Science and Technology links (October 31st 2020)

  1. Amazon has 1 million employees.
  2. “The iPhone 12 contains a Lidar. The first 3D Lidar was released a decade ago and cost $75,000.” (Calum Chace)
  3. There is water on the Moon, possibly enough to make fuel.
  4. Good looking people have greater social networks and may receive favorable treatment from others, but it is a mixed blessing. They are better supported, but might also be enticed to party more and invest more in sex which takes time away from work.
  5. It looks like the regular use of skin creams could reduce inflammation in your whole body and thus, possibly, keep you healthier. (speculative)
  6. You can predict someone’s height within a few centimeters from their genes.
  7. We found new salivary glands hidden under our skull’s base.
  8. People are driving forklifts remotely from an office.
  9. Toronto (the Canadian city) is going to try out automated shuttles.
  10. Genes may predict mathematical abilities and related brain volume .
  11. Bees have five eyes.
  12. In vitro (in laboratory), we have been able to regenerate cartilage. This will not help you in the near future if you have joint pains, but people in the future may fare better.
  13. As we age, we accumulate senescent cells and they are believed to cause trouble. Senolytics are midly toxic compounds that target senescent cells and destroy them. Researchers found that a particular senolytic proved capable of improving frailty and cognitive functions in old mice. There are ongoing clinical trials regarding senolytic drugs in human beings, but we still have some time to go.
  14. In A global decline in research productivity? Evidence from China and Germany, the authors verify recent results related the United States pointing that while the number of researchers is steadily increasing, high-value outputs do not seem to increase at a similar rate. One possible implication for these results is that, keeping everything else equal, increasing the number of researchers is wasteful. In fact, it may suggest that we are overesting in the production of new researchers (i.e., we might be training too many PhDs). My own take is that we are insufficiently preoccupied with research productivity. We encourage researchers to write grant applications, publish papers, acquire rents (i.e., patents), but innovation is based on a “throw over the wall” model from the researcher’s point of view. A typical researcher believe that it is not his or her purpose to enhance products, cure diseases and so forth. The simplistic approach of “getting more researchers” may therefore not translate into new innovative products and cancer cures. To get to Mars, we may need more people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, more Moon projects, and fewer new PhDs. Even if you disagree with this last assertion, the fact is that it becomes harder and harder to justify training more PhDs in the hope of getting more prosperity.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

One thought on “Science and Technology links (October 31st 2020)”

  1. I tried to figure it out and it is not clear what exactly can be used as a chea automotive lidar that can replace a 75K rooftop velodyne. And experts couldn’t give the answer, so the question is complicated. However, cheap lidars (e.g., even $100 automotive grade) falls quite short in terms of their capabilities. So it is not an apple-to-apple comparison by far.

    In fact, Google’s Waymo promised a much cheaper automotive rooftop lidar, indeed. It was supposed to be about only 7.5K:

    However, the price tag is still not available yet, so I assume they failed to make a cheap LIDAR and the exact progress is hard to estimate:

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