Robert Mueller breaks his silence and sends Twitter scurrying back to school thumbnail

Robert Mueller breaks his silence and sends Twitter scurrying back to school

Mueller doesn't have time for your silly  questions.
Mueller doesn’t have time for your silly  questions.

Image: alex wong/Getty Images

By Heather Dockray

Special Counsel Robert Mueller would like the class to do the reading.

In an exceedingly rare public appearance Wednesday morning, Robert Mueller gave a brief executive summary of the special counsel’s 448-page report and otherwise defended the investigation. Mueller, who will be resigning from his position and returning to private life, refused to answer any questions.

“The report is my testimony,” Mueller said.

The internet, of course, wanted more.

Twitter quickly picked up on Mueller’s solemn, teacher-y tone and responded to his brief conference with memes and GIFs.

Here are some of the best.

“Read the article.”

“I didn’t write the headline.”

“That’s really not what my story was about.”

Today, Bob Mueller is all of us.

— Ben Casselman (@bencasselman) May 29, 2019

America: Did the president or his campaign break the law?

Mueller: Well, he definitely didn’t NOT break the law

A: So he did?

M: If he did we’d’ve said it

A: So no?

M: I wrote a thing

A: What?

M A thing. No questions. I quit.

— snark hoppus. (@markhoppus) May 29, 2019

Mueller, to self: Did they notice that I arched my eyebrow 6 nanometers when I said we did not determine the president did not commit a crime? Yes. I’m sure of it. It was a distinct micro-arch. It could not have been clearer

— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) May 29, 2019

No one is doing the reading, but everyone is talking like they did the reading

— Adam Serwer🍝 (@AdamSerwer) May 29, 2019

bob mueller breezily exiting the doj building with five louis vuitton duffle bags in each hand

— Caitlin Kelly (@caitlin__kelly) May 29, 2019

“Good morning, everyone. There’s nothing more powerful in the world than a good story.”

— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) May 29, 2019

Mueller: I covered that in the piece.

— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) May 29, 2019

Have we checked Mueller’s statement to see if the first letter of every line is an acrostic that spells IMPEACH HIM?

— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) May 29, 2019

Shorter Robert Mueller: None of you people can read, so I have to recite a quick summary.

— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) May 29, 2019

ha, in the end, he fired himself, owned

— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) May 29, 2019

“Look at the material. You can be the judge of it.”

— JuanPa (@jpbrammer) May 29, 2019


— The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt) May 29, 2019

Mueller sounds like a teacher who’s mad he has to tell the class again

— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) May 29, 2019

Does someone have a CliffsNotes for the Mueller Report I can borrow for the test? Thanks.

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After double lot sold to separate owners, one of them erects fence through pool and garage thumbnail

After double lot sold to separate owners, one of them erects fence through pool and garage

An Orlando homeowner owned a second lot next to the house. He added a pool that straddled the property lines. Then, following foreclosure, the two lots were sold to different owners, one of whom erected a fence. Over the pool. Through the garage.

When you’re just dipping your toe in the real estate market

It’s all so very “Florida”! Cities that don’t enforce setback rules. Cities that tolerate structures spanning multiple residential lots. Sales that split combined lots into multiple lots without consideration of what is on the lots. Inspectors, appraisers and mortgage lenders saying “this is fine!”. People building fences over pools and through garages.

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Watch A Group Of High Schoolers Perform ‘Alien’ As A Play thumbnail

Watch A Group Of High Schoolers Perform ‘Alien’ As A Play

This story has been sweeping the internet for the past week or two. A highschool group decided to eschew the classic plays often performed, and instead put on a full production of the 1979 movie Alien. The North Bergen High School drama club in New Jersey went all out, self funding, adapting the movie, and building the entire set. They created costumes and set pieces from scrap material and frankly, knocked it out of the park.

Up until recently, there were only snippets and teasers available on the internet. The crew put together this teaser to highlight the cast, and a few proud parent clips were winding up on twitter, but you couldn’t watch the whole thing.

