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Naoki Watanabe
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Dark Triad of personality traits highest among business/economics students

A 2016 study of 216 American CEOs found a staggering 21% conform to psychopathic personality traits. (side note: that's about the same as the general prison population)

Some possible reasons for the high representation among CEOs/executives may be;

1. This is exactly who you might expect to seek out positions of power.
2. The average person and the average screening process isn't typically geared to detect and weed out such people.
3. CEOs who are unencumbered by ethics can succeed in terms important to their investors thus giving an incentive to ignore or even seek unethical behavior.

A new study has taken this information and expanded on it to look for trends in education.

They find people with the "Dark Triad" of personality - narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism - are most represented among economics/business students.

Those least likely to possess these traits are psychology students.

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Mercedes to compete with Tesla's Powerwall product

Their press release says they have trained 500 installers in Germany and deliveries are already being made. Good to see some competition in this space.

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UK sees longest continuous period without coal

"Friday was Britain’s first ever working day without coal power since the Industrial Revolution, according to the National Grid."

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US Energy trend : 2015->2016

- Total energy use up fractionally, 0.1%
- Solar up 38%
- Wind up 19%
- Natural gas up 1%
- Coal use down 9% (replaced by the above increases)
- Fossil fuel use in transport sector up 2% (need more EVs)

66% of all energy is wasted in inefficiencies and lost generally as heat which is dumped into the atmosphere. Combustion based systems (coal, petroleum), especially in transport, being the least efficient.

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Can we save the planet in 20 years?

Many scientists agree we have virtually no chance at all of staving off a 1.5C rise in average global temperatures and the impact will be immense.

If the US vacates the Paris accord as President Trump has threatened staying below the threshold of a 2C rise would be in danger. In fact it might be in danger even if all pledges are maintained.

But why should it be even a question? Why is it so hard? The answer to that is simply political inertia. It isn't an economic problem, it's not an engineering issue, and no new physics are required.

In Australia moving the infrastructure to supply renewable energy for all electricity, transport and industry would cost about $800bn between now and 2050. Sounds like a large number but the cost of meeting energy demand through fossil fuels and business as usual is $890 billion.

Australia's public scientific and industrial research organisation (CSIRO) says there are "no barriers to 100 per cent renewable energy". The Australian capital territory, home of the capital city Canberra, has stated they will be 100% renewable by 2020. Sure that's only about 380,000 people but that's a start and sets an example. South Australia home to 1.7 million people is already at 50% and progressing rapidly.

China is investing $360 billion in renewable energy up to 2020 and expects to create 13 million jobs in the sector and drastically improve air quality (and thus reduce health care costs).

Scotland already produces about 60% of their energy from renewables and during certain peak times generates over 100%. They stated a target to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. Very responsible considering Scotland has 62.4% of the EU's proven reserves of oil and 69% of UK coal reserves yet and could lazily live off that for decades to come.

The UK generates about a quarter of their energy from renewable sources. It was only 8.8% in 2011 so growth appears strong and hopefully will continue but England does fall a little behind many other European states.

Germany has promised to transform its electricity supply to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 and like Denmark, Scotland, and the Netherlands, Germany also sees times of over 100% production where energy has to be exported to neighboring countries.

The US is a little more tricky. Already behind the pack with only ~14-15% of electricity coming from renewables much action is needed. However with many high ranking politicians including the president wanting to see more fossil fuels burned, not less, we are unlikely to see targets for renewable energy use being set a the federal level. Thus we put our hope in the hands of cities, states and corporations. On the positive side that is where we see groups acting a little more rationally.

Some large American IT companies are carbon neutral already or have set tough targets to become so in the near future - Google, FaceBook, Apple to new a few.

Some small cities like Burlington in Vermont and Georgetown in Texas are already 100% renewable powered. Large cites such as Grand Rapids in Michigan aim to be 100% by 2020. Great examples of leadership.

Norway, Albania, Iceland, and Paraguay are already at 100% so well done to them ( ok fine Norway is technically only at 97% but what have you done lately ;) ).

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Climate change will also drive human migration within nations

As climate change and rising sea levels reshapes maps it is predicted by 2100 the US state of Florida will have lost some 2.5 million people due to rising seas while Texas will gain most of those, 1.5 million.

