Big Tech &
SpaceX will destroy one of its rockets in the pursuit of safety this weekend (4 minute read)
SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket early Saturday morning from Florida. The rocket will break apart in midair just a few minutes after takeoff in order to demonstrate SpaceX's ability to handle a catastrophic failure of one of its vehicles. If the demonstration is successful, it will put SpaceX one step closer to putting real people in its Falcon 9 rocket for the first time. Crew Dragon is equipped with eight thrusters on the outer hull of its capsule. The thrusters are designed to carry the Crew Dragon away from a malfunctioning rocket to a place where it can safely deploy its parachutes. SpaceX will be working with NASA and the Air Force to conduct the test and to recover the capsule and resulting debris.
Google parent Alphabet is now a $1 trillion company (1 minute read)
Alphabet is now one of the four US companies to have a market cap of over $1 trillion. It achieved this milestone just before the markets closed on Thursday, with a price of $1,451.70 per share. Sundar Pichai took over as CEO of Alphabet in December after Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin resigned from the position. Google has had to deal with some controversy in recent years over internal issues. Facebook is the next company expected to hit the $1 trillion market cap, with a current market cap of $620 billion.
Salty nanoparticles slip into cancer cells to wreak destruction (2 minute read)
A lot of cancer research is focused on causing the death of cancer cells while leaving the healthy cells intact. New nanoparticles have been developed that work like Trojan horses, sneaking ions into cancer cells and causing them to die. The nanoparticles also show potential as a vaccine to guard against recurrence. Cancer cells are vulnerable to sodium ions, but their cell membranes are able to ensure that excess sodium ions are kept outside of the cell. The nanoparticles are able to disguise sodium ions so that they can pass the cell membranes undetected. Once inside the cells, the sodium and chloride ions cause the cell membrane to rupture, inducing cell death and triggering an immune response in the body to fight off other pathogens. The nanoparticles turn into salt once they degrade. In a mice study, the nanoparticles were able to suppress tumor growth by 66 percent compared to a control group, without any side effects to major organs.
'Invisible computing' startup unveils smart contact lens (2 minute read)
Mojo Vision, a startup focused on invisible computing, unveiled a contact lens that has a display that can show information and notifications. Users can interact with the interface by focusing on certain points. The contact lens may be able to help people with visual impairments by using enhanced image overlays. It displays text and images by projecting a micro-LED display to the retina. Mojo Vision has obtained approval to test the contact lens as a medical device in the US. The current version of the lens transmits and receives information to and from a portable relay box, but the team is working on future versions that will link directly to smartphones.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Deep Graph Library (GitHub Repo)
Deep Graph Library is a Python package that makes implementing graph neural networks easy while maintaining high computation efficiency. It improves model accuracy and training speed. Tutorials on basic use and realistic examples are provided.
GoFrame (GitHub Repo)
GoFrame is an application development framework for Golang. It provides core components and modules, such as logging, file/memory lock, database ORM, https, and more. A diagram of its architecture is available.
No Free Lunch, but almost: what DoorDash actually pays, after expense — #PayUp (8 minute read)
DoorDash has experienced rapid growth, serving all 50 states with an estimated 35 percent market share. The company is reportedly preparing for an IPO and has been valued at $12.6 billion. DoorDash was criticized last year for its controversial pay model, which included tips into delivery drivers' minimum payouts. It changed the pay model in September, and now workers are paid a minimum of $2 per delivery job and tips are paid on top of the calculated pay. How DoorDash calculates how much it pays workers per order is still unknown. It still presents the value of each listed job as a combined amount, obfuscating the amount that customers are actually tipping. DoorDash claims that workers earn an average of $18.54 per active hour on their platform, but do not specify how much of this amount is through tips. An independent analysis found that DoorDash workers may be working for as low as $1.45 per hour, with some jobs actually costing workers money after accounting for basic expenses.
Turkey Restores Wikipedia After More Than 2-Year Ban (2 minute read)
The Turkish government has lifted a two-and-a-half-year ban on Wikipedia after the country's top court ruled that blocking it was unconstitutional. Wikipedia refused to remove references to Turkey's relationship with Syrian militants and state-sponsored terrorists in 2017, which resulted in Turkey blocking the website. Free expression is protected in Turkey's constitution. Turkey has tried to block YouTube and Twitter previously, but this was also deemed unconstitutional. The rights of people in Turkey have been under increasing pressure since a failed coup in 2016. Tens of thousands of websites are still blocked, and 47 journalists remain jailed.