More on Science
6 months ago
Thanks to a recent development, solar energy may prove to be the best energy source.
Perovskite solar cells will revolutionize everything.
Humanity is in a climatic Armageddon. Our widespread ecological crimes of the previous century are catching up with us, and planet-scale karma threatens everyone. We must adjust to new technologies and lifestyles to avoid this fate. Even solar power, a renewable energy source, has climate problems. A recent discovery could boost solar power's eco-friendliness and affordability. Perovskite solar cells are amazing.
Perovskite is a silicon-like semiconductor. Semiconductors are used to make computer chips, LEDs, camera sensors, and solar cells. Silicon makes sturdy and long-lasting solar cells, thus it's used in most modern solar panels.
Perovskite solar cells are far better. First, they're easy to make at room temperature, unlike silicon cells, which require long, intricate baking processes. This makes perovskite cells cheaper to make and reduces their carbon footprint. Perovskite cells are efficient. Most silicon panel solar farms are 18% efficient, meaning 18% of solar radiation energy is transformed into electricity. Perovskite cells are 25% efficient, making them 38% more efficient than silicon.
However, perovskite cells are nowhere near as durable. A normal silicon panel will lose efficiency after 20 years. The first perovskite cells were ineffective since they lasted barely minutes.
Recent research from Princeton shows that perovskite cells can endure 30 years. The cells kept their efficiency, therefore no sacrifices were made.
No electrical or chemical engineer here, thus I can't explain how they did it. But strangely, the team said longevity isn't the big deal. In the next years, perovskite panels will become longer-lasting. How do you test a panel if you only have a month or two? This breakthrough technique needs a uniform method to estimate perovskite life expectancy fast. The study's key milestone was establishing a standard procedure.
Lab-based advanced aging tests are their solution. Perovskite cells decay faster at higher temperatures, so scientists can extrapolate from that. The test heated the panel to 110 degrees and waited for its output to reduce by 20%. Their panel lasted 2,100 hours (87.5 days) before a 20% decline.
They did some math to extrapolate this data and figure out how long the panel would have lasted in different climates, and were shocked to find it would last 30 years in Princeton. This made perovskite panels as durable as silicon panels. This panel could theoretically be sold today.
This technology will soon allow these brilliant panels to be released into the wild. This technology could be commercially viable in ten, maybe five years.
Solar power will be the best once it does. Solar power is cheap and low-carbon. Perovskite is the cheapest renewable energy source if we switch to it. Solar panel manufacturing's carbon footprint will also drop.
Perovskites' impact goes beyond cost and carbon. Silicon panels require harmful mining and contain toxic elements (cadmium). Perovskite panels don't require intense mining or horrible materials, making their production and expiration more eco-friendly.
Solar power destroys habitat. Massive solar farms could reduce biodiversity and disrupt local ecology by destroying vital habitats. Perovskite cells are more efficient, so they can shrink a solar farm while maintaining energy output. This reduces land requirements, making perovskite solar power cheaper, and could reduce solar's environmental impact.
Perovskite solar power is scalable and environmentally friendly. Princeton scientists will speed up the development and rollout of this energy.
Why bother with fusion, fast reactors, SMRs, or traditional nuclear power? We're close to developing a nearly perfect environmentally friendly power source, and we have the tools and systems to do so quickly. It's also affordable, so we can adopt it quickly and let the developing world use it to grow. Even I struggle to justify spending billions on fusion when a great, cheap technology outperforms it. Perovskite's eco-credentials and cost advantages could save the world and power humanity's future.
7 months ago
How monkeypox spreads (and doesn't spread)
Monkeypox was rare until recently. In 2005, a research called a cluster of six monkeypox cases in the Republic of Congo "the longest reported chain to date."
That's changed. This year, over 25,000 monkeypox cases have been reported in 83 countries, indicating widespread human-to-human transmission.
What spreads monkeypox? Monkeypox transmission research is ongoing; findings may change. But science says...
Most cases were formerly animal-related.
According to the WHO, monkeypox was first diagnosed in an infant in the DRC in 1970. After that, instances were infrequent and often tied to animals. In 2003, 47 Americans contracted rabies from pet prairie dogs.
