Saturday, December 17, 2022

Brief items - LOC, GPT, etc.

 This year was a busy one and my overall posting rate is down.  Hopefully the coming year will be a bit less frenetic, but who knows.  A few brief items:

  • First, in the odd self-promotion department, this blog is officially going to be indexed by the Library of Congress as part of their Science Blogs Web Archive.  This is another sign that I am officially ancient in blogging terms.  This blog has never had the huge readership of some, but thanks to you for raising it above whatever the threshold of notice is for this.
  • This was a cute story.  Folks at ETH have shown that a thin, barely percolating layer of gold can act as an anti fogging coating on glasses, since it can locally heat up due to its infrared absorption, while still being sufficiently transparent for use in eyewear.  At the risk of costing myself a lucrative potential patent, it seems to me that you could do the same thing using TiN, which has similar near-IR optical properties, and should be easy to integrate with the TiO2 coating that the researchers already use.  
  • In a headline that is not a repeat from September, there is a new contender for world’s largest dilution refrigerator under construction, this time from FermiLab.  Multiple quantum computing platforms benefit from the sub-100 mK temperatures, so it’s not surprising to see efforts along these lines, but 5 cubic meters of sample chamber seems a bit much.  Time to invest in my Canadian 3He futures.
  • I’m glad to see that someone has been thinking like my sci-fi-loving brain, and working out whether gravitational wave detectors could be used to detect evidence of some types of interstellar spacecraft.  While the paper concerns conjectural accelerating planetary-mass ships, certainly exotic propulsion ideas (warp drives, wormholes) would also have gravitational radiation signatures.
  • Speaking of science fiction, like a lot of people I spent some time this week playing with chatGPT, the language model that may be the end of high school English essays, college admissions essays, and quite probably a lot of jobs.  Its output is uncanny and worrying, especially since it has no problem just brazenly lying and making up sources.  (For fun, see what happens if you ask it to explain why 51 is a prime number.). Still, it’s hard not to feel like we are right at some threshold, where expository and creative writing, historically the province of at least somewhat educated humans, is no longer ours.  This could mean great things for education (I asked it to explain Stokes’ theorem to me, and it did a pretty nice job), but it could mean terrible things for education (why learn to write well when a free tool can do a decent job for you?).  The calculator and computer did not eradicate math education or math literacy, so hopefully we will reap more of the positives than the negatives.  This post was written 100% by me, btw, with no GPT assistance, though remember that chatGPT lies….
  • At the risk of being deemed a dangerous website by Twitter, where I am here, I’m on a mastodon instance now as well. was started by Charles Seife and hosts a bunch of scientists and science journalists.


Peter Jones said...

I'd counter that the material cost for a 5 nm gold layer (100 ng/m²) is negligible, and keeps the chemistry very simple.

Douglas Natelson said...

I know the cost of the Au isn't really an issue here. It just seems to me that if you're already sputtering TiO2, then varying your process to incorporate a TiN layer might be pretty simple.