Whenever a hurricane threatens the U.S. or our close neighbors, we look to the National Hurricane Center for predictions of where it will go and how strong it will be, predictions based on techniques and models developed by experts in places like Miami, New Orleans, Charleston, and State College.
It started with Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. The field of architectural engineering owes its beginning to the Great Chicago Fire when, on Sunday evening, October 8, 1879, a fire swept through the city, burning more than three square miles, leaving approximately 100,000 people homeless and 300 people dead. The estimated property loss was $190,000,000, or approximately $450 billion in 2016 dollars.
While the fire was never actually traced to a cow kicking over a lantern, a gradual change took place while Chicagoans rebuilt their city. Structural steel was developed, the first skyscraper was built, and structural and civil engineering gave birth to architectural engineering.
Sometimes, science is all about not having the foggiest idea about how something happens, but trying really hard to find out the truth. It also means not being afraid to go in potentially weird directions.
Jason Wright, Penn State associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics, is doing just that. He’s one of the astronomers trying to find out if — set the synthesizer on spooky and cue the weird music — a giant alien structure is causing the weird dimming of a star called KIC 8462852, better known as Tabby’s Star.
Located about 1,500 light-years from Earth, Tabby’s Star has undergone rapid and erratic dimming that typical cosmic phenomena — a rotating planet, for example, or comets — may not explain. While not proven or even likely, Wright suggests that an alien megastructure cannot be taken off the table as a possibility.
In this chat at the SETI Institute, (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute), Wright offers more information about Tabby’s Star and what it might — and might not — mean for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
Members of the news media interested in talking to Wright should contact Barbara Kennedy at 814-863-4682 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do the Rio Olympics, the United States Marine Corps, and Amazon.com have in common? All need an efficient and effective infrastructure in order to accomplish their objectives.
This infrastructure includes buildings, transportation, inventory, and all related services needed to sustain and/or serve thousands of “customers” in a timely manner.
Reports coming out of Rio suggest that parts of this infrastructure were not well executed. One report cited the lack of electrical outlets in the living quarters for some of the athletes.
Recent news stories also have cited the lack of sewage treatment capacity, allowing thousands of gallons of raw sewage to pour into the waters used by the athletes. Rio did not develop the pipeline infrastructure to divert the sewage to sewage treatment facilities, despite receiving funds to build them.
These are infrastructure issues. Are these instances an oversight or poor execution? In my opinion, they are both.
“What the [Pokémon Go] app is actually doing — meaning the broad swath of information the app is collecting — is creepy. It’s not just kids playing the game, and it’s not just privacy advocates who are concerned.” — Anne McKenna, Penn State assistant professor of law
We were curious about the Pokémon Go craze that has infiltrated much of the world and wanted to get a legal perspective on the situation. Cyber and privacy attorney Anne McKenna graciously answered some questions about it from our news and research communications staff.
Research Matters: Pokémon Go seems innocent enough, but it’s causing concern among many privacy advocates. Why is that?
Anne McKenna: On July 6, 2016, Niantic, Inc., released Pokémon Go, an app game that requires users to walk around in real world locations to collect Pokémon. It’s a global obsession. According to the BBC, in the app’s first week of release, there were 15.3 million tweets about it worldwide. For perspective, there were only 11.7 million Brexit-related tweets during the week of the UK referendum. SimilarWeb, an apps analytics firm, says that Pokémon Go users are playing it on average 43 minutes a day — perspective again: that’s more time than users spend on Instagram, Snapchat, or Whatsapp.