Why go tiny when you can go BIG!


Computer chip the size of a dinner plate

…A network spread across a cluster is like a brain that’s been scattered around a room and wired together. Electrons move fast, but, even so, cross-chip communication is slow, and uses extravagant amounts of energy.

Eric Vishria, a general partner at Benchmark, a venture-capital firm in San Francisco, first came to understand this problem in the spring of 2016, while listening to a presentation from a new computer-chip company called Cerebras Systems…

…“Slide 3 was something along the lines of, ‘G.P.U.s actually suck for deep learning—they just happen to be a hundred times better than C.P.U.s,’ ” Vishria recalled. “And, as soon as he said it, I was, like, facepalm. Of course! Of course!” Cerebras was proposing a new kind of chip—one built not for graphics but for A.I. specifically…

…Cerebras’s approach is unique. Instead of making chips in the usual way—by printing dozens of them onto a large wafer of silicon, cutting them out of the wafer, and then wiring them to one another—the company has made one giant “wafer-scale” chip. A typical computer chip is the size of a fingernail. Cerebras’s is the size of a dinner plate. It is the largest computer chip in the world…

What a delightful article…process…approach! Honestly, I haven’t digested all of this, yet. But, I wanted to get it up and posted so other folks who wander through here might check this out,

Atmospheric river storms are getting stronger

Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow bands of moisture in the atmosphere that extend from the tropics to higher latitudes. These rivers in the sky can transport 15 times the volume of the Mississippi River. When that moisture reaches the coast and moves inland, it rises over the mountains, generating rain and snowfall and sometimes causing extreme flooding.

Recently…a team of researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Army Corps of Engineers in the first systematic analysis of damages from atmospheric rivers due to extreme flooding. We found that while many of these events are benign, the largest of them cause most of the flooding damage in the western U.S. And atmospheric rivers are predicted to grow longer, wetter and wider in a warming climate.

RTFA. More info. A scale for evaluating the dangerous potential in these rivers. Another wake-up call for this nation.

One egg a day could help babies grow bigger and taller


Click to enlargethereallygoodlife.com

❝ We may be lucky enough not to think about it in much of the United States, but worldwide there are tens of millions of children with stunted growth. Most of those kids are impoverished and often live in areas where access to nutritious food is limited. The World Health Organization has tried to ameliorate this problem by supplying fortified food products to underserved areas. The trouble is that those products are fairly expensive—potentially too expensive for poor families to afford — and distribution may not even reach more remote areas of the world. That’s where eggs come in.

❝ Eggs are cheap. They’re relatively easy to come by in many low-income areas, because people in those parts of the world often raise chickens and other poultry. They’re also high in protein, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and choline, plus they have significant amounts of a ton of other vitamins and minerals. And for a little baby, they can offer over 50 percent of critical daily nutrients. Eggs are an incredible, edible supplement to an impoverished kid’s diet.

❝ So a team of public health researchers from all over the U.S. and Ecuador decided to see just how much of an impact an egg a day could have. They just published their results…in the journal Pediatrics. The group traveled to a poor province in Ecuador, gathered up mother-infant pairs, and split them into two groups. One group gave their babies (aged six to nine months) an egg each day, while the other group gave no eggs. Researchers showed up at their houses to provide the eggs every week and used that visit to gather information about how the babies were doing. They took their weight and height, plus asked about any other medical problems the infants might be having. At the end of six months, they found the kids who ate eggs were significantly taller and larger. An eggy diet appeared to reduce stunting by 47 percent, and babies fed on the incredible edibles were 74 percent less likely to be underweight.

RTFA. Makes sense, nutritionally [obvious] and economically. Might not seem that way to Grocery-fodder giants selling overpriced supposedly supplemented wonder-foods. No tears from here.

BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill may take decades to recover


Reuters Pictures used by permission

The deep-sea soft-sediment ecosystem in the immediate area of the 2010’s Deepwater Horizon well head blowout and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will likely take decades to recover from the spill’s impacts, according to a scientific paper reported in the online scientific journal PLoS One.

The paper is the first to give comprehensive results of the spill’s effect on deep-water communities at the base of the Gulf’s food chain, in its soft-bottom muddy habitats, specifically looking at biological composition and chemicals at the same time at the same location.

“This is not yet a complete picture,” said Cynthia Cooksey, NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science lead scientist for the spring 2011 cruise to collect additional data from the sites sampled in fall 2010. “We are now in the process of analyzing data collected from a subsequent cruise in the spring of 2011. Those data will not be available for another year, but will also inform how we look at conditions over time.”

Continue reading

How foods are sized affects how much we eat


Professors Just and Warsink sharing lunch

Portions, such as 8, 12 or 16 ounces – are given different labels – small, medium or large – at different restaurants.

