Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for March 13, 2020

in STEMGeekslast year

Autonomous robots deployed to sterilize hospitals in China; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power accused of cybersecurity coverup; People with celiac disease may soon be able to eat gluten; IBM upgrading Watson to include advances from Project Debater; and a Steem photo-essay describes the engineering of a hundred year old Brownie camera


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First posted on my Steem blog: SteemIt, SteemPeak*, StemGeeks.

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  1. Autonomous Robots Are Helping Kill Coronavirus in Hospitals - To avoid coronavirus, hospitals top the list of places to stay away from. Unfortunately, that's not possible for people who work in hospitals or for people who are very sick. Danish firm, UVD Robots, has a product to make hospitals safer for the people who have to be there. The robot uses short-wave ultraviolet light, and emits it with enough energy to shred the DNA of any microorganism that gets exposed. The robot also has a collision avoidance system so it can operate safely around people. These robots have now been operating in hospitals in China for a period of two or three weeks, and the firm says they're shipping more as fast as they can. Hundreds of robots have been deployed, more are shipping every week, and the eventual goal is to supply them to 2,000 hospitals in China.

    Here is a video of the robot (from 2016):

  2. Los Angeles Utility Accused of Cybersecurity Coverup - In 2019, Ardent Cyber Solutions LLC was hired for cybersecurity work by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The firm has now issued a 10 page report claiming that it found "extremely high number of unpatched vulnerabilities" in the department's IT network. After being informed of the vulnerabilities, the report alleges, senior officials declined to address the problems and issued false and misleading statements instead. The report alleges that, in a bid to coverup the shortcomings, the executives failed to disclose material facts. In particular, the allegations are:
    that city officials and DWP staff "acted to conceal these facts from federal and state regulators, bond rating agencies, purchasers of municipal securities issued by the LADWP and the public at large."
    Additionally, the firm alleges that they were fired by Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti in August of 2019 in retaliation for alerting officials of the vulnerabilities. -h/t Bruce Schneier

  3. A pill for celiac disease will come soon, researchers believe - Normally, people who suffer from celiac disease - which can be diagnosed through the use of a blood test - must avoid gluten for the rest of their lives. Two Norwegian researchers believe that this might change soon, though. The pair argue that there are so many people working on the problem that a solution is bound to be found in the not too distant future. One possibility is that before eating, the person could take a pill with enzymes that could be taken before a meal in order to break down the gluten in any food. A second possibility is to use injections of gluten to train the body's immune system that the substance is not a harmful invader. In pharmaceutical research, a rule of thumb is that one in ten potential treatments is successful, with nine failing. This article notes that there are currently at least 30 possible therapies in the pipeline for celiac disease. The article also notes a recent study that suggests that many people who suffer from celiac disease go undiagnosed, so it's a bigger problem than has been recognized. Finally, the article notes that a predisposition to the disease is genetic, but not everyone who has the predisposition will develop the disease. It's not clear what triggers the disease in some people but not others. -h/t RealClear Science

  4. IBM plans to inject Watson platform with its Project Debater NLP technology - IBM's Project Debater was under development since 2012 with the intention to
    digest massive texts, construct speech on any given topic, identify arguments, deliver it and rebut opponents by ingesting an opponent's speech.
    The technology is now being commercialized through adaptation into IBM's Watson product offering. In particular, the upgraded Watson will have an enhanced ability to: (i) perform advanced sentiment analysis on complicated texts, including idioms; (ii) summarize data from multiple sources; (iii) provide advanced topic clustering; and (iv) classify business documents. Project debater was previously covered in Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for November 27, 2019.

    Here is a video from that post:

  5. Steem @wwwiebe: A Superb Piece of Engineering - The Brownie Shutter - This post contains photos and descriptions of a hundred year old "Brownie Camera", with a particular focus on the shutter. The article says that although the shutter is a century old, it still operates. The settings are interesting, because it has three settings. One setting leaves the shutter open, indefitely, until a second click of the shutter button. Another setting causes the shutter to open when the button is pressed and to close when the button is released. The third and final setting operates the way most people would expect these days, where a single press of the button causes the shutter to open and close. In addition to shutter settings, the camera also provided features to control aperture and focal distance. Finally, the last surprise is that the camera didn't even use a glass lens. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @wwwiebe.)


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Nice summary! This is my first introduction to this particular list, but I really enjoyed it. One of my son's has celiac-like symptoms (but not celiac - he was tested), but I like to cut gluten as much as possible out of his diet anyway. He'a also highly lactose intolerant and often carries around Lactaid pills in the odd occurance he needs ice-cream! I think it's interesting that a similar type pill might soon be available for celiac issues.


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