February 2020 News Wire

Interesting stories about science and technology for February 2020.

A Year in the Life of Earth’s CO2

This amazing video models carbon dioxide flows around the earth over a year. When trees and plants bloom, NASA data shows how plants absorb this human generated CO2 and how fall and winter wind patterns disperse the gas. The model is a computer software program that runs on mainframe computers using data from NASA satellites. While the video shows actual data for 2006, the model also can project the impact of future CO2 emissions.


Rocket Science: Ride to Station

NASA has a new online and mobile app game to explore how their missions to resupply the space station operate. Pick a vehicle — either a Boeing Starliner or SpaceX Crew Dragon — then choose one of three missions (out of nine missions possible), choose your crew from real astronauts in the NASA program, build your rocket, launch, then dock with the space station. It’s a lot of fun, educational, and nine missions should keep you interested.


What is Artificial Intelligence?

Most people are confused when they hear or read about AI or artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other topics about smart computers that can (supposedly) think for themselves. The University of Helsinki and Reaktor have created an online course, Elements of AI, that explore all things artificial intelligence. Their What is AI chapter can be understood by anyone. Other chapters become more and more complicated as they dig into different aspects of AI. If you sign up, there’s also exercises you can do to test what you’ve learned.


Download Posters of Women in STEM

Many women have contributed to science, technology, engineering, and math. The Women You Should Know website has colorful posters highlighting a number of women. Posters can be downloaded for printing and posting in a classroom or at home. There’s also biographies of each person. And posters are created by women artists around the world.


Machine Learning Translates Long Lost Languages

Computers are perfect for deciphering languages because they can look for patterns in massive amounts of text. Human languages also have patterns that appear in multiple languages, for example, the idea of a king or queen. Researchers at MIT and Google’s AI lab have created software that automatically deciphers long lost languages, starting with the Linear B language, the earliest written form of the Greek language, and Ugaritic, an early form of Hebrew. Another related language, called Linear A, has yet to be deciphered and the researchers are hopeful their software can finally decipher the language.


Launcher Creates 3D Printed Rocket Engine

The US Air Force recently had a contest to encourage companies to create rocket engines and launch vehicles. Launcher, a company in Brooklyn, NY, created their Engine-2 rocket engine as a single 3D printed piece of copper alloy. Their website has neat photos and a video showing how they created then tested their rocket engine. (And notice all the software used throughout their design, build, and test process: someone wrote all that software!)



  • Tim Slavin

    Tim is an award-winning writer and technologist who enjoys teaching tech to non-technical people. He has many years experience with web sites and applications in business, technical, and creative roles. He and his wife have two kids, now teenagers, who are mad about video games.

Also In The February 2020 Issue

Can you figure out how to divide up coconuts between a group of sailors and a monkey? This puzzle mixes math and coding. Plus you can go online to try the code yourself!

Recreate the classic game in this simple Python tutorial. What whimsical stories can you write?

If you like ships, then you’ll love this easy-to-use website that keeps track of seafaring vessels around the world. Bonus: it helps prevent maritime collisions!

Ready for some good old-fashioned winter fun? In this article, build a digital snowman with Sketchup.

A fun, silly way to share your coding trials and triumphs with friends — because everything is better with kittens!

Should you learn Python, Scratch, Java, Assembly? If you’re feeling overwhelmed by too many options, this article is here to help.

Illustrating computational concepts like decomposition and algorithms with simple, hands-on, and occasionally messy activities.

In the old days, before video game systems had cameras and sensors, programmers had to get creative.

Six women were hired to use their math skills to program the ENIAC computer. They called themselves The First Programmers Club.

Learn about the key software that keeps your computer safe from viruses.

Programs are constantly being patched and improved. How do we keep track of all this new code?

Dive into the nitty-gritty details of binary numbers: how they work, why they’re used, and where they come from.

An easy way to code your own 3D graphics online. Dive into the world of pixels, triangles, textures, and colours!

Learn about the smallest, simplest computers and where they’re still used today.

Interesting stories about science and technology for February 2020.

Links from the bottom of all the February 2020 articles, collected in one place for you to print, share, or bookmark.

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