Blog Post #392 I want a new home (in SPACE)!!!!

Blog Post #392:  I want a new home (in SPACE)!!!!

Taken from:  https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/01/jeff-bezos-dreams-of-a-world-with-a-trillion-people-living-in-space.html

 

Jeff Bezos – remember him?  If you aren’t sure let me refresh your memory – Amazon.Com.  Yay, that guy. The guy that recently was named as the richest person in the world with a net world of $150 billion.  (Let’s see if I took one cent from each Amazon transaction I might be closer). Of course that $150 billion is mostly Amazon stock.  That stock is down this week after the Amazon Prime summer sale became Amazon Prime summer fail – as the website had problems on their big one-day sale event.

Well, back to Jeff Bezos, the person.  We all can dream. In this article Jeff [can I call him that – or should I call him “Mr. Bezos, Sir”?  What do you call the richest person in the world?] wants people to live in space!!

This article says:

“Dreaming big isn’t something Jeff Bezos has a problem with.”

“And true to form, the multi-billionaire’s vision for the world that his great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren will live in is pretty wild to imagine.”

“The Amazon and Blue Origin boss says a trillion people will live in space, there will be “a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts” and we’ll develop other planets, leaving Earth a beautiful place to be.”

Blue Origin is Bezos’ space group.  In May 2018 Blue Origin launched a rocket (with a successful return) from Blue Origin’s space are near Van Horn Texas (on Interstate 10 – about 7 hours from Austin or 2 hours from El Paso).  While I haven’t been to Van Horn (population about 2500), it seems to pretty much ‘in the middle of nowhere’.

Bezos sees humankind as continuing to use a lot of energy – even if it is renewable energy.  In a couple of hundred years even with solar panels almost covering the face of the earth, we will be running out of energy.  His solution is to move into space.

As he says in this article:  “Alternatively, says Bezos, humanity can expand into space, allowing for exponential growth.

“Now take the scenario, where you move out into the solar system. The solar system can easily support a trillion humans,” says Bezos. “And if we had a trillion humans, we would have a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts and unlimited, for all practical purposes, resources and solar power unlimited for all practical purposes. That’s the world that I want my great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren to live in.”

“As humanity expands into space, the Earth will remain the crown jewel, says Bezos.”

So, we will live and work from space and earth will return to a more pristine place.  

Definitely not in my lifetime (or in Bezos’ lifetime) – but an interesting view.  (And, not unlike Elon Musk and SpaceX)

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Blog Post #391: Watermelon!!!

Blog Post #391:  Watermelon!!!

Taken from:  https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/07/21/watermelon-nutrition.aspx

It’s SUMMER – and time for Watermelon!!!  (YEEHAW!!)

Most of my blogs are related to technology (and in some respects seedless watermelon are a relatively new technology), but occasionally I go ‘off the grid’ and write about something else (like the World Health Organization (WHO) going against a ‘Breast Milk’ initiative).

I love watermelon.  We have had a couple of watermelon this summer – and not quite the best.  So I was searching for how to get the best, ripest, and juiciest watermelon and found a lot of information:

First – the best watermelon according to the article:

  • Look at the stem end – it should be dry
  • Roll it over and look at the spot where it lay on the ground – the spot should be very yellow. (Some sites say “creamy yellow”)
  • It should be heavy for its size (‘juicier’)
  • Give the melon a whap on the side.  It should sound hollow. (Some say “a deep hollow sound” and that a dull sound is over ripe).    [I know these are subjective terms. So, if your grocery store has 150 watermelons in a huge bin make sure you try EVERY ONE of them – that is, until the manager kicks you out of the store!!!]

