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June 2021 News Wire

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The College Student Who Decoded the Data Hidden in Inca Knots

In 15th and 16th century Peru, the Incas had the largest and most complex society in the Americas but they left behind no written records. The Inca people used khipas, knotted cords attached together with other knotted cords, to keep records of important activities. As a freshman economics major at Harvard, Manny Medrano used his knowledge of Spanish and economics to discover that khipas not only recorded census information, but also recorded the social status of people in a community. This finding provides evidence that can be used to decipher other khipas and provide insights into how the Inca people lived.


What Exactly Is Your Brain Doing When Reading Code?

Computer programming is a new skill for our human brains to learn. It’s an activity our brains may not be optimized to do well. And while there are similarities between programming languages and natural languages, it turns out coding doesn’t engage the language system part of our brains. Instead, coding engages the multiple demand system, the part of our brain that triggers when we do math problems or try to think logically. More interesting, coding uses the multiple demand system in both right and left sides of our brains. Solving math problems only uses one side.


1800-year-old chain armor reconstructed using video game tech

Researchers used Unreal Engine, Blendr, and other software to model the Vimose chain mail armor, the best example in existence of Iron Age chain mail, from AD 150-220. The armor is made of 20,000 small iron rings with room underneath for padding and held with a belt. The Unreal Engine software was used to test a variety of theories about how the armor fit a human body, as well as how it performed on foot and horseback.


Building Houses With Giant Blocks: U-Build and the Future of Self-Construction

Got Legos? The U-Build system also is a set of reusable modular blocks that allow average people and communities to create buildings and houses with minimal fuss. The system uses CNC (Computer Numerical Control), an automated 3D printing technology, to create these reusable blocks on demand. A concrete foundation and plasterboard walls are not required either, making construction simpler with less impact on the environment.


How Doctors Are Using Artificial Intelligence to Battle Covid-19

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, scientists immediately turned to software to communicate with other scientists and to solve problems. The Cleveland Clinic created a predictive model using patient records and artificial intelligence to identify age, race, gender, socioeconomic status, vaccination history, and current medications to identify patients most likely to test positive and, therefore, use scarce tests to confirm they had the virus. Other scientists and groups also used software to manage hospital beds, identify threats to patient recovery, and other important clinical information.


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