Journal Cover
IEEE Spectrum
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Number of Followers: 328  
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ISSN (Print) 0018-9235
Published by IEEE Homepage  [191 journals]
  • Taking lessons to heart - [Back Story]
    • Pages: 2 - 2
      Abstract: When daniel Timms was growing up in Brisbane, Australia, he spent many hours helping his father build wild contraptions featuring pumps and waterfalls [above]. His father, a plumber with a passion for invention, taught Timms about fluid dynamics and also instilled in him “a practical attitude toward getting things done,” Timms says.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • AI Engineers: The autonomous-vehicle industry wants you: Cruise's
           AI chief, Hussein Mehanna, talks jobs, careers, and self-driving cars -
           [Spectral Lines]
    • Pages: 4 - 4
      Abstract: Three years ago, Cruise, an autonomous-vehicle startup acquired by General Motors, had about 50 employees. At the beginning of 2019, the head count at its San Francisco headquarters—mostly software engineers working on projects involving machine learning and artificial intelligence—hit around 1,000. Now that number is up to 1,500, and likely to reach about 2,000 by year-end, sprawling into a building that had housed Dropbox. And that's not counting the 200 or so tech workers that Cruise is aiming to install in a Seattle satellite development center and a handful of others in Phoenix and Pasadena, Calif. ¶ Cruise's recent hires aren't all engineers—it takes more than engineering talent to manage operations. And there are hundreds of so-called safety drivers that are required to sit in the 180 or so test vehicles whenever they roam San Francisco. But that's still a lot of AI experts to be hiring in a time of AI engineer shortages. ¶ Hussein Mehanna, head of artificial intelligence and machine learning at Cruise, says the company's hiring is on track, due to the appeal of the challenge of autonomous vehicles. Mehanna himselfjoined Cruise in May 2019 from Google, where he was director of engineering at Google Cloud AI. ¶ Mehanna has been immersed in AI and machine-learning research since his graduate studies in speech recognition and natural-language processing at the University of Cambridge, in the United Kingdom. I sat down with him to talk about his career, the challenges of recruiting AI experts, and autonomous-vehicle development in general. [Editor's note: This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.]
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • Elephants, Dolphins, and Chimps need the Internet, too: A new initiative
           promotes Internet communication among smart animals - [News]
    • Authors: Elie Dolgin;
      Pages: 6 - 7
      Abstract: People surf it. Spiders crawl it. Gophers navigate it. Now, a leading group of cognitive biologists and computer scientists want to make the tools of the Internet accessible to the rest of the animal kingdom.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • An automated offshore fish farm comes to Norway: Giant remote-controlled
           pens will tend to millions of salmon - [News]
    • Authors: Tracy Staedter;
      Pages: 8 - 9
      Abstract: Tucked within Norway's fjord-riddled coast, nearly 3,500 fish pens corral upwards of 400 million salmon and trout. Norway exports more such fish than any other country in the world (1.1 million tons in 2018), and farmed salmon is one of its top three exports. With the global industry expected to quintuple by 2050, farmed salmon is a fine kettle of fish.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • How YouTube led to Google's cloud-gaming service: The tech that
           made YouTube work everywhere promises to do the same for games - [News]
    • Authors: Jeremy Hsu;
      Pages: 9 - 10
      Abstract: When Google's executives floated a vision for the Stadia cloud-gaming service, which could make graphically intensive gaming available on any device, they knew the company wouldn't have to build all the necessary technology from scratch. Instead, the tech giant planned to leverage its expertise in shaping Internet standards and installing infrastructure to support its YouTube video service for more than a billion people worldwide.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • U.S. airline orders first passenger electric plane: The battery-powered
           nine-seater aircraft will enter service in 2022 - [News]
    • Authors: Mark Anderson;
      Pages: 10 - 11
      Abstract: Electric aviation took a big step forward in June when a Massachusetts-based airline announced it had placed the world's first order for a commercial all-electric passenger airplane. The Alice, a three-engine, battery-powered airplane that can fly up to 1,000 kilometers on a single charge, will be delivered to Cape Air in 2022.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • Wheels for the well-heeled - [News]
    • Pages: 12 - 13