In 2017, Nigeria saw a significant outbreak. NPR reported that doctors diagnosed young guys without animal exposure who had genital sores. Nigerian researchers highlighted the idea of sexual transmission in a 2019 study, but the theory didn't catch on. “People tend to cling on to tradition, and the idea is that monkeypox is transmitted from animals to humans,” explains research co-author Dr. Dimie Ogoina.
Most monkeypox cases are sex-related.
Human-to-human transmission of monkeypox occurs, and sexual activity plays a role.
Joseph Osmundson, a clinical assistant professor of biology at NYU, says most transmission occurs in queer and gay sexual networks through sexual or personal contact.
Monkeypox spreads by skin-to-skin contact, especially with its blister-like rash, explains Ogoina. Researchers are exploring whether people can be asymptomatically contagious, but they are infectious until their rash heals and fresh skin forms, according to the CDC.
A July research in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that of more than 500 monkeypox cases in 16 countries as of June, 95% were linked to sexual activity and 98% were among males who have sex with men. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus encouraged males to temporarily restrict their number of male partners in July.
Is monkeypox a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
Skin-to-skin contact can spread monkeypox, not simply sexual activities. Dr. Roy Gulick, infectious disease chief at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, said monkeypox is not a "typical" STI. Monkeypox isn't a STI, claims the CDC.
Most cases in the current outbreak are tied to male sexual behavior, but Osmundson thinks the virus might also spread on sports teams, in spas, or in college dorms.
Can you get monkeypox from surfaces?
Monkeypox can be spread by touching infected clothing or bedding. According to a study, a U.K. health care worker caught monkeypox in 2018 after handling ill patient's bedding.
Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, believes "incidental" contact seldom distributes the virus. “You need enough virus exposure to get infected,” she says. It's conceivable after sharing a bed or towel with an infectious person, but less likely after touching a doorknob, she says.
Dr. Müge evik, a clinical lecturer in infectious diseases at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, says there is a "spectrum" of risk connected with monkeypox. "Every exposure isn't equal," she explains. "People must know where to be cautious. Reducing [sexual] partners may be more useful than cleaning coffee shop seats.
Is monkeypox airborne?
Exposure to an infectious person's respiratory fluids can cause monkeypox, but the WHO says it needs close, continuous face-to-face contact. CDC researchers are still examining how often this happens.
Under precise laboratory conditions, scientists have shown that monkeypox can spread via aerosols, or tiny airborne particles. But there's no clear evidence that this is happening in the real world, Rasmussen adds. “This is expanding predominantly in communities of males who have sex with men, which suggests skin-to-skin contact,” she explains. If airborne transmission were frequent, she argues, we'd find more occurrences in other demographics.
In the shadow of COVID-19, people are worried about aerosolized monkeypox. Rasmussen believes the epidemiology is different. Different viruses.
Can kids get monkeypox?
More than 80 youngsters have contracted the virus thus far, mainly through household transmission. CDC says pregnant women can spread the illness to their fetus.
Among the 1970s, monkeypox predominantly affected children, but by the 2010s, it was more common in adults, according to a February study. The study's authors say routine smallpox immunization (which protects against monkeypox) halted when smallpox was eradicated. Only toddlers were born after smallpox vaccination halted decades ago. More people are vulnerable now.
Schools and daycares could become monkeypox hotspots, according to pediatric instances. Ogoina adds this hasn't happened in Nigeria's outbreaks, which is encouraging. He says, "I'm not sure if we should worry." We must be careful and seek evidence.
6 months ago
NASA: Strange Betelgeuse Explosion Just Took Place
Orion's red supergiant Betelgeuse erupted. This is astronomers' most magnificent occurrence.
Betelgeuse, a supergiant star in Orion, garnered attention in 2019 for its peculiar appearance. It continued to dim in 2020.
The star was previously thought to explode as a supernova. Studying the event has revealed what happened to Betelgeuse since it happened.
Astronomers saw that the star released a large amount of material, causing it to lose a section of its surface.
They have never seen anything like this and are unsure what caused the star to release so much material.
According to Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astrophysicist Andrea Dupre, astronomers' data reveals an unexplained mystery.
They say it's a new technique to examine star evolution. The James Webb telescope revealed the star's surface features.
Corona flares are stellar mass ejections. These eruptions change the Sun's outer atmosphere.
This could affect power grids and satellite communications if it hits Earth.
Betelgeuse's flare ejected four times more material than the Sun's corona flare.
Astronomers have monitored star rhythms for 50 years. They've seen its dimming and brightening cycle start, stop, and repeat.
