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Journal Cover IEEE Spectrum
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   Full-text available via subscription Subscription journal
   ISSN (Print) 0018-9235
   Published by IEEE Homepage  [191 journals]
  • IEEE Spectrum - Front cover
    • Abstract: Presents the front cover for this issue of the publication.
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • Wild Encounters [Back Story]
    • Pages: 4 - 4
      Abstract: For six months, IEEE Spectrum associate editor Amy Nordrum knew she'd be heading to Alaska-she just didn’t know exactly when. Her goal was to travel beyond the Arctic Circle, to witness a crew working with a heavy‑lift helicopter to install a microwave tower on top of a mountain. Construction was scheduled for the summer, but a specific date was hard to pin down.
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • Can tech moguls cure what ails medicine' [Spectral lines]
    • Authors: G. Pascal Zachary;
      Pages: 8 - 8
      Abstract: Who will invent tomorrow's life-saving and life-extending medicines' Not medical schools. Not research physicians. Not biologists. Computer people. Really' The geeks will save us' Maybe. Spanning diseases as diverse as cancer and malaria, in the gnarly fields of memory extension and cognitive decline, electrical engineers and computer scientists are revitalizing and reshaping the face of biomedical innovation.
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • Drones make a special delivery- Mosquitoes [News]
    • Authors: Evan Ackerman;
      Pages: 9 - 11
      Abstract: The deadliest animal on Earth, by far, is the mosquito. Each year, mosquitoes infect about 700 million people with diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and Zika. Millions of people die annually from mosquito-borne illnesses, and many of those diseases can’t be cured with drugs. It’s best to avoid being bitten in the first place, but this is becoming more difficult as the insects expand their range, migrating north with warming climates.
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • For more power, float wind turbines far out at sea [News]
    • Authors: Peter Fairley;
      Pages: 11 - 12
      Abstract: The world's first floating wind farm began producing electricity in October. The quintet of turbines, operated by Norwegian oil and gas giant Statoil, bobs just 25 kilometers off the coast of Scotland and generates enough electricity for 20,000 homes. Offshore turbines cost more to install and run than onshore turbines, and the vast majority still rely on fixed-base equipment, in shallow coastal waters. But even close to shore, their capacity to generate electricity is improved because wind speeds are higher over the ocean than on land. Farther out to sea, the winds are more powerful still.
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • Wanted: AI that can spy [News]
    • Authors: Jeremy Hsu;
      Pages: 12 - 13
      Abstract: Spy satellites and their commercial cousins orbit Earth like a swarm of space paparazzi, capturing tens of terabytes of images every day. The deluge of satellite imagery leaves U.S. intelligence agencies with the world’s biggest case of FOMO-"fear of missing out"- because human analysts can sift through only so many images to spot a new nuclear enrichment facility or missiles being trucked to different locations. That’s why U.S. intelligence officials have sponsored an artificial-intelligence challenge to automatically identify objects of interest in satellite images.
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • The battle for the smart-car brain [News]
    • Authors: Philip E. Ross;
      Pages: 14 - 14
      Abstract: Two companies-NXP and Nvidia- recently unveiled computing platforms for smart cars, and each claims that its platform is the best. Which is right' The answer depends on how you're keeping score.
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • Air Fare [The big picture]
    • Pages: 16 - 17
      Abstract: IN LATE SEPTEMBER, Dubai's crown prince was whisked into the air for a 5-minute flight 200 meters above the emirate. What's the big deal' It was a test flight for what Dubai hopes will be the world's first flying taxi service. What’s more, the two-seater verticaltakeoff- and-landing aircraft, made by the German firm Volocopter, will eventually be fully autonomous, avoiding obstacles and other flying taxis without a pilot- onboard or remote- guiding it. Passengers will hail these batterypowered sky taxis via a smartphone app like Uber’s and wait for them to swoop down at local "voloports." If all goes according to plan, Dubai and Volocopter envision these 18-rotor sky cabs being available for regular passenger service within the next five years.
