Iowa winner claims huge Powerball jackpot
By SCOTT McFETRIDGE
Tuesday, November 6
CLIVE, Iowa (AP) — After hearing someone from Iowa had won half of a nearly $700 million Powerball jackpot, Lerynne West couldn’t find the ticket she’d bought the day before so asked her sister to check her pickup truck.
There it was, on the pickup floor — a scrap of paper worth a share of $688 million.
The win was a shock to the single mom, who struggled to persuade her three daughters and other relatives that it was for real.
“Nobody believed me,” West said Monday after submitting her winning ticket at lottery headquarters in suburban Des Moines. “They thought I was crazy.”
West will share the $688 million jackpot drawn Oct. 27 with someone who bought the other winning ticket in New York City but hasn’t claimed the prize.
West took the cash option, which will pay her an immediate $198.1 million, minus taxes.
West, 51, said she dreamed of winning a jackpot, but “once you have won, you realize the responsibility and the impact you can make, and all the frivolity goes out the window.”
She said she’ll give some to her daughters and other relatives, ensure her six grandchildren can have college educations and set up the Callum Foundation, where people in need can seek financial help. Halting briefly to hold back tears, West said the foundation was named after a grandson born prematurely in April who lived only one day.
West said she grew up in a “very humble family” with seven siblings in Iowa and knows what it’s like to struggle financially. She worked in corn and soybean fields as a teenager, didn’t graduate from high school but earned a GED diploma and took night classes to get a college degree in human resources in 2006.
She worked at a health insurance organization until winning the jackpot. “Currently, I’m retired,” she said.
She plans to buy a new house and replace her car, a Ford Fiesta with 142,000 miles (228,500 kilometers) “that people have beat up.”
West bought the ticket in Redfield, a community of 800 people about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Des Moines. “I played the lottery twice a week, when I had the money to do it,” she said.
West and the buyer of a ticket at a Manhattan deli overcame odds of 292.2 million to one to win the Powerball.
The drawing came only four day after someone won a $1.54 billion Mega Millions jackpot, the second-largest lottery prize ever. That ticket was sold in South Carolina and hasn’t been claimed.
Mystery particle spotted? Discovery would require physics so weird that nobody has even thought of it
November 5, 2018
Research Professor and Director of the International Institute for Accelerator Applications, University of Huddersfield
Roger Barlow is a member of the Liberal Democrats
University of Huddersfield provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.
There was a huge amount of excitement when the Higgs boson was first spotted back in 2012 – a discovery that bagged the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2013. The particle completed the so-called standard model, our current best theory of understanding nature at the level of particles.
Now scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at Cern think they may have seen another particle, detected as a peak at a certain energy in the data, although the finding is yet to be confirmed. Again there’s a lot of excitement among particle physicists, but this time it is mixed with a sense of anxiety. Unlike the Higgs particle, which confirmed our understanding of physical reality, this new particle seems to threaten it.
The new result – consisting of a mysterious bump in the data at 28 GeV (a unit of energy) – has been published as a preprint on ArXiv. It is not yet in a peer-reviewed journal – but that’s not a big issue. The LHC collaborations have very tight internal review procedures, and we can be confident that the authors have done the sums correctly when they report a “4.2 standard deviation significance”. That means that the probability of getting a peak this big by chance – created by random noise in the data rather than a real particle – is only 0.0013%. That’s tiny – 13 in a million. So it seems like it must a real event rather than random noise – but nobody’s opening the champagne yet.
What the data says
Many LHC experiments, which smash beams of protons (particles in the atomic nucleus) together, find evidence for new and exotic particles by looking for an unusual build up of known particles, such as photons (particles of light) or electrons. That’s because heavy and “invisible” particles such as the Higgs are often unstable and tend to fall apart (decay) into lighter particles that are easier to detect. We can therefore look for these particles in experimental data to work out whether they are the result of a heavier particle decay. The LHC has found many new particles by such techniques, and they have all fitted into the standard model.
The new finding comes from an experiment involving the CMS detector, which recorded a number of pairs of muons – well known and easily identified particles that are similar to electrons, but heavier. It analysed their energies and directions and asked: if this pair came from the decay of a single parent particle, what would the mass of that parent be?
In most cases, pairs of muons come from different sources – originating from two different events rather than the decay of one particle. If you try to calculate a parent mass in such cases it would therefore spread out over a wide range of energies rather than creating a narrow peak specifically at 28GeV (or some other energy) in the data. But in this case it certainly looks like there’s a peak. Perhaps. You can look at the figure and you can judge for yourself.
Is this a real peak or is it just a statistical fluctuation due to the random scatter of the points about the background (the dashed curve)? If it’s real that means that a few of these muon pairs did indeed come from just a large parent particle that decayed by emitting muons – and no such 28 GeV particle has ever been seen before.
