ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Computer Scientists Prove Why Bigger Neural Networks Do Better
Mordechai Rorvig | Quanta
“Fundamental mathematical results had suggested that networks should only need to be so big, but modern neural networks are commonly scaled up far beyond that predicted requirement—a situation known as overparameterization. In a [new paper], Sébastien Bubeck of Microsoft Research and Mark Sellke of Stanford University provided a new explanation for the mystery behind scaling’s success.”

COMPUTING

Atomically Thin Materials Significantly Shrink Qubits
Dexter Johnson | IEEE Spectrum
“Now researchers at MIT have been able to both reduce the size of the qubits and done so in a way that reduces the interference that occurs between neighboring qubits. The MIT researchers have increased the number of superconducting qubits that can be added onto a device by a factor of 100. ‘We are addressing both qubit miniaturization and quality,’ said William Oliver, the director for the Center for Quantum Engineering at MIT.’ ”

ROBOTICS

Great, DARPA Just Flew a Black Hawk Helicopter With Nobody in It
Mack DeGuerin | Gizmodo
“DARPA describes its Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) as a ‘tailorable, drop-in, removable kit,’ meant to add sophisticated automation to pre-built aircraft at a fraction of the cost of upgrading individual models with new, advanced avionics and software. The agency imagines this system will one day reduce pilot workloads and ultimately improve aircraft safety.”

ENERGY

European Fusion Reactor Sets Record for Sustained Energy
Daniel Clery | Science
“In experiments culminating the 40-year run of the Joint European Torus (JET), the world’s largest fusion reactor, researchers announced today they have smashed the record for producing controlled fusion energy. On 21 December 2021, the UK-based JET heated a gas of hydrogen isotopes to 150 million degrees Celsius and held it steady for 5 seconds while nuclei fused together, releasing 59 megajoules (MJ) of energy—roughly twice the kinetic energy of a fully laden semitrailer truck traveling at 160 kilometers per hour.”

BLOCKCHAIN

Public Blockchains Are the New National Economies of the Metaverse
Tascha Che | Wired
“The trustless and programmable nature of public blockchains have made it possible to implement new ‘fiscal’ and ‘monetary’ policy tools in the blockchain economies, which in many cases have advantages over the traditional economic policy tools of national governments. In addition, the proof-of-stake mechanism adopted by second-generation public blockchains introduces a de facto ‘universal basic capital income’ for their network ‘citizens.’ ”

TRANSPORTATION

Destinus Plans to Fly a Hydrogen-Powered, Hypersonic Cargo Craft With $29M Seed Round
Devin Coldewey | TechCrunch
“While the craft is far from completion, let alone testing and certification, a $29 million seed round should help things along. The stated plan is to build a hypersonic vehicle (i.e. multiples of the speed of sound) powered by liquid hydrogen and with only water as exhaust, which would enable point-to-point delivery nearly anywhere on the planet. Ambitious, yes. Expensive, yes. Difficult to engineer, also yes.”

BIOTECH

You’re (Maybe) Gonna Need a Patent for That Woolly Mammoth
Matt Reynolds | Wired
“Colossal—a startup cofounded by the Harvard geneticist George Church—wants to resurrect a woolly mammoth within the next six years. Its CEO, Ben Lamm, is confident that a mammoth is patentable. But bringing back a species that last stomped the Earth 4,000 years ago raises all kinds of questions that scientists warn we’re not fully prepared for. Can someone really patent a mammoth? And if they can, should they?”

INNOVATION

Moore’s Not Enough: ​4 New Laws of Computing
Adenekan Dedeke | IEEE Spectrum
“[Metcalfe’s Law and Moore’s Law] both provide tremendous power to explain and predict behaviors of some seemingly incomprehensible systems and phenomena in the sometimes inscrutable information-technology world. I contend, moreover, that there are still other regularities in the field of computing that could also be formulated in a fashion similar to that of Moore’s and Metcalfe’s relationships. I would like to propose four such laws.”

DIGITAL CURRENCY

Boston’s Federal Reserve Says It Has Solved Technical Challenges of a ‘Digital Dollar’
S. Dent | Engadget
“The US Federal Reserve is continuing its research into a ‘digital dollar’ and has unveiled a technical specification for how it might work, The Washington Post has reported. Researchers designed a system that can handle more than 1.7 million transactions a second and settle payments in under two seconds, while operating 24/7 without service outages, according to a new paper on the subject.”

ENVIRONMENT

Why This Could Be a Critical Year for Electric Cars
Jack Ewing and Neal E. Boudette | The New York Times
“Battery-powered cars are having a breakthrough moment and will enter the mainstream this year as automakers begin selling electric versions of one of Americans’ favorite vehicle type: pickup trucks. Their arrival represents the biggest upheaval in the auto industry since Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1908 and could have far-reaching consequences for factory workers, businesses and the environment.”

SPACE

Mega Comet Arriving From the Oort Cloud Is 85 Miles Wide
George Dvorsky | Gizmodo
“These latest observations confirm that Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein is the largest Oort Cloud object ever detected, as it’s nearly twice as big as comet Hale-Bopp (observed in 1997), the nucleus of which measured between 25 and 50 miles (40 and 80 km) wide. It’s also bigger than Comet Sarabat (observed in 1729), which had a nucleus measuring somewhere around 62 miles (100 km) in diameter.”

Image Credit: Oleksii Drozdov / Unsplash

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