Prehistory Earth, Portland Metro RLIS, Soft Robotics, More: Sunday ResearchBuzz, May 7, 2023


BGR: See where your home was at the time of the dinosaurs using this interactive map. “A new website lets users pinpoint their home city and then see where it was located during the time of the dinosaurs, as well as during other periods of time across ancient Earth. Additionally, the map also showcases how the continents have shifted since the time of ancient Earth and even how ice covered the land throughout history.”

Oregon Metro Government: Nearly 200 GIS layers of Metro’s RLIS now open data. “Metro is eliminating the annual subscription for the Regional Land Information System, greater Portland’s comprehensive geospatial data resource.”

MIT News: Open-source platform simulates wildlife for soft robotics designers. “Since the term ‘soft robotics’ was adopted in 2008, engineers in the field have been building diverse representations of flexible machines useful in exploration, locomotion, rehabilitation, and even space. One source of inspiration: the way animals move in the wild. A team of MIT researchers has taken this a step further, developing SoftZoo, a bio-inspired platform that enables engineers to study soft robot co-design.” I had never heard the term “soft robotics” before, so I used Wiki-Guided Google Search on it and was lead to this article from the Encyclopedia of Robotics. The article gets complicated but there’s plenty there for even a non-technical reader to learn.


Associated Press: New Twitter rules expose election offices to spoof accounts “Tracking down accurate information about Philadelphia’s elections on Twitter used to be easy. The account for the city commissioners who run elections, @phillyvotes, was the only one carrying a blue check mark, a sign of authenticity. But ever since the social media platform overhauled its verification service last month, the check mark has disappeared. That’s made it harder to distinguish @phillyvotes from a list of random accounts not run by the elections office but with very similar names.”

Ars Technica: Google will retire Chrome’s HTTPS padlock icon because no one knows what it means. “Browsers going all the way back to Internet Explorer have used a small padlock icon to denote that a connection is using HTTPS. But according to the team behind the Chromium browser engine, most people still don’t know what that padlock icon actually means.” It is definitely something that isn’t emphasized as often as it used to be.


Native News Online: A New Online Tool Will Let Native Americans Search for Relatives Who Attended Indian Boarding Schools. “The Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) plans to launch a website this summer that will allow Native Americans to search for information on relatives who attended Indian boarding schools.”

Android Police: You can blame this Pixies song for Google Assistant canceling your alarm. “After noticing their alarms didn’t seem to go off on certain days, one Redditor woke up early to get to the bottom of the issue. The Pixies song Where Is My Mind? started playing since it was in a Spotify playlist the user had set as their music alarm in the Google Clock app. If you’re familiar with the song, it starts with a person singing ‘Oooh,’ then someone else cuts them off by exclaiming ‘Stop!’ before music starts playing.”


PC Magazine: Twitter Says ‘Security Incident’ Caused Circles Tweets Leak. “Twitter has admitted that an incident where private tweets intended for posters’ close friends that ended up on strangers’ feeds happened because of a security breach, The Guardian reports(Opens in a new window). Twitter Circles permits users to set a list of close friends and post tweets that only they can read. The incident last month saw Circle tweets popping up in the For You timeline of users who followed the Circle tweet poster but aren’t in their Circle.”


Indiana University: Internet search trends reflect concerns following Supreme Court health care decisions. “The study, published April 28 in JAMA Health Forum, analyzed internet searches for abortion- and contraception-related terms following the June 24, 2022, ruling by the United States Supreme Court on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Researchers found that searches increased much more in states where reproductive health care access was more likely to be immediately restricted following the decision.”

The College of New Jersey: Computer science research team explores how machine learning can translate sign language. “Services like Google Translate can help millions of people communicate in over 100 languages. Users can type or speak words to be translated, or even translate text in photos and videos using augmented reality. Now, computer science professor Andrea Salgian and Ben Guerrieri ’26 are working to add one more language to the list: American Sign Language.”

Binghamton University: Data points: How inclusive metadata fosters diversity in museum collections. “Metadata — literally data about data — helps channel that stream, explained Binghamton University Art Museum intern Eliana Ellerton, a senior history major who will finish her master’s degree in 2024 through the 4+1 program. Since last year, Ellerton has been working with Art Museum Curator of Collections and Exhibitions Claire Kovacs on formulating inclusive metadata guidelines, or protocols on how the museum approaches diversity within its archives.”

OTHER THINGS I THINK ARE COOL ‘Zero plant extinction’ is possible, says plant ecologist . “Like animals, many plant species are struggling to adapt to a human-dominated planet. However, plants are often overlooked in conservation efforts, even though they are cheaper and easier to protect than animals and play a pivotal role in bolstering our food, fuel and medical systems.” Good morning, Internet…

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