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • 2017 Holiday Gift Guide [Resources]
    • Authors: Stephen Cass;
      Pages: 19 - 21
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • DIY digital decorations
    • Authors: Sai Yamanoor;Sri Hari Yamanoor;
      Pages: 22 - 23
      Abstract: The Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to developing open-source embedded hardware and software. The foundation's latest creation is the PocketBeagle, a single-board computer that runs Linux. The PocketBeagle debuted at the World Maker Faire this past September in New York City, and we were lucky enough to be there and win one of the first boards. makes a number of boards designed for different applications, such as robotics. These typically sell in the US $60 to $125 range. At $25, the PocketBeagle is designed to be a low-cost variant. But it's not just a stripped-down version of the other boards, as the PocketBeagle offers some interesting features of its own. So we immediately started thinking of projects that we could try out with the board, settling on a light controller for a festive village diorama for the coming holiday season. The PocketBeagle runs Debian Linux, and hence it is possible to develop applications in different programming languages, including Python, Ruby, or BoneScript. The latter is a library built on top of Node.js that was developed for the Beagle family: It allows you to program and control devices using Web pages and JavaScript. What's really interesting about the PocketBeagle is that in addition to a primary CPU that runs the Linux operating system (an ARM Cortex-A8 running at 1 gigahertz), the processor at the heart of the PocketBeagle also has two programmable real-time units (PRUs).
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • Electric vehicles: not so fast
    • Pages: 24 - 24
      Abstract: LET ME BEGIN WITH A DISCLAIMER: I am neither promoting electric vehicles nor denigrating them. I simply observe that the rational case for accepting EVs has been undermined by unrealistic market forecasts and a disregard for the environmental effects involved in producing and operating these vehicles. Unrealistic forecasts have been the norm. In 2008, Deutsche Bank predicted that EVs would claim 7 percent of the U.S. market by 2016; in 2010, Bloomberg Businessweek put the 2016 share at 6 percent. But actual sales came to 158,614 units, just 0.9 percent of the record 17.55 million vehicles sold that year. In his 2011 State of the Union address, then–U.S. president Barack Obama called for 1 million EVs on the road by 2015, and a concurrent report by the Department of Energy claimed that the country’s production capacity in that year would reach 1.2 million units. But the 2015 total came to 410,000 units, representing just 0.15 percent of all vehicles on the road, and sales of U.S. brands reached about 100,000 cars. And this triumph of hope over experience continues. The worldwide total of EVs on the road reached 2 million units in 2016. If you plot the trajectory of the global stock of EVs since the beginning of their sales to the year 2016, you will see that the equation that best fits the data (a fourth-order polynomial) projects about 32 million units in 2025. But the International Energy Agency's 2017 EV outlook estimates growth from 40 million to 70 million units worldwide by 2025 and from 160 million to 200 million by 2030.
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • Exit code
    • Authors: Jack Kerouac;
      Pages: 25 - 25
      Abstract: I WROTE MY FIRST TECHNICALLY SPEAKING COLUMN WAY back in June 2002. How long ago was that' Long ago enough that some companies that seem now to have been around forever weren’t even gleams in their founders' eyes: Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, Twitter, YouTube. Friendster was trying to persuade people to do social networking; Internet Explorer 6 was the dominant Web browser; and people were getting excited about Swiss army phones that-O brave new world!-could do more than just make and receive phone calls. In 2002, we were so innocent. We thought the PDA was here to stay and that Wikipedia wouldn’t last. We didn't foresee Web 2.0 or filter bubbles. We knew nothing about the wisdom of the crowd or the convenience of the cloud. There was no clickbait or CAPTCHAs, no MOOCs. There had not yet been a single flash mob. Language is a cultural phenomenon, so new additions to the lexicon must be telling us something about new aspects of the culture. To that end, let's take a quick look at some words and phrases that first appeared in 2002. In that year, we coined caving ("staying inside one's home as often as possible") and binge viewing ("a period of excessive indulgence spent watching previously broadcast episodes of a TV show"). We first used blogosphere (“the collection of all bloggers, blog sites, blog readers, and blog text”) and Googleverse ("the products, services, and technologies belonging to or associated with Google and the Google search engine"). We started using selfie ("a photographic self-portrait, particularly one taken with the intent of posting it online") and microblogging (posting short thoughts and ideas to a personal blog"). You can feel 2002 in these words, but they’re also pregnant with the years to come.
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • Building the world's biggest telescope
    • Authors: Rachel Courtland;
      Pages: 26 - 33
      Abstract: Even in early Winter, the sun is harsh in Western Australia's Murchison shire. In this land of unpaved roads, kangaroo tracks, and low, scrubby vegetation, visitors can and sometimes do get lost. Nevertheless, here I am, a few hundred kilometers from the coast, standing on rusty red dirt, hiding under my sun hat. I am visiting a future site of one of the most ambitious telescopes ever conceived.
