Author Archives: Okruch Szymon

New Atari Console

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Atari is a company founded in 1972 in California. Their products such as “Pong” and “Atari 2600” revolutionized the market of consoles and PCs. Games such as “Pac-man”, “Space Invaders” and “Asteroids” are still luring in new players and also getting remastered and updated. The further models created in 1980-1990 were also very popular: “Atari 5200” and its successor “Atari 7800”.

The newest creation of the company is “Atari VCS. “Xbox X series” and “PlayStation 5” got everybody’s attention this year. The new product of Atari is also interesting, but due to Covid-19 its release has been delayed. The console which is coming in the next year will be a hybrid of a gaming console and a computer. It will operate on Linux system with an option to run on Windows 10. Internet browser is installed, so we can use the device like a normal PC. Despite this, Atari has been originally made for gaming. It will offer over a 100 classic games from previous generations of Atari consoles, but also will be able to run the newest releases. It will be based on AMD R1606G central processor using Radeon graphing processing technology. It will also enable to use a lot of accessories like mouses, keyboards amd microphones and on top of it all, there will be an option to plug the console to your own PC via USB or Bluetooth. Apart from external accessories, the bundle will include classic joystick (used in atari previous generations of games) and a modern controller. The new console will be also able to stream all the games you play on almost every streaming platform. On top of it all, Atari enables to customize the Ram and storage of the device.

Atari VCS

This is certainly an interesting event, especially with the big premieres of other next-gen consoles around. Innovative approach gives the company a head-start. Atari will certainly catch by heart numerous players filled with nostalgia and desire to move to the past. This may be a beginning of retro games coming back to the market.


Virgin Galactic aborts first powered-flight attempt from Spaceport America

Reading Time: 2 minutesVirgin Galactic is an American spaceflight company, which is part of the Virgin Group. It was founded by Richard Branson and Burt Rutan in 2005. Their aim is to build commercial spaceships and launch aircraft for travelling in space. The main reasons for interest in space crafts were suborbital spaceflights for tourists and science missions. For one ticket for a space journey, passenger of a space ship will pay $250,000 for a 90 minute trip. The price is relatively low, if we compare it to the millions of dollars, previous space travellers payed e.g. Dennis Tito who paid 20 million dollars for his one in 2001.

In July 2007 during testing of SpaceShipTwo components three employees were killed due to the nitrous oxide. The company originally thought the first maiden flight (first independent flight) will be in 2009. Unfortunately the big date was postponed several times. During the tests situations like burning engines or not reaching sufficient altitude delayed the plans almost ten years.

At 7:24 a.m. PT WhiteKnightTwo – carrying SpaceShipTwo Unity took off from Spaceport America. First tourist-carrying spacelane aborted for a test.  It reached the altitude of 9.4 miles (15km). Although it may seem positive, unfortunately shortly after decoupling the rocket motor lost connection. The spaceship should decouple from it before its rocket fires into sub-orbital space at the altitude of 50 miles. Sadly due to the issue, the rocket have been turned back home.

After all these failed tests, disasters and of course COVID-19 pandemic issues company aims to have two more test flights from the same base in New Mexico. Company’s also hoping to have sent their customers to space by the end of the current year. This may not be very convincing a test, but it pushed forward the Virgin Galactic’s project and helped us realize, how close we could be to finally start developing space tourism.


Reading Time: 2 minutesProteins are long, convoluted molecular chains called macromolecules. They are enzymes, that catalyse  almost every chemical reaction needed to keep the body alive. E.g. thyroxine plays vital role in digestion, heart and muscle function, haemoglobin carries the oxygen, immunoglobulin is responsible for defence in the body and keratin for hair and skin (SARS-CoV-2 spike a protein, that allows coronavirus to invade human cells). Each one of them is built from a menu of 21 different types of amino acids. But they are not the main problem. Machines which were able to analyse composition of amino-acid have existed for several years. But the functioning of the protein is also defined by its shape. For now we can only try to shape them using X-ray, but it is a very time-consuming process. Today, on November 30th biologists from DeepMind – laboratory owned by Google showed howto use a computer to predict those shapes. The measure now used in checking the progress  is Critical Assessment of Protein Structure Prediction (CASP). “The algorithms are subjected to blind test their abilities to predict shapes of several proteins of known structure”. The first try DeepMind did was 2 years ago and the progress they have achieved is extraordinary. AlphaFold 2 compares the presumable locations of the atoms to the real ones and it has an average score of 92.4%. 

