A Quantum Pioneer Unlocks Matter’s Hidden Secrets – Scientific American

Fascinating article!  I learned a new term from this article – Quantum Critical Point.

via A Quantum Pioneer Unlocks Matter’s Hidden Secrets – Scientific American

I followed one of the names mentioned in the article to find this short lecture on the topic.

A lingering question in my mind is about the energy consumed (be it in a cooling process, or in the application of high pressures, or in some other process) in creating these superconducting states and maintaining them for practical applications.  Seems like that would be significant regardless of the efficiencies achieved once you get there.  Is there not a trade-off involved?  I do not remember any mention of this aspect in the article or the video.

What the Disasters Say About Us

The Equifax disaster was somewhat inevitable considering the current state of software systems and network security around the world.  I have noted in the past that the moment one became a part of the Internet, you have basically given up your privacy.  You may ask then, what more is left to be said about what happened at Equifax, when the extremely private information of over 143 million people, more than forty percent of the population of the United States, was compromised by a single entity, all in one shot.

What astounds me is the response of the people, and of the folks who run our country, to what is going on.  Indeed, it is the lack of response that is amazing.  While there are a minority of people who seem to appreciate the seriousness of the matter, beyond the context how this one-time incident effects people, most others go about their lives simply hoping that the current problem does not affect them, when indeed this incident is only the tip of the iceberg and a symptom of greater disasters that can happen with the way our systems are structured and the way we live our lives.  In this particular case, also consider the additional cluelessness of the company involved.   They appear to have had no sense of the seriousness of the situation and value of the information that they were handling, and once disaster struck, they had no idea how to to handle the situation.  Indeed, as of today, they still have not demonstrated that they know what they are doing.

Perhaps I should not be surprised with what is happening.  The same kind of attitude seems to hold in the case of physical disasters.  Weather events like hurricanes seem to be getting more powerful over the years, yet we choose to ignore the science behind the phenomenon and refuse to acknowledge why this may be happening.  Indeed, we will even reduce the resources available to further understand and address the problem and very few will even care or protest.   It does not matter if the origins of our problems are physical or virtual, the same kind of attitudes and philosophies hold.

We think we are an advanced society because of our access to all kinds of technologies.  But that does not mean that we really know what we are doing.

The Sideways Elevator of the Future Is Here, and It’s Wild | WIRED

The system uses magnetic levitation. It can be more efficient than a system of conventional elevators, not primarily because of speed, but because of the ability to move units across shafts and stack them when needed.

via The Sideways Elevator of the Future Is Here, and It’s Wild | WIRED

Googling Gives Us Answers—But Deprives Us Of Intelligence

The article I have provided a link for below is quite good even though its title may be somewhat misleading.  The deprivation of intelligence because of the ubiquitous use of search engines like Google is not what is addressed primarily in the guts of the article.  It is more a listing of the practical issues that the author sees with the current construct and use of search engines.

But I was drawn in by the title, which was something I have been thinking of for a while.  I realize that while I have access to a wealth of information because of the existence of the search engine, information that I am also able to freely share with others at the drop of a hat,  I am really not getting any smarter because of this.  It is questionable whether the amount of information that I can retain in my mind, and the kind of critical thinking that is crucial to my intelligence, have really been helped.  In fact, because of the easy availability of information, I might be less inclined to try to figure things out, and even retain information.  After all, why would I bother deriving the area of regular dodecagon when needed when all I need to do is look it up on the Internet.

via Google’s search algorithms act as our brains—but what are they trying to get us to think? — Quartz

Inside the Race to Build the Battery of Tomorrow | WIRED

If we can solve the problem of storing significant amounts of energy over long periods of time reliably, and with reasonable cost, we can change the world in ways not yet imagined!

via Inside the Race to Build the Battery of Tomorrow | WIRED

You can find a PBS video that talks about innovative methods that are being developed that do not even involve batteries if you look under the Technology tab at the website for a company discussed in the above article.  Great stuff!