Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for March 31, 2020

in STEMGeeks8 months ago

Folding@Home has more compute resources than the world's top-7 supercomputers; An argument that online learning should be seen as analogous to distributed processing; Major Chinese cybercrime group shut down for much of February, suggesting no work from home capability; 5G cell phones will consume 20% more power than their 4G predecessors; and a Steem essay explaining the reasons for the recent slump in oil prices


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

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  1. Folding@Home Now More Powerful Than World's Top 7 Supercomputers, Combined / Subtitle: The fight against coronavirus goes nuclear - According to recent statistics, the Folding@Home network is currently running with 470 PetaFLOPS of raw compute power. This is more than twice as much processing capability as the world's fastest known supercomputer, Summit, which can sustain 149 PetaFLOPS - which makes sense, because Summit is now participating in the challenge, and has discovered 77 different small drug compounds that might be useful for combating the COVID-19 epidemic. In all, the Folding@Home computing power is equivalent to 27,433,824 CPU/GPU cores in the world's most powerful computers.

  2. Powerful Online Learning is a Distributed System - In this article, Jeremy Roschelle argues that online learning should not just be a matter of moving lectures online and continuing with standard operating procedures. Instead, he suggests the metaphor of online learning as a distributed processing system. Elaborating, he says it should be about engaging the active, engaged work of distributed learners towards accomplishing a common goal and encouraging them to provide help and feedback to each other in a way that accelerates learning. As an example, he points the reader to his own project, GroupScribbles. This excerpt summarizes the idea:
    Notice who is doing the work that drives learning in this distributed system: the students. Notice the instructor’s role: to find a creative way to make every student think hard about a different facet of the same problem, to use small groups to encourage knowledge coordination and feedback among students, and then to regulate the flow of information back to the central blackboard, where a teacher can add their unique value in further discussing the some of the selected work of the students.

  3. A major Chinese cyberattack on American companies screeched to a halt during China's coronavirus lockdown, apparently because the state-sponsored hackers couldn't work from home - The APT41 cyber-espionage group began operation around 2012. According to FireEye, the Chinese group is skillful, persistent and aggressive, and they have targeted telecom, health care, and high tech industries. FireEye also asserts that the group seems to engage in cybercrime for personal gain when they are "off the clock" from their day-jobs working in state sponsored espionage. They are particularly dangerous because they use the tools of the espionage trade when moonlighting on their own cybercrime efforts. A cessation of activity by the group between February 2 and February 19, during the time of the Wuhan lockdown, leads the FireEye researchers to conclude that the team does not have the capability to carry out their attacks from home. Here is a video:

  4. How much more power does 5G consume over 4G? Redmi has answer - When our cell phones switch to 5G, they will be faster and more rich in features, but they will also consume about 20% more energy than their 4G counterparts. (And they will cost more, via Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for March 16, 2020.) -h/t Daniel Lemire

  5. Steem @carlos84: Why has the price of petroleum fallen and to what extent can it continue to fall? - In this post, the author opens by describing the general principles of supply and demand and the way that they act together to influence prices, then moves on to discussing the recent changes that impact the price of oil. In short, the author suggests that there are many different factors affecting both supply and demand, but that the dominant factor is the economic slowdown that has been caused by the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 disease. In particular, the author goes on to argue that the main economic slowdown and resulting drop in oil price is a result of the fact that China shut down so much of its economy between January and March. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @carlos84.)


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