Magnitude and Direction, Issue #40 | 23 Aug 2019

Hardware, Prototyping, and Fabrication

Via The Prepared: The VertiWalk is essentially a human-powered elevator (it's not as hard to operate as it sounds) that can improve mobility for people struggling to get up and down stairs.

Blaser Hub has scientifically tested which nerf darts are best, so you know what to stock up on before the next office war.

🧲 This 252-segment ferrofluid display is part digital clock, part lava lamp.

Software and Programming

🤬 Try to play this horrible-UI game without losing your mind.

🔊 There's been speculation of secret codes and messages hidden in songs for generations. Now, though, it's finally come to pass.

Not only does this article provide an informative and interactive breakdown on what a JPEG really is and how it works, it also provided this somewhat disturbing factoid:
" the same way you confuse your brain when you rub your eyes too hard andstart to see blotches of dimness and color! These blotches you see—known as phosphenes—don’t come from any light stimulus, nor are they hallucinations made up in your mind. They arise because your brain assumes that any electrical signal arriving through the nerves in your eye is conveying light information. The brain needs to make this assumption because there’s no way to know whether a given signal is sound, sight, or something else. All the nerves in your body carry exactly the same type of electrical pulse. When you apply pressure by rubbing your eyes, you’re sending non-visual signals that trigger the receptors in your eye, which your brain interprets—incorrectly, in this case—as vision. You can literally see the pressure!"
This new knowledge makes me wonder all kinds of things about brain-computer interfaces I wasn't thinking about before!

Science, Engineering, and Biomedicine

As climate change causes the loss of glaciers around the world, more than environmental issues are being precipitated. In the case of Italy, it means they have to keep redrawing their borders.

🥑 Rest easy, folks, we've sequenced the avocado genome.

It may seem like just a white orb, but the eye is one of the most complex organs in the body and notoriously hard to replicate in vitro, which makes this tear-shedding artificial eye all the more impressive.

Mapping, History, and Data Science

I came across an interesting article by Jeff Sisson on the BetaNYCSlack Group the other day investigating how a section of Queens most people would probably indentify as Maspeth ended up getting labeled "Haberman" on Google Maps. The conclusion he arrived at, while not 100% confirmed, does seem likely and serves as a reminder that our data is only as good as we are, the topic of this week's Moment of Inertia.

"There will probably never be a year in which no one dies in an aviation accident, but there will definitely never be a year in which 10 percent of the global population dies in a single plane crash. Yet that could happen with a supervolcano, an asteroid strike or a nuclear war." The New York Times on why our perceptions of probability make us woefully under-prepared for existential threats (ourselves included).

Much to my chagrin, you can't technically ride the entire NYC subway system in alphanumeric order (i.e., 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-A-B-C-D-E-...-Z) with a single metro card swipe (the lack of transfer between the G and J trains is what does you in, in case you were wondering). You can however, travel 154.6 miles in the system without ever doubling back on yourself with a single swipe, as this WNYC article explains. (Also, in case you were curious 154.6 miles is roughly the distance from New York to Baltimore.)

Events and Opportunities

Remember two weeks ago when I said this section was the longest it had ever been? Well, the community may have one-upped itself yet again this week.

  • TONIGHT, 8/23 Join the New York Academy of Sciences for a brainy comedy night where local scientists will attempt to confirm the hypothesis that science does indeed have a sense of humor.

  • Tuesday, 8/27 The New York 3D Group hosts their first meetup at The World Bar, where participants can learn about 3D scanning technologies and even how to get a scan of themselves.

  • Wednesday, 8/28 The NY/NJ chapter of the Society for Conservation GIS are gathering for an informal chat over snacks and drinks. Come network with the organizing committee and other members of the chapter. If your map-minded data enthusiast like myself, they're always looking for volunteers, presenters, and suggestions for activities.

  • Wednesday, 8/28 The Hardware Startup meetup may not be having formal events over the summer, but that's not going to stop the community from getting together for their second happy hour of the season.

  • Tuesday & Wednesday, 9/3-4 If you've got some time to take a trip up to Cambridge, join the Harvard Biotech Club for their 20th anniversary Bridging the Gap symposium, annual Career Fair, or both. Students from all academic institutions are welcome and dozens of companies will be on hand for networking and recruiting.

  • Wednesday, 9/4 The Transit Techies meetup is back with all of your favorite transit-and-data-related projects. If you like trains, data science, and/or the view from Hudson Yards, I highly recommend you check out what is one of my favorite meetups.

