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Tech Team

A Karen’s Karen in pandemic times [The Atlantic] 

Some of you that often scroll through 9gag or Reddit have probably already heard of a ‘Karen’. The meme started over a year ago to describe middle-aged white women policing human behavior, like calling the cops on your neighbors kids pool party or asking for the manager in your local grocery store. But with COVID-19, the ‘Karen’ meme has become a real insult and used to attack women protesting the confinement measures. The worst insult of all was thrown at the mayor of Las Vegas, she was called a real ‘Karen’s Karen’. The history and connotation behind this new viral meme is really worth a read, especially if you intend on using it anytime soon.  

Winter is coming (to save us from Covid-19) [Washington Post] 

In this case, Winter is actually a llama who was immunised in 2016 with proteins from SARS and MERS. Researchers from the University of Texas and Ghent University were originally hoping to find one antibody to cure all kinds of coronaviruses, but instead only found two different antibodies that work against MERS and SARS. As they were writing up their research the COVID-19 outbreak spread globally so they got to work using Winter’s antibodies to fight this new coronavirus. The special antibodies that Winter produces are so small (called nanobodies) that they can be administered via inhaler instead of injection. There are hundreds of projects trying to innovate cures for COVID-19, and who knows – maybe the answer lies in the blood of a Belgian llama.  

Rockets, Explosions, and Space! [WIRED

When you can’t even leave your house to go to your favourite bar, space travel is probably not the first thing that springs to mind. It’s not the case for Kareem Ahmed, the director of the Propulsion and Energy Research Laboratory at the University of Central Florida, who is researching how to use controlled explosions to shoot rockets into space. Problem is explosions tend to be fast and violent, unlike conventional rocket propulsion which (bear with me, it is rocket science after all!) pressurizes the fuel and oxidizer and feeds them into the ignition chamber, where the force is generated to lift the rocket. An explosion could end up being much more efficient if understood and used properly, making space travel cheaper. Who knows, maybe we will be able celebrate our release from lockdown with a quick trip to the moon. 

Machine learning with old newspapers [TechCrunch] 

The US Library of Congress started a cool project: through machine learning, they are digitising and analysing the Library’s newspaper archives. Through simple repetitive actions, engineers managed to have the computer ‘learn’ how to classify and read pictures and cartoons directly from the archives dating back to 1870. The project took 19 days of non-stop computer processing but created an online database of journalistic history like we have never seen it. You can check it out for yourself here. Enjoy! 

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In case you haven’t had enough… 

Technology and ethics in the coronavirus economy (TechCrunch) 

The easy question that stumps computers (The Atlantic) 

The results are in for the sharing economy. They are ugly. (The New York Times) 

The billionaire who cried pandemic (The Washington Post)