NEWWorthy shutting down December 2017

Well, it’s been fun blogging on NEWWorthy for 5 years.  Readership hasn’t grown as I had hoped, though, so it’s time to shut down NEWWorthy.

Sometime in December 2017, this site will no longer be accessible.  Feel free to explore all my blog entries before then.  I may move the NEWWorthy Awards to my author site and author blog, and continue adding new awards annually.  If you like NEWWorthy, you can still get a bit of NEWWorthy-ness on my Pinterest board called NEWWorthy.

If you have been intrigued by the science, technology, and health articles I have blogged about here, you might like to keep up with MIT Technology Review, CNet, ComputerWorldScience News, The Scientist, NASA, The Planetary Society, and many of the other magazines and journals I have mentioned in my blogs here on NEWWorthy.

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your 2017 and on into the future.

All the best, Richard S. Levine, NEWWorthy editor

2D magnets

It’s too early to tell how useful 2D magnets are for anything other than experiments, since there is more research required to make them work at room temperature.

But the fact that physicists have figured out how to make magnets that are one atom thick, sure sounds pretty NEWWorthy.  They might eventually be used in consumer electronics.  Perhaps there will be uses in smartphones or computers.

As a person who enjoys the sport of disc golf, I wonder how strong the magnet will be.  If I could place a tape-thin-like magnet on my disc, that wouldn’t change the characteristics of my disc, could I then use any kind of extending pole (like a golf ball retriever) with a magnet on the end to retrieve it?  Probably not, but it’s a thought.

Magnetic Field clip art

MSSLB – High Performing Charter School suspensions

Many Suspended Students are Left Behind (MSSLB) from high performing charters schools, according to numerous newspaper articles.  Just search “‘high performing charter school’ suspensions” online, and you’ll see what I mean.  Here’s one such story from “The Atlantic”.  There is concern that at least some high performing charter schools are achieving better test scores because they have forced out lower achieving students through repeated suspensions.

In Florida, bill HB 5105 would spend $200 million to create “schools of hope” based on bringing into the state high performing charter school operators from across the country.  But do legislators understand how these schools go about becoming high performers?  If these schools are created here — or in your own state — what happens if students are forced out with repeated suspensions?  Do they go back to failing public schools that are operating with far less funds — for example, minus $200 million?

If charter schools are given this kind of public funding, then they must be required to display the same transparency and rules that public schools must follow.  Otherwise it is not a fair comparison and the term “high performing” just becomes another way of saying “unfair”.

A hyperloop passenger cabin

Okay, cabin may be an exaggeration.  It’s really called a capsule or maybe a pod.  Since it will travel at over 700 mph, presumably it will have to be austere to avoid safety hazards.  Also, compared to subways, you have to wonder if people will be allowed to stand during 760 mph travel from point A to point B.

Extending the reach of dermatologists

AI and medical technology has been coming together for years now, but many more advances are still in the lab.  Now, new research shows that AI can recognize skin cancer with results comparable to dermatologists.  With mobile phones, this could help to extend the reach of dermatologists, hopefully making more people aware of potential skin cancers that need further attention from an expert.

Terminology: Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic Advertising, or programmatic marketing, has been mentioned since at least 2014.  It’s basically the algorithmic purchase and sale of advertising space in real time.  Startapp thinks it’s going to be big among business advertisers in 2017.

So is it NEWWorthy?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Some like Startapp seem to think so.

Advertising clip art

Will Wind and Solar be NEWWorthy in 2017?

According to an April 2016 article on, Solar and Wind are already making a significant impact on cost and usage of coal and gas.  There’s also reason to believe that this trend will not only continue, but also heat up.  Google recently announced it will be entirely on renewable energy by 2017.

New president Trump campaigned that he would bring the coal industry back to life.  But at what cost and for whose benefit?  The oil industry has urged Trump to support the building of the Dakota pipeline, in spite of continued protests in North Dakota.  If the Trump administration decides to allow the pipeline path as originally planned, what will be the cost and for whose benefit?

Solar Tracker clip art

Wind Turbine clip art

Bot economy

Get used to hearing the term “bot economy” as bots slowly replace apps.  Chat bots are bots (software) that provide customer and other text services to humans.  There are also search bots, edit bots, anti-vandalism bots, and many others.  Wikipedia lists some of the Wikipedia bots.  There are also many, too many, malicious bots.

Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft make bots too, hoping that eventually their virtual helpers will be established as the best in the business.  App stores are flooded with apps, but The Economist informs us that the market for bots is just getting started.  Some, like Bloomberg, are calling it the “bot economy”.

Many bots don’t have faces, but many do have personalities and some have voices.  Consumer robots that help us in our daily lives with tasks like laundry, cleaning (not just vacuuming), driving, etc. may still be years away, but bots are here now.  Welcome to the bot economy.  Whether it becomes as big as the app economy has been over the last decade, time will tell.  For now, bots are NEWWorthy.


Almost 8 years of record low Fed interest rate

The September 2016 Federal Open Market Committee projections can be found here.  The Fed decided not to raise it’s federal funds rate.  The projections may interest you, as they predict PCE inflation will rise from about 1.3% this year to 1.9% in 2017.  Also, the Fed funds rate is projected to rise from .6% at the end of 2016 to 2.6% at the end of 2019.

Perhaps December 2016 will see another Fed rate hike.  It’s predicted that the Fed funds rate will rise to 1.1% in 2017, which is only slightly above the 2003 earlier historical low of 1%.  It’s possible that the Fed rate will make it above that 1% mark in 2017 or early 2018, but if not then the U.S. may see a record low Fed interest rate last 10 years — it started in December 2008.

It may not be what everyone wants — 3 out of 10 on the Fed voted for a rate hike — but it’s certainly NEWWorthy.

Money Bag clip art

Pizza ATM

Blaze Pizza is — or is one of — the pizza company that made the 3-minute pizza famous.  Not only is it prepared quickly, many swear it’s good!

But Blaze’s success may also be problematic for them.  Now there’s Pizza ATM, which also makes pizza quickly but doesn’t require a preparer at the time of order.  The pizza ingredients are assembled earlier and placed in the Pizza ATM, to be cooked in a few minutes time when someone places their order at the kiosk.

Technological progress isn’t always pretty.  It’s like Uber drivers being replaced by automated cars.  In this case, Pizza ATM can easily coexist with Blaze and other quick-pizza businesses, because the ATM is only at one university in America so far.  Also, you can request much more variety on your pizza from a human preparer.

What if eventually cooking time comes down to 1 minute? Will consumers prefer a Pizza ATM at their local grocery store or other close-by location over driving to Blaze for the eat-out experience?  Or maybe pizza lovers will prefer that a robot deliver their prepared pizza to them.  Or how about robot pizza preparation for your eat-out pizza?  Time will tell.

Pizza Slice Mushroom Veggies Pepperoni clip art