Magnitude and Direction, Issue #10 | 29 Jun 2018

Hardware, Prototyping, and Fabrication

📡 MIT researchers have figured out a way to power small, implantable medical devices using nothing but radio waves.

🚀 SpinLaunch wants to send things into space without rockets. Spencer Wright gives a great breakdown so, I'll let him take it from here:

"So apparently there's a company called SpinLaunch, and they're trying to launch satellites using what is basically a centrifuge with a door on one side. The idea here is that you build this big centrifuge so that it's at (say) a 45* angle to the horizon and then use it to accelerate a small payload up to (say) tens of thousands of revolutions per minute. You do this all with electricity - no rockets. Then, when the payload is going fast enough, you open a hatch door on the outside of the centrifuge and it *screams* out, its momentum carrying it into orclose to orbit. The amount of energy we're talking about here is crazy (I hear SpinLaunch's demo involves blasting a payload into a big steel wall, and that it's *terrifying*), and the centripetal forces on the payload while it's in the centrifuge would be *way* greater than what a traditional rocket experiences. But, it could eliminate or greatly reduce chemical propellants from non-human launches, putting a lot of the stuff that traditional launchers contain (rocket engines, fuel tanks, lots of kerosene and oxygen) out of the picture. I think the whole idea sounds totally crazy, but maybe...?"


Software and Programming

👨 Father's Day may be over, but CNN's Dad Joke Generator is fun all year round.

👁 Eyes wide shut. Facebook's new AI can keep your eyes open all the time.

💻 First IBM made a computer that could win Jeopardy! and now it's created one that can win a debate against a human - it just doesn't know what it's saying.

⚽ Two weeks ago, in the last issue of Magnitude and Direction, I posted an article and original research paper about how the world cup had been simulated 100,000 times by a research group and the most likely victors predicted. In that research paper, Spain and Germany were the top choices to win. As this articlecites, the surprising failure of the German team to leave the group stage this year would seem to indicate that that AI algorithm did a bad job.

  • However, if you actually look closely at the data, that's not true. The paper predicted that, if Germany made it to the quarter-finals they had the best chance of winning the whole tournament. However, because Germany has most certainly not made it to the quarter-finals AND because Spain has made it to the Round of 16, Spain now has the best chance of winning. Thus, the AI isn't wrong (yet). We just have to keep watching to find out.
  • If you're interested in re-reading those original articles from last issue, check them out here. (They were posed in Issue #9).


Science, Engineering, and Biomedicine

💧 In today's edition of excessive science experiments: researchers used ultra high-speed cameras to find out why a dripping faucet makes the unique "plinking" sound it does.

⌨ Researchers in South Korea have developed a keyboard that you can fold down to fit in your pocket and only costs $1.


Mapping and Data Science

🌍 3D world mapping tool Ancient Earth can show you where your house would've been located on Pangea (or even Rodinia).

📜 If you're not careful, you can end up spending hours browsing the historical collections from the New York Preservation Archive Project.

🗺 OpenGeofiction lets you build incredibly detailed maps of imaginary places.

🆒 Like cool maps? Then follow @amapaday on Instagram.


Events and Opportunities

With July 4th falling in the middle of the week next week, things are a little slower than usual around town. But that doesn't mean there aren't some things to look forward to...


Map of the Month

Hurricane season has officially begun, which means its time to starting worrying about a hurricane hitting the NYC metro area and causing this worst case scenario.


Odds & Ends

When Slack went down this week, people didn't stop working, they just shifted from their actual jobs to making memes on Twitter.