iPads Are Crucial Health Care Tools in Combating Covid-19

“The hearing impaired find the device extremely helpful and it provides a lot of confidence and comfort,” said Wren Lester, chief experience officer and director of patient relations at Downstate Medical Center. Lester says the hospital hopes to expand the program after the crisis.

Downstate isn’t currently using the technology to provide inpatient virtual care, like Mass General and others. The intensity of NYC’s coronavirus crisis has left staff little time to create such a system. “The numbers have been growing so quickly that we have to change [core aspects of our] process quite regularly just to deal with the surge of patients and manage the crisis,” said chief information officer Michele Scaggiante.

Staff at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, home to the city’s first dedicated Covid-19 treatment unit, initially turned to tablets and smartphones to help connect patients with their loved ones after local officials banned most hospital visitors on March 14. Since then, the devices have been adopted for other uses throughout the hospital, says Dr. Kathleen Jordan, vice president of the hospital.

“We were dealing recently with an end-of-life situation and had actually quite a beautiful experience with extended family from multiple locations being able to be present in a virtual way,” recalls Jordan. It was the first time the hospital had used such technology with such a large audience and in an end-of-life experience, she says.

Doctors at Saint Francis use the devices to check on patients in the hospital. There are, of course, still many tests and procedures that must be done in person, but for those that can be conducted remotely, many clinicians are finding virtual appointments provide them with the opportunity for greater intimacy with patients, Jordan says.

At most hospitals, Covid-19 patients see few other people, all of them cloaked in masks, goggles, and gloves. “It’s a very frightening experience,” says Schwamm of Mass General. “With the iPad device in place, they get to interact verbally and in a reassuring way with a nurse who they can’t touch, but whose facial expressions they can now see.”

The adoption of inpatient telemedicine has also helped with staffing, by allowing more providers to participate in care, says Jordan, at Saint Francis. Immunocompromised and other at-risk providers who had been kept away from patients to protect themselves can now weigh in remotely. Doctors who feel healthy but are quarantined because of Covid-19 exposures are also now able to contribute, Jordan says, which has helped the hospital avoid dire personnel shortages.

In preparation for the influx of patients, Saint Francis set up a surge area to act as an extension of the hospital’s emergency room. The surge facility isn’t located in the same area as the ER, but ER physicians will be able to lead remote visits and consultations for the surge facility without having to leave their posts.

“People have this idea that remote work is not really for clinicians, and I think this is showing us otherwise,” says Juan Estrada who oversees Virtual Consults Services at Mass General. He’s spent years trying to get the tech into the hands of health care providers, but until recently says he met largely with resistance.

“Change is difficult in medicine. Historically, telehealth has been an exercise in pushing so that people begin to see how technology can make a difference,” says Estrada. “These last three weeks, we are not really pushing. We are being pulled. This huge community of providers is clamoring for these solutions now. It’s amazing.”


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My social-distancing birthday in Animal Crossing – CNET

Ashley Esqueda

Confession: I really, really like celebrating my birthday. I'm not a person who demands my social circles celebrate all month, or even a week, but I deeply enjoy getting my family together and having some cake and ice cream and hugs. 

That's not an option in the midst of a pandemic. And truth be told, this is the first birthday in all my 37 (!) years on this Earth I wouldn't be celebrating in-person with my friends and family. But I have been enjoying more Animal Crossing: New Horizons than you can shake a tree branch at, so I thought I'd throw a fabulous party on my virtual island. 

Everything went great -- until it didn't. 

In the end, I still had a wonderful time (even accounting for the dramatic Thursday evening I spent sobbing in my office), and I plan on throwing more parties in ACNH as a way to get away from the anxiety of what's happening in the real world. 

Except for crippling debt. That I can experience in Animal Crossing, too. Gotta go pay Tom Nook his bells! 

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Beware these coronavirus hacking threats, UK and US agencies warn – CNET

cybersecurity-laptop-0737

Hackers are using coronavirus fears and anxiety to target internet users, government agencies from the UK and US said Wednesday.

