Shuttered natural history museums fight for survival amid COVID-19 ‘heartbreak’

shuttered natural history museums fight for survival amid covid-19 ‘heartbreak’


Closed for the pandemic, the Field Museum of Natural History hosted a socially-distanced blood drive in its empty, cavernous halls.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

By Elizabeth PennisiMay. 28, 2020 , 8:55 PM

Science’s COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center.

A few months ago, retirement was the furthest thing from David Thomas’s mind. “Then the world went upside down,” recalls the archaeologist from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. In March, the coronavirus pandemic forced the museum to close its doors. No more school groups thronging the interactive exhibit on color, no more corporate dinners or lines of international tourists waiting to pay $23 a head to marvel at gems and fossils. The museum’s income plummeted 60%.

Leaders first asked for early retirements. By early May, they had sliced the staff of 1100 by 20% and furloughed an additional 250 staff. All other full-time employees now work 3 days a week, mostly from home. Thomas opted to retire early, along with four of the other 38 curators. “It was the right thing to do,” he says.

Around the world, natural history museums are shuttered and reeling. On Tuesday, the California Academy of Sciences announced it was furloughing or laying off 40% of its staff. “We …



Forced into battle

forced into battle


Bispecific antibodies unleash T cells against cancer by physically tethering them to tumor cells. Amy Boland has gone through many ups and downs since she noticed lumps under her arms 12 years ago and learned she had cancer of the lymph system. For about 6 years, conventional chemotherapy helped shrink her lymphoma tumors, but they started to grow again. A succession of other cancer therapies, including a bone marrow transplant and a class of drugs called checkpoint inhibitors, either failed or only brought temporary relief. In one elaborate effort, physicians harvested her T cells, engineered those immune cells to kill her lymphoma, and infused them back into her body. The cancer vanished, but 2 years later bounced back. “Nothing was really working,” says oncologist Stephen Schuster of the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). So in October 2018, Boland joined a clinical trial testing another way to harness her immune system to kill the tumor cells. The idea of the trial, which Schuster co-leads, was to use a molecular rope known as a bispecific antibody to tether her natural T cells to the tumor cells so the immune warriors would attack. Like the engineered T cells she had received earlier, the experimental infusions sometimes …


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What’s the point: Google AI, JetBrains’ big data tools, Subversion, Docker

what’s the point: google ai, jetbrains’ big data tools, subversion, docker


Google’s AI teams used the last days of May to share their advances in natural language generation evaluation and demonstrate how the large-scale pre-training approach currently hot in the language domain could be used in the field of computer vision. 

The idea behind the latter boils down to pre-training general features with a variety of datasets and fine-tuning the resulting model with less data for a task of interest in a second step. The exact methodology is explained in “Big Transfer (BiT): General Visual Representation Learning” with models and notebooks available via a project repository.

Meanwhile the language team has been busy using pre-training to find a way of measuring the quality of systems generating natural language. The result is called BLEURT, a “learned evaluation metric based on BERT that can model human judgments with a few thousand possibly biased training examples”. The examples mentioned stem from public rating collections and additional user input.

BLEURT is meant to combine advantages of human evaluation and automatic metrics, while being more performant than competing approaches. The first results seem to compare well enough to yield further investigation, with the team staging to look into multilingualism and multimodality next.

JetBrains opens Big …


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Covid-19 has hastened cloud migration – but don’t move without a plan – Cloud Computing News

covid-19 has hastened cloud migration – but don’t move without a plan – cloud computing news


Margaret Rogers is a vice president at Pariveda Solutions, a consulting firm driven to create innovative, growth-oriented, and people-first solutions. With more than 20 years of experience, Margaret enjoys developing and applying human-centred methods in her work. She aims to empower organisations with impactful and sustainable transformation to help them realise their full potential.

The coronavirus pandemic has magnified the importance of cloud-based technologies in major, life-altering ways and ushered in a new paradigm. Before COVID-19, experts projected the worldwide public cloud services market would jump by 17% this year, reaching $266.4 million. Software as a service is the largest segment within that market, but the second-largest — infrastructure as a service — claims the fastest growth rate.

A number of factors are driving businesses to choose the cloud as the standard for applications, data, and storage. They migrate to gain flexible computing power, to lower the cost of backup/recovery, or to turn capital expenses into operational costs. Beyond any single benefit, however, companies migrate to facilitate organisational change in ways that only the cloud can offer.

Take artificial intelligence as just one example. Companies that have already implemented AI saw an uptick in revenue, and 44% experienced a reduction in costs. Executives across industries …


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Looking Inside A Big Data Toolbox

looking inside a big data toolbox


Getting the meat of any data pool into burger-shaped perfection ready for consumption requires a few … [+] tools.

Wikimedia Commons

Much like term super, the big in big data comes with a certain amount of hype. Just as we now have supercars, supermodels, superspreaders and super-sized meals, we now have big business, big data and of course Big Macs.
Regardless of the hype cycle, big data has firmly entered our tech-business vocabulary. We now use it as a kind of blanket term when we talk about the massive web-scale information streams being passed over the cloud, inside the Internet of Things (IoT) and throughout the new realms of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Broadly meant to refer to an amount of data that is too large to fit comfortably or productively into anything that resembles a ‘traditional’ relational database management system, big data is still just data… but it includes core operational enterprise data plus all the pieces of information that an organization knows it has, but is perhaps yet to act upon.

