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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

by Morgan Stevens

This week’s list of top data news highlights covers June 4, 2022 to June 10, 2022 and includes articles on using high-performance computing systems to calculate pi to 100 trillion digits and launching a data dashboard to track forever chemicals. 

1. Sailing Across the Atlantic

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship has completed a journey from Plymouth, United Kingdom to Halifax, Canada. The ship contains an AI system that uses data from 6 cameras and 50 sensors to navigate trips, and was built to showcase developments in technology since its namesake’s journey in 1620. 

2. Developing Quantum Computers

South Korea has launched a taskforce to build a quantum computer to bring the nation on par with the United States and China. The taskforce, which includes research and private organizations, hopes to build a 20-qubit quantum computer by the end of 2024 and expand it to 50 qubits by the end of 2026.

3. Combating Illegal Wildlife Trades

Microsoft, the Singapore National Parks Board, and Conservation International, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to conservation, have created an app with an AI system that can identify shark and ray species from an image of its fin. The Singapore National Parks Board plans to use the app to combat illegal trading of shark and ray fins.

4. Displaying Air Quality Data

Google has updated its Maps application to include data on air quality. The company has sourced the data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and sensors that the U.S.-based technology company PurpleAir has installed around the country.

5. Calculating Pi

Researchers at Google have calculated pi to 100 trillion digits, surpassing the old world record of 62.8 trillion digits. The team used y-cruncher, a program designed to calculate pi, and Google’s high-performance computing systems to perform the calculations.

6. Detecting Pesticides

Researchers at Karolinska Institute in Sweden have created a sensor that can detect pesticides on food. The sensor consists of silver nanoparticles sprayed in a certain formation onto a glass surface. When exposed to light, the nanoparticles emit energy that enhances pesticides’ biochemical signals and renders them detectable by a spectrometer. In tests, the sensor detected ethyl parathion, a pesticide used for crops like corn, in five minutes. 

7. Updating AI Systems

Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz have updated an AI system named Morpheus to classify celestial objects found in images from the James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful telescope ever launched into space. The new system can analyze larger regions of images and can differentiate between celestial objects that appear to overlap.

8. Tracking Water Contaminants

The Minnesota Department of Health has created a data dashboard tracking long-lasting chemicals known to cause health issues in water systems. Residents can use the dashboard to check if their drinking water contains dangerous levels of these chemicals. 

9. Suppressing Background Noise

Microsoft has updated its Teams application to add background noise suppression for iOS and macOS users. The background noise suppression tool uses AI to remove background noise in calls. 

10. Shopping for Shoes

Amazon has launched a new tool that uses augmented reality to help online shoppers remotely try on shoes. The tool will feature thousands of styles from popular brands such as Reebok and Puma.

Image credit: Flickr user fdecomite

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