Angela Lang/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Hackers are using the coronavirus pandemic to target internet users, according to a warning Wednesday from two cybersecurity agencies. The UK's National Cyber Security Centre and the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency put out a joint statement saying the pandemic is an attractive tool for cybercriminals and state-sponsored hackers, who can use the fears and anxieties caused by COVID-19 to trick people.

"An increasing number of malicious cyber actors are exploiting the current COVID-19 pandemic for their own objectives," the agencies said in a joint statement.

That's not to say that hackers are hacking more. Some cybersecurity companies have said they've seen an increase in overall hacking activity, but the two agencies, as well as Microsoft, said Wednesday that levels of hacking have stayed the same. What's changed is the way hackers are targeting internet users.

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9:45

"They know many are clicking without looking because stress levels are high and they're taking advantage of that," Rob Lefferts, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365 Security, said in a blog post.

The advisory contains a list of more than 2,500 data points from coronavirus-related hacking threats. The information is meant to help people defending computer systems find signs of hackers trying to break into systems. The agencies said the list is "non-exhaustive," and noted that the pandemic is changing quickly, and so could the way hackers try to use it to their advantage.

Fraud experts have warned that for people at home now, hacking isn't the only thing to worry about. There are also scams that'll try to take people's money in exchange for information, cures or masks and other forms of protection that turn out to be bogus. Everyone is well served by taking a moment and remembering that criminals could be trying to take advantage of regular people during this disruptive world event.

The hacking threats come at a time when more people are working from home as part of stay-at-home orders meant to slow the spread of the virus. That means personal devices and systems linked to businesses both might be more vulnerable, the agencies said. In an advisory, the agencies provided resources on how individuals and companies can protect themselves from these attacks, including how to spot suspicious email attachments, phishing emails, scams and ransomware attacks.

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Stadia opens up for free to everyone – CNET

15-google-stadia

Stadia is now free. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Google's game streaming service, Stadia, opened up the free tier of its service in 14 countries Wednesday. Those who sign up for the service will have their subscription upgraded to Stadia Pro for two months, normally $9.99, and can receive the free nine games as part of the upgraded plan. 

Since its launch back in November, Stadia was only available to those who subscribed to the service's pro subscription, but Google did say its free tier would be coming in early 2020. Those interesting can sign up for the service at the Stadia website and the only thing needed is a Gmail account.  

Stadia Pro includes monthly free games such as GRID, Destiny 2: The Collection, and Thumper along with 4K resolution and 5.1 surround sound. Google did say it will default the resolution to 1080p in order to reduce the amount of bandwidth the service uses as more people are online due to lockdown orders implemented across the US because of the coronavirus pandemic. New users who get the upgraded pro subscription can cancel it at any time during the free two months or continue with the $9.99 a month membership. 

Stadia can be played on select Android phones, iPads and iPhone via the official app. Users can also stream games on the Stadia website on their computer or laptop while those interested in using Stadia on a TV will need a Chromecast Ultra connected to it. There is an official controller for the service sold by Google, but some Bluetooth controllers, including the ones used for the  PS4 and Xbox One, will work. 

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Why Tiger King is little more than a heartbreakingly tragic tale – CNET

gettyimages-510262289

The Big Cat Public Safety Act has still not passed.

AlexTurton/Getty Images

No matter how many people raved about Tiger King, I really tried not to watch it. But shelter-in-place boredom finally got me.

For years I've been familiar with the key statistic: There are more tigers in captivity in the US than the 4,000 left in the wild. What good would it do me to watch this seven-part Netflix docu-series about a man known as Joe Exotic who keeps tigers in Oklahoma? Surely it would only serve to make me more angry at the lack of regulation that allowed this bizarre state of affairs, and at the people who perpetuate it.

But in the end, Tiger King didn't make me angry. It made me deeply, soul-crushingly sad.

The emotional journey from anger to sadness was far from linear -- just like everyone else, I rode the shock-and-awe twists of colorful characters, polygamous marriages, murder mystery theories, vicious grudges and deluded political campaigns.

It wasn't until the end of the last episode that, as a lioness with a glazed look in her eyes seemed to be resting despondently behind the bars of her cage and a chimp reached its devastatingly humanlike fingers through the metal latticework, I was overcome with grief for the suffering of the many, many animals caught up in this sorry saga.

