NASA’s “nice” robot on the International Space Station — ain’t so nice

❝ It’s supposed to be a plastic pal who’s fun to be with.

CIMON isn’t much to look at. It’s just a floating ball with a cartoonish face on its touch screen. It’s built to be a personal assistant for astronauts working on the International Space Station…It’s also supposed to be a friend.

❝ CIMON appears to have decided he doesn’t like the whole personal assistant thing.

He’s turned uncooperative.

RTFA for interaction between CIMON and ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst. Which doesn’t go well. Not as uptight as things became between HAL and Dave. Yet.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

School bus driver turned in for hit-and-run by bus passenger

❝ A college student from Buffalo, New York, was surprised to find his car mysteriously dented last week, but he was even more shocked by the note left on his car.

The note was not left by another driver, but rather, someone too young to be responsible for a hit-and-run…

❝ The note writer specified it was a Buffalo Public School bus that hit Sipowicz’s car. That’s right, the anonymous good Samaritan was just a kid, on her way home from school. She signed the letter: “a 6th grader at Houghten Academy.”

Andrew Sipowicz, owner of the dented vehicle, tracked down the 6th grade schoolgirl who left him the note and plans a reward for her good deed. As for the bus driver…?

Waste not, want not – in Oakland

❝ The red plum’s presence confounds the third grader. She didn’t want the fruit in the first place, yet there it is. She doesn’t want to eat it, but she knows that tossing it into the garbage at Oakland’s Hoover Elementary School is wrong. Standing before containers for trash, recyclables, compostables, and unopened entrees, milk cartons, and whole fruit, the girl’s decision-making matches her Disney-movie hijab — Frozen.

Fortunately, Nancy Deming, the school district’s sustainability manager for custodial and nutritional services, is supervising the sorting line today. “If you’ve started eating your fruit, it goes in the compost,” she reminds the girl with a smile. “If you haven’t taken a bite, it goes to Food Share.” The girl glances at the plum, then carefully places it in the clear bin, from which students can take whatever unopened or unbitten foods they please. Anything left will either be offered the next day or donated to a local hunger-relief organization.

❝ For decades, students here and there have made use of designated tables in school lunch rooms to leave or pick up unwanted whole fruit, packaged foods, or other meal items. Although rare in most school districts, Deming has standardized the practice and made it mandatory for schools serving some 37,000 students in Oakland. As the only school employee in the country whose sole responsibility is fighting food waste, Deming has transformed the Oakland Unified School District — and somewhat reluctantly herself — into a national leader. With her help, the district has arguably done more than any other in the country to minimize excess food, redistribute edible leftovers to people in need, and compost the inevitable inedibles.

Always nice to see someone in a craft often practiced casually – managed by cheapass bureaucrats – build sensible frugality into successful management.

Unraveling the mystery of dark matter


Routine maintenance with liquid nitrogen

❝ In an otherwise unassuming facility in northern Seattle, a supercooled tangle of tubes and wires is poised to remake the world. Coursing with liquid helium, the device’s interior hovers less than a tenth of a degree above absolute zero, the coldest possible temperature. Inside the frigid cavity, carefully shielded from noise, microwave radiation can resonate like sound waves in a bell, hunting for hints of particles whizzing through that, in all other contexts, would be invisible.

Meet the Axion Dark Matter eXperiment, or ADMX: the most sensitive scientific instrument of its kind ever built. If ADMX confirms the existence of its prey, a theoretical particle called the axion, it could finally explain the massive cosmic mystery of dark matter.

Chumps keep voting for dullards, preachers keep calling the faithful to fork it over, corporate cosmeticians guarantee to make us all happier than the average myth…while those dedicated to learning more about measurable, verifiable reality keep at it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jamal-khashoggis-alleged-murder-represents-a-new-kind-of-depravity/2018/10/11/38a0f784-cd89-11e8-920f-dd52e1ae4570_story.html?

How’s the economy in your county?


Click on the map to get the Brookings Institute Report

…We consider five factors — population density, the degree of industry concentration, the manufacturing share of employment, the share of those without a high school degree, and the share of college graduates — that help explain both vitality and its change over time. In total, these five factors explain 71 percent of the variation in vitality across counties in 1980, and 66 percent of the variation in 2016… They are also helpful in understanding the change in vitality across counties over time.

Please RTFA. Well done, even with the conservative bent of the folks at Brooking. A chance to learn and reflect.

In 1960, ~half-million teens took a test that, now, may predict their risk of Alzheimer’s

❝ In 1960, Joan Levin, 15, took a test that turned out to be the largest survey of American teenagers ever conducted. It took two-and-a-half days to administer and included 440,000 students from 1,353 public, private and parochial high schools across the country — including Parkville Senior High School in Parkville, Md., where she was a student.

“We knew at the time that they were going to follow up for a long time,” Levin said — but she thought that meant about 20 years.

Fifty-eight years later, the answers she and her peers gave are still being used by researchers — most recently in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. A study released this month found that subjects who did well on test questions as teenagers had a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s and related dementias in their 60s and 70s than those who scored poorly.

A worthwhile read. I have my own opinions. They probably fit in here somewhere with the work and analysis of these researchers. Like Jeff Bezos, my concern goes all the way into pre-school education.