Last night the North Bergen High School in New Jersey put on ‘Alien’ as their school play and it looks absolutely incredible.#hrgiger#Alien#rushmore

— Paul Owens (@oh_pollo) March 23, 2019

Just look at those pictures! The production immediately drew some attention because, well, it looks incredible. It spread like wildfire and ended up gaining the support of Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver.

Sigourney Weaver visiting the NBHS cast and crew at their encore performance of Alien after national media recognition was unbelievable!! #alien #Alien40th

— Nicholas J. Sacco (@NicholasJSacco) April 27, 2019

Now, the play has been uploaded in its entirety, so you can enjoy. Keep in mind, this isn’t a professional big budget production. This group of determined highschoolers did this on a shoestring and the video itself was simply filmed from someone in the audience. Still, the play is incredibly enjoyable.

[feature image: Paul Owens]

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Here are the 7 requirements for building ethical AI, according to the EU commission

Here are the 7 requirements for building ethical AI, according to the EU commission

In October, Amazon had to discontinue an artificial intelligence–powered recruiting tool after it discovered the system was biased against female applicants. In 2016, a ProPublica investigation revealed a recidivism assessment tool that used machine learning was biased against black defendants. More recently, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development sued Facebook because its ad-serving algorithms enabled advertisers to discriminate based on characteristics like gender and race. And Google refrained from renewing its AI contract with the Department of Defense after employees raised ethical concerns.

Those are just a few of the many ethical controversies surrounding artificial intelligence algorithms in the past few years. There’s a six-decade history behind the AI research. But recent advances in machine learning and neural networks have pushed artificial intelligence into sensitive domains such as hiring, criminal justice and health care.

In tandem with advances in artificial intelligence, there’s growing interest in establishing criteria and standards to weigh the robustness and trustworthiness of the AI algorithms that are helping or replacing humans in making important and critical decisions.

With the field being nascent, there’s little consensus over the definition of ethical and trustworthy AI, and the topic has become the focus of many organizations, tech companies and government institutions.

In a recently published document titled “Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI,” the European Commission has laid out seven essential requirements for developing ethical and trustworthy artificial intelligence. While we still have a lot to learn as AI takes a more prominent role in our daily lives, EC’s guidelines, unpacked below, provide a nice roundup of the kind of issues the AI industry faces today.

Human agency and oversight

Robot Giving Car Key To Man
Image credit: Depositphotos

“AI systems should both act as enablers to a democratic, flourishing and equitable society by supporting the user’s agency and foster fundamental rights, and allow for human oversight,” the EC document states.

Human agency means that users should have a choice not to become subject to an automated decision “when this produces legal effects on users or similarly significantly affects them,” according to the guidelines.

AI systems can invisibly threaten the autonomy of humans who interact with them by influencing their behavior. One of the best-known examples in this regard is Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a research firm used the social media giant’s advertising platform to send personalized content to millions of users with the aim of affecting their vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

The challenge of this requirement is that we’re already interacting with hundreds of AI systems everyday, including the content in our social media feeds, when we view trends in Twitter, when we Google a term, when we search for videos on YouTube, and more.

The companies that run these systems provide very few controls over the AI algorithms. In some cases, such as Google’s search engine, companies explicitly refrain from publishing the inner-workings of their AI algorithms to prevent manipulation and gaming. Meanwhile, various studies have shown that search results can have a dramatic influence on the behavior of users.

Human oversight means that no AI system should be able to perform its functions without some level of control by humans. This means that humans should either be directly involved in the decision-making process or have the option to review and override decisions made by an AI model.

In 2016, Facebook had to shut down the AI that ran its “Trending Topics” section because it pushed out false stories and obscene material. It then returned humans in the loop to review and validate the content the module was specifying as trending topics.

Technical robustness and safety

The EC experts state that AI systems must “reliably behave as intended while minimizing unintentional and unexpected harm, and preventing unacceptable harm” to humans and their environment.

One of the greatest concerns of current artificial intelligence technologies is the threat of adversarial examples. Adversarial examples manipulate the behavior of AI systems by making small changes to their input data that are mostly invisible to humans. This happens mainly because AI algorithms work in ways that are fundamentally different from the human brain.

