The Five Best Things: Mar 13, 2021

Same same but different energy

Happy spring forward eve in America, the night that brings terror to parents of young children.

Lots of activity around NFTs (non-fungible tokens) this week, with a digital image from artist Beeple selling for $69.3M in an auction conducted by Christie’s. A Clubhouse interview was conducted last night with the (pseudonymous) auction winners. A good primer on NFTs here, and I’ll plan to do a deep dive one of these days.

The Five Best Things

  1. Continuing the thread I picked up last time, I want to highlight a couple of interesting AI democratization efforts

  2. visual search engine

  3. A compendium of recent semiconductor news -

    • President Biden ordered a broad review of the semiconductor supply chains, in preparation for economic incentives, for which there appears to be bipartisan support. The review was conducted due to pleas from multiple auto manufacturers, whose plants have had to stall due to lack of component chips. These supply chain lags will take years to work out.

    • It’s still hard to say what the Biden administration’s position on semiconductors and China will be. The most telling sign will be who is appointed to lead the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, which controls the ‘entity list’. The entity list is essentially a blacklist of entities the United States will not allow business with; this was the tool with which Huawei was kicked out of the country by the Trump administration. The two contenders for this role have wildly differing views; a backward looking review of past financing activity involving Chinese entities is underway by CFIUS.

    • The Texas freeze and subsequent power and water outages a few weeks ago stalled operations at Samsung and NXP’s chip manufacturing plants in Austin. A month later and the plants are still not back up and running. Samsung is the largest corporate consumer of electricity and water in Austin, and may be seriously rethinking its future expansion plans - this will be an economic disaster for the city and state.

  4. I read a few good pieces this week that resonated with me re: Women’s Day

  5. Arstechnica: Meet this year’s winners of the Dance Your PhD contest

    • This annual contest run by Science Magazine allows researchers to explain their thesis topics with interpretive dance. This year included a special prize for COVID-19 related research, the winning submission is phenomenal! So, so talented.

      Heather Masson Forsythe, a graduate student at Oregon State University, won that category with an interpretive dance—performed solo on a beach, in the corridor outside her lab, and in the woods, among other locales—inspired by her thesis research on "Biochemical & Biophysical Studies of the COVID-19 Nucleocapsid Protein with RNA." Forsythe uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) imaging to learn about one of the essential proteins encoded in the viral genome.

Honorable Mentions

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not represent my employer.