Nor’easter brings widespread threat of thundersnow, a dream for every weather nerd

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Just like each of us has our own personality, each nor’easter is different, with its own idiosyncrasies and mood. The rapidly intensifying storm taking shape off the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England on Wednesday, for example, is unusually feisty, with a mean streak. 

For days now, computer models have locked onto the potential for an unusually widespread display of thundersnow — lightning produced during a snowstorm — due to the strong lift that this storm is going to produce from eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey northward across parts of New York State, on up into southern New England. 

These signs have come in the form of meteorological products that are virtually indecipherable to the typical weather consumer, such as model forecast soundings and projections of how much “convective available potential energy,” or CAPE, will be present at times.

But these indicators have been blinking red, signaling that very heavy precipitation rates, accompanied by lightning and thunder at times, is likely to occur on Wednesday into Wednesday night, potentially in big cities like Philadelphia and New York. 

The atmospheric lift associated with these storms is key to the forecast for the New York City area, because surface temperatures at the start of this storm have been above freezing at the coast.

Thunderstorm outlook for March 7, 2018, showing thundersnow potential in Mid-Atlantic and southern New England.

Thunderstorm outlook for March 7, 2018, showing thundersnow potential in Mid-Atlantic and southern New England.

Meteorologists forecasting up to a foot of snow in New York are counting on a process known as dynamical cooling, initiated by intense precipitation, to turn the rain to snow and cause it to pile up quickly. In fact, if some of the model projections come to fruition, the evening commute could be crippled in the New York City area, as well as Philadelphia and parts of Connecticut. 

The ingredients for thundersnow are usually different compared to what cooks up a more common summertime storm. For example, summer storms typically form on warm, humid days, and snowstorms obviously lack such heating at ground level. 

But what they lack in heat they make up for in lift, specifically narrow layers of rapidly rising air. Such lifting is typically triggered by dynamics associated with rapidly intensifying storm systems like the one undergoing bombogenesis, or a process of rapid intensification, south of Long Island on Wednesday. 

It’s this strong lifting, usually in a narrow layer of air below 25,000 feet, that generates thundersnow. 

Computer model runs show strong areas of lift, associated with the formation of fronts aloft, that will move across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast through Wednesday afternoon. Meteorologists on Twitter have been impressed by the thundersnow potential.

Snowstorms tend to have flat, layered clouds, with most of the precipitation formed in the so-called snow growth layer at relatively low levels of the atmosphere.

For thundersnow to occur, the right ingredients need to come together to lift some of these flatter clouds and mold them into protrusions that some meteorologists call turrets.

Such turrets protrude like a fist above the the broad and flat layers of snow-producing clouds, driven to greater heights by lifting from approaching weather features. These weather systems may be a deep dip in the mid-level jet stream, known as a trough, that causes air to rise ahead of it, or ascend from the formation of frontal zones within storm systems, known by the fancy term “frontogenesis.” 

Both of these factors are present in abundance on Wednesday. For example, this chart of mid-level frontogenesis shows a clear signal that this will occur over the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England during this storm. 

However, also making Wednesday’s storm unique is the presence of an abundance of extremely cold air aloft, which will make it possible for vertically growing clouds to take on a shape that more resembles summertime thunderstorms than more typical thundersnow events. Such storms could produce more lightning than usual, and, as the Washington Post‘s Capital Weather Gang noted, the possibility of hail falling at the same time as heavy snow. 

When the right conditions are present, these turrets can form what’s known as elevated convection (elevated because the cloud is not based near the Earth’s surface). Within these clouds, large snowflakes mix with icy pellets known as graupel, and electrical charges can build up from static electricity as these particles collide in the turbulent atmosphere. 

This static electricity buildup eventually can trigger occasional cloud-to-cloud or cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. 

Areas of thundersnow are typically associated with extremely heavy snowfall rates because the extra lift in such snowbands enhances the production of snowflakes. This is partly why weather geeks love thundersnow so much, it combines heavy snow with lightning and thunder, a combo of the seasons, if you will. 

Interestingly, because thundersnow occurs as a result of elevated convection, the thunder typically sounds different than the rumbles from an average summertime thunderstorm. Thundersnow tends to be somewhat muffled, influenced by its altitude, the cold air the sound waves are traveling through, and the snow on the ground.

Also, most cloud-to-ground lightning discharges during thundersnow events tend to be triggered by human-made structures, like tall skyscrapers like One World Trade in New York, or massive broadcast towers, for example. Such towers can poke into the base of the clouds and cause a buildup of electrical charges. 

