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Category: Science

Lianas, Superhighways of the Canopy

The Atlantic reports research on the size of ant populations living in the treetops of forests in Panama. These treetops function as islands, if the tree in question has no vines connecting it to other trees nearby, with the size and diversity of the population being proportional to the tree size.

This changes as soon as the canopy is interconnected by lianas, which function as superhighways in the sky, connecting the various treetops into one single environment.

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Video: 20 Years of continuous improvement in crash safety

Continual improvement is sometimes hard to see, because each iteration, each incremental step itself is tiny so that the actual change escapes our attention.

Also, just living our lives, our time sense is sometimes distorted. Me for example, I was almost 30 already in the late Nineties, and while that is already 20 years ago, it feels like yesterday to me.

So car safety in the Nineties, compared to now? It was crap. Check this out:

We do learn, and things do get better. Change is not radical, most of the time it’s evolutionary. And to make it visible, you have to look really hard and contract now and then.

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The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (4)

Jean-Baptiste Quéru looks at US Manufacturing vs Trade in this Google plus article:

Here’s what I read in it, at a high level:

  • The US didn’t lose manufacturing to trade, since manufacturing went up after trade agreements were signed in 1994 and 2001.
  • US workers didn’t lose jobs to immigrants, since that would typically result in an increase in the workforce (more workers, paid less, individually less productive). Instead, the jobs truly disappeared.

He concludes that trade agreements increase trade, increase revenue, which is then invested into manufacturing automation, which leads to a drop in employment.

His analysis is based on data shown in this report from the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington based neoconservative think tank.

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“There wouldn’t be a Microsoft today without Dave”

Dave Cutler (Image: Majorconfusion @ Wikipedia)

Dave Cutler, now 74, has had his 50th working anniversary, and for that reason we find a laudatio at Microsoft’s News Site.

Cutler not only has been one of the architects of the VAX and their VMS operating system, but also in the designs of the DEC Alpha CPU and its predecessors.

Later at Microsoft, he has been working on the DEC Alpha port of Windows NT, been instrumental in the development of the Windows Server operating system, and been a lead developer in Microsoft’s cloud system, Azure. He’s also been involved in porting the Hyper-V Hypervisor to the XBox.

It is really rare to find people who have been working in IT for so long, who have been involved in so many aspects – from hardware and chip design through operating system design to platform architecture and virtualisation, and even more so, who have been doing this in an ecosystem that is independent and outside of the Unix/Linux universe.

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The Mars Water Paradox

Surface structures on Mars, suggesting liquid water

Surface structures on Mars as found by the Curiosity Mars Rover, suggest liquid water 3.5 billion years ago. Yet no carbonate has been found, which should have been there, had liquid water been present.

The why is as of yet completely unsolved, says NASA.

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Mark and Scott Kelly: Twins and Space

Motherboard about the NASA twin study:

[The twin brothers Mark and Scott Kelly] were closely studied by ten different research teams at various points, including before, during, and after Scott Kelly’s 340-day-stint living on the International Space Station. Mark Kelly, who has flown in space previously, although never for such a long period of time, acted as the control subject on Earth.

It seems that a long time in Space has many effects on human biology, not all of them bad – telomeres seem to get longer.

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Fast and forceful gel robots

[These] robots are made entirely of hydrogel — a tough, rubbery, nearly transparent material that’s composed mostly of water. Each robot is an assemblage of hollow, precisely designed hydrogel structures, connected to rubbery tubes. When the researchers pump water into the hydrogel robots, the structures quickly inflate in orientations that enable the bots to curl up or stretch out.

(MIT News)

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