No-code wrench and spanner in the big data toolbox
To wrangle our way through the mire of big data, an increasing number of software companies are getting into the big …


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For Top U.S. Virus Experts, Faith and Science Work Together

for top u.s. virus experts, faith and science work together


NEW YORK — The relationship between faith and science has faced its share of strain during the coronavirus pandemic — but for some scientists leading the nation’s response, the two have worked in concert.National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins founded a nonprofit focused on “the harmony between science and biblical faith.” Anthony Fauci, NIH’s senior infectious disease specialist, has said he isn’t active in organized religion but credited his Jesuit schooling with burnishing the values that drive his public service. And Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, describes his faith and his public health work as mutually reinforcing. “One of the great things about faith is, you can approach life with a sense of hope — no matter what the challenges you’re dealing with, that there’s a path forward,” Redfield told The Associated Press. The influence of faith on some of the government’s top coronavirus fighters illustrates its complicated connection to science. While tensions over public worship’s effect on public health amid the pandemic – with President Donald Trump declaring religious services “essential” – personal spirituality, in all of its forms, remains an unquestioned guidepost for some scientists guiding the U.S. response. …


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Splunk Adds To Big Data Platform’s Cloud, Machine Learning Capabilities

splunk adds to big data platform’s cloud, machine learning capabilities


Splunk is extending the cloud and machine learning functionality of its big data platform and leveraging a new strategic partnership with Google Cloud to continue the company’s push for cloud delivery of its software.
Splunk’s goal is to have its cloud-based products, including Splunk Cloud, Splunk SignalFx and VictorOps, account for 60 percent of the company’s sales in two years, up from the current 30 percent, said Sendur Sellakumar, Splunk chief product officer and senior vice president and general manager of cloud.
“We have shifted our business to be a cloud-first delivery,” Sellakumar said in an interview CRN.

[Related: Splunk Switch To Subscription Model Almost Complete, Reports 27 Percent Q4 Growth]

While many of Splunk’s products now run on cloud platforms and are sold on a subscription basis, some, including the Splunk Phantom security orchestration and automation software and Splunk User Behavior Analytics, are still sold using traditional licenses and for on-premises use.
Under the partnership with Google announced earlier this month, the Splunk Cloud machine data platform service will run on the Google Cloud Platform. Currently in beta, that is expected to be generally available later this summer. Splunk Cloud already runs on Amazon Web Services and the …


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‘We need science in the Senate’: Trish Zornio endorses former primary rival John Hickenlooper

‘we need science in the senate’: trish zornio endorses former primary rival john hickenlooper


Scientist and educator Trish Zornio on Thursday endorsed one-time Democratic primary rival John Hickenlooper, saying the former two-term governor has what it takes to deny Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner a second term.“John is, without a doubt, the best candidate to go up against a Republican incumbent senator when Democrats need to build back the majority,” Zornio said in a statement. “John knows how to bring people together. I admire him for his ability to build diverse coalitions of voices and expertise to win statewide in Colorado twice.”Zornio, a first-time candidate who reminded voters at every turn that there aren’t any scientists in the Senate, said she trusts Hickenlooper to bring a science-based approach to policy.

“Now, more than ever, we need science in the Senate, and I know John will listen to scientists to confront the issues of our time such as climate change and health care,” Zornio said.Hickenlooper, who worked as a field geologist early in his career, is facing former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in a June 30 primary.

“Colorado is lucky to have Trish Zornio’s leadership and crucial voice for science in our politics and I am proud to earn her support,” …


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Synopsys’ Silicon-Proven DesignWare DDR IP for High-Performance Cloud Computing Networking Chips Selected by NVIDIA

synopsys’ silicon-proven designware ddr ip for high-performance cloud computing networking chips selected by nvidia


MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., May 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ —

Synopsys’ high-quality DesignWare DDR PHY IP provides NVIDIA unmatched performance, latency, and power efficiency
DDR PHY supporting multiple DIMMs per channel for DDR5/4 addresses NVIDIA’s networking data rate and memory capacity requirements
Field-upgradable firmware-based training enables a more robust and reliable channel and facilitates algorithm updates to reduce risk of adopting new memory protocols

Synopsys, Inc. (Nasdaq: SNPS) today announced that its silicon-proven DesignWare® DDR5/4 PHY IP will be used by Mellanox, NVIDIA’s networking business unit, to address evolving memory requirements in its InfiniBand networking chips targeting high-performance computing and artificial intelligence (AI) applications. The high-quality DesignWare DDR5/4 IP with up to an 80-bit data path and support for multiple DIMMs per channel addresses essential data rate and memory capacity requirements as NVIDIA expands its efforts in high performance and cloud computing. DesignWare DDR5/4 PHY IP, a part of Synopsys’ broad memory interface IP portfolio consisting of controllers, PHYs and verification IP for a wide range of processes, supports all the required features to help Mellanox integrate the IP into their ASICs and SoCs with less risk.
Synopsys’ DesignWare DDR5/4 PHY IP offers firmware-based training, which is field upgradable without requiring changes to …


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The Work-From-Home Era Is the Perfect Time to Start Your Cloud-Computing Career

the work-from-home era is the perfect time to start your cloud-computing career


Industry coach Broadus Palmer offers his advice on how tech professionals can take advantage of a now-ubiquitous business need.

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28, 2020

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In this critical time, many companies have been recognizing the benefits of remote work. Consequently, those companies will have to start relying on the cloud to replace most of their physical infrastructure and effect a seamless remote experience from home.This, in turn, will create a plethora of opportunities for technology professionals to propel themselves into into a new cloud career. Broadus Palmer’s head is necessarily in the clouds. Image Credit: Evan HendersonI recently connected with Broadus Palmer, founder and cloud career coach at Level Up With Broadus, and here are the three biggest pieces of advice he offered about embarking on a cloud-computing career.Learn the Fundamentals”Grant yourself an opportunity to understand what the cloud is and how it works,” he recommends as a first step. “There are plenty of cloud service providers out there, but in the U.S., the big three are Amazon Webservices, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.” Palmer duly encourages …


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