Adversarial examples can happen by accident, such as an AI system that mistakes sand dunes for nudes. But they can also be weaponized into harmful adversarial attacks against critical AI systems. For instance, a malicious actor can change the coloring and appearance of a stop sign in a way that will go unnoticed to a human but will cause a self-driving car to ignore it and cause a safety threat.

Adversarial attacks are especially a concern with deep learning, a popular blend of AI that develops its behavior by examining thousands and millions of examples.

There are already been several efforts to build robust AI systems that are resilient to adversarial attacks. AutoZOOM, a method developed by researchers at MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, helps detect adversarial vulnerabilities in AI systems.

The EC document also recommends that AI systems should be able to fallback from machine learning to rule-based systems or ask for a human to intervene.

Since machine learning models are based on statistics, it should be clear how accurate a systems is. “When occasional inaccurate predictions cannot be avoided, it is important that the system can indicate how likely these errors are,” the EC’s ethical guidelines state. This means that the end user should know about the confidence level and the general reliability of the AI system they’re using.

Privacy and data governance


“AI systems must guarantee privacy and data protection throughout a system’s entire lifecycle. This includes the information initially provided by the user, as well as the information generated about the user over the course of their interaction with the system,” according to the EC document.

Machine learning systems are data-hungry. The more quality data they have, the more accurate they become. That’s why companies have a tendency to collect more and more data from their users. Companies like Facebook and Google have built economic empires by building and monetizing comprehensive digital profiles of their users. The use this data to train their AI models to provide personalized content and ads to their users and keep them glued to their apps to maximize their profit.

But how responsible are these companies in maintaining the security and privacy of this data? Not very much. They’re also not very explicit about the amount of data they collect and ways they use it.

In recent years, general awareness about privacy and new rules such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are forcing organizations to be more transparent about their data collection and processing practices. In the past year, many companies have offered users the option to download their data or to ask the company to delete it from its servers.

However, more needs to be done. Many companies share sensitive user information with their employees or third-party contractors to label data and train their AI algorithms. In many cases, users don’t know that human operators review their information and they falsely believe that only algorithms process their data.

Very recently, Bloomberg revealed that thousands of Amazon employees across the world access the voice recordings of the users of its Echo smart speakers to help improve the company’s AI-powered digital assistant Alexa. The idea does not sit well with the users, who expect to enjoy privacy in their homes.


The European Commission experts define AI transparency in three components: traceability, explainability and communication.

AI systems based on machine learning and deep learning are highly complex. They develop their behavior based on correlations and patterns found in thousands and millions of training examples. Often, the creators of these algorithms don’t know the logical steps behind the decisions their AI models make. This makes it very hard to find the reasons behind the errors these algorithms make.

EC specifically recommends that developers of AI systems document the development process, the data they use to train their algorithms, and explain their automated decisions in ways that are understandable to humans.

Explainable AI has become the focus of several initiatives by the private and public sector. This includes a widespread effort by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to create AI models are open to investigation and methods that can explain AI decisions.

Another important point raised in the EC document is communication. “AI systems should not represent themselves as humans to users; humans have the right to be informed that they are interacting with an AI system,” the document reads.

Last year, Google introduced Duplex, an AI service that could place calls on behalf users and make restaurant and salon reservations. Controversy ensued because the assistant refrained from presenting itself as an AI agent and duped its interlocutors into thinking they were speaking to a real human. The company later updated the service to present itself as Google Assistant.

Diversity, non-discrimination and fairness

Algorithmic bias is one of the well-known controversies of contemporary AI technology. For a long time, we believed that AI would not make subjective decisions based on bias. But machine learning algorithms develop their behavior from their training data, and they reflect and amplify any bias contained in those data sets.

There have been numerous examples of algorithmic bias rearing its ugly head, such as the examples listed at the beginning of this article. Other cases include a study that showed popular AI-based facial analysis servicesbeing more accurate on men with light skin and making more errors on women with dark skin.

To prevent unfair bias against certain groups, EC’s guidelines recommend that AI developers make sure their AI systems’ data sets are inclusive.

The problem is, AI models often train on data that is publicly available, and this data often contains hidden biases that already exist in the society.