The following morning I awoke before dawn with a kind of emotional hangover, obsessing over what had become of the tigers featured in the show (those still alive at least) and feeling myself sinking into a pit of despair. Any enjoyment I'd gotten from the show was transient. Watching it left me feeling grubby, depressed and unfulfilled, like I do after reading celebrity tabloid gossip.

Perhaps I'm more sensitive than usual due to our current dystopian scenario. But there has also never been a better time for us to watch a show like Tiger King. As we sit locked in our houses, watching the animals locked in their cages, we may find ourselves primed to empathize with them. 

Just like the big cats of Tiger King are having their basic needs met in captivity, most of us have everything we need to survive life under lockdown, but how many of us can truly say we're thriving? I suspect it's largely the same for animals kept in cages for the amusement of humans. Exotic big cats, which in the wild roam vast territories, are unlikely to be living their best lives in metal boxes off an Oklahoma highway.

What's streaming

There are perhaps few things more mesmerizing in this world than a tiger -- the grace with which it carries its formidable muscled frame and the arresting vision of brilliantly striped feline features could be the dictionary definition of awe-inspiring. And when you see something beautiful, it's often accompanied by the urge to touch it, hold it, own it -- conquer it, even. But a part of being human is being able to regulate impulses when they're not appropriate.

Animal rights organizations including the World WIldlife Fund and PETA are consistently clear on this point: Keeping tigers (and other wild animals) in unaccredited private collections, handling them and allowing members of the public to interact with them are not only inappropriate behaviors, but are also deeply harmful to the creatures and not compatible with conservation measures designed to protect them for generations to come.

"Welfare suffers, exploitation is rampant, and the risks to the animals involved, the people who look after them, and the wider public is frightening," Will Travers, executive president of animal rights organization Born Free, told me over email.

What Joe Exotic and fellow big cat overlord Doc Antle, who's also featured extensively in the series, have in common isn't their love of animals, but what appears to be their absolute inability to resist taking total possession of the things they desire -- women, men or tigers. Both claim to love tigers, yet both are accused of abusing and even euthanizing the animals when they deem it necessary.

A theme throughout the show is this blurred line between love and exploitation. The speed at which affection turns to callousness is shocking to witness, as are the damaging, even fatal, consequences for the victims -- both human and animal.

Some of the most distressing scenes involve the exploitation of tiger cubs, which at one point we see Exotic ripping away from their mothers when they're mere minutes old. The US Animal Welfare Act limits public contact with tiger cubs between the ages of 8-12 weeks to discourage breeding, but this doesn't seem to have persuaded him to stop.

twitter-in-stream-wide-tiger-king-netflix-1

Joe Exotic before he was convicted for attempted murder.

Netflix

Aside from the abuse we witness in Tiger King, breeding tigers in captivity without a thought to translocating them as part of reintroduction programs does little to support recovering wild tiger populations. According to the WWF, breeding in captivity is likely to result only in birth defects and health issues due to long-term in-breeding.

There's no understanding or recognition of this from Exotic, when he says that by breeding cubs he should be viewed as a conservation hero. It's hard to imagine watching the show and being under any illusion that Exotic or Antle either care about or understand what tiger conservation entails.

Both during the show and in follow-up interviews, the directors are keen to make it known that they believe this lack of understanding extends to Carole Baskin, the CEO of bona fide animal rights organization Big Cat Rescue, whom Joe Exotic is ultimately convicted of plotting to kill. (He's serving a 22-year sentence in federal prison.)

"There was a lack of intellectual curiosity to really go and understand or even see these animals in the wild," said co-director Eric Goode in an interview with E! News. "Certainly, Carole really had no interest in seeing an animal in the wild. ... The lack of education, frankly, was really interesting -- how they had built their own little utopias and really were only interested in that world and the rules they had created."

Unfortunately for Baskin, she doesn't come off well in the show, largely due to the extensive focus on her personal life. But regardless of what the directors might say, her conservation credentials do stand up to scrutiny. She, like all the animal rights organizations mentioned in this piece, is a fierce proponent of the US Big Cat Public Safety Act.

It doesn't feel fair that the directors cast her in this light, when the show was hardly a rigorous study of US conservation initiatives. Not that it was ever supposed to be. 