Second – six watermelon facts:

  1. Watermelon Has More Lycopene Than Raw Tomatoes
  2. Watermelon Juice May Relieve Muscle Soreness
  3. Watermelon Is a Fruit and a Vegetable
  4. You Can Eat Watermelon Rind and Seeds
  5. It’s Mostly Water
  6. Some Watermelon Are Yellow

I do suggest reading the article to get more information about the nutritional aspects.  The article suggests the rind (which we almost always throw away) has more of certain amino acids that the pink ‘meat’ of the watermelon.  The author throws the rind into a blender and makes a beverage

Third – some additional things:

  • Watermelon may reduce blood pressure!!!  
  • Watermelon can help with inflammation (and even with sexual health!!)\
  • And … do not eat watermelons as a dessert after a meal.  Here is a slogan on that: “Eat melon alone or leave it alone because it will make your stomach  groan. So ideally, no food 30 minutes before or after eating melons.”
  • My father liked to put a little salt on his melon – and another website suggested the tang of the salt makes the watermelon sweeter
  • And… the next time I’m pregnant – I’m definitely going to eat watermelon (which is never)  “If you’re pregnant, the benefits are even more delicious. Watermelon eases heartburn and reduces swelling; its high water content (92 percent) and fruit sugars can help alleviate morning sickness and dehydration; and the minerals it contains can help prevent third-trimester muscle cramps.” (From: https://www.fitpregnancy.com/nutrition/prenatal-nutrition/watermelon-wonders)

And … there isn’t much difference between seeded watermelons and seedless watermelons.  (Other than you can eat the seeds for some added nutrition)

Well – I’m smarter about watermelons that I was before.

Bruce

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Blog Post #390:  “I’m in love!!!” (or not) – the Ultimate RV vehicle

Blog Post #390:  “I’m in love!!!” (or not) – the Ultimate RV vehicle

Taken from:  https://www.themanual.com/auto/furrion-elysum-rv-modern-motorhome/?utm_medium=push&utm_source=1sig&utm_campaign=One%20Signal

Time for a little lighter discussion.  Furrion Elysium RV Has a Heli Pad, Hot Tub, Wine Fridge, and More

I’ve never been too much of an RV guy.  When you went on vacation you got a hotel near your destination.  And before that, (when we were ‘poor’) we even were in tents. Of course, when I was a Scout Master, tents were the norm.  But, my wife’s family was big on recreational vehicles (RV). My father-in-law had a fifth wheel RV that he pulled with a large pick-up truck.  After he retired, he and my mother-in-law made the trek from Minnesota to Arizona every fall and back every spring. They made stops in South Dakota (where we were living), Wyoming (for my sister-in-law and family), and sometimes other places.  They pretty much had everything they needed in that RV. For some years they lived in the RV during the winter until they got a “park model” (kind of a mobile home that was fixed on a lot in a RV park).

But, when I saw this article, I fell in ‘love’ (or ‘lust’ maybe).

Here is an RV with a retractable helipad (helicopter not included), a hot tub, master bedroom, kitchen, smart toilet, smart shower, three huge televisions, and an upper-deck for entertaining (next to that hot tub).

The best sentence in the article is this:  “Yes, it will be way over our budget, but a man can dream…”  

The article did not give the price (with or without the Robinson R22 helicopter) – I am sure we ‘could’ afford it (sell our house, sell our cars, cash in my retirement account) – that is without the helicopter (and taking a mortgage / loan for the rest of our lives and the lives of our children).

But as the article stated – “a man can dream”!!!!

What do you think?

Bruce

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Blog Post #389:  “I am a robot. I am activated by popcorn!!”

Blog Post #389:  “I am a robot. I am activated by popcorn!!”

Taken from:  https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/popcorndriven-robotic-actuators

I found this and thought it was worth sharing.  But after reading there isn’t much significance but that is okay.

Let’s see … popcorn comes from specialized corn plants.  The kernels are small and very regular – and when heated they expand.

The article states: “Popcorn kernels are a natural, edible, and inexpensive material that has the potential to rapidly expand with high force upon application of heat. Although this transition is irreversible, it carries potential for several robotic applications. As kernels can change from regular to (larger) irregular shapes, we examine the change in inter-granular friction and propose their use as granular fluids in jamming actuators, without the need for a vacuum pump.”