Monitoring Betelgeuse's pulse revealed the eruption's power.
Dupre believes the star's convection cells are still amplifying the blast's effects, comparing it to an imbalanced washing machine tub.
The star's outer layer has returned to normal, Hubble data shows. The photosphere slowly rebuilds its springy surface.
Dupre noted the star's unusual behavior. For instance, it’s causing its interior to bounce.
This suggests that the mass ejections that caused the star's surface to lose mass were two separate processes.
Researchers hope to better understand star mass ejection with the James Webb Space Telescope.
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3 months ago
Looker Studio Pro is now generally available, according to Google.
Great News about the new Google Business Intelligence Solution
Google has renamed Data Studio to Looker Studio and Looker Studio Pro.
Now, Google releases Looker Studio Pro. Similar to the move from Data Studio to Looker Studio, Looker Studio Pro is basically what Looker was previously, but both solutions will merge. Google says the Pro edition will acquire new enterprise management features, team collaboration capabilities, and SLAs.
In addition to Google's announcements and sales methods, additional features include:
Looker Studio assets can now have organizational ownership. Customers can link Looker Studio to a Google Cloud project and migrate existing assets once. This provides:
Your users' created Looker Studio assets are all kept in a Google Cloud project.
When the users who own assets leave your organization, the assets won't be removed.
Using IAM, you may provide each Looker Studio asset in your company project-level permissions.
Other Cloud services can access Looker Studio assets that are owned by a Google Cloud project.
Looker Studio Pro clients may now manage report and data source access at scale using team workspaces.
Google announcing these features for the pro version is fascinating. Both products will likely converge, but Google may only release many features in the premium version in the future. Microsoft with Power BI and its free and premium variants already achieves this.
Sources and Further Readings
Google, Release Notes (2022)
Google, Looker (2022)
8 months ago
What's up with tech?
Massive Layoffs, record low VC investment, debate over crash... why is it happening and what’s the endgame?
This article generalizes a diverse industry. For objectivity, specific tech company challenges like growing competition within named segments won't be considered. Please comment on the posts.
According to Layoffs.fyi, nearly 120.000 people have been fired from startups since March 2020. More than 700 startups have fired 1% to 100% of their workforce. "The tech market is crashing"
Venture capital investment dropped 19% QoQ in the first four months of 2022, a 2018 low. Since January 2022, Nasdaq has dropped 27%. Some believe the tech market is collapsing.
It's bad, but nothing has crashed yet. We're about to get super technical, so buckle up!
I've written a follow-up article about what's next. For a more optimistic view of the crisis' aftermath, see: Tech Diaspora and Silicon Valley crisis
Insanity reigned. Last decade, everyone became a unicorn. Seed investments can be made without a product or team. While the "real world" economy suffered from the pandemic for three years, tech companies enjoyed the "new normal."
COVID sped up technology adoption on several fronts, but this "new normal" wasn't so new after many restrictions were lifted. Worse, it lived with disrupted logistics chains, high oil prices, and WW3. The consumer market has felt the industry's boom for almost 3 years. Inflation, unemployment, mental distress...what looked like a fast economic recovery now looks like unfulfilled promises.
People rethink everything they eat. Paying a Netflix subscription instead of buying beef is moronic if you can watch it for free on your cousin’s account. No matter how great your real estate app's UI is, buying a house can wait until mortgage rates drop. PLGProduct Led Growth (PLG) isn't the go-to strategy when consumers have more basic expense priorities.
Exponential growth and investment
Until recently, tech companies believed that non-exponential revenue growth was fatal. Exponential growth entails doing more with less. From Salim Ismail words:
An Exponential Organization (ExO) has 10x the impact of its peers.
Many tech companies' theories are far from reality.
Investors have funded (sometimes non-exponential) growth. Scale-driven companies throw people at problems until they're solved. Need an entire closing team because you’ve just bought a TV prime time add? Sure. Want gold-weight engineers to colorize buttons? Why not?
Tech companies don't need cash flow to do it; they can just show revenue growth and get funding. Even though it's hard to get funding, this was the market's momentum until recently.
The graph at the beginning of this section shows how industry heavyweights burned money until 2020, despite being far from their market-share seed stage. Being big and being sturdy are different things, and a lot of the tech startups out there are paper tigers. Without investor money, they have no foundation.
