Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for March 21, 2020
Stanford soft robot operates without hydraulics or pneumatics; $1 million Turing award goes to Pixar pioneers in computer graphics; Developer acceptance increasing for Windows Subsystem for Linux; New map of the Milky Way galaxy reveals at least four spiral arms; and a Steem photo-essay tells us about the mineral, amethyst
Well, I used my witness votes during the power struggle in support of decentralization by voting for 5 Tron witnesses and 5 witnesses from the SF 0.22.2 cabal in a symbolic statement that no faction should control the blockchain. As a result, the hive commissars put my accounts on their blacklist. Apparently, in Hive World, voting for diverse witnesses is the same thing as voting for centralization.
So, it turns out it's not as difficult as I had anticipated to decide how to handle this series in the future. It'll be staying right here on Steem (assuming that Steem survives the break-up). Welcome back. Let's get to the content.
Straight from my RSS feed
Whatever gets my attention
Links and micro-summaries from my 1000+ daily headlines. I filter them so you don't have to.
pixabay license: source.
- Stanford Makes Giant Soft Robot From Inflatable Tubes - One problem with many soft robots at large scale is that they depend upon pneumatics or hydraulics, which necessitates a pump and complicates the design. Researchers at Stanford, however, have made a soft robot that can operate without a pump. The robot uses a truss-like structure of air filled tubes for compliance, and its motion is driven by powered movable modules. According to the article:
It’s human scale, moves around, doesn’t require a pump or tether, is more or less as safe as large robots get, and even manages to play a little bit of basketball.Here is a video embed:
- Pixar’s computer graphics pioneers have won the $1 million Turing Award - Two researchers from Pixar who invented 3D graphics techniques that are now widely used in the graphics industry have won the $1 million Turing prize. Edwin Catmull was one of Pixar's co-founders, and Patrick Hanrahan was an early employee. Hanrahan was the lead architect for the team who created software known as RenderMan, that lets filmmakers blend 3D animations with real life sequences. Hanrahan is quoted as saying, "Physicists generally don’t study hair or skin, and why they look the way they do. I did, and spent years thinking about how to get things like lighting right." For Catmull's part, he invented one of the first methods to display curved surfaces on a computer, and created one of the earliest computer animations, "A Computer Animated Hand".
- Windows Subsystem for Linux is making inroads with developers - Microsoft and Canonical - the company behind Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) - were scheduled to host a conference, but switched to virtual as a result of COVID-19. There were 22 speakers and 21 talks, and all are expected to be online soon. In the meantime, this article gives screenshots of the WSL and instructions for installing it in two main steps: (i) Install WSL as a Feature, using the "Features Applet, which is available through the Start menu; then (ii) Choose a distribution from the Windows store. Available choices include: "Kali, Debian, OpenSUSE, Alpine, and two Long Term Support (LTS) versions of Ubuntu". More details about each of those steps are available in the source article. It is possible to use MobaXterm to establish GUI capabilities, but most developers are more interested in this capability for cross-platform operations.
- A New Map Of The Milky Way - There are surprising limits to astronomers' knowledge about the structure of our home galaxy, The Milky Way. Recently, however, astronomers are pushing the boundaries by producing a high resolution map with combined data from a variety of research projects. In particular, efforts at mapping the Milky Way have been complicated by the fact that it can only be observed from the inside. Recent progress has been made by using thousands of hours of telescope time to progressively map the galaxy from the inside out. Overall, there is a general consensus that the Milky Way has a significant bar-shaped structure at its center along with some number of spiral arms. Beyond those basic points of agreement, however, there has been considerable debate. The recent mapping efforts have added to the body of knowledge by determining that the Milky Way has at least four spiral arms.
- Steem @dexpartacus: Amethyst - In this post to the Gems community, the author tells about the stone, Amethyst. According to the post, amethyst is quartz that takes on a coloring in the range from light mauve to purple as a result of iron that's contained in the rock. The stone, it says, has been used since ancient times, and was once considered a precious gem. The post adds that the stone turns yellow at temperatures from 400-500 °C, which makes it resemble citrine quartz. Further, it loses its transparency at 600 °C and comes to resemble Adularia, with a milky white coloring. When found in nature, the stone usually has parallel stripes, or inclusions that are also called zebra stripes or tiger scratches. Even today, the article notes that the most beautiful amethyst stones can become precious gemstones. In addition to its descriptive text, the post also includes a number of photographs of quartz/amethyst stones. Side note: I have a personal fondness for this stone, because in my own family, we have a gold and amethyst ring that was purchased in Germany around the end of the 19th century and then handed down from my great-grandfather to my grandmother, and came to me around the time of my 18th birthday. I recently passed it along to my own son, @cmp2020. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been added to this port for @dexpartacus.)
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