If you worked your way through that, it basically said that when popcorn pops, it expands and fills a much larger space.  If the popcorn was in-between two plates, it would push against the plates – and that pressure could turn on (that is ‘activate’ a switch) and turn on a robot!!!

The article shows that popcorn could be in a casing or tube of some nature.  When popped and it expands making that casing / tube rigid – and that is strong enough as a ‘robotic’ finger to lift a small weight off a table.  Unfortunately, once popped, the popcorn can’t go back to its original state.

As of yet, the authors (and I) don’t see much use for the technology other than a novelty.  But, I’m not sure that I can look at popcorn popping in the same way anymore.

Maybe similar objects could be developed – like a device in your backyard.  When the sun hits it, the material expands and activates a water pump for a fountain.  But as evening comes and it cools off, the material contracts and deactivates the water pump.  

So, the next time you have popcorn think of the potential energy it releases when it pops!!

Bruce

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Blog Post #388:  Automation could help insurance company revenues by $243 BILLION

Blog Post #388:  Automation could help insurance company revenues by $243 BILLION

Taken from:  https://www.dig-in.com/news/automation-could-lift-insurance-revenue-by-243-billion

This article from Digital Insurance website says that insurance companies are lagging behind by not using more automation, artificial intelligence and business process automation.  The article estimates that about $243 billion in additional revenue could be made by moving to 100% automation. And … (tongue in cheek), those companies would love to give that increase in revenue back to consumers!!  Since the population of the United States is about 325 million that could mean about $900 per account if automation is fully realized. (Okay, they might just keep the increase in revenue for a few years to pay off the expenses of automation).

The article stated: “that aggressive implementation of automation technologies could save the sector more than $500 billion, about half of which is taken into account by insurance companies. But there are still some significant barriers to implementation.

The author says:

“That some firms have been able to succeed by using a four-step process:

First, explaining the vision clearly and securing leadership buy-in.”

“Second, developing a clear pilot process. Firms should also consider starting with “low-hanging fruit” and engaging talent through hackathons and accelerators, the report says.”

“Third, scaling up with an automation center of excellence.”

“Fourth, industrializing automation. “

Artificial intelligence could assist by guiding customers in online or calling in scenarios with advanced reasoning that would help the customers save some money – and cut expenses of human resources (taking phone calls and helping customers online).

Looks like the insurance industry needs to employ the four-step process (above) to make those gains.

What do you think?

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #387:  The tent ‘healed itself’!!!!  WOW!!!

Blog Post #387:  The tent ‘healed itself’!!!!  WOW!!!

Taken from:  https://newatlas.com/self-healing-tent-nano-cure/55285/

Ahh, Summer!!!  Time to get away for awhile.  Maybe to a camping site, a spot on a beach, even just to the backyard.  BUT … there are those nasty mosquitos. We need a tent for overnight!!

But as I’m setting it up, I snagged one of the tent poles on the tent fabric and got a little tear.  Darn!! And, the forecast is for rain tonight – and that tear is just over where I will be sleeping. And, if it rains as much as the weather forecasters are predicting, it will be more of a bathtub than a tent/bedroom.

BUT “Imperial Motion is pitching a self-healing tent, made out of a proprietary material it calls Nano Cure Technology (NCT).”  Really self-healing? And will it really fix that tear so I don’t get wet tonight? Don’t I need a patch kit and some drying time for the patch to set up?  And it already is sprinkling a little – and the patch won’t even stick to the tent. So, really a self-healing tent?

The company claims: “To gain its healing superpowers, the material starts with a nylon ripstop fabric that is sandwiched between two layers of water-resistant silicone. According to Imperial Motion, when the material is punctured it doesn’t actually break – instead, the nylon threads are just pushed apart. They can be coaxed back together by rubbing the puncture wound with your finger for a few seconds, leaving little to no trace that anything was ever wrong.”

If the article is to be believed, it really only takes a few seconds to fix the tear.  