A little bit about interest rates
Inflation-driven high interest rates are said to be causing tough times. Investors would rather leave money in the bank than spend it (I myself said it some days ago). It’s not wrong, but it’s also not that simple.
The USA central bank (FED) is a good proxy of global economics. Dollar treasury bonds are the safest investment in the world. Buying U.S. debt, the only country that can print dollars, guarantees payment.
The graph above shows that FED interest rates are low and 10+ year bond yields are near 2018 levels. Nobody was firing at 2018. What’s with that then?
Full explanation is too technical for this article, so I'll just summarize: Bond yields rise due to lack of demand or market expectations of longer-lasting inflation. Safe assets aren't a "easy money" tactic for investors. If that were true, we'd have seen the current scenario before.
Long-term investors are protecting their capital from inflation.
Not a crash, a landing
I bombarded you with info... Let's review:
Consumption is down, hurting revenue.
Tech companies of all ages have been hiring to grow revenue at the expense of profit.
Investors expect inflation to last longer, reducing future investment gains.
Inflation puts pressure on a wheel that was rolling full speed not long ago. Investment spurs hiring, growth, and more investment. Worried investors and consumers reduce the cycle, and hiring follows.
Long-term investors back startups. When the invested company goes public or is sold, it's ok to burn money. What happens when the payoff gets further away? What if all that money sinks? Investors want immediate returns.
Why isn't the market crashing? Technology is not losing capital. It’s expecting change. The market realizes it threw moderation out the window and is reversing course. Profitability is back on the menu.
People solve problems and make money, but they also cost money. Huge cost for the tech industry. Engineers, Product Managers, and Designers earn up to 100% more than similar roles. Businesses must be careful about who they keep and in what positions to avoid wasting money.
What the future holds
From here on, it's all speculation. I found many great articles while researching this piece. Some are cited, others aren't (like this and this). We're in an adjustment period that may or may not last long.
Big companies aren't laying off many workers. Netflix firing 100 people makes headlines, but it's only 1% of their workforce. The biggest seem to prefer not hiring over firing.
Smaller startups beyond the seeding stage may be hardest hit. Without structure or product maturity, many will die.
I expect layoffs to continue for some time, even at Meta or Amazon. I don't see any industry names falling like they did during the .com crisis, but the market will shrink.
If you are currently employed, think twice before moving out and where to.
If you've been fired, hurry, there are still many opportunities.
If you're considering a tech career, wait.
If you're starting a business, I respect you. Good luck.
10 months ago
A Guide to VeeFriends and Series 2
VeeFriends is one of the most popular and unique NFT collections. VeeFriends launched around the same time as other PFP NFTs like Bored Ape Yacht Club.
Vaynerchuk (GaryVee) took a unique approach to his large-scale project, which has influenced the NFT ecosystem. GaryVee's VeeFriends is one of the most successful NFT membership use-cases, allowing him to build a community around his creative and business passions.
What is VeeFriends?
GaryVee's NFT collection, VeeFriends, was released on May 11, 2021. VeeFriends [Mini Drops], Book Games, and a forthcoming large-scale "Series 2" collection all stem from the initial drop of 10,255 tokens.
In "Series 1," there are G.O.O. tokens (Gary Originally Owned). GaryVee reserved 1,242 NFTs (over 12% of the supply) for his own collection, so only 9,013 were available at the Series 1 launch.
Each Series 1 token represents one of 268 human traits hand-drawn by Vaynerchuk. Gary Vee's NFTs offer owners incentives.
Who made VeeFriends?
Gary Vaynerchuk, AKA GaryVee, is influential in NFT. Vaynerchuk is the chairman of New York-based communications company VaynerX. Gary Vee, CEO of VaynerMedia, VaynerSports, and bestselling author, is worth $200 million.
GaryVee went from NFT collector to creator, launching VaynerNFT to help celebrities and brands.
Vaynerchuk's influence spans the NFT ecosystem as one of its most prolific voices. He's one of the most influential NFT figures, and his VeeFriends ecosystem keeps growing.
Vaynerchuk, a trend expert, thinks NFTs will be around for the rest of his life and VeeFriends will be a landmark project.
Why use VeeFriends NFTs?
The first VeeFriends collection has sold nearly $160 million via OpenSea. GaryVee insisted that the first 10,255 VeeFriends were just the beginning.
