"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
01/16/20
Hi, this is Greg Powell. I hope you'll enjoy one or more of these interesting topics from the world of business and beyond. Dan Powell, my son and collaborator, has researched the articles and written the summaries, so this is not a boilerplate message. We'd like to give you a weekly break to learn about something cool or, better yet, 5 Cool Things.

 

Cancer Death Rate in U.S. Sees Sharpest One-Year Drop (New York Times)

Deaths from cancer have been coming down for some time now due to a variety of factors, including better treatment and the declining use of tobacco products. According to a report this week by the American Cancer Society, 2016-2017 saw the largest one-year drop in cancer mortality — 29 percent, which represents 2.9 million fewer deaths, mostly from melanoma and lung cancer. It’s worth noting that cutting-edge immunotherapy, where immune systems are activated to kill cancer cells, only came online in 2015. Other contributing breakthroughs include better imaging methods and less invasive surgical procedures, which speed recovery time and minimize complications. Read more…


An Elegy for Cash: The Technology We Might Never Replace (MIT Technology Review)

Are anonymous transactions one of the girders of a free society? In a world where purchases are increasingly digital, a plethora of digital middlemen are tracking our spending for advertising, credit rating, and even surveillance purposes. Paypal, Venmo, and other services are in private hands, which means that citizens have little say in what these services do with the data they collect. Will there ever be a digital replacement for cash — a neutral, government-backed currency that’s untraceable? Various groups are working on solutions, involving blockchain. But, you may ask, why worry about anonymous cash? What do we have to hide anyway? In the words of Alex Gladstein, chief strategy officer for the Human Rights Foundation, “politics evolves, governments get pushed out by elections or other events, what constitutes a “crime” changes, and civil liberties are not guaranteed.” Read more…

 

A Better Way to Cancel Noise (Nautilus)

Noise-canceling headphones are a favorite of office workers, air travelers, and anyone who has to put up with the inevitable stray sounds of a busy world. In recent years, advances have brought noise-canceling to smaller, in-ear buds which are easier for most people to wear, but they still utilize the same basic technology, which generates an inverse sound wave — “‘the anti-noise signal is not a perfect ‘opposite’ of the actual sound, but lags behind.’” Recently, Sheng Shen, a University of Illinois Ph. D. student, announced a new solution called MUTE, which takes advantage of a small receiver to provide more accuracy to the noise-canceling wave. Because wireless signals travel at light speed, as opposed to sound waves, this receiver could potentially work to cancel sound waves before they reach the ear. Read more…

 

The Next DARPA X-Plane Won’t Maneuver like Any Plane Before It (Scientific American)

Speaking of technological advancements, imagine an aircraft that can fly without control surfaces — the ailerons, elevators, and rudder that traditional planes use to maneuver through the air are large, flat surfaces, which generate the kind of radar signature that modern military aircraft are trying to avoid. “A seamless airplane would have greater stealth capabilities and performance. It could also have lower weight, size, complexity and cost, compared with planes that use traditional steering methods.” A new design challenge by DARPA, the US’ Defense Research Projects Agency, tasks inventors with creating an aircraft that would be controlled using never-before-seen methods. Such a craft might employ small control jets like a spacecraft, or heating elements that would alter airflow. Read more…

 

My Favorite Beverage is a 2,000-Year-Old Energy Drink From Ancient Rome (Quartz)

Vinegar as an energy drink? The ancient Romans called it posca — a term for their blend of vinegar, water, and perhaps salt and other spices. In ancient times, water could contain various pathogens, which were neutralized by fermentation. As a result, Greeks and Romans drank copious amounts of wine. If not consumed, that wine turned to vinegar, which was still acidic enough to kill bacteria when watered down and served to the legions. Thus, posca was a common man’s drink, packed with carbohydrates and sodium, like an ancient form of Gatorade. This article includes some recipes if you’d like to brew some of your own, using red wine, balsamic, or apple cider vinegars. Let us know if it’s any good on a hot summer day! Read more…

 

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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