      Abstract: THE ULTRARICH won't settle for an Uber to the airport. Renault's EZ-Ultimo concept car, which is essentially an executive lounge on wheels, was dreamed up with the jet set in mind. The fully autonomous all-electric vehicle is spacious, but is meant to accommodate no more than three passengers. The 600 diamond-shaped glass tiles between the body panels and the panoramic glass roof act as a giant one-way mirror that lets riders look out on the world while maintaining their privacy. EZ-Ultimo shares some traits with Renault's earlier self-driving concept vehicles—the EZ-Go for ride sharing and the EZ-Pro for delivery fleets—but the automaker is mum with regard to the particulars of the car's power train and self-driving abilities.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • Illuminating musical code: Program an electronic music performance in real
           time - [Resources_Hands On]
    • Authors: Stephen Cass;
      Pages: 14 - 15
      Abstract: LIVE CODING IS A TYPE OF PERFORMANCE ART IN WHICH the performer creates music by programming and reprogramming a synthesizer as the composition plays. The synthesizer code is typically projected onto walls or screens for the audience to inspect as they listen to the unfolding sound. Live coding events are sometimes known as algoraves, and at these events it's common to see visualizations of the evolving music projected alongside the code. Often, these visualizations are created by a second performer manipulating graphics software in tandem with the live coder. • After attending a few algoraves in New York City (musically, the results tend to fall along a spectrum from ambient soundscapes to pounding electronic dance music, with a few detours into more experimental domains), I decided to look a little closer at the software the performers were using. I wanted to see if I could come up with my own hardware spin on creating visualizations. While I'm not yet ready to take to the stage, the results have been fun. I'd recommend that any reader interested in music or sound art should try live coding, even if they have no experience playing any traditional musical instrument. • The most popular software for live coding appears to be Sonic Pi. This is an open source project originally created by Sam Aaron for the Raspberry Pi, although it is also available for Windows and macOS. Sonic Pi's basic interface is a text editor. Apart from some performance-specific buttons, such as for starting and stopping a piece of music, it looks pretty much like any integrated development environment (IDE), in this case for a version of the Ruby language. Like Python, Ruby is an interpreted language that can run interactively. The Ruby-powered Sonic Pi IDE provides a friendly front end to the powerful SuperCollider sound-synthesis engine, which has been used for over two decades -s the basis of many electronic music and acoustic research projects.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • How the Raspberry Pi infiltrated industry: The $35 Computer's
           creator explains what drove the latest revision - [Resources_Q&A]
    • Pages: 15 - 16
      Abstract: Seven years ago, Eben Upton created the first Raspberry Pi. As Upton told IEEE Spectrum in our March 2015 cover story, the Pi was inspired in part by his childhood experiments with a BBC Micro home computer: He wanted modern kids to have a simple machine that allowed for similar experimentation. Since then, the Pi has exploded in popularity, and the fourth major revision of the Pi was released in June. Upton talked with Spectrum senior editor Stephen Cass about the Pi 4's design, its growing commercial use, and what might be next.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • A-Bomb tourism: Hanford's B reactor is a relic of a complicated
           past - [Resources_Education]
    • Authors: Maria Gallucci;
      Pages: 16 - 17
      Abstract: A literal pile of cylinders rises 11 meters high inside a graphite box, filling the dimensions of a cavernous hall. The towering grid of over 2,000 tubes is a jaw-dropping, necktwisting display. Yet size and symmetry aren't all that make this a humbling sight. This is the core of a nuclear reactor, one that produced the plutonium for the Trinity atomic bomb test—and for “Fat Man,” the bomb that razed Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • 3 Ways to leverage your social media: Boost your career with Twitter -
           [Resources_At Work]
    • Authors: Dinsa Sachan;
      Pages: 18 - 50
      Abstract: Scientists and engineers are increasingly using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to promote their work. Look at Bill Nye. The mechanical engineer, TV and pod- cast host, and CEO of the Planetary Society, Nye is a Twitter superstar with 5.9 million followers. But can social media benefit regular engineers and academics as well' Yes, it can-once you hit a 1,000-follower threshold on the microblogging site, according to a June 2018 study in the Canadian journal Facets. That's when your tweets start to reach a broader audience outside your immediate fraternity. If you are thinking of navigating the world of social media sites, here are some ways it can be useful and suggestions to get you started.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • Digital snake oil - [Opinion]
    • Pages: 19 - 19