I remember camping with the Boy Scouts in January (Klondike Derby) and it was about 34 degrees and a very cold rain.  And the tent had a tear. I was in between two others who had air mattresses and the rain soon pooled into space where I was trying to sleep.  Eventually, I left the tent and went to the nearby shelter and a hot fire to warm me up. A self-healing tent would have been great that night!!

The company is working on getting enough funding, but the idea sounds great – especially if you go tenting in less than perfect weather!!

What do you think?

 

Bruce

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Blog Post #386:  The Beaver Robot did it!!!

Blog Post #386:  The Beaver Robot did it!!!

Taken from:  http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2018/06/017.html

Artificial intelligence is stretching out in almost all directions.  Maybe one of the unusual applications is making a robot that does machine learning that is like a beaver.  Seemingly beavers build their dams without a blueprint. (They also don’t go to Home Depot or Lowes to get their wood products).  The beavers seemingly have the main concept of stopping the flow or water. Each pond is different – different rocks, terrain, and even water flow.  The beaver has to adjust to the terrain to make the dam stop the water. And to continue to monitor the environment around them in case of a dam break.  The article says that there is a randomness in nature that the beaver has to adjust to when building a dam.

Likewise trying to develop artificial intelligence applications to work through random environment constraints could be important.  One first concept might occur in search and rescue operations – like after a tornado. After a tornado, the rescue team might need help in finding people buried under debris.  The randomness of what is left after a tornado calls for human rescuers to analyze the situation and to find a path around holes in the ground (maybe even caved-in basements), downed trees, appliances thrown around, and unconscious people.  Human rescuers would use their vision to find a path to when the unconscious person might be buried under the debris. But that might be tricky or even dangerous for a human such as falling down a well or their weight disrupting a precarious balance of boards and bricks.

The solution is to develop an artificial intelligence robot that can work its way around the random destruction.  

The article describes it this way: “Using off-the-shelf components, [the researchers] outfitted a mini-rover vehicle with a camera, custom software and a robotic arm to lift and deposit objects.

“They then created uneven terrain — randomly placed rocks, bricks and broken bits of concrete — to simulate an environment after a disaster such as a tornado or earthquake. The team also places hand-sized bean bags of different sizes around the simulated disaster area.

“Researchers then activate the robot, which uses the algorithms to continuously monitor and scan its environment. It picks up bean bags and deposits them in holes and gaps in between the rock, brick and concrete. Eventually the bags form a ramp, which allows the robot to overcome the obstacles and reach its target location, a flat platform.”

I’m impressed.  Programming a robotic device to adjust to obstacles and to find a path through and around them could be important in search and rescue operations.  Maybe I can program such a robot to find my car keys when I have misplaced them!!

What do you think?

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #385 Hitting the bottle (not the breast)

Blog Post #385: Hitting the bottle (not the breast)

Taken from:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/08/health/world-health-breastfeeding-ecuador-trump.html

Money talks – or so it seems in this article.  Seemingly the World Health Organization had a simple resolution before it – encourage breastfeeding.  The article states: “based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.”

Sounds like a good plan – encourage breastfeeding as ‘healthiest for children’ – nothing too startling – right?

But then the money started talking according to the article:  “Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.”

And this: “When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs.”

“The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.”

So, an innocuous resolution to encourage breastfeeding ended up with the United States as the bully – on little Ecuador.  Drop the resolution – and keep trading with the US and keep getting American dollars for military aid.

So, American women (and couples) – if you were thinking that feeding your child with the healthiest option (i.e. breast milk) think again.  You need to keep buying Enfamil, Similac and supporting American companies (who probably make political contributions).

Nice to know whose side the government is on!!!

What do you think?

Bruce

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Blog Post #384:  Let’s get fit (and compromise national security!!!!)

Blog Post #384:  Let’s get fit (and compromise national security!!!!)