However, how a portion is described size-wise impacts how much we eat and how much we’re willing to pay for our food, reports a new study from Cornell…

The research shows that consumers use such labels to dictate how much food they think is a “normal” portion, and then adjust their intake accordingly. “People are willing to pay more for a portion that sounds larger, but they also are apt to eat more of an enormous portion if they believe it is ‘regular’ to do so,” said David R. Just, associate professor at Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics. Just conducted the study with Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing at Cornell. Both are affiliated with the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

In their study, the researchers served study participants either one or two cups of spaghetti, for example. For some participants, the small and large portions were labeled “half-size” and “regular,” respectively, giving the impression that the larger two-cup portion was the norm. For other participants, the same portions were labeled “regular” and “double-size” – implying that the smaller one-cup portion was the norm.

“These varying concepts of ‘regular’ portions made all the difference in how much people would spend and subsequently eat,” said Just. “Participants ate much more when their portion was labeled “regular” than when it was labeled “double-size.” In fact, participants who thought their portion was “double-size” left 10 times the food on their plate…”

The huge impact of size labels suggests that both consumers and producers could benefit from standardization of food size-labeling,” said Wansink. “Clearly defining the actual amount of food in a ‘small’ or a ‘large’ would inform customers of just how much food they are ordering every time they ask for a certain size. Until then, take the time to think about what portion you’re really getting when you order your standard ‘medium’ meal.”

Resistance to gullible decision-making ain’t a strong suit when eating out, I guess. Are people so easily controlled?

A new direction in housing at freight container size – Vertical!

German architectural studio Slawik has created a portable home that fits into the size of a standard shipping container. Dubbed HomeBox, the multi-purpose home has been designed so it can be easily transported to various locations for temporary or permanent use. Due to its compact size and transportability the home can also double as emergency housing.

Though we’ve seen various homes made out of shipping containers, the idea of a house designed to fit inside a container is rather different.

“The bearing construction is from wood and measures to fit into an international standard freight container,” Slawik’s leading architect Prof. Han Slawik told Gizmag. “Therefore after the first use you can easily transport and re-use the HomeBox to other places around the world.”

With a small base footprint of just 75 ft2, the HomeBox differentiates itself from traditional container homes by being positioned upright and not on the longer side. The base measures approximately 9.5 ft by 7.9 ft and thus the home is reminiscent of a small tower, requiring significantly less space than regular compact homes.

“There are many gap sites within cities which can be used for temporary small removable houses,” said Prof. Slawik. “Furthermore you can configure the modules to create a container village or even a container city…”

HomeBoxes will soon be available for purchase with a starting price of approximately US$32,500. Bulk purchases of 10–15 HomeBoxes can be bought at a discounted rate.

I’ll have to check with my old construction mates and see if this meets code. I’ve done a bit of work with converted shipping containers; but, never with the module size turned on end.

Looks interesting to me.

Pic of the day


Click photo to enlarge

A toddler gazes in wonder at a manatee at Seaworld, in Orlando, Florida. The curious little girl reached out her hand towards the glass tank as the manatee swam towards her. British photographer Christopher Wright was captivated by their expressions and the contrasting size of the small girl and the 400kg animal.

She’s not around anymore to read this – so, I guess I can say the manatee reminds me of my 2nd grade teacher in elementary school. 🙂

The “New American Home” loses size, gains efficiency


The “biggest and the bestest” diminishes in size

The “New American Home” is shrinking.

Every year at its convention, the National Association of Home Builders highlights the New American Home, a high-end model designed and built to capture emerging trends in residential building and the shifting lifestyles of Americans.

This year’s showpiece, which measures 4,181 square feet and is one of the smallest in the popular program’s 29-year history, shows that the love affair with McMansions seems to be waning.

Indeed, last year’s featured home sprawled over 6,800 square feet. The nation’s average home size, which peaked just above 2,500 square feet in 2007, is expected to shrink to 2,152 square feet by 2015…

The showpiece, described as a modern take on the classic “boxes” of the 1960s and ’70s, has two bedrooms, and features additional rooms that could house parents or boomerang kids — those moving back home because of the weak economy. It also boasts energy-efficient features such solar panels to run the HVAC system and to heat hot water.

This year’s builder decided to keep the house as a showcase for clients…instead of offering it for sale. And it is great to see sizes starting to come down to match good sense instead of market agitprop.

The “New American Home” has to be larger than life because the intent is to show off the best of everything. Cripes, the last NAHB Show I attended the house on display was up over 8,000 sq.ft.. And that year I worked on a couple houses – including a vacation “cottage” – that were in the 24,000 sq.ft. range!

I’m retired, now – my wife will be, sooner or later – and we live in <1400 sq.ft. with room for dogs as companions and 1 room leftover as a spare.