Why did DeepMid performed so well at this? The answer is in what they were doing before this project. Their best known achievement is for AlphaGo. Their programmed a computer (“taught”) how to play a game named Go. Go is a game created in China over 2,500 years ago. It is believed to be the oldest board game in the world and the aim is to surround more territory, than enemy. Lee Sedol – one of the world’s best players has been defeated by AlphaGo in 2016. The game has around 10^170 positions, whereas it is believed to be 10^300 different shapes in which a protein could find itself. Because of such a large number the inventors had to go a way they took in Go project, which is looking for shortcuts. Of course players are not machines. They depend on their intuition, general understanding of the game and their own strategy. It may seems tough to teach a machine how to play, but the answer is examples. AI is know from self-learning abilities. When we give a machine enough examples of folding proteins, it will learn the shortcuts and some rules humans do not even notice they apply. This scientific research can boost drugs invention and can also help with numeral diseases, which are caused mainly by misshapen proteins, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Creutzfeldt–Jakob’s disease, Huntington’s and many others.



Nuclear Power Energy in Poland

Reading Time: 2 minutes“Nuclear energy is the only rational alternative to produce cheap energy in an ecological and safe way, at a price comparable to coal” ~ Michał Sołowow. It has been announced by Poland’s climate minister, that in 2026 the government will start building first polish nuclear power plantand it will be running in 2033. Its capacity will be 1.0-1.5 gigawatts. It is quite impressive giving the information, that the most powerful nuclear power plant is currently Kashiwazaki-Kariwa which has 7.95 GW. This whole project assumes, that Poland will have 6 operational blocks by 2040. They will come online by 2043 bringing 6-9 GW in total. Poland as a country really needs this change. Over 75% of the energy production is generated by power plants powered with hard and brown coal. In the last year we were 1st in Europe in terms of the most expensive energy production. Of course not producing energy from renewable sources is damaging our environment. Burning coal reveals SO2, NO2 and some heavy metals like quicksilver to the atmosphere. I am talking not only about the quality of air we all breathe, but also about the health of the planet. In order to realize this plan polish government has to be sure of their financial situation, because the cost of the investment is expected to cost over 100 billion zloty. The problem except from the money is the attitude of people. Although they are slowly starting to realize, that nuclear power energy is a non-threat, this issue has slowed down the whole nuclear power development. First plans to build a power plant appeared in Żarnowiec. Building of the institution took place 1982-1989, although it was not finished. The government told the people, that was because of their fear of the nuclear catastrophe, but it was really a matter of money. We should not fear that progress, whatsmore we should remember how the nuclear power plants map looks like in Europe – we are surrounded by them. The last thing is the nuclear waste. We can argue whether it is good or not to storage them and where to do that. The thing is we already have them from Germany (radioactive waste repository in Różan), because they paid us to keep them inside our country.

AI making inroads in the trucking industry

Reading Time: 2 minutes

  AI in the transportation field is believed to grow its market size to $10.3 billion in next 10 years. Many companies in trucking industry are going in direction of being fully automated. Due to law changes in some states in the US, self-driving trucks are going to be able to drive in a group of two or more. Waymo – american company (leader in autonomous driving technology) contacted with german company Daimler (truck industry) and they decided to collaborate and deliver Level 4 (High Driving Automation) vehicles. That means trucks  will be able to react and intervene, if there is a dangerous situation on the road. However system does not require human interaction in most of the cases, it still has an option to manually override. For now Level 4 vehicles can only operate within urban area where average speed is 30mph. Waymo’s projects are now mostly focused on highway transportation and small freight carriers.

  Before this collaboration american company has been testing their technology in driverless cars in Arizona. They started a project with fully automated taxi service. Why so many people see it as the future? AI is commonly used in predicting and detecting traffic conditions. Because of the highways, trucks with AI technology will not only save money and lower emissions, but also increase efficiency. Without any human interactions needed, we can manage our deliveries in a simplier way. In other way adding AI reduces operational cost. We have to hire less people and the machines are working every day without a break. With programmed possible paths of pedestrian and cyclists, the possibility of an accident will decrease.

Unfortunately, current technology cannot replace humans entirely. Beside driving, truck drivers are also taking care of loading, inspection of the vehicles and customer service. Issue which I should have mentioned first, is very high costs of creation and more important – maintenance. If a company wants the system to constantly observe the traffic and improve itself based on patterns, the software and hardware need to be updated very often. Another con is that machines do not have emotions, so whether we want or not, we have to program them to choose in a fatal situation. For example we have to decide, if we are making the driver’s or the pedestrian’s life a priority. AI is the next step in logistics and transport development. There will always be pros and cons of every progressive thought, but we can not be intimidated by it. With using out of box thinking, this technology could become very useful to us and help us improve our skills in managing communication.


Implications of AI for the Trucking Industry

Tagged ,