"We knew we didn't want to make a film that was strictly advocacy and that was depressing," Goode said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. "We wanted to figure out how to make this film interesting and really look at the psychology of the people that were involved."

Goode didn't respond to a request for additional comment.

Now playing: Watch this: What's new to stream for April 2020

4:31

It succeeds in this -- crafting a portrait of the kind of people who are drawn into the world of big cats. But by sensationalizing these people, the show is equally depressing in a whole different way. The result is that the subsequent discourse around Tiger King has been almost as dispiriting as the show itself, focusing almost solely on its central characters rather than on the animals.

"While focusing on the characters and their crazy (and, in some cases, illegal) antics, Tiger King obfuscates what should be highlighted most -- the extreme cruelty of keeping wild animals in captivity, both in the abuse displayed on screen and that which is inherent in any captive situation," said Travers of Born Free.

There's a pervading sense that many characters in the show are ruled by a dangerous combination of delusion, narcissism and arrogance. In building their own universes and padding them with nodding yes-men, everyone is on a power trip that got way out of control a decade or more back. The dead-eyed lack of compassion and respect that exists between the humans is also reflected in the way they relate to the cats.

If conservation measures are to succeed, the absolute opposite set of attributes is required. We must be entirely selfless to the point of putting the welfare of animals above and before our own desires, lust for money and petty in-fighting at every juncture. The strength of big cats should be feared and respected, it shouldn't be bullied out of them or viewed as something to tame or master.

It's not until the close of the show that Exotic allows himself to admit he might have done wrong by the animals in his care. This flicker of honesty brings him nowhere close to redemption, and it offers no cause for hope to viewers emotionally invested in the fate of his animals.

The cheap thrills we've experienced along the way do nothing to move the needle on advocacy efforts, and neither do they lift us out of the dark place in which we find ourselves today. I cannot help but feel there's a missed opportunity in here somewhere, and it's made losers of us -- humans and animals -- all.

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For animal lovers, Tiger King is little more than a heartbreakingly tragic tale – CNET

gettyimages-510262289

The Big Cat Public Safety Act has still not passed.

AlexTurton/Getty Images

No matter how many people raved about Tiger King, I really tried not to watch it. But shelter-in-place boredom finally got me.

For years I've been familiar with the key statistic: There are more tigers in captivity in the US than the 4,000 left in the wild. What good would it do me to watch this seven-part Netflix docu-series about a man known as Joe Exotic who keeps tigers in Oklahoma? Surely it would only serve to make me more angry at the lack of regulation that allowed this bizarre state of affairs, and at the people who perpetuate it.

But in the end, Tiger King didn't make me angry. It made me deeply, soul-crushingly sad.

The emotional journey from anger to sadness was far from linear -- just like everyone else, I rode the shock-and-awe twists of colorful characters, polygamous marriages, murder mystery theories, vicious grudges and deluded political campaigns.

It wasn't until the end of the last episode that, as a lioness with a glazed look in her eyes seemed to be resting despondently behind the bars of her cage and a chimp reached its devastatingly humanlike fingers through the metal latticework, I was overcome with grief for the suffering of the many, many animals caught up in this sorry saga.

The following morning I awoke before dawn with a kind of emotional hangover, obsessing over what had become of the tigers featured in the show (those still alive at least) and feeling myself sinking into a pit of despair. Any enjoyment I'd gotten from the show was transient. Watching it left me feeling grubby, depressed and unfulfilled, like I do after reading celebrity tabloid gossip.

Perhaps I'm more sensitive than usual due to our current dystopian scenario. But there has also never been a better time for us to watch a show like Tiger King. As we sit locked in our houses, watching the animals locked in their cages, we may find ourselves primed to empathize with them. 

Just like the big cats of Tiger King are having their basic needs met in captivity, most of us have everything we need to survive life under lockdown, but how many of us can truly say we're thriving? I suspect it's largely the same for animals kept in cages for the amusement of humans. Exotic big cats, which in the wild roam vast territories, are unlikely to be living their best lives in metal boxes off an Oklahoma highway.

