Coding in the News: September 2020
The technological revolution is alive and kicking with a seemingly endless wave of stories highlighting awe-inspiring innovation. Yesterday, it was the out-of-this-world new device your neighbor was showing off. Today, it’s the amazing app your kid downloaded to your phone that’s going to change your life. Tomorrow, who knows?
What’s happening in the world of technology? Are the possibilities to create really infinite? And where does it all start? At its core, everything begins with imagination and the ability to think outside the box. So, the question becomes how to bring these dreams to life. And in the 21st century, one answer is clear: Computer Programming or Coding.
At Tynker, we teach kids how to code, so we know that triumphs in technology come in all different sizes. Whereas some can have an enormous global impact, others will only fill a unique niche. Yet, both are essential to tech’s vibrant fabric. Meanwhile, your kid is obsessed with making new Minecraft skins. But, don’t worry. When you add Tynker to the Minecraft mix, they’re also learning code!
Here’s some interesting tech news that we think shines a light on how coding can have a positive impact on the world:
Turning Deserts into Croplands
Deserts around the world are growing, and as a result millions of people are losing their jobs and homes. The United Nations predicts that in 10 years our planet will need more than a million square miles of new land for food production because of massive human and climate-caused deterioration of the soil in dry regions.
To deal with this problem, a ClimateTech company in Norway called Desert Control is using technology to find a way to turn dry useless soil into one with high enough nutrients to grow food. Normally, nutrients run right through sandy arid soil, so the objective became to create a giant underground sponge that would hold moisture closer to a plant’s roots.
Desert Control developed a chemical-free clay called Liquid Nanoclay that can be easily sprayed onto dry land, coating sand particles and allowing them to retain vital moisture and nutrients while requiring 50% less irrigation water. In the past, making drylands suitable to grow food could take upwards of seven years, but with this technology land can now be converted in just seven hours!
By 2030, Desert Control’s Managing Director, Atle Idland, hopes to positively impact the livelihoods of more than 100 million people in the Middle East and North Africa by making desert regions farmable and thus significantly reducing hunger and poverty. Now, that’s putting technology to good use.
Cracking the Covid Code?
A supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Labs in Tennessee number crunched for a week to make a significant genetic discovery in bradykinin, a compound the body produces to regulate blood pressure. In the lungs of Covid-19 patients, too much bradykinin was found, which can lead to dry coughs, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, decreased cognitive function, and even sudden cardiac death.
According to Daniel Jacobson, the lab’s chief scientist for computational systems biology, these “bradykinin storms” can fill the lungs with too much fluid and hyaluronic acid, which can cause patients to suffocate.
So, the goal became to find ways to maintain bradykinin at normal levels. Some possible answers are more simple than others, such as the discovery that some Covid-19 patients had low levels of vitamin D in their system. It’s a start and much more research needs to be done, but any hope of combatting this virus is welcome news.
Smart Textiles are fabrics that sense and react to environmental stimuli. In recent years, you might have seen fabrics that will keep you warm or cool but rarely both without being significantly bulky and fragile, as well as quite expensive.
Researchers in China led by Guangming Tao reported to the American Chemical Society in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces that they set out to develop a personal textile that was more practical and cost-efficient. By combining silk and material from the skeleton of shellfish called chitosan, his team was able to make colored fibers with porous microstructures.
The pores are then filled with a phase-changing polymer that absorbs and releases thermal energy, resulting in strong, comfortable, and water-repellant fibers, which can be woven into fabric. For example, a glove. When the treated glove is exposed to a warm environment, the polymer melts into a liquid to cool the skin. But when the glove is placed in a cold environment, the polymer solidifies and releases heat.
The researchers are convinced that they can mass-produce these fabrics, allowing people to wear them indoors and outdoors, while possibly eliminating the need for heaters and air conditioners. Pretty cool, huh? Hot too!
We can’t wait to see what your children will create with code!