For instance, a group of researchers at Boston University discovered that word embedding algorithms (AI models used in tasks such as machine translation and online text search) trained on online articles had developed hidden biases, such as associating programming with men and homemaker with women. Likewise, if a company trains its AI-based hiring tools with the profiles of its current employees, it might be unintentionally pushing its AI toward replicating the hidden biases and preferences of its current recruiters.

To solve hidden biases, EC recommends for companies that develop AI systems hire people from diverse backgrounds, cultures and disciplines.

One consideration to note however is that fairness and discrimination often depends on the domain. For instance, in hiring, organizations must make sure that their AI systems don’t make decisions. But in another field like health care, parameters like gender and ethnicity must be factored in when diagnosing patients.

Societal and environmental well-being

Soft Pasture

“[The] broader society, other sentient beings and the environment should be also considered as stakeholders throughout the AI system’s life cycle,” EC’s guidelines state.

The social aspect of AI has been deeply studied. A notable example are social media companies, which use AI to study the behavior of their users and provide them with personalized content. This makes social media applications addictive and profitable, but also causes a negative impact on users, making them less social, less happy and less tolerant toward opposing views and opinions.

Some companies have started to acknowledge this and correct the situation. In 2018, Facebook declared that it would be making changes to its News Feed algorithm and provide users with more posts from friends and family and less from brands and publishers. The move was aimed at making the experience more social.

The environmental impact of AI is less discussed, but is equally important. Training and running AI systems in the cloud consumes a lot of electricity and leaves a huge carbon footprint. This is a problem that will grow worse as more and more companies use AI algorithms in their applications.

One of the solutions is to use lightweight edge AI solutions that require very little power and  run on renewable energy. Another solution is to use AI itself to help improve the environment. For instance, machine learning algorithms can help manage traffic and public transport to reduce congestion and carbon emissions.


Finally, EC calls for mechanisms “to ensure responsibility and accountability for AI systems and their outcomes, both before and after their development, deployment and use.” Basically, this means there should be legal safeguards to make sure companies keep their AI systems conformant with ethical principles.

U.S. lawmakers recently introduced the Algorithmic Accountability Act which, if passed, will required companies to have their AI algorithms evaluated by the Federal Trade Commission for known problems such as algorithmic bias as well as privacy and security concerns.

Other countries, including the UK, France and Australia have passed similar legislation to hold tech companies to account for the behavior of their AI models.

In most cases, ethical guidelines are not in line with the business model and interests of tech companies. That’s why there should be oversight and accountability. “When unjust adverse impact occurs, accessible mechanisms should be foreseen that ensure adequate redress. Knowing that redress is possible when things go wrong is key to ensure trust,” the EC document states.

This story is republished from TechTalks, the blog that explores how technology is solving problems… and creating new ones. Like them on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter.

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See the bright, spacious habitat that Martian colonizers could call home thumbnail

See the bright, spacious habitat that Martian colonizers could call home

By Jesus Diaz4 minute Read

Living on another planet is going to be really hard. No readily available food, water, or breathing air. Extreme cold and extreme hot. No atmosphere or magnetic field to protect from the sun’s radiation (or meteorites). The buildings that colonizers live in will be incredibly important–they’ll need to keep inhabitants safe from all of the above.

That’s why NASA is asking private companies to come up with ways to build these homes through its 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, a competition to design habitats and laboratories for deep space exploration. The objective isn’t just deep space design, though–NASA also wants to advance construction technology that could help create sustainable housing solutions on our home planet.

The challenge has been going on since 2015, as NASA puts entrants through a series of hurdles that narrowed the race down to a few ideas. This week, the agency announced the winner of its latest phase: the New York-based startup AI SpaceFactory, which proved its tech in a real-life simulation last week.

[Image: AI SpaceFactory]

Starting on May 1, the startup spent four days competing against the other finalist, a team from Penn State University. In total, they spent 30 hours 3D printing their habitat design at Caterpillar’s Edwards Demonstration & Learning Center in Edwards, IL.

Both teams’ technologies used robotic arms that could operate autonomously in another planet, with minimal human intervention, and used raw materials that could be found on Mars and the moon mixed with recycled materials from earth. Their methods for making these building materials differed, though. Penn State used cement made from river sand similar to Martian soil. AI SpaceFactory’s 3D printer laid down a composite material that mixes basaltic fibers that could potentially be harvested on Mars and bioplastic made from starch that would be shipped from earth.