Book Games were announced to the VeeFriends community in August 2021. Mini Drops joined VeeFriends two months later.
GaryVee's book "Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients for Business Success" inspired Book Games. Even prior to the announcement Vaynerchuk had mapped out the utility of the book on an NFT scale. Book Games tied his book to the VeeFriends ecosystem and solidified its place in the collection.
GaryVee says Book Games is a layer 2 NFT project with 125,000 burnable tokens. Vaynerchuk's NFT fans were incentivized to buy as many copies of his new book as possible to receive NFT rewards later.
First, a bit about “layer 2.”
Layer 2 blockchain solutions help scale applications by routing transactions away from Ethereum Mainnet (layer 1). These solutions benefit from Mainnet's decentralized security model but increase transaction speed and reduce gas fees.
Polygon (integrated into OpenSea) and Immutable X are popular Ethereum layer 2 solutions. GaryVee chose Immutable X to reduce gas costs (transaction fees). Given the large supply of Book Games tokens, this decision will likely benefit the VeeFriends community, especially if the games run forever.
What's the strategy?
The VeeFriends patriarch announced on Aug. 27, 2021, that for every 12 books ordered during the Book Games promotion, customers would receive one NFT via airdrop. After nearly 100 days, GV sold over a million copies and announced that Book Games would go gamified on Jan. 10, 2022.
Immutable X's trading options make Book Games a "game." Book Games players can trade NFTs for other NFTs, sports cards, VeeCon tickets, and other prizes. Book Games can also whitelist other VeeFirends projects, which we'll cover in Series 2.
VeeFriends Mini Drops
GaryVee launched VeeFriends Mini Drops two months after Book Games, focusing on collaboration, scarcity, and the characters' "cultural longevity."
Spooky Vees, a collection of 31 1/1 Halloween-themed VeeFriends, was released on Halloween. First-come, first-served VeeFriend owners could claim these NFTs.
Mini Drops includes Gift Goat NFTs. By holding the Gift Goat VeeFriends character, collectors will receive 18 exclusive gifts curated by GaryVee and the team. Each gifting experience includes one physical gift and one NFT out of 555, to match the 555 Gift Goat tokens.
Gift Goat holders have gotten NFTs from Danny Cole (Creature World), Isaac "Drift" Wright (Where My Vans Go), Pop Wonder, and more.
GaryVee is poised to release the largest expansion of the VeeFriends and VaynerNFT ecosystem to date with VeeFriends Series 2.
By owning VeeFriends NFTs, collectors can join the VeeFriends community and attend VeeCon in 2022. The conference is only open to VeeCon NFT ticket holders (VeeFreinds + possibly more TBA) and will feature Beeple, Steve Aoki, and even Snoop Dogg.
The VeeFreinds floor in 2022 Q1 has remained at 16 ETH ($52,000), making VeeCon unattainable for most NFT enthusiasts. Why would someone spend that much crypto on a Minneapolis "superconference" ticket? Because of Gary Vaynerchuk.
Everything to know about VeeFriends Series 2
Vaynerchuk revealed in April 2022 that the VeeFriends ecosystem will grow by 55,555 NFTs after months of teasing.
With VeeFriends Series 2, each token will cost $995 USD in ETH, allowing NFT enthusiasts to join at a lower cost. The new series will be released on multiple dates in April.
Book Games NFT holders on the Friends List (whitelist) can mint Series 2 NFTs on April 12. Book Games holders have 32,000 NFTs.
VeeFriends Series 1 NFT holders can claim Series 2 NFTs on April 12. This allotment's supply is 10,255, like Series 1's.
On April 25, the public can buy 10,000 Series 2 NFTs. Unminted Friends List NFTs will be sold on this date, so this number may change.
The VeeFriends ecosystem will add 15 new characters (220 tokens each) on April 27. One character will be released per day for 15 days, and the only way to get one is to enter a daily raffle with Book Games tokens.
Series 2 NFTs won't give owners VeeCon access, but they will offer other benefits within the VaynerNFT ecosystem. Book Games and Series 2 will get new token burn mechanics in the upcoming drop.
Visit the VeeFriends blog for the latest collection info.
Where can you buy Gary Vee’s NFTs?
Need a VeeFriend NFT? Gary Vee recommends doing "50 hours of homework" before buying. OpenSea sells VeeFriends NFTs.