TLDR 2020-02-18

SpaceX botches landing 🚀, Bezos' Earth Fund 💰, jet packs

Big Tech & Startups

SpaceX loses Falcon 9 booster at sea after successful Starlink launch (2 minute read)

A new batch of Starlink satellites was launched on Monday morning, but for the first time in almost four years, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that carried the satellites missed its landing on a floating platform at sea. SpaceX has specialized in catching and reusing its rocket stages quickly. The more rockets that SpaceX can recover, the more it can reuse for future flights, which lowers the massive cost of going to space. The last time the lost rocket was used was just 72 days ago, breaking the record for the fastest turnaround held by NASA's space shuttle. It is unclear exactly what happened to the rocket, but it appeared to miss the platform by a fairly wide margin.

Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion to fight climate change (1 minute read)

Jeff Bezos today announced the Bezos Earth Fund, a project that will help scientists, activists, NGOs, and any real effort to help preserve the earth from the impact of climate change. Bezos has committed $10 billion towards the fund. The Bezos Earth Fund will begin issuing grants in the summer. Worth about $130 billion, Bezos hasn't always been as vocal as others about his philanthropy, although he has polled Twitter for philanthropy ideas in the past. In 2018, Bezos announced that a network of free nonprofit schools would be built in low-income communities.
Science & Futuristic Technology

Jetman Dubai Takeoff (4 minute video)

This video shows a man flying with a jetpack. The man launches off a platform from a standing position and slowly floats around the area. He hovers over the sea, with the waves in the water showing the force that the jetpack is using to keep the man hovering midair. The man then flies at high speed away from the camera and then up into the sky. Footage from the jetpack cameras and helmet GoPro are shown. The end of the video shows the man landing after deploying a parachute.

Scientists Find a Mysterious 'Ghost Lineage' In the DNA of West Africans (3 minute read)

A distant human lineage may have interbred with the ancestors of modern West Africans, significantly contributing to their gene pool. In the past, other human lineages such as the Neanderthals and Denisovans existed. Neanderthal DNA makes up roughly 1.8-2.6% of the genomes of modern humans outside of Africa, and Denisovan DNA makes up 4-6% of modern Melanesians. It is estimated that 2-19% of the DNA in members of some tribes in Africa is from an unknown human lineage. The ghost lineage probably diverged from the ancestors of Neanderthals and modern humans up to 1.02 million years ago.
Programming, Design & Data Science

An app can be a home-cooked meal (6 minute read)

After losing an app that his family used all the time, Robin decided to develop his own replacement. He broke down the core actions of the app and then spent a week redeveloping the app that his family loved to use. This sort of programming is the equivalent to home cooking. The analogy works as it emphasizes the difference in needs between home cooking and a restaurant operation.

The Horrifically Dystopian World of Software Engineering Interviews (12 minute read)

After receiving an offer for a phone interview from a giant search and advertising company, Jared Nelson quickly found that the interview experience was not what he expected. Nelson found that the interviewer did not know he didn't have experience with microservices, a prerequisite for the position he was applying for. A few other reasons the interview did not go well included Nelson not being enough of a team player, not understanding algorithms deeply enough (even though good knowledge might not make you a better programmer), and the work culture of measuring people's attributes rather than getting to know who they are. Despite knowing how to code, Nelson didn't know how to play the corporate game and this caused him to fail in his interview for his dream job.

Hacking my arm prosthesis to output CV so that it plugs into my synth: Thought-controlled music! (9 minute video)

The SynLimb is a device that attaches to an arm prosthesis instead of a prosthetic hand. It converts electrode signals from the residual limb into control voltages for controlling the modular synthesizer. The SynLimb can plug the prosthesis directly into the synthesizer so that it can be controlled by the signals from the body that normally control the hand. To the user, it feels like they are controlling the device with their thoughts.

Inside the Pentagon's Secret UFO Program (21 minute read)

An investigation into what the US government knows about UFOs has confirmed that UFOs are undoubtedly real. The US Navy has captured footage of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, and the Pentagon has secretly funded research into UFOs. A report in 2009 covered plans for studying UAPs and any biological organisms recovered from one, plans to create a medical physiological UAP effects program, a possible UAP landing report, sighting and witness reports, and much more. One of the difficulties in finding information about the government's UAP programs is that each department is wrapped in layers of secrecy. There are many mysterious companies with large government research contracts. A quick summary timeline of publicly known UFO programs in the US is available.
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