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Halong Mining Is the First Bitcoin Mining Hardware Producer to Implement Overt AsicBoost

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Halong Mining announced today, March 7, 2018, that it is embedding AsicBoost in its DragonMint mining hardware. Halong Mining is able to do so because it joined the Blockchain Defensive Patent License (BDPL), giving them access to the patent-pending technology, which utilizes a trick called “version rolling.” With AsicBoost, the DragonMint machines should be up to 20 percent more energy efficient than they would otherwise be.

“We have produced and will continue to produce a significant amount of version-rolling AsicBoost enabled miners, enough to incentivize other manufacturers to follow suit, which they are now freely able to do if they join the blockchain defensive patent initiative to help protect the industry from patent aggression,” the hardware producer writes in its announcement.

As far as publicly known, no other mining hardware producer has implemented the overt version of AsicBoost in its application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips so far.

AsicBoost

AsicBoost was invented by former CoinTerra CTO Timo Hanke in 2016. The technology takes advantage of a quirk in Bitcoin’s proof-of-work algorithm, which lets miners take a sort of “shortcut” to find a new block. This can be done both overtly as well as covertly — though the latter variant is currently not as effective on Bitcoin and has negative side effects, such as an incentive to limit the total number of transactions that are included in a block.

“Unlike covert forms of merkle grinding, [overt AsicBoost] has no incentives to create smaller blocks, nor does it interfere with upgrades to the Bitcoin protocol,” Halong Mining writes.

The Halong Mining announcement is the latest in a series following the introduction of the BDPL, an open initiative to share patents between licensees. Last week, California-based Little Dragon Technology LLC, the current holder of the pending AsicBoost patent, announced its intention to join the BDPL. This was followed yesterday by an announcement from Bitcoin mining pool Slush Pool that its pool software is now AsicBoost compatible. According to Halong Mining, mining pools ckpool.org and Bitcoin India have since enabled AsicBoost support as well.

“After Little Dragon Technology LLC acquired the patent from the original inventors, we negotiated a license to use AsicBoost in our miners on the understanding that AsicBoost would be opened up to everyone to use, under some form of defensive patent license, in the hopes it can help protect decentralization of Bitcoin mining,” the Halong Mining announcement states.

Regarding the timing of the announcement, Halong Mining said, “Whilst this was being arranged, we were unable to announce our intended use of AsicBoost technology until the patent holder fully opened the patent for all to use under defensive licensing terms which occurred on March 1, 2018.”

Patent Controversy

While AsicBoost has been subject to much controversy in the past, most of that controversy surrounded the patent on the technology — which could skew competition by state enforcement — and the alleged covert use of it. By making the technology equally available to any company that joins the BDPL, Little Dragon Technology hopes this controversy will come to an end.

Halong Mining shares this sentiment:

“It’s been a long road, but we believe overt version-rolling can create the right incentives for other patent holders in the industry to join the BDPL and create a strong, defensive pool of patents in exchange for access to the technology for energy efficient optimization of the Bitcoin mining process.”

Furthermore, both Little Dragon Technology and Halong Mining said that they hope the Blockchain Defensive Patent License, with AsicBoost now included, will provide a strong incentive for all other mining hardware manufacturers to join the initiative. This would require competing hardware manufacturers to share any patents under the same license, potentially rendering mining hardware patents altogether obsolete.

“The more widely deployed version-rolling is used, the stronger the incentives will become, since version-rolling is the most efficient form of AsicBoost and will deliver efficiency gains in addition to any hardware optimizations or silicon process node,” Halong Mining stated.

BtcDrak, the pseudonymous Bitcoin developer behind Halong Mining, also proposed a Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) on the Bitcoin development mailing list referencing AsicBoost. The proposal itself is more generic, however, as it creates a future-proof space for mining optimizations that miners may come up with in the future.

While overt use of AsicBoost does not require a Bitcoin protocol change, it may interfere with the established soft fork activation process. More specifically, AsicBoost interferes with how some software clients interpret potential soft fork activation on the network, which could result in false positives. To mitigate this risk, software clients might need to be updated to allow for fewer soft fork upgrades simultaneously.

“I apologise for the inconvenience in advance, but this is the unfortunate result of restraints while negotiating to get the patent opened and licensed defensively in the first place,” BtcDrak wrote.

Halong Mining told Bitcoin Magazine it expects to start shipping DragonMint machines before the end of March 2018.


For more background and information on the Blockchain Defensive Patent License and Little Dragon Technology’s decision to join the initiative, read Bitcoin Magazine’s cover story for this month: There Is a Bitcoin Patent War Going On, but This Initiative Could End It.

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This Fan Sucks!

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Literally… it blows and sucks! As more urban-based companies lean toward work-from-home policies, so does the need to have better indoor air quality at home. Designed with this in mind, Fan Tone by designer Hyojeong Lee is an interesting twist on the ceiling fan that does double duty as an indoor air cleaner that rids your home of harmful particles.