[Photo: AI SpaceFactory]

The architectural design between the teams was different, too. Penn State’s habitat resembled Italian trulloscylindrical structures with conic roofs–while AI SpaceFactory built a 15-by-8-foot egg-shaped structure. While the built mock-ups are only one-third of the full size, they had to endure rigorous testing, like direct hits from heavy balls to simulate accidents and sustaining 50,000 pounds of force to test overall durability against extreme weather.

[Photo: AI SpaceFactory]

AI SpaceFactory’s approach resulted in significantly better results during the testing process. For example, according to IEEE Spectrum, when a 96-ton Caterpillar’s excavator pressed the structures from the top, the egg-shaped composite structure designed by AI SpaceFactory hardly budged. Only a tiny bit of the material broke, leaving the building intact. The Penn State cement habitat, however, crumbled after showing enough resistance to lift the front of the Caterpillar’s threads from the ground. In another test, a 29-pound ball was fired onto the structures, causing serious damage on Penn States’s design but none for AI SpaceFactory.

This isn’t the end of the competition, nor the end of the road for a viable 3D-printing Mars habitat. With the data gathered during the test, and armed with their $500,000 and $200,000 awards, the two teams will now refine their technologies for a new phase of the $3.5-million competition that is yet to be defined.

In the meantime, the New York company will recycle the material and use it to build a new design called “Tera,” which they actually want to turn into an Airbnb–one that you can actually book without being Elon Musk.

[Image: AI SpaceFactory/Plomp]

Beyond that, the project awaits further development until the tech is mature enough to be used in a future mission.

I asked AI SpaceFactory’s CEO and chief architect David Malott how he imagines his system getting to Mars and building habitats there. He envisions two rovers, sent in advance of astronauts in a rocket: one to gather and process the materials for the 3D printing, the other to actually print the habitat.

“The robots will autonomously construct the habitat and ideally pressurize and fill it with an earth-like atmosphere, before the arrival of the first [humans],” he says.

[Image: AI SpaceFactory/Plomp]

Some experts believe that we should avoid building anything on Mars and instead work with existing geological features, like lava tubes and caves, to turn them into human habitats–because this approach would be more cost-effective and provide natural radiation shelter. Malott disagrees. “Humans much prefer to live above the ground with windows [rather] than burrowed into the ground or in caves,” he says. “The biopolymer-basalt derived material we have developed should provide effective cosmic radiation shielding due to its low atomic mass.” He also believes that they might enhance shielding by depositing ice between two layers of 3D-printed material (“like a Martian ice cream sandwich”) but admits that they still have to validate these ideas with actual testing.

Malott believes that inflatable habitats installed in caves could be a temporary habitation measure, but he thinks it’s not the best solution. The key to any future Martian or moon habitat is permanence, and inflatable habitats in caves won’t fulfill that objective. You can build a 3D-printed habitat nearly anywhere–close to ice water, metals, or soil that can facilitate life on a permanent colony on Mars. After all, it’s a process that humans have been perfecting since the beginning of civilization: finding ideal locations with favorable conditions to raise their villages, towns, and cities.

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It’s Never Too Early To Prepare for Halloween: With Flamethrowers thumbnail

It’s Never Too Early To Prepare for Halloween: With Flamethrowers

Using a legitimate flamethrower is on the bucket list for a lot of us. Even Elon Musk got into the action with his Not-A-Flamethrower flamethrower. For the rest of us non-billionaires though, we have to come up with clever reasons to build our own like “Halloween is only six months away”. [HandsomeRyan] took this approach six months ago to great effect, and recently released the files on Thingiverse for us all to enjoy.

The cover for building this project was making a Jack-o-Lantern shoot flames out of its face on-demand. The build is based around a car door locking solenoid, which has plenty of kick for applications like this. [HandsomeRyan] upgraded his old wood design with fancy 3D-printed parts which, with the help of the solenoid, deliver a blast of flammable material across a candle inside the Jack-o-Lantern via an aerosol can hidden in the pumpkin.

