Moving Automated Driving To the Next Level

If there had been a competition for world-class back-seat drivers, my grandmother would have won it hands down.  Back in the 1980s when we were living in Massachusetts, we drove to Boston’s Logan Airport and picked her up for a visit.  Despite never having been closer to New England than Ohio in her entire life,…

Cambria Corn Mill Dust Explosion Kills Three

Last Wednesday, May 31, everything seemed normal at the Didion corn mill in the small village of Cambria, Wisconsin.  Like most factories of its type, the mill operated 24 hours a day, and late that night only sixteen workers remained as the machinery processed corn into ethanol and other products.  Shortly after 11 P. M.,…

Hacker News Suggestions for Engineering Team Blogs

See this comment page on Hacker News suggestions for engineering team blogs. Some of the suggested blog: Google Research Blog Giant Robots Smashing into Other Giant Robots Airbnb Engineering and Data Science Riot Games Engineering Google Testing Blog Netflix Technology Blog Stripe Engineering Blog Project Zero (computer security from Google) Slack Engineering Somehow the Hacker…

Reflections on Technology in France

My wife and I recently had the privilege of spending a week in southern France, at a conference in the small town of Aurillac (pronounced “AW-ree-ack”).  I say small—27,000 people is about the size of Cleburne, Texas, which is a town I’m somewhat familiar with.  Based on my admittedly very limited and undoubtedly biased observations…

Eye protection in Cuba lab photos

Cuban chemistry students, who have limited access to safety gear, work on an educational lab at the University of Havana. Credit: Lisette Poole In a recent cover story about chemistry research in Cuba, C&EN included several photos in which people were not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment–eye protection in particular–in labs. The photos garnered several…

Your Money Or Your Data: The WannaCry Ransomware Attack

On May 12, thousands of users of Windows computers around the globe suddenly saw a red screen with a big padlock image and a headline that read, “Ooops, your files have been encrypted!”  It turned out to be a ransom note generated by an Internet worm called WannaCry.  The ransom demanded was comparatively small—about US…

Robot Prints a Building in 14 hours

The system consists of a tracked vehicle that carries a large, industrial robotic arm, which has a smaller, precision-motion robotic arm at its end. This highly controllable arm can then be used to direct any conventional (or unconventional) construction nozzle, such as those used for pouring concrete or spraying insulation material, as well as additional…

India’s Energy Future and Climate Change

In an article that appeared in May’s Scientific American, Council on Foreign Relations Fellow Varun Sivaram shows that India’s path of energy development could have a large impact on future greenhouse-gas emissions.  Unlike China, which currently pumps out about twice as much carbon into the air as the U. S., India’s infrastructure is largely yet…

The False Promise of Digital Storage for Posterity

Now that almost every book, photograph, artwork, article, news item, story, drama, or film is published digitally, we are supposed to rejoice that the old-fashioned imperfect and corruptible analog forms of these media—paper that ages, film that deteriorates—has been superseded by the ubiquitous bit, which preserves data flawlessly—that is, until it doesn’t.  A recent article…