a purified salt solution with "nanofiltration membranes." This product can be sold to states like Pennsylvania, who dumped one million tons of salt on the state's roads during the winter of 2018-2019, and it can be sold to industrial users who account for 39% salt consumption every year. The main drawback that she identifies is that "it costs money", to bootstrap the process, and she adds that fresh water is often "undervalued, until it is too late."

  2. Skydio's Dock in a Box Enables Long-Term Autonomy for Drone Applications - According to IEEE Spectrum, this is "is probably the most autonomous drone that we’ve ever seen, in the sense that it can fly itself while tracking subjects and avoiding obstacles." Until now, though, it has been completely dependent on humans for charging and storage when it was on the ground. Now, the company has announced their "Dock in a Box" that lets the drone set itself up for recharging and charge itself, too.

    Here is a video:

  3. Researchers use AI to find patterns among multitude of people and cells - Yale researchers from the lab of Smita Krishnaswamy describe their work using machine intelligence to describe cellular differences within individuals in their paper, Exploring single-cell data with deep multitasking neural networks. The paper appeared in this month's nature methods, and the method also reveals broader patterns that can give insights into how the body functions. For example, the method was used to analyze "20 million cells from 60 million patients" to identify rare "Gamma-Delta T cell types" which regulates the body's response to the Dengue Fever virus. h/t Communications of the ACM

  4. Google’s auto-delete tools are practically worthless for privacy - Google has recently been publicizing the capability to automatically delete your data from their archive in a rolling three month or 18-month window. However, this article quotes experts, like David Dweck who say that data older than one month old is basically worthless to advertisers anyway. Dweck says, "Anything up to one month is extremely valuable. Anything beyond one month, we probably weren’t going to target you anyway." Additionally, once an advertiser has purchased the data from Google, it becomes immaterial to them if Google deletes the data later. Finally, the article points out that Google benefits from the relatively long three month window because it gives them a substantial amount of time for training their AI algorithms. h/t OS news

  5. STEEM The American Kestrel - In this post, @balticbadger includes photos of the American Kestrel, a species of falcon, and talks about working on a wildlife management plan for the species during a college job with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The plan was prompted by a local farmer who wanted the species strengthened in order to reduce the mouse population in the area. (A beneficiary setting of 10% has been applied to this post for @balticbadger.)

  6. Re-watch the first all-female spacewalk via NASA - As anticipated in Curating the Internet: Science and technology micro-summaries for October 12, 2019, on October 18, NASA has completed its first all female space walk. Apparently, the original source had the date wrong, or else the walk was moved ahead by three days.

    Here is the video:

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