It can easily replace any existing fan or installed as a new fixture as it integrates into any standard electrical system. The unit utilizes a HEPA filter system and directly targets air where it matters most. Its fan system also ensures air is circulated for more comprehensive cleaning that stretches beyond room boundaries. It’s also equipped with wireless connectivity so it can relay information to a smartphone app that will give you real-time air quality stats. This also means it can work in tandem with any smart climate control system to provide more efficient cooling during summer months. No one would blame you for not wanting a big, bulky, asymmetrical object as the focal point of your room… but the idea of combining ceiling fans with air-cleaning tech is long overdue!

Designer: Hyojeong Lee

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This robot can solve a Rubik’s Cube in .38 seconds

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When future generations look back on 2018 what will they remember? Not much, I suspect, except for this amazing robot that can solve a Rubik’s cube in .38 seconds. The video, above, shows the cube in an unsolved position and then the actuators jump into action, slamming squares into place like some kind of crazed version of Will Smith’s character in The Pursuit of Happyness.

Created by Ben Katz and Jared Di Carlo, the project uses set of 6 Kollmorgen ServoDisc U9-series motors and 2 Playstation Eye cameras. The contraption reads the cube, solves it, and then slams the thing around in seconds.

The team also used a unique AND board that ensured that each motor would turn on and off independently, a feature that is necessary to ensure the entire thing doesn’t explode if the motors were to actuate at the same time. It then uses the min2phase algorithm to solve the cube in about 21 moves. They could even make the thing slightly faster with a bit of tweaking.

And there you have it: the technical feat of 2018. As someone who grew so frustrated with my Rubik’s Cube that I peeled off the stickers and told my Mom I solved it myself, hats off to Katz and Di Carlo. Now Elon Musk just has to solve a Rubik’s Cube in space to cap off an already exciting year.

This bonus video features a cube exploding mid-solve:

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Stephen Colbert tried divine intervention to convince Oprah to run for president

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On the Late Show last night, Colbert gave Oprah what she said she needed in order to run for president in 2020: a sign from God.

After Oprah firmly explained the talkativeness of her co-stars from A Wrinkle In Time, as well as her intense dislike of gum chewing, Colbert joked, “are you going to yell through this entire interview?”

Sounds like a perfect presidential candidate to me.

Which is why Colbert staged a divine intervention from God, who appeared on the ceiling of the studio with a literal sign saying, “RUN!” along with Oprah 2020 merch that the Lord says he used his wife’s credit card to pay for.

Though Oprah did not seem convinced, but said she’d be adding running to her daily workout routine, she hopes God finds a candidate he is inspired by in 2020.

from Mashable! http://on.mash.to/2tn43OK
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Why does Bluetooth still suck?

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Bluetooth has been around for more than 20 years, but it’s still plagued with issues. Devices may not connect, they may randomly disconnect, or you can run into interference from other devices. Here’s why the technology has so many problems, and what you can do to fix it. Following is a transcript of the video.

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re not alone. Apple, Google and other companies have gotten rid of the headphone jack from their phones. This is pushing people towards wireless headphones, which means they’ll have to rely on that Bluetooth connection. But Bluetooth is still so unreliable. Its got a short range, devices disconnect randomly and it uses up battery life. Even thought it’s been around for 20 years, Why does Bluetooth still suck?

Bluetooth is a wireless standard used all around the world. Wireless printers, keyboards, game controllers, speakers and headphones all use it. It was created by a group of engineers in the mid-’90’s as a secure way to exchange data between devices. The Bluetooth name and logo come from 10th century Viking king Harald Gormsson who, similar to Bluetooth’s purpose, unified two separate entities, Denmark and Norway. King Harald’s nickname was Blatand, which translates from Danish to Bluetooth. The logo comes from the initials of King Harald Blatand. It is a combination of the runic letters H and B.

Bluetooth uses the 2.4 gigahertz frequency to communicate with other devices. This frequency and a few others are referred to as the ISM band, for Industrial, Scientific and Medical devices. This is the spectrum that baby monitors and cordless phones all use. It’s also the same frequency fluorescent lights and microwaves emit. These frequencies don’t require devices to have an FCC license to operate on them. This makes the band attractive to manufacturers because they don’t have to deal with the FCC. Because of this, the ISM is brimming with devices. And they all interfere with your Bluetooth devices.

Any device running on Bluetooth falls into one of three classes. Class one, for long range, these need a power supply, and are mainly used for industrial purposes. They have a range of nearly 330 feet. Class two, they have a range of about 30 feet. This is what most cell phones and speakers use. Class three devices have a range of less than 30 feet. Class two and three devices generally use low power Bluetooth. But even low power can use up precious battery life on your phone. And if you have a class two speaker 20 feet away from your phone, it still may not work great. Especially if there’s any interference coming from other devices.