Part of the elegance of this project is that a car door locking solenoid is typically controlled by remote, meaning that if you want this to be remote-controlled the work has already been done for you. If you need a more timely excuse for building one of these, the Fourth of July is a little bit closer, which should work in a pinch as an excuse to build something crazy even if you’re not American.

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Go Back in Time with a Laser Cut Wood 3D Printer Kit thumbnail

Go Back in Time with a Laser Cut Wood 3D Printer Kit

About a decade ago, the only way the average hacker was getting their hands on a desktop 3D printer was by building it themselves from a kit. Even then, to keep costs down, many of these kits were made out of laser cut wood. For a few years, wooden printers from companies like MakerBot and PrintrBot were a common sight in particularly well equipped hackerspaces. But as the market expanded and production went up, companies could afford to bend metal and get parts injection molded; the era of the wooden 3D printer was over nearly as soon as it had started.

But [Luke Wallace] thinks there’s still some life left in the idea. For his entry into the 2019 Hackaday Prize, he’s proposing a revival of the classic laser cut 3D printer kit. But this time, things are a bit different. Today, laser cutters are cheap enough that these kits could conceivably be manufactured at your local hackerspace. With a total bill of materials under $100 USD, these kits could be pumped out for less than the cheapest imports, potentially driving adoption in areas where the current options are too expensive or unavailable.

Of course, just a laser cut wood frame wouldn’t be enough to break the fabled $100 barrier. To drive the cost down even farther, [Luke] has redesigned essentially every component so it could be made out of wood. If its not electronic, there’s a good chance its going to be cut out of the same material the frame is made out of. Probably the biggest change is that the traditional belt and pulley system has been replaced with rack and pinion arrangements.

After cutting all the pieces, essentially all you need to provide is the stepper motors, a RAMPS controller, the hotend, and the extruder. He’s even got a design for a laser cut wood extruder if you want to go back to the real olden days and save yourself another few bucks. Or skip the LCD controller and just run it over USB.

But what do the prints look like? [Luke] has posted a few pictures of early test pieces on the project’s page, and to be honest, they’re pretty rough. But they don’t look entirely unlike the kind of prints you’d get on one of those early printers before you really got it dialed in, so we’re interested in seeing how the results improve with further refinements and calibration. (Editor’s note: Since writing this, he got backlash compensation up and running, and it looks a ton better already. Very impressive for something running on wooden gears!)

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Will Transparent Wood Become a Viable Construction Material? thumbnail

Will Transparent Wood Become a Viable Construction Material?

One of the world’s oldest building materials may soon be getting a makeover. Wood is celebrated for being a good insulator, durable, and renewable, but despite its best qualities it’s still opaque, and we need natural light—not only for our sanity but also to decrease our use of artificial light. Glass, however, is a really bad insulator and not energy-efficient. Looking for an alternative to drafty windows, a team of researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden have developed a process of chemically treating wood to make it both transparent and capable of storing and releasing heat.

“We prepared a material that is multifunctional—it can transmit light very well and also it can store heat. We combined these two functions in a single material,” expained Céline Montanari, one of the researchers on the project, when she presented their work at the American Chemical Society last month.

Since one-third of the world’s energy consumption currently comes from the building sector—and largely due to our heating, cooling, and lighting systems—the material is being touted as a potential game-changer for energy-efficient construction.

The two-step process begins with removing the lignin—a polymer that makes wood rigid—from a piece of wood, which leaves behind a lot of porous space in the sample. This idea is not new and the resulting piece remains structurally sound and looks like frosted glass. The team took it a step further by filling the new microscopic holes they created with polyethylene glycol, a “phase-change material” that can be either solid or liquid depending on the temperature. As the temperature rises it takes in heat and melts to a liquid, and as it cools down it releases heat and becomes solid. The cell walls of the wood provide structure for the polymer so that it stays put even in its liquid form. As it undergoes this process it goes between different levels of opacity, from a more frosted look to almost fully clear.

During her presentation, Montanari showed a sample of the transparency that can be achieved (that’s her very on-brand business card!).