      Abstract: AS MORE TECHNOLOGY FIRMS PRODUCE wearables, apps and connected medical devices that claim to help people live better or treat diseases, we need to draw a line between digital wellness and digital medicine. The entire health care industry needs to implement rigorous standards that can help differentiate between truly therapeutic products and the digital equivalent of snake oil. • Today, consumers and doctors are bombarded with claims. Apple says the Apple Watch can detect if the person wearing it is going into atrial fibrillation. Researchers believe they have developed an app that can tell if you are depressed simply by monitoring how you type and interact with the screen. Companies are pushing home versions of medical devices for detecting respiratory diseases in children, spotting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and testing urine that all claim to deliver clinical data. • In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has clamped down on a few offending apps, such as several that purport to diagnose concussions. But there are plenty of devices that straddle the line between digital wellness and actual digital medicine. • Instead, those defining the distinction are pharmaceutical companies and the startups working with them to improve clinical trials. They're creating benchmarks, writing best practices for device security, and urging doctors to adopt only technology that can clearly meet these standards. Maybe most important, they're using devices that meet these standards in clinical trials to make the trials more inclusive and more efficient. With luck, their efforts will make digital medicine less hype-driven and more data-driven instead. • Andy Coravos, CEO of Elektra Labs, in Boston, has built a startup that tests qualities of today's connected devices and creates what you can think of as an easy-to-understand lab-l for each device that lets pharma companies know how well different products fare. The company's benchmarks verify device claims such as whether a Fitbit's accelerometer actually can measure 100 steps. The label also validates claims against a clinical goalin other words, does that 100-step measurement actually mean anything'
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • Bricks and Batts - [Opinion]
    • Pages: 20 - 20
      Abstract: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OFTEN LEAD TO wrong conclusions. I well remember receiving a friendly welcome at the residence of a European ambassador in Ottawa and, in the very next sentence, being told that this house was perfect to withstand Canadian winters because it was made of real brick and stone-not like those flimsy North American wooden things, with hollow walls. My hosts then swiftly moved to other matters and, in any case, I did not have the heart to belittle the insulating qualities of their handsome home. • The error is easy to understand, but mass and density are better indicators of sturdiness than of insulating capability. A brick wall obviously looks more substantial and protective than a wall framed with narrow wooden studs and covered on the outside with a sheet of thin plywood and aluminum siding and on the inside with vulnerable gypsum drywall. Angry European men do not make holes in brick walls. • Decades ago, when oil sold for US $2 a barrel, most pre-1960 North American houses usually had nothing more to keep out the cold than the air space between the plywood and drywall. Sometimes the space was filled with wood shavings or shredded paper. Yet, remarkably, even that feeble combination provided a bit more insulation than solid brick. • The insulating value, or thermal resistance, is measured in terms of R-value. It depends not only on the composition, thickness, and density of the insulation but also on the outdoor temperature and moisture. A framed wall from 1960 had roughly the following R values: aluminum siding (0.6), thin plywood (0.5), air space (0.9) and drywall (0.5). It all adds up to only about 2.5. Standard brick (0.8) plastered on both sides offered no more than 1.0. Hence even a flimsy 1960 mass-built North American wall insulated at least twice as well as did Europe's plastered brick. • Once energy prices began to rise and more rational building-codes came into effect in North America, it became compulsory to incorporate plastic barriers and fiberglass batts-pillowlike rolls that can be packed between the wooden frames, or studs. Higher overall R-values were easily achieved by using wider studs (two-by-six ) or, better yet, by double-studding, which involves building a sandwich from two frames, each one filled with insulation. (In North America, a softwood “two-by-six” is actually 1.5 by 5.5 inches, or 38 by 140 millimeters.) For a well- built North American wall this means adding insulation values of drywall (0.5), polyethylene vapor barrier (0.8), fiberglass batts (20), fiberboard sheathing (1.3), plastic house wrap (Tyvek ThermaWrap at 5) and beveled wood cladding (0.8). Adding the insulating value of interior air film brings the total R-value to about 29.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • The expiration date of knowledge - [Opinion]
    • Pages: 21 - 21