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April fools joke (or should we say troll?) BMW's Hybrid AWD R1200GS motorbike

The article has been updated to read;

"Author's note: This was indeed an April Fool's Joke - the first I've fallen for in 9 years and 364 days working for Gizmag/New Atlas.We take some solace in the fact that there's nothing remotely funny about it, it's eminently plausible and indeed not a bad idea, and it sounds like something BMW would do well. So… Good joke BMW Motorrad… I guess…"

A new all wheel drive hybrid from BMW would always be interesting news (to me) but when we are talking about a hybrid all wheel drive motorcycle then eyebrows are raised to significant heights.

The 45HP hub motor up front only weighs 880 grams and adds regenerative braking. Extra braking force from regen means one of the front disc brakes can come off and overall weight at the front wheel actually reduced. Oh and you get traction control up there too.

BMW says the total weight is identical to the standard R1200GS bike.

Absolutely amazing and it's a real thing, not a concept, it will be in stores H2 this year.

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The power of the neuron (2017 update)

In the early 1950s neurons were thought of as basic switches (McCulloch and Pitts artificial neuron model). By the 70s that view had begun to change reflecting newly understood complex interplay between neuron, axons (connective nerve fibres), and dendrites (branches from a neuron).

Better equipment and more study continued to show previously unknown complexity. In Christof Koch's Biophysics of Computation (1999) he says, ‘that dendrites can indeed be very powerful, nontraditional computational devices, implementing a number of continuous operations.’ Again adding to the overall complexity and an idea still in play today. In 2000 'Neuroscience: A Mathematical Primer' writes "An individual neuron might be able to perform logical computations at its branching regions, making it more like an integrated circuit chip than a single switch".

The following decade saw evidence of quantum effects at work in biological systems; areas such as in energy transport in plant photosynthesis, magnetoreception. Some suggested the brain might be a quantum computer which would explain the incredible energy efficiency of it's operation (Ervin Laszlo).

A Nature published study in 2007 found that a single rat neuron was enough to deliver a sensation of touch. By stimulating a single neuron a sensation of touch through the whiskers was generated.

2009 an exciting idea began to be explored. What if a single neuron can understand an entire "concept"? What if the idea of your grandmother is in a single neuron, what if the thought, or elicited thought, of an actress exists in a single neuron. In one study a patient was shown seven different pictures of Jennifer Aniston and a single neuron fired in each case. Another single neuron fired when a patient was shown photographs, masked photographs, drawings, or even heard the name of Halle Berry.


In 2010 it was found that "single neurons, and indeed even single dendrites, the tiny receiving elements of neurons, can very effectively distinguish between different temporal sequences of incoming information". The take home message being "the basic components of the brain are exceptionally powerful computing devices in their own right";


In the same year MIT found the discrete memories (engrams) are stored in small numbers of brain cells. Which builds on the 2009 work showing the power of single neurons;


We've come a long way from thinking of the neuron as simple switch and through techniques such as optogenetics we are looking through a window into the workings of these most fascinating cells.

Over the last 60 odd years our perception of the neuron's complexity has exploded exponentially and this in turn means that a functional microscale Connectome, the full map of brain cells and connections, remains completely impossible with existing computing systems. 

This month a UCLA team announced dendrites - making up a large overall percentage of brain tissue - generate signals at a rate ten fold higher than expected. Complementing work from institutes such as Salk.


Brains truly are amazing machines.

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Panasonic's new solar roof for the Prius can trickle charge your battery

It isn't much but you know I'll take an extra 10% efficiency. It would be great in places like Australia where instead of coming back to a nuclear hot car that you can't physically enter until you get the AC running, you've have had the sun powering the ventilation system. Plus you've got a little extra in the battery. It's a win-win even if the option price of <$2k is a little steep right now.

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Some info on AMD Naples server variant CPUs

AMD hit a bit of a home run with their newly released Ryzen range of desktop CPUs but for the server heads out there the "Naples" chips coming a little later in the year are perhaps even more interesting;

- Eight channel DDR4 (ECC at 2400Mhz)
- Up to 2TB of RAM in a single socket server (double that for dual)
- 128 PCIe 3.0 lanes
- 32 cores, 64 threads (single CPU, double that for dual socket)

It is expected AMD will undercut intel on price but I don't yet have pricing information.
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