Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for December 29, 2019

in rsslog •  2 months ago 

A new technique combines lasers, telescopes, and AI to spot spece debris more accurately; A lightning network traffic simulation raises concerns about privacy and sustainability; 7 tech skills that can increase your salary; How the process of evolutionary rescue leads to rapid evolution and protects some species; and a Steem post and video tell us about a 12,000 year old Bushman dwelling on the South African coast


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  1. Lasers Learn to Accurately Spot Space Junk - In a December 24 paper, researchers report on their efforts creating a laser system that can detect space debris at a size of a single square meter and a distance of 1,500 meters. The effort made use of a high precision laser and a neural network with a back propagation algorithm. According to one of the authors, Tianming Ma, this "is the first time a neural network has significantly improved the pointing accuracy of a laser-ranging telescope." The algorithm was optimized for the detection of space debris through the use of "the Genetic Algorithm and Levenberg–Marquardt". In the physical world, the technique made use of light diffraction by comparing new observations against past observational data from 95 stars. The technique was demonstrated to be an improvement over three current techniques for detecting space debris, and the authors expect it to be useful for safe navigation between the Earth and space. h/t Communications of the ACM

  2. Lightning Network Traffic Analysis Raises Questions Over Fees and Privacy - A new paper on arXiv, titled A Cryptoeconomic Traffic Analysis of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network describes work by Ferenc Béres, István A. Seres, and András A. Benczúr. The trio used a lightning network traffic simulator to imitate the network's transaction flow and conclude that transaction fees at the current rate are not economically sustainable over the long term because the current low transaction fees do not provide sufficient compensation to node operators who route the transactions. The authors note that their paper is the first one to quantify the economic incentives of the lightning network, which was added to bitcoin to enhance it's scalability, and also adds a level of privacy. According to the paper, this model can only be made sustainable by increasing traffic volume or by raising the fees. In addition to the economic analysis, the authors also argue that the network is not as private as advocates claim, and that "strong statistical evidence can be gathered" to connect senders and receivers with payments. In response to the paper, developers argue that the current low transaction rates are not irrational, if viewed as a loss-leader that is intended to raise transaction volumes. Another argument is that enhanced privacy was not a core goal of the lightning network, just a side effect. These findings are consistent with an October e-mail by Blockstream developer, Rusty Russell, who argued that the mining nodes are nearly all using the developers' defaults for transaction fees, and thus, the lightning network does not currently represent a true market.

  3. These 7 programming skills can increase your salary by thousands, according to the mega-popular developer hub Stack Overflow - Elasticsearch: $2,000-$3,000; React: $2,000-$3,000; Apache Spark: $1,000-$5,000; Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, or Google Cloud Platform: $2,000-$5,000; Go: $4,000-$6,000; Redis: $5,000-$6,000; and Scala: $7,000-$10,000.

  4. 7 Animals That Evolved at Hyperspeed — Because of Us - Evolution normally happens very slowly, over the course of millenia, but according to this Youtube video, when a species comes under stress, evoluton can happen far more rapidly in a process that's known as evolutionary rescue. An example of such a species is the cliff swallow that evolved shorter wings in order to avoid cars when they started nesting under bridges. This change happened over the course of just three decades. Another example is the adaptation that happened in salmon, cod, and herring have all evolved to reproduce early and die young in response to massive fishing pressure. This is because human fisherman prefer large and mature fish. A third example is the mosquito in a London underground, which doesn't hibernate in the winter and doesn't need blood for egg-laying. The "Metro mosquitos" have evolved so much that they can no longer mate with above-ground mosquitos. View the video for a more examples, including turtle headed sea snakes - which have darkened in response to ocean pollution, ocean microbes - which have evolved to eat human plastic that finds its way into the ocean, and more. Another example, not covered in the video, is the American rattle snake. According to a reptile expert at a presentation I attended a few years ago, most rattle snakes don't rattle before striking any more, because the ones that gave away their locations by rattling have all been hunted away by humans. The video points out that evolutionary rescue can't preserve all species because it depends on the speed of reproduction. Species that breed quickly and have lots of offspring are more likely to benefit from evolutionary rescue than those that breed slowly and have few children.

    Here is the video:

h/t RealClearScience


  • STEEM Prehistoric archaeological Bushman cave tour on the south Cape coast of Africa - In thi spost, @julianhorack describes a tour of a 12,000 year old dwelling from the Khoi/San Bushmen race in prehistoric times. The location is on the mouth of a river, which whould have been ideal for survival in prehistoric times. The beach is called Keurboomstrand, but the lay of the river was almost certainly different at the time that a community of Bushmen lived there. According to @julianhorack, the beach has more of a semi-tropical feel than other beaches between there and Capetown.

    Here is a video from the post, but click through to read the description and give @julianhorack an upvote:

  • (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @julianhorack.)



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