Taken from:  https://www.slashgear.com/polar-fitness-tracker-might-be-a-bigger-national-security-risk-08536905/

Okay, we (Americans) need to get fit.  JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association says that 32.2% of men and 35.5% of women are not just overweight – BUT OBESE!!!  (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity_in_the_United_States)

Some of us use fitness trackers – like Fitbit or (as in this article) Polar Fitness Trackers.  I use Map-My-Walk on my iPhone – but it also might be a security risk like knowing that I took a walk to the Leander Library and back = about 2 miles.  That definitely is something that a foreign government would love to know:

Possible Scenario:

Yuri:  Hey Andrei, I just watched Bruce White.  He walked to the Leander Library and back.

Andrei:  Hmm … he has done that before.  What do you think he is up to?

Yuri:  I don’t know, but I bet it is top-secret.  Maybe a cabal of dissentients meet in the back room?  Maybe they have a storehouse of guns there.

Andrei:  Bruce White?  He’s just a harmless retired professor!

Yuri:  I think he is a ‘sleeper’.  Innocent looking on the outside, but a hotbed of political espionage inside.  

Andrei:  Are there others there?

Yuri:  On some days he walks with Bob McDonald – now there is a radical if I ever saw one.  I think there is a cabal of high-level anarchists there – hiding under the guise of mild-mannered senior citizens going to the library.

Andrei:  Okay Yuri, let’s keep him under surveillance.

<end of scenario>

Okay, not true in my case – I want to get my exercise in – and the library is about one mile one way, so two miles round trip.

Back to today’s article:

Earlier this year, fitness app Strava was reported to have accidentally and indirectly revealed the location of military bases, including secret ones, by providing “heat maps” of users’ runs. Now investigative website Bellingcatreports that Polar, who makes its own fitness trackers and app, has done the same but in an even worse way. It has made it too easy for almost anyone with enough hacking skills to find users, see their runs and walks, determine base locations, and even the users’ homes. It is a security nightmare on both personal and national levels.”

So, an enlisted person taking a run at a military base through easily hacked data sites can be tracked by outsiders.  With some hacking and tracking skills, it can be analyzed before of the fitness tracker application. The military is reviewing its use of such fitness devices on bases.  And … tracking a fitness enthusiast who works for the FBI or CIA can be done.

What do you think?  What price is there to individual fitness – and to potentially allowing access to data that could identify national security sites?

Bruce

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Blog Post #383:  Thai cave rescue – with a kid-sized submarine!!!

Blog Post #383:  Thai cave rescue – with a kid-sized submarine!!!

Taken from:  https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/08/us/elon-musk-thai-cave-rescue/index.html

I don’t think Elon Musk sleeps!!  So with everything else he is involved with, he is also working on ideas to rescue the Thailand soccer team that is in a flooded cave and may not be able to get out.  One of his companies is the Boring Company (that notably is working on boring a tunnel from O’Hare airport to downtown Chicago). That company could bore into the caves – but it would take some time to get the equipment to Thailand – and to build the tunnel / bore into the cave.

The article states: “Billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk shared photos and videos of a metallic pod that may help rescue a group of boys trapped in a cave in Thailand.

Footage shared on Musk’s Twitter account shows a group testing the device in a Los Angeles high school swimming pool.

“Musk said in a tweet Sunday evening that the pod — or “kid-size submarine” — was en route to Thailand and would arrive in about 17 hours.

“Hopefully useful,” he said in one tweet. “If not, perhaps it will be in a future situation.”

“His updates came after US and Thai officials confirmed Sunday that four boys had been rescued from a flooded cave network after spending 15 days trapped along with their soccer team and coach. They were escorted out by a group of Thai and international divers.

“Eight boys and the coach remain trapped, and the ordeal has been a closely watched news story around the globe.”

So a kid-sized submarine to get the boys out just might do the trick.  (More conventional ideas just seemingly are taking too long (with monsoon rains on the way).  

The article goes on: “Musk explained the metal tube would be “light enough to be carried by 2 divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps” in the cave, and “extremely robust.”

If so, this is a pretty exciting use of technology.  Let’s hope this works.

 

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