This characteristic makes it a less-than-ideal window substitute, but it could easily be applied as a skylight or to increase the amount of natural light in a building. As Montanari says, the more you can incorporate into a design, the more it would reduce the energy footprint of the building.

“If you take 100g of this transparent wood material with the [polyethylene glycol] inside, it can absorb up to 8,000J of heat, which corresponds to basically what a 1W [bulb] could produce in two hours,” said Montanari. Since different polymers melt at different temperatures, they would have to use different polymers depending on the application—a sheet being installed in Canada, for example, would have to work within a very different range of temperatures than one installed in Morocco.

Another pro is that it retains the mechanical strength of wood and wouldn’t shatter on impact, so it’s safer a safer option than glass.

Montanari and her team are currently looking at increasing the heat storage capacity of the transparent wood for greater energy savings. They’re also working with a partner to figure out production at an industrial scale. They’ve already filed a patent and hope to have a commercially viable product within five years.

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Hawks' anticipation building for crucial NBA draft lottery thumbnail

Hawks’ anticipation building for crucial NBA draft lottery

Published 3:05 p.m. ET May 6, 2019


ATLANTA (AP) — No team has more riding on next week’s NBA draft lottery than the Atlanta Hawks.

If the pingpong balls fall Atlanta’s way, the Hawks could be the only team to end up with two of the top nine picks.

The last two drafts have set the foundation for the Hawks’ makeover. John Collins and Trae Young are the new faces of the franchise .

More help is needed following 29 wins this season. General manager Travis Schlenk dares to dream of hitting the jackpot in the May 14 lottery and having the first and ninth picks in the June 20 draft. That best-case scenario would add significant momentum to an already promising rebuilding process.

“We like the position we’re in,” Schlenk said Friday following a workout with draft hopefuls at the Hawks’ practice facility. “We all know right now we’re sitting with the fifth odds and potentially the ninth odds, so it’d be real exciting. The best-case scenario would put us at one and nine. That would be great for the franchise.”

Schlenk said building a strong base with young players will help the team attract top free agents.

“There’s a buzz around the league about our young core,” he said. “Once we show that we’re in contention and playoff contending, that’s when free agents are going to look at this group and say I want to go there and we can take it to the next level.”

The draft spotlight is on Duke’s Zion Williamson, the probable reward for the team landing the No. 1 draft pick. Schlenk smiled when asked about Williamson and said it’d be premature to talk about the powerful forward.

“We’ll worry about that after the lottery,” he said.

Then the GM couldn’t resist.

“Obviously the player himself was phenomenal in college,” Schlenk said of Williamson. “Just his size and athleticism. All the stuff I’ve heard about the person is off the charts, too.”

Schlenk took a huge gamble in last year’s draft. He traded Luka Doncic , the No. 3 selection, to Dallas for Young and a top-five protected draft pick. That pick belongs to the Hawks this year unless Dallas, currently slotted ninth, moves into the top five. Otherwise, it shifts to Atlanta in 2020, again as a top-five protected pick.

The Hawks had three first-round picks last year. Shooting guard Kevin Huerter joined Young in the all-rookie backcourt. The third first-rounder, forward Omari Spellman, started 11 games.

Taurean Prince, who had a strong finish to his third season, also looks to be part of the long-term plans for Schlenk and coach Lloyd Pierce.

Pierce said after the season the Hawks established an “identity” in his first season “where we compete and play hard. Our guys play for each other. They play with a lot of energy and a lot of passion and that was really the goal.”

Now the coach wants this year’s draft class to fall in line with Young, Collins and others.

“That’s what I’m hoping whoever we get walks into,” Pierce said. “I hope it’s not chaos they’re walking into and we have to start the process.”

The Hawks have three second-round picks but may not have room for that many rookies next season. Schlenk could be looking to package picks in another trade.

It may be difficult for even a No. 1 pick to top Young’s impact on the team. The exciting point guard was a double-double machine with a flair for game-winning floaters and a Stephen Curry-like knack for extra-long 3-pointers.

Schlenk and Pierce already are happy with the Doncic-Young trade. But they know final judgment on the deal awaits the Hawks receiving the added first-round pick.

With a little lottery luck for Atlanta, the wait will soon end.


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