      Abstract: I WAS LISTENING RECENTLY TO SOME engineering graduates talking about their current research efforts. As I was forcibly immersed in the minutiae of opaque mathematics, the thought came to me that this was really difficult work for potentially small gains. But on the heels of that came another thought: These engineers were really skilled. I was greatly impressed by their depth of knowledge and facility with analysis. How did they learn so much in their few years of university training' After all, there is so much more to know now than there used to be, and every year it gets ever more overwhelming. • One explanation is that, as new knowledge accumulates, some old knowledge becomes irrelevant and falls off the knowledge stack. Almost all the college course work I took long ago is now useless in itself, although what remains is an engineering mind-set and a mathematical grounding. Perhaps every course should have a sell-by date. Indeed, in retrospect I now realize that a number of the courses I took were already well past their sell-by dates when I took them. I remember too when the technical library in the lab where I worked was shut down and all the books were offered free to the staff. Almost all of them went unclaimed; no one wanted them. The problem is that we never quite know when a particular course or book will become obsolete. But the purging of obsolete knowledge is probably insufficient in itself to make room for the new stuff, as there seems to be an exponential increase in knowledge. The complexity of our work is always increasing, similar to the increase in entropy decreed by the second law of thermodynamics. For many decades we've been driven by Moore's Law, which has urged us to embrace and exploit complexities that were unthinkable in previous decades. Even as Moore's Law wanes, I feel sure that the general law of exponential increase will continue the trend.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • The Maglev Heart
    • Authors: Nicholas Greatrex;Matthias Kleinheyer;Frank Nestler;Daniel Timms;
      Pages: 22 - 29
      Abstract: FOR MORE THAN 50 YEARS, cardiac surgeons and biomedical engineers at the Texas Heart Institute (THI) have been questing for an artificial heart that can fully replace natural ones, which are in terribly short supply for transplant. They've seen their share of metal and plastic contraptions that used a variety of pumping mechanisms, but none of these machines could match the astounding performance of the human heart.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • Porsche's fast-charge power play: The new, all-electric Taycan will
           come with a mighty thirst. This charging technology will slake it
    • Authors: John Voelcker;
      Pages: 30 - 37
      Abstract: ON THE A13 HIGHWAY IN GERMANY, a harried mom pulls into a rest stop, her two restless teenagers in the back of the family's electric SUV. She steers toward a row of 24 sleek, refrigerator-size obelisks, most already tethered to a vehicle, and parks in front of the unoccupied one she'd reserved en route. Unhooking the cable, she inserts the plug on its end into a port in the car's rear left flank, behind a flap that resembles the fuel door of earlier decades. She and the teens head to the bathrooms and a warm café for the 15 minutes it'll take to recharge the car.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • Countering counterfeit drugs: A technique used for detecting explosives
           can also verify the integrity of medicines
    • Authors: Swarup Bhunia;Soumyajit Mandal;
      Pages: 38 - 43
      Abstract: When you purchase medicine at the drugstore, you assume that it's what you think it is and that the active ingredient in the drug is present in the specified concentration. Unfortunately, your assumption might be all wrong. Counterfeit and substandard medicines have become widespread, particularly in low- and middle-income countries with weak regulatory systems. Indeed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), one out of 10 medicines sold in developing countries should be considered “substandard.” Your drug could even be an outright fake.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • The Eyes have it: New iris-recognition techniques can tell whether an Eye
           is healthy, diseased—or dead
    • Authors: Adam Czajka;Mateusz Trokielewicz;Piotr Maciejewicz;
      Pages: 44 - 49
      Abstract: No matter how many times you hold open a cadaver's eyelids to image the irises, each time is uniquely memorable.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
  • Cruel beauty - [Past Forward_by Allison Marsh]
    • Pages: 51 - 51
      Abstract: For more than a century, fashion-conscious consumers have relied on the electric hot comb to style their hair—to straighten and smooth coarse hair, or add a wave or curl to fine hair. Much like the clothes iron, the hot comb predated electrification. The original combs, made from ceramic or metal, were heated in a water bath or over a gas burner. The 20th-century electric version provided heat on demand and slightly better temperature regulation. Unfortunately, electricity could not prevent the occasional burned scalp or the pungent smell of singed hair. Sometimes the pursuit of beauty can be painful.
      PubDate: Sept. 2019
      Issue No: Vol. 56, No. 09 (2019)
School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences
Heriot-Watt University
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Fax: +00 44 (0)131 4513327
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