Author Archives: Alexander Szewczak

Charon 40 Years Ago and Today

Pluto’s moon Charon (technically a binary partner) was first discovered 40 years ago, on June 22, 1978, by U.S. Naval Observatory astronomer James Christy.  Like Pluto, it was known only as a blurry smudge until the New Horizons flyby in 2015. … Continue reading

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In the long run the winning company in any industry will be the best software company

The recent blowout financial results from the FANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) reminded me of Marc Andreessen’s bold prediction about software companies.  Seems more and more relevant with every passing quarter: 1) Every product or service that can become software … Continue reading

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Most visitors to a place are those who live nearby, and those who visit rarely.

Think about that for a moment.  Certainly fits with what most city downtowns are like — swarms of both tourists (rare visitors) and the people who work (or live) there.  Empirically the number of visitors scales inversely as the square of … Continue reading

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Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot.

The basic idea behind this robot is straightforward. It’s a tube of soft material folded inside itself, like an inside-out sock, that grows in one direction when the material at the front of the tube everts, as the tube becomes … Continue reading

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2017.06.25

World’s first cable-free elevator travels horizontally and vertically, driven by maglev technology.  Link here.  

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Boston Leads the List of Top 25 U.S. Cities for NIH Funding

Not surprisingly, the biotech hubs cluster at the top.  Boston leads at $1.9B, New York $1.4B, Seattle, Philadelphia and Baltimore all coming in around $900M each. Somewhat surprising is how high Boston ranks relative to San Francisco ($680M). Consolidating San Francisco, Stanford, … Continue reading

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A Single Autonomous Car Has a Huge Impact on Alleviating Traffic

Just one autonomous car out of 20 vehicles can significantly alleviate traffic congestion, according to research from the University of Illinois.  The culprit behind many traffic jams is the variability in speed of human drivers — waves of excessive braking and … Continue reading

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2017.05.18

Handpainted scenes from the original Star Wars trilogy, with a link to a cool documentary on 1980’s special effects from Industrial Light and Magic. Interesting recent gallery exhibit and some interviews with Tara Donovan.  See also this, and for a comprehensive look at her work, just … Continue reading

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2017.05.08

Why Do Gas Station Prices Constantly Change? Blame the Algorithm.  Retailers are using artificial-intelligence software to set optimal prices on thousands of items a day, sometimes as often as every hour. Watch This Robot 3D Print a Building Out of Spray Foam.   … Continue reading

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Time Lapse Engine Rebuild of a Ford Flathead V8

Courtesy of the folks at Hagerty.

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