SciTech Roundup, Nov. 8

CMU Research Roundup

The power grid simulations that could help save lives sooner

Sometimes when the power goes out, it's just a little extra darkness in the room. Other times, it can lead to hundreds freezing to death, as it did in the Texas winter storm. Carnegie Mellon graduate student Aayushya Agarwal, Systems Scientist Amritanshu Pandey, and Department Head of Electrical and Computer Engineering Larry Pileggi worked on an algorithm that would improve power grid simulations that could prevent similar situations that result from natural disasters. Oftentimes, algorithms to locate disturbances like failed power lines or severe weather take a while to be calculated, costing time that could be used to respond to the power grid failure. The researchers' algorithm, however, is able to take prior information about the power grid to simulate what the power grid should look like in the present without the disturbance, which can help locate what is the source of the disturbance.

Looking into the future of software systems

Tech has always been seen as the future, but what is to come for the future of tech itself? Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute released a study envisioning areas of development and focus for the future of software systems. Core focuses include looking into facilitating the growth of software development with artificial intelligence and assurance practices and encouraging collaboration between academia and industry as well as software engineering and artificial