Big Tech &
Facebook pushes ahead with crypto wallet plan in bid to 'fix broken payment system' (4 minute read)
Facebook is pushing ahead with its plans for a cryptocurrency-based payment system with Novi, a digital wallet that has secured licenses or approvals in nearly every state. The wallet will offer free peer-to-peer payments and earn profits from merchant services. Facebook's currency Diem, formally known as Libra, will be backed by a bank holding company and will have its value pegged to the US dollar. It will run on a permissioned-blockchain by the Diem Association. There are still many regulatory roadblocks to overcome before the system can be launched.
Elon Musk unveils Tesla Bot, a humanoid robot that uses vehicle AI (3 minute read)
Elon Musk unveiled a humanoid robot called the Tesla Bot at the end of Tesla's AI Day presentation last week. The robot will be controlled by Tesla's Full Self-Driving computer. It will be 5-foot-8 tall and weigh 125 pounds. The robot will be designed to help people complete dangerous, repetitive, or boring tasks. It can be easily overpowered or outrun. A prototype of the bot will likely be ready by next year. Slides from the presentation, as well as videos of Musk unveiling and explaining the robot, are available in the article.
Japan Tests Rotating Detonation Engine in Space for the First Time (2 minute read)
Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency recently announced that it successfully demonstrated the operation of a rotating detonation engine in space. Rotating detonation engines generate a large amount of super-efficient thrust using smaller engines and less fuel. They have the potential to reduce the weight of rocket payloads and lower the costs of launch. Further development could result in a propulsion method for deep space travel. A video of the rotating detonation engine demonstration is available in the article.
India approves world's first DNA Covid vaccine (4 minute read)
ZyCoV-D, a DNA vaccine against Covid-19, has been approved for emergency use in India. DNA vaccines, similar to other vaccines, teach the immune system to fight the real virus. They give the body information to make a fragment of the spike protein to trigger an immune response. DNA vaccines are used in animals, but they have been ineffective in humans in the past. ZyCoV-D is 66 percent effective in preventing symptomatic disease after three doses. It is administered using a needle-free injector. The vaccine is stable at temperatures -2C to 8C, making it easy to store and transport.
Programming, Design & Data Science
ffmpeg.wasm (GitHub Repo)
Manim (GitHub Repo)
Manim is an animation engine that can be used to make precise animations programmatically. It was designed to create explanatory math videos. A gallery of examples is available.
Google’s ‘Project Hug’ paid out huge sums to keep game devs in the Play Store, Epic filing claims (3 minute read)
Google paid game developers hundreds of millions in dollars to keep their games on the Play Store, according to a complaint from Epic Games in its antitrust suit against Google. Project Hug was an effort to keep developers on the Play Store rather than follow Epic Games' lead and release apps on their own websites. Epic Games had released Fortnite on its own website in 2018 to bypass Google's 30 percent fee. Project Hug was largely a success, with most of its targets signing deals to stay on the Play Store by the end of 2020.
Peloton’s app indicates a rowing machine may finally be coming (2 minute read)
Peloton's Android app contains code that hints at the company's rumored rowing machine. The company has been rumored to be developing the rowing machine for years now. Other companies have already produced machines, so Peloton won't be first to the smart-rower market. Peloton has been working to make its treadmills safer in recent months due to a string of injuries and the death of a child. The company is also rumored to be working on an armband to monitor heart rates.