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • Keeping perfect time with caged atoms
    • Authors: Kyriakos Porfyrakis;Edward A. Laird;
      Pages: 34 - 39
      Abstract: For Fridtjof Nansen, 13 April 1895 started well. Six days earlier, the Norwegian explorer had set a new record for the closest approach to the North Pole, and now he was moving quickly over unbroken sea ice toward Cape Fligely and home. But then came a sickening realization: In his eagerness to break camp, he had forgotten to wind the chronometers. He had lost track of precise time, and thus the ability to track his longitude. Although Nansen couldn't have lost his position by more than a few minutes, it forced him to take a circuitously conservative route to avoid being swept into the North Atlantic. His expedition thus had to endure a hungry winter, camped on an unknown shore. Not until June the following year did he encounter other explorers and learn his true position-on Cape Felder, in Franz Josef Land.
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • Broadband or bust
    • Authors: Amy Nordrum;
      First page: 40
      Abstract: Circle. Engines roaring, Annie pauses to steady its load, which had begun to sway below, and veers off toward a bald mountaintop. On the mountain, at a rocky site called Igichuk, a work crew has just finished setting up the tower’s base, dropped off earlier by Annie. Now, they’re focused on executing the most delicate delivery of the day, one of many difficult steps required to sink a single new telecommunications tower into the vast, roadless Alaskan tundra. When Annie arrives, the pilot carefully dangles the new section of tower above its base. Below, four crew members stand ready to guide it into position, strapped into harnesses with their feet braced against the base’s highest rung. Once the new section of tower is close enough, each crew member grabs a steel rope looped through one of its lowest joints and gently nudges the tower so that it is centered directly over the base. Within minutes, the section is lined up, its four metal feet perfectly aligned with the base’s corners. The crew works quickly to insert a single bolt into each leg; they’ll go back and add more later. When they give the sign, the pilot releases the tower from Annie’s grasp, and pulls away. The tower stands, now the highest point across the tundra, and sparkles in the midday sun. Once active, it will relay data north to several hundred miners at Red Dog, the world’s largest zinc mine, and back to a tower in Kotzebue, a city of 3,245 built on a thin lip of spongy land that bows out into the Chukchi Sea along the isolated western rim of Alaska. Here on the edge of the U.S. Arctic, Internet connectivity is a slow—and expensive—proposition. Eighty-one percent of rural residents in Alaska do not have broadband Internet, defined by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as providing a minimum download speed of 25 megabits per second. People in Kotzebue have long relied on satellite connections for Internet service at s-eeds comparable to those of dial-up. At the beginning of the year, their average download speed was just 2 Mb/s. The Igichuk tower is one of the final pieces of one of the most ambitious telecommunications projects in the rural United States. Built by General Communication Inc. (GCI) and known as TERRA, it was completed this past October, after US $300 million of investment and six years of construction, when engineers installed its final microwave repeater. The network uses a combination of repeater data links and fiber optics h u l k i n g o r a n g e h e l i c o p t e r n a m e d A n n i e h o i s t s a g l e a m i n g m e t a l t o w e r i n t o t h e s k y o n t h e o u t s k i r t s o f K o t z e b u e , a s m a l l A l a s k a n
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • Turbocharging the web
    • Authors: Luke Wagner;
      Pages: 48 - 53
      Abstract: What if you could share a computer-aided design (CAD) model and even allow a colleague to manipulate it from afar' "Click on this link, check out my design, and feel free to add more holes or fill some in," you might say. You wouldn’t have to instruct your distant coworker to install special software or worry about whether her operating system could run it. Imagine that all your programs and data were stored in the cloud and that even computationally intensive applications like multimedia editing ran just as well in your browser as they would if they had been installed locally.
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
  • Past forward: programming with plugs and cords
    • Pages: 72 - 72
      Abstract: In 1950, physicist Arnold Nordsieck built this analog computer from US $700 worth of surplus parts. To program the machine, which solved differential equations, you plugged in the tangle of cords in specific patterns. Caution was advised. "Once one end of a cord is plugged in, the prongs of the free plug may have up to 105 volts of potential difference between them," Nordsieck noted in a memo. "Hence the operator should hold the live plug in such a way that the prongs do not touch him or anyone else or any metal." For more on Nordsieck's differential analyzer, go to http://spectrum.
      PubDate: December 2017
      Issue No: Vol. 54, No. 12 (2017)
School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences
Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK
Tel: +00 44 (0)131 4513762
Fax: +00 44 (0)131 4513327
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