TLDR 2020-10-08

Supersonic passenger jet  ✈️, vertical robot farms 🤖, record breaking T-Rex skeleton 🦖

Big Tech & Startups

The Supreme Court hears Oracle v. Google tomorrow—here’s what’s at stake (7 minute read)

Oracle v. Google is a landmark case that will consider whether application-programming interfaces (APIs) can be protected by copyright. In 2014, Oracle sued Google for re-implementing APIs from the Java programming language. An appeals court ruled in Oracle's favor in 2018. Google continues to fight the case, claiming that restrictions on APIs would stifle software innovation. Every significant computer program uses APIs, so restricting them by copyright could create legal landmines for many companies. It could also give rise to API copyright trolls, who acquire copyrights to sue companies using older software. The case is now before the Supreme Court, and the results of the case will have a large impact on the software industry.

Qualcomm To Launch Its Own Premium Snapdragon Branded Phones That Will Raise The Bar (2 minute read)

Qualcomm is looking to enter into the smartphone market, partnering with ASUS to manufacture and distribute smartphones globally. It intends to create ultra-premium Snapdragon Android phones. ASUS already produces its own line of gaming smartphones. While Qualcomm chips are found in the majority of Android smartphones sold in the US, the company doesn't have direct sales channels with carriers, so it will be interesting to see how Qualcomm intends to market their devices. The official announcement is expected during the Snapdragon Tech Summit in December.
Science & Futuristic Technology

Meet the XB-1: A prototype for a modern supersonic passenger jet (3 minute read)

Boom Supersonic is a startup that is planning to build a new generation of supersonic passenger jets. The company has already pre-sold $6 billion worth of its aircraft. Each plane will be able to seat 65 to 88 passengers and travel at supersonic speeds over water. Boom hopes that the aircraft will be available for commercial flights before the end of the decade. It will begin flight tests for its XB-1 demonstrator aircraft in the third quarter of 2021. Boom hopes to begin flying its full-size aircraft in 2026. An image gallery featuring the XB-1 demonstrator aircraft is available in the article.

The Farm Of The Future Might Be In Compton. Inside A Warehouse. And Run Partly By Robots (11 minute read)

Plenty is a San Francisco-based startup that uses vertical farming to grow crops in enclosed and controlled environments. It wants to build at least 500 of these farms around the planet in densely populated cities. The first Plenty farm went into production in 2018 and its second site is in Compton. It hopes to start its first customer deliveries from the Compton farm sometime in 2021. Vertical farms can produce food efficiently all year round while taking up significantly less space than a traditional farm. They also make the food supply chain more resilient due to the controlled environment. The article contains many pictures from within Plenty's farms.
Programming, Design & Data Science

nb (GitHub Repo)

nb is a command-line note-taking, bookmarking, archiving, and knowledge-base application. It features plain-text data storage, encryption, filtering and search, git-backed versioning and syncing, and more. Examples and guides are available in the repository.

Announcing Swift Algorithms (3 minute read)

Swift Algorithms is a new open-source package of generic algorithms frequently found in other popular programming languages. It allows developers to cycle over a collection's elements, find combinations and permutations, create random samples, and more. Swift Algorithms was created to help people improve the correctness and performance of their code.

How Machine Learning Made Hops-Free Hoppy Beer (and Other SynBio Wonders)

Synthetic biology has the power to change the world. Using synthetic biology, scientists can reprogram cells to produce specific molecules, such as insulin. Due to its complexity, reprogramming a cell is far harder than rewriting software, and the process can take many years. A team of scientists has engineered a machine-learning algorithm called the Automated Recommendation Tool (ART). ART was trained with data from all proteins in a cell to build a model to predict how changes to these proteins affect the cell. It can return educated guesses on how to alter cells so they produce desired biochemicals. Using ART, the scientist bioengineered yeast to brew ethanol and also synthesize chemicals that produce a 'hoppy' flavor, resulting in a hops-free hoppy beer.

Someone Bought a T. Rex Skeleton for a Record-Breaking $31.8 Million (2 minute read)

The remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex were sold at an auction in New York on Tuesday for $31.8 million. Casts of the skeleton, called Stan, have ended up in museums all around the world due to the fossil's exceptional condition. Stan is one of the most complete T.rex fossils in the world, with about 188 bones that represent 70 percent of the full skeleton. At 40 feet in length and 13 feet tall, it is thought that Stan was a male based on its skeletal features. The second-most expensive T.rex skeleton was called Sue. It sold for $8.3 million in 1997. Stan's buyer was anonymous, so it is unknown where it will end up and whether it will remain accessible to the public.
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