Tech News Review week 27 July- 3 August 2020, by Stelios Iordanis

Has the Summit Supercomputer Cracked COVID’s Code? – IEEE Spectrum

It is impressive how fast genetic data mining research uncovered a common pattern of gene activity in the lungs of symptomatic COVID-19 patients, which when compared to gene activity in healthy control populations revealed a mechanism that appears to be a key weapon in the COVID-19 mysterious RNA “source code”.

It was concluded that there are already drugs—a few of which are already FDA-approved—aimed at some of these very same pathologies. Reducing drug discovery to a computational problem is transforming medical research and making it scalable and ideal for rapid prototyping, just like in software engineering.


CopperString 2.0 promises a huge return on investment for biggest extension of grid | RenewEconomy

Economic modeling shows that the expected Benefit-Cost Ratio (BCR) could be 4.54x for Australia; such investments are essential for electric vehicle and green energy adoption while revitalizing stagnating EU and US economies.


Discovery of ‘thought worms’ opens window to the mind

University researchers discovered a brain-based marker of new thoughts and concluded that we have more than 6,000 thoughts each day. Such a method could support early detection of disordered thought in schizophrenia, or rapid thought in ADHD or mania and make psychiatric diagnostic process more robust.


Some scientists are taking a DIY coronavirus vaccine, and nobody knows if it’s legal or if it works | MIT Technology Review

Geneticist George Church and at least 20 other experts have faith in the open-source scientific approach in biotechnology which could increase the probability of inventing an effective vaccine not only for COVID-19 but other pathogens, as well, in the future. The traditional pharma cartels have miserably failed to come up with a vaccine for HIV, or Genital herpes, or keeping gene therapies costing millions of dollars per capita at the moment, affordable; open-source drug design seems to be the only option left.


Google wins MLPerf benchmark contest with fastest ML training supercomputer | Google Cloud Blog

Sadly, very few corporate giants are almost monopolizing the ML training supercomputer sector and it is very hard to imagine how this could change, in the near or far future.


Computers on verge of designing their own programs

According to Intel, the company’s ultimate goal for machine programming is to democratize the creation of software. When fully realized, computer-generated coding will enable everyone to create software by expressing their business logic in a simple way, whether that’s code, natural language, or something else. For relatively simple subclasses of programming problems, this is already feasible and it is not far-fetching to expect really impressive results soon.



Flying Cars Could Soon Be Driving On New Hampshire Roads | New Hampshire Public Radio

New Hampshire could become the first state in the USA to allow flying cars on the road.

The problem with flying vehicles is that it can scale very badly, as very few ones could be monitored and allowed to fly at the same time in a given region, consequences could be disastrous if a subsystem malfunctions, and if this vehicle class is allowed much more privileges than current airplanes have. Flying cars seem to become another ultra-high net worth class gadget that can have significant societal costs, given the chaos that they can cause.


Bacteria live despite burial in seafloor mud for 100 million years | Ars Technica

It is not hard to imagine that very soon, even more complex organisms could be revived; reviving bacteria is not a small feat, of course, and pharmaceutical breakthroughs could emerge from new bacteria species: even new antibiotics could be invented by experimenting with unknown bacteria organisms.


China adds turbo generators to warships to power high-energy weapons, state media says | South China Morning Post

Novel missile systems based on railguns and laser technology, are the future of modern warfare, along with unmanned vessels, vehicles, tanks, or robotic soldiers and give unsurmountable leverage to smaller armies and nations with smaller populations, having access to these technologies.


Black holes are hiding movies of the universe in their glowing rings | New Scientist

If we ever manage to “hack” the Einsteinian laws of relativity via “wormholes” or “warping spacetime”, to minimize astronomic distances, black holes could deliver vast amounts of energy and help us unlock the secrets of the universe. This tremendous leap for humanity could happen in 100 years or 1 billion years from now, but until then all black hole related scientific research will only be highly speculative.


Airbus to build ‘first interplanetary cargo ship’ – BBC News

The joint American-European project will cost billions and take just over a decade to implement; It is a typical Keynesian project to keep R&D and could, in theory, support the struggling aerospace industry, beaten by global depression; but other than that, the scope of the mission is excessively ambitious, which can, however, lead to really useful secondary inventions originating from of it.


Engineers Built “Giant Atoms” That Enhance Quantum Computers


Waveguide quantum electrodynamics with superconducting artificial giant atoms | Nature

Scientists found a new way to improve the fragile and error-prone qubits that make up a quantum computing circuit. In contrast, the giant atoms can be tuned to not only improve the fidelity of the information, but they can also be blocked from transmitting until they’re supposed to, which is another problem with existing qubits.

Every week, another amazing scientific breakthrough helps us remain optimistic about the feasibility of a fully-fledged quantum computer with 5 to 10 years from now, a device that could solve a significant class of open computational problems.


Miniature telescope demonstration focuses on sharpening view of distant objects in space

A tiny military satellite may be able to take the sharpest pictures yet of extremely distant and difficult to spot objects out in space.

An approach like this can scale very well and keep astronomy research costs under control so that more discoveries can be made with the same budget and even use the sensors for earth applications, as well.