  • Wednesday, 9/4 NYDesigns is hosting is next Women in Tech Happy Hour at Bierocracy in Long Island City. As always, individuals who identify as female and men are also welcome to attend.

  • Thursday, 9/5 Join Columbia Nano Labs for their annual Industry Day conference. Learn how you can use and leverage the Nano Labs facilities, hear from a panel of entrepreneurs who have done just that, and listen to faculty and technical experts discuss the way these sophisticated tools contribute to cutting-edge research.

  • Thursday, 9/5 The HAX hardware startup accelerator is journeying east from their usual haunts of San Francisco and Shenzen for a visit to New York to connect with the local hardware community with a special after-work hardware meetup and a night of socializing, drinks, and bites.

  • Friday 9/6 I'd like to say Nanotech NYC scheduled their next nanonite happy hour in honor of my birthday, but I don't think Jacob or the other organizers know when my birthday is! (Although they do now.) At any rate, NYC's nanotech community (practitioners and enthusiasts alike) will be getting together at Clinton Hall in east Midtown.

Some other upcoming events to keep on your radar...

  • Monday, 9/9 Small science gets a big showcase at Nano Day at the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center. Learn about some of the most exciting nanotechnology research and innovations coming from the NYC area and meet other technologists working in the field.

  • Wednesday, 9/11 Scientists, researchers, cartographers, artists, andeveryone in between will be gathering together at Peculier Pub for the next SciArt mixer.

  • Friday, 9/13 The Nanotech NYC meetup hosts Kendra Krueger, the founder of 4LoveandScience, a research and education platform that inspires new modes of working and learning in a complex world. An electrical engineer with nanotech experience in academia and the photonics industry, Kendra is also a trained facilitator in mindfulness, sustainable design and social justice.

  • Thursday, 9/19 LiveIntent is hosting their first tech happy hour at their office in lower Manhattan. The event promises to be a great opportunity for New York tech professionals to network, share ideas, meet our team, and learn all about LiveIntent and how their re-imagining email. There will be food, beer and wine provided, along with video games andboard games available!

  • Tuesday, 9/24 Join GeoNYC and Doctors Without Borders for a special map-a-thon to fill in missing geospatial data for underserved regions in order to provide international and local NGOs and individuals with the data they need to better respond to crises.

  • Wednesday, 9/25 Coming off their 1st birthday party, the NYC JLABS crew is taking a short break for the summer but will be back in September for their next Innovators and Entrepreneurs mixer.

  • Wednesday, 9/25 The RobotLab meetup's September event focuses on the good, the bad, and the ugly of Industry 4.0 and autonomous manufacturing.

  • Saturday, 9/28 Admission is just the swipe of a metro card for the Parade of Trains at the Brighton Beach station. Vintage train cars from all periods of the subway's history will be on display, as well as taking passengers on short trips around south Brooklyn.

  • Tuesday, 10/1 The next stop on Ogilvy's healthcare innovation pop-up series takes them to Hudson Yards, where they're teaming up with the HITLAB and SAP.iO Foundry for an event that will focus primarily on the female and underserved health innovators who are disrupting healthcare today.

  • October 11-16 Innovation Week at Mount Sinai. What started as just the SINAInnovations conference is now a week's worth of activities dedicated to bringing New York's biomedical innovation communities together. Here's the full lineup:

    • Friday-Sunday, 10/11-13 Mount Sinai Health Hackathon. The 4th annual Mount Sinai Health Hackathon will be an exciting 48-hour transdisciplinary competition focused on creating novel technology solutions for problems in healthcare. This year’s theme is Artificial Intelligence – Expanding the Limits of Human Performance.

    • Tuesday, 10/15 Careers & Connections 2019. October may feel far away, but I promise you it's not and you'll want to be sure to mark your calendars for GRO-Biotech's next big event, the Careers & Connections mini-conference and networking event, held concurrently with emerging healthcare technologies conference, SINAInnovations.

    • Tuesday & Wednesday, 10/15-16 SINAInnovations Conference. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is hosting its eighth annual SINAInnovations conference around the theme of Artificial Intelligence. A range of talks andpanels will focus on the explosive growth of AI in our society and in particular in medicine, featuring international thought leaders across the range of relevant domains.

  • Saturday, 10/26 The Future of Care conference is back at Rockefeller University featuring some of the latest breakthroughs in clinical care and the innovators helping shepherd them from bench to bedside. Apply to attend the conference by September 6th.

Map of the Month

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Odds & Ends

Meteor showers are amazing from earth, but they're even more breathtaking from space.