Bluetooth also transfers data much slower than WiFi does. While devices connected via the new WiFi Direct standard will be able to transfer data at 250 megabits per second, Bluetooth 4.0 can only get up to 25 megabits per second max.

There’s no superfix for these issues coming anytime soon. But if you want to improve the connection between two devices, there are a few things you can do. Keep the devices as close together as possible. Keep your devices updated. Reset your connections daily. Or even use a device that can amplify a Bluetooth signal.

While there’s no sure fix yet, some companies are taking matters into their own hands, developing technology that works a lot like Bluetooth. Apple’s W1 chip enables its AirPods to switch to whatever device you’re using, rather than having to unpair and re-pair the devices each time. Will we start seeing other companies take wireless communication into their hands? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Tencent lets parents reward kids’ good grades with game time

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If you grew up with video games as a kid, you probably struck a deal with your parents: pass a school test with flying colors and you can play more. Tencent wants to formalize those arrangements. Chief executive Ma Huateng has proposed digital contracts that offer game time to kids (for Tencent games, of course) in return for either reaching certain academic criteria or performing chores around the home. He wasn’t specific about when these agreements would be available, but he noted that children could have their friends witness the signing of a contract.

This isn’t an altruistic gesture. Tencent’s Honor of Kings (Arena of Valor in the US) has been so popular and addictive in its native China that the mobile multiplayer title now has time limits to prevent kids from playing too long. Between that and a degree of Chinese government pressure (games like HoK have been likened to "opium" by one delegate), Tencent has an incentive to implement its own limits before officials impose them.

Not that it’s the only company facing scrutiny. The World Health Organization has considered formally recognizing video game addictions, and mobile OS developers like Apple have promised more parental controls that restrict overall phone use. In that light, Tencent isn’t so much leading the way as it is responding to an emerging trend.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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The science-backed 7-minute fitness routine is a great way to get in shape

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  • The 7-minute workout combines aerobics and cardio for a great session you can do at home.
  • It’s based on a science-backed routine called interval training.
  • Although the workout is short, it’ll get your heart racing if you do it right.

Looking for a way to get the benefits of a trip to the gym at home with no equipment? The Johnson & Johnson Official 7-Minute Workout can help.

Admittedly, when I first heard about the app, I assumed it was all hype. I was wrong.

Designed by exercise physiologist Chris Jordan, the app gets your heart pumping and helps build muscle using a type of fitness routine called interval training, which alternates short and powerful bursts of exercise with periods of rest. Here’s how it works.

DON’T MISS: It might be healthier to run a mile than a marathon

SEE ALSO: There’s even more evidence that one type of exercise is the closest thing to a miracle drug that we have

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why we knock on wood, and the truth about 7 other common superstitions

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Creative Crustacean Contraptions!

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There are a handful of companies that make products playful, exciting, and emotive. Kikkerland is easily one of them. It has an inventive style, and its products are designed to be lovable!

Take for instance the Crab. Most people look at Swiss Knives and see multi-tools, but not Kikkerland! The Crab puts a visual twist on the multi-tool, transforming it entirely into a crustacean in a way that seems almost natural, and something you’d expect from a child’s mind.

The Crab comes with a beechwood body and 6 multitools, comprising a pair of scissors, a bottle opener, a 3/16 flat head screwdriver, a can opener, a mini knife, and a rope saw. Fold them up to make the multi-tool look compact, like a meditating crab. The minute you need a helping hand (or claw), unfold the crab’s many arms and it’ll show you just how useful it is!

Designer: Scratch Design for Kikkerland

Click Here to Buy Now

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Tangled ‘particle’ helps scientists model rare ball lightning

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Ball lightning (those bright spheres of light during some thunderstorms) remains mysterious despite decades of study. But how are you supposed to get a better look at it in a lab? Researchers might have discovered how through a happy accident: create a tangled atomic mess. They created a Shankar skyrmion, a quasiparticle whose artificial magnetic field, it turns out, mimics the electrical and magnetic fields of ball lightning. The team applied a magnetic field to a Bose-Einstein condensate (a state of matter for boson gas cooled to near absolute zero), in this case made of rubidium, to get the atoms to spin along the surface of a ball yet twist inside that ball.

It sounds complex (and it is), but it leads to one clear advantage: you can take snapshots of the gas and examine the inner workings of its structure. This could help understand the behavior of ball lightning, of course, but it could be also be useful for the next generation of computing. Quantum computers need to maintain a coherent state despite the outside environment — since skyrmions can be deformed without losing their properties, they could be ideal for quantum machines that can function outside of ideal conditions.

Via: Gizmodo

Source: Science Advances

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