So it is all looking rather intriguing, but, history has taught us caution. Effects this significant have appeared in the past, only to vanish when more data is taken. The Digamma(750) anomaly is a recent example from a long succession of false alarms – spurious “discoveries” due to equipment glitches, over-enthusiastic analysis or just bad luck.
This is partly due to something called the “look elsewhere effect”: although the probability of random noise producing a peak if you look specifically at a value of 28 GeV may be 13 in a million, such noise could give a peak somewhere else in the plot, maybe at 29GeV or 16GeV. The probabilities of these being due to chance are also tiny when considered respectively, but the sum of these tiny probabilities is not so tiny (though still pretty small). That means it is not impossible for a peak to be created by random noise.
And there are some puzzling aspects. For example, the bump appeared in one LHC run but not in another, when the energy was doubled. One would expect any new phenomena to get bigger when the energy is higher. It may be that there are reasons for this, but at the moment it’s an uncomfortable fact.
New physical reality?
The theory is even more incongruous. Just as experimental particle physicists spend their time looking for new particles, theorists spend their time thinking of new particles that it would make sense to look for: particles that would fill in the missing pieces of the standard model, or explain dark matter (a type of invisible matter), or both. But no one has suggested anything like this.
For example, theorists suggest we could find a lighter version of the Higgs particle. But anything of that ilk would not decay to muons. A light Z boson or a heavy photon have also been talked about, but they would interact with electrons. That means we should have probably discovered them already as electrons are easy to detect. The potential new particle does not match the properties of any of those proposed.
If this particle really exists, then it is not just outside the standard model but outside it in a way that nobody anticipated. Just as Newtonian gravity gave way to Einstein’s general relativity, the standard model will be superseded. But the replacement will not be any of the favoured candidates that has already been proposed to extend standard model: including supersymmetry, extra dimensions and grand unification theories. These all propose new particles, but none with properties like the one we might have just seen. It will have to be something so weird that nobody has suggested it yet.
Luckily the other big LHC experiment, ATLAS, has similar data from their experiments The team is still analysing it, and will report in due course. Cynical experience says that they will report a null signal, and this result will join the gallery of statistical fluctuations. But maybe – just maybe – they will see something. And then life for experimentalists and theorists will suddenly get very busy and very interesting.
Amazon considering New York amid reports HQ will be split
By JOSEPH PISANI and DAVID KLEPPER
Tuesday, November 6
NEW YORK (AP) — New York is one of the finalists in Amazon’s search to build another headquarters, according to a person familiar with the talks.
After a yearlong search for a second home, Amazon is now reportedly looking to build offices in two cities instead of one, a surprise move that could still have a major impact on the sites it ultimately selects.
According to the source, who was not authorized to discuss the negotiations and therefore spoke on condition of anonymity, one of the areas the online retail giant is considering is New York’s Long Island City, a fast-changing neighborhood just across the East River from Manhattan. The source said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo met two weeks ago with Amazon officials in his New York City offices. Cuomo offered to travel to Amazon’s Seattle hometown to continue talks, the source said.
On Monday, The New York Times, citing unnamed people familiar with the decision-making process, reported that the company is nearing deals to locate in Long Island City as well as the Crystal City section of Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. The Wall Street Journal, which also reported the plan to split the headquarters between two cities, said Dallas is also still a possibility.
Amazon.com Inc. has declined to comment on the reports.
Since it kicked off its hunt for a second headquarters in September 2017, Amazon has promised to bring 50,000 new high-paying jobs to one location, which founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said would be “a full equal” to its Seattle home base.
The company received 238 proposals before narrowing the list to 20 in January.
Earlier this month, Bezos said during an on-stage interview in New York that the final decision will come down to intuition: “You immerse yourself in that data, but then you make that decision with your heart,” he said.
Klepper reported from Albany, New York.
A game plan for technology companies to actually help save the world
November 6, 2018
Dean of Global Business, The Fletcher School, Tufts University
Disclosure statement: Bhaskar Chakravorti has founded and directs the Institute for Business in the Global Context at Fletcher/Tufts that has received funding from Mastercard, Microsoft, the Gates Foundation and the Onassis Foundation. He is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at Brookings India and a Senior Advisor on Digital Inclusion at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
Partners: Tufts University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
Smartphones, computers and social media platforms have become indispensable parts of modern life, but the technology companies that make them and write their software are under siege. In any given week, Facebook or Google or Amazon does something to erode public trust in them. Now could be a moment for the industry to make good on Bill Gates’s promise of technology to do good, by “unlocking the innate compassion we have for our fellow human beings” and improving the world – or Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of building a “new social infrastructure to create the world we want for generations to come.”
Around the globe, countries and societies are falling behind on reducing social inequalities and meeting goals for economic development and environmental sustainability. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is issuing increasingly dire warnings about the effects climate change will have on human life on Earth – the beginnings of which are already unfolding.