What's streaming

There are perhaps few things more mesmerizing in this world than a tiger -- the grace with which it carries its formidable muscled frame and the arresting vision of brilliantly striped feline features could be the dictionary definition of awe-inspiring. And when you see something beautiful, it's often accompanied by the urge to touch it, hold it, own it -- conquer it, even. But a part of being human is being able to regulate impulses when they're not appropriate.

Animal rights organizations including the World WIldlife Fund and PETA are consistently clear on this point: Keeping tigers (and other wild animals) in unaccredited private collections, handling them and allowing members of the public to interact with them are not only inappropriate behaviors, but are also deeply harmful to the creatures and not compatible with conservation measures designed to protect them for generations to come.

"Welfare suffers, exploitation is rampant, and the risks to the animals involved, the people who look after them, and the wider public is frightening," Will Travers, executive president of animal rights organization Born Free, told me over email.

What Joe Exotic and fellow big cat overlord Doc Antle, who's also featured extensively in the series, have in common isn't their love of animals, but what appears to be their absolute inability to resist taking total possession of the things they desire -- women, men or tigers. Both claim to love tigers, yet both are accused of abusing and even euthanizing the animals when they deem it necessary.

A theme throughout the show is this blurred line between love and exploitation. The speed at which affection turns to callousness is shocking to witness, as are the damaging, even fatal, consequences for the victims -- both human and animal.

Some of the most distressing scenes involve the exploitation of tiger cubs, which at one point we see Exotic ripping away from their mothers when they're mere minutes old. The US Animal Welfare Act limits public contact with tiger cubs between the ages of 8-12 weeks to discourage breeding, but this doesn't seem to have persuaded him to stop.

twitter-in-stream-wide-tiger-king-netflix-1

Joe Exotic before he was convicted for attempted murder.

Netflix

Aside from the abuse we witness in Tiger King, breeding tigers in captivity without a thought to translocating them as part of reintroduction programs does little to support recovering wild tiger populations. According to the WWF, breeding in captivity is likely to result only in birth defects and health issues due to long-term in-breeding.

There's no understanding or recognition of this from Exotic, when he says that by breeding cubs he should be viewed as a conservation hero. It's hard to imagine watching the show and being under any illusion that Exotic or Antle either care about or understand what tiger conservation entails.

Both during the show and in follow-up interviews, the directors are keen to make it known that they believe this lack of understanding extends to Carole Baskin, the CEO of bona fide animal rights organization Big Cat Rescue, whom Joe Exotic is ultimately convicted of plotting to kill. (He's serving a 22-year sentence in federal prison.)

"There was a lack of intellectual curiosity to really go and understand or even see these animals in the wild," said co-director Eric Goode in an interview with E! News. "Certainly, Carole really had no interest in seeing an animal in the wild. ... The lack of education, frankly, was really interesting -- how they had built their own little utopias and really were only interested in that world and the rules they had created."

Unfortunately for Baskin, she doesn't come off well in the show, largely due to the extensive focus on her personal life. But regardless of what the directors might say, her conservation credentials do stand up to scrutiny. She, like all the animal rights organizations mentioned in this piece, is a fierce proponent of the US Big Cat Public Safety Act.

It doesn't feel fair that the directors cast her in this light, when the show was hardly a rigorous study of US conservation initiatives. Not that it was ever supposed to be. 

"We knew we didn't want to make a film that was strictly advocacy and that was depressing," Goode said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. "We wanted to figure out how to make this film interesting and really look at the psychology of the people that were involved."

Goode didn't respond to a request for additional comment.

Now playing: Watch this: What's new to stream for April 2020

4:31

It succeeds in this -- crafting a portrait of the kind of people who are drawn into the world of big cats. But by sensationalizing these people, the show is equally depressing in a whole different way. The result is that the subsequent discourse around Tiger King has been almost as dispiriting as the show itself, focusing almost solely on its central characters rather than on the animals.

"While focusing on the characters and their crazy (and, in some cases, illegal) antics, Tiger King obfuscates what should be highlighted most -- the extreme cruelty of keeping wild animals in captivity, both in the abuse displayed on screen and that which is inherent in any captive situation," said Travers of Born Free.

There's a pervading sense that many characters in the show are ruled by a dangerous combination of delusion, narcissism and arrogance. In building their own universes and padding them with nodding yes-men, everyone is on a power trip that got way out of control a decade or more back. The dead-eyed lack of compassion and respect that exists between the humans is also reflected in the way they relate to the cats.

If conservation measures are to succeed, the absolute opposite set of attributes is required. We must be entirely selfless to the point of putting the welfare of animals above and before our own desires, lust for money and petty in-fighting at every juncture. The strength of big cats should be feared and respected, it shouldn't be bullied out of them or viewed as something to tame or master.

It's not until the close of the show that Exotic allows himself to admit he might have done wrong by the animals in his care. This flicker of honesty brings him nowhere close to redemption, and it offers no cause for hope to viewers emotionally invested in the fate of his animals.

The cheap thrills we've experienced along the way do nothing to move the needle on advocacy efforts, and neither do they lift us out of the dark place in which we find ourselves today. I cannot help but feel there's a missed opportunity in here somewhere, and it's made losers of us -- humans and animals -- all.

Let's block ads! (Why?)

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Samsung Galaxy tablets rumored to go big like iPad Pro – CNET

37-samsung-galaxy-tab-s6
Sarah Tew/CNET

With more tablets growing in screen size, the old saying may be true: bigger is better. Rumors about Samsung's follow-ups to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6  and its latest Galaxy Tab A suggest the company's next tablets may follow that motto by including larger display sizes that rival Apple's iPad Pro

Read more: Samsung Galaxy A Series: New lineup starts at $110 and two models have 5G

Samsung's next flagship tablets, potentially dubbed the Galaxy Tab S7 or the Galaxy S20, started development about three weeks ago under the model numbers SM-T97x and SM-T87x, according to a report Tuesday from SamMobile.  The upcoming tablet is rumored to offer larger screen sizes with 12.4- and 11-inch options. Along with the larger screen sizes, both options are rumored to offer both Wi-Fi and LTE versions. 

CNET reached out to Samsung but didn't immediately hear back.

The Android tablet market is dwindling, but Samsung remains one of the few consistent makers in the category. Its previous tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6, ranked on CNET's best Android tablets of 2020.    

Now playing: Watch this: My first week at home using the new iPad Pro

10:57

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Samsung Galaxy tablets rumored to go big like iPad Pro – CNET

37-samsung-galaxy-tab-s6
Sarah Tew/CNET

With more tablets growing in screen size, the old saying may be true: bigger is better. Rumors about Samsung's follow-ups to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6  and its latest Galaxy Tab A suggest the company's next tablets may follow that motto by including larger display sizes that rival Apple's iPad Pro

Read more: Samsung Galaxy A Series: New lineup starts at $110 and two models have 5G

Samsung's next flagship tablets, potentially dubbed the Galaxy Tab S7 or the Galaxy S20, started development about three weeks ago under the model numbers SM-T97x and SM-T87x, according to a report Tuesday from SamMobile.  The upcoming tablet is rumored to offer larger screen sizes with 12.4- and 11-inch options. Along with the larger screen sizes, both options are rumored to offer both Wi-Fi and LTE versions. 

CNET reached out to Samsung but didn't immediately hear back.

The Android tablet market is dwindling, but Samsung remains one of the few consistent makers in the category. Its previous tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6, ranked on CNET's best Android tablets of 2020.    

Now playing: Watch this: My first week at home using the new iPad Pro

10:57

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After 50 Years of Effort, Researchers Made Silicon Emit Light

Within the wafer, the silicon atoms are arranged as a cubic crystal lattice that allows electrons to move within the lattice under certain voltage conditions. But it doesn’t allow similar movement for photons, and that’s why light can’t move through silicon easily. Physicists have hypothesized that changing the shape of the silicon lattice so that it is composed of repeating hexagons rather than cubes would allow photons to propagate through the material. But actually creating this hexagonal lattice proved incredibly challenging, because silicon wants to crystalize in its most stable, cubic form. “People have been trying to make hexagonal silicon for four decades and have not succeeded,” says Bakkers.

Bakkers and his colleagues at Eindhoven have been working on creating a hexagonal silicon lattice for about a decade. Part of their solution involved using nanowires made of gallium arsenide as a scaffold to grow nanowires made of the silicon-germanium alloy that have the desired hexagonal structure. Adding germanium to the silicon is important for tuning the wavelength of the light and other optical properties of the material. “It took longer than I expected,” says Bakkers. “I expected to be here five years ago, but there was a lot of fine tuning of the whole process.”

To test if their silicon alloy nanowires emit light, Bakkers and his colleagues blasted them with an infrared laser and measured the amount of infrared light that made it out on the other side. The amount of energy Bakkers and his colleagues detected coming out of the nanowires as infrared light was close to the amount of energy the laser dumped into the system, which suggests that the silicon nanowires are very efficient at transporting photons.

The next step, says Bakkers, will be to use the technique they’ve developed to create a tiny laser made from the silicon alloy. Bakkers says his lab has already started work on this and may have a working silicon laser by the end of the year. After that, the next challenge will be figuring out how to integrate the laser with conventional electronic computer chips. “That would be very serious, but it’s also difficult,” Bakkers says. “We’re brainstorming to find a way to do this.”

Bakkers says he doesn’t anticipate that future computer chips will be entirely optical. Within a component, such as a microprocessor, it still makes sense to use electrons to move the short distances between transistors. But for “long” distances, such as between a computer’s CPU and its memory or between small clusters of transistors, using photons instead of electrons could increase computing speeds while reducing energy consumption and removing heat from the system. Whereas electrons must transmit data serially, one electron after the other, optical signals can transmit data on many channels at once as fast as physically possible—the speed of light.

Because photonic circuits can quickly shuffle large amounts of data around a computer chip, they are likely to find widespread use in data-intensive applications. For example, they could be a boon to the computers in self-driving cars, which have to process an immense amount of data from onboard sensors in real time. Photonic chips may also have more mundane applications. Since they won’t generate as much heat as electronic chips, data centers won’t need as much cooling infrastructure, which could help reduce their massive energy footprint.

Researchers and companies have already managed to integrate lasers into simple electronic circuits, but the processes were too complex and expensive to implement at scale, so the devices have only had niche applications. In 2015, a group of researchers from MIT, UC Berkeley, and the University of Colorado successfully integrated photonic and electronic circuits in a single microprocessor for the first time. “This demonstration could represent the beginning of an era of chip-scale electronic–photonic systems with the potential to transform computing system architectures, enabling more powerful computers, from network infrastructure to data centres and supercomputers,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

By demonstrating its application in the main ingredient in conventional computer chips, Bakkers and his colleagues have taken another major step toward practical light-based computing. Electronic computer chips have faithfully served our computing needs for half a century, but in our data-hungry world, it’s time to kick our processors up to light speed.


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Get a K-cup coffee maker, waffle iron or toaster oven for under $25 each – CNET

Deal

Savings

Price

If you can afford a little patch of space on your kitchen counter, a good convection toaster oven is very much worth the investment. With this well-rated Insignia four-slice toaster oven, currently on sale for just $20, that investment is rather small. You can snag the toaster, plus some other useful kitchen appliances including a Chefman single-serve coffee maker for $25 or a Bella Belgian flip waffle iron for only $20, today at Best Buy. Let's zoom in on the three deals. 

Insiginia

There's a good chance you'll use this oven at least a few times a week, if not more. For quick morning bagels or toast, to reheat leftover pizza or to fire up frozen appetizers from Trader Joe's. With toast, bake and broil functions, the Insignia will give your big boy oven a needed rest.  

Bella Housewares

For just one Andrew Jackson, you can snatch up this electric Belgian flip waffle iron and delight the troops with hot waffles on Sunday morning. The Bella features a nonstick ceramic surface for easy cleaning and reinforced titanium to resist scratching.  

Chefman

There probably isn't a simpler coffee maker on the planet. This Chefman single-serve brew station makes piping hot cups of coffee with one button, using any K-cup pod (of which there are endless options). It's also small enough to fit anywhere, taking up no more room than a two-liter bottle of soda. 

All three items are available for Best Buy's free no-contact curbside pickup, pending inventory at your local brick-and-mortar location.

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