While Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter on Feb. 2, the nation had been experiencing one of the warmest months in decades. The United States Geological Survey has attributed the early advent of spring to the result of climate change. The Trump Administration, however, has no plans of taking this threat seriously. President Trump has famously tweeted that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese and the recent reports of increasing federal budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency have been met with concerns.
In under 60 years, computer programming has gone from excruciately producing punch cards to instantly creating algorithms that can recognize people in photos. What lies ahead? At Cornell’s weekly computer science colloquium Philip Isola, a postdoc in the electrical engineering and computer sciences department at UC Berkeley, attempted to shed light on that very topic. “My goal is to make systems that can understand the visual world and see the same kind of richness and structure that we see. So, in the talk I was trying to convey one approach to that: learning without having expert knowledge of what you are trying to imitate,” Isola said.
In fall of 1991, eight men and women were sent to live in a three-acre glass and steel dome in the middle of Arizona’s scorching desert. Referred to as Biosphere II, the complex aimed to model the Earth’s biosphere — even containing a field to grow crops. The two year experiment was designed to test if humans were capable of surviving in an artificial ecosystem. Less than a year later, the project lay abandoned. The level of oxygen dropped drastically to levels seen on Mount Everest.
What do Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever and Zika have in common? Not only are they extremely deadly diseases, the three share a common vector: Mosquitoes. For years, researchers have sought ways to reduce the probabilities of transmission and the severity of each virus. Genetically modified mosquitoes that lead to the collapse of entire mosquito populations and vaccines have only recently been introduced and their results are still uncertain. To augment such efforts, the Northeast Regional Center For Excellence in Vector Borne Diseases was launched last month, led by Prof. Laura Harrington, entomology.
Imagine being able to find out where your roommate gets their lamp, fridge or chair simply by taking a picture of it. Thanks to Sean Bell ’16, Prof. Kavita Bala, computer science, and their work in the field of computer vision, an app may soon exist to solve that exact problem. Bell was inspired by the disconnect between computer vision research conducted by the academic community and tools available to the general public. Consequently, he founded Grokstyle, a company that is in the midst of developing an application that recognizes objects, specifically furniture. The name Grokstyle stems from the word ‘Grok’, meaning to understand deeply, thoroughly and intuitively.
On a gloomy Saturday afternoon, most Cornell buildings are eerily silent. Not Carpenter Hall. To the uninitiated, its basement seems more like an off-limits factory workspace. But inside, a shiny golden droid, Star Wars’ C3PO, casually rests against a pillar. Right opposite, a mini-rollercoaster fully equipped with a seat to simulate its sudden drops blocks out the clutter of electrical wires.
The human body is made of trillions of cells. Each fulfills a specific purpose, undergoes tremendous wear and tear and is eventually replaced. Despite extensive research, some questions related to protein production that fuels this simple process have gone unanswered. Fascinated by these intricacies, Prof. Samie Jaffrey, pharmacology, may have found part of the answer. Jaffrey and his team discovered that messenger RNA molecules, responsible for conveying genetic information to protein producers in the cell, have special features that predetermine how much protein they generate.
The Super Bowl is known for more than advertisements and halftime performances. Interwoven into the game and sometimes, easily forgotten are the small skirmishes that take a terrible toll on athletes. At least that’s partly how Patrick Walsh ’19 sees it. Alongside classes and extracurriculars, Walsh runs his startup, Reflexion Interactive Technologies for his portable concussion diagnosis device. This device, called Reflexion Edge, was programmed and prototyped by Walsh and his high school friends Matthew Campagna and Matthew Roda in their senior year.
The water crisis in Flint, Michigan is a chilling reminder of our lack of effective freshwater management systems. Unfortunately, the list of contaminants doesn’t stop at lead. The water we drink may have hundreds of contaminants, some never even tested for by water treatment plants. However, by developing a comprehensive method to detect previously untestable pollutants in water, Prof. Damian Helbling, civil and environmental engineering, aims to change that. According to Helbling, the motivation was to develop an analytical water screening method that would scan for a broad variety of pollutant compounds. “What we were interested in doing was assessing water quality from the standpoint of what we call emerging chemical contaminants,” Helbling said.
NASA’s annual climate reports seem to be displaying a chilling trend: 2016 was the third consecutive hottest year on record. With the world’s fossil fuel consumption increasing by 0.6 percent last year, the chances of permanently altered climate patterns are no longer miniscule. However, spurred by the Paris Agreement of 2015, countries seem to be embracing renewable sources of energy. Obstacles, such as their comparative efficiency, remain. That’s where a new study that sheds light on how bacteria metabolize biomass by Prof. Ludmilla Aristilde, biological and environmental engineering, could come in handy.