I lead a major research initiative called The Digital Planet at the Fletcher School at Tufts where we study how technology is changing lives and livelihoods around the world. Here is an outline of how technology giants or nimble startups could help make Gates’s and Zuckerberg’s promises a reality.
Identify a big hairy problem
There is a long list of global problems to combat, including hunger, drought, poverty, bad health, polluted water and poor sanitation. One that’s connected to all the others is the recent bombshell news that climate change is accelerating: Over the next 20 years, Earth’s atmosphere will reach average temperatures as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels. Consequently, extreme weather and natural disasters, food shortages, inundated coastlines and the near-elimination of coral reefs will likely happen even sooner than previously anticipated.
The scope of climate change gives companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon excellent opportunities to find specific approaches that would have meaningful effects.
Trace the root causes
There are, of course, many elements driving climate change. Consider the agriculture sector, which produces one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions. Farms emit the largest share and could benefit from a range of technologies, such as data analytics and artificial intelligence. As a bonus, innovating in agriculture could help feed more people.
Identify how technology can make a big difference
Technological tools could help farmers collect and use data to manage their crops more precisely in ways that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions – such as using less fertilizer and plowing and planting fields more efficiently. Specifically, better data on soil and plant health could help farmers know where they need to increase or decrease irrigation or pesticide and fertilizer use. These practices save farmers money and increase farms’ productivity, generating more food with less waste.
Recognize how you can make money from it
If companies are to get involved, there needs to be an opportunity to earn money – and the more, the better.
One estimate suggests that making changes in farming and food practices that enhance productivity, promote sustainable methods and reduce waste could produce commercial opportunities and new savings worth US$2.3 trillion overall worldwide annually.
Our research team, in work that is ongoing, has estimated that of that $2.3 trillion a year, $250 billion could come from the application of artificial intelligence and other analytics for precision farming alone – $195 billion of which would be in the developing world, with $45.6 billion in South Asia and $13.4 billion in East Africa. Other estimates for the effects of AI and analytics are less specific, but still within the same range – between $164 billion and $486 billion annually. There is indeed money to be made by technology companies interested in developing climate-friendly, productivity-improving interventions in agriculture.
Innovate to overcome the many barriers to change
Before the commercial value can be unlocked, however, there are many barriers to consider. Many rural areas, even in the developed world, don’t have affordable high-speed internet connections and, particularly in the developing world, the farming community is not as technology savvy as other professions. Further, farming practices have been handed down through generations and the idea of using data to make modifications to such long-held beliefs and methods can be countercultural.
In addition, there are many practical realities: 83 percent of the world’s cultivated land is fed only by rain, with no irrigation systems to make use of better data. Beyond that, in most parts of the world, seeds and fertilizer are not high-quality, lowering crop efficiency. Further, a lot of farms’ output is wasted because of lack of refrigeration and slow transportation from fields to consumers.
With all those obstacles, it is understandable that investments in data-driven agriculture dropped 39 percent from 2015 to 2016.
There are groups still working, though. FarmBeats is a Microsoft project that combines low-cost sensors in the ground with drones that both create aerial maps and act as wireless data relay points. Nigeria’s Zenvus and India’s Aibono analyze soil data. Kenya’s FarmDrive develops credit scores for people without formal bank accounts or standard borrowing histories by using alternative data, like mobile phone and social media activity, together with local agricultural and economic information. Ghana’s Farmerline tells farmers about weather forecasts, market information and financial tips.
These are creative efforts to solve deep and complex problems, but clearly there is room for large, well-resourced technology companies to step in, make a difference with big ideas, deep pockets and global support.
Invest in partnerships
Technology entrepreneurs will need to develop business models and organizational structures that are better at collaborating with local agricultural communities and businesses, to navigate personal and political relationships as well as regulations and government programs. Technology will not, on its own, be some sort of silver bullet that will unlock prosperity.
Changing technology companies into agents for widespread global good will not be easy – and it can be done in areas beyond agricultural innovation, too.
There has been no shortage of talk about these ideas: 50 CEOs met with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss socially positive technologies; World Economic Forum events around the world discuss societal benefits of a Fourth Industrial Revolution; and some companies, such as Ericsson and SAP, are already committed to fulfilling United Nations goals for global sustainability.
We still have a long way to go. There is still a chance for technology companies to move fast and fix things by truly helping save the world – but sea levels are rising, so the time is now.
Rosaline Georgevna Agiamoh, logged in via LinkedIn:
Great insight. In my opinion, the planet will always self-correct to adjust to changes in climatic conditions and magnetic polarity shifts. The question remains in how man will adapt. Technology firms should focus on immediate adaptive technologies that could help survival in the long-run such as greenhouse technologies and air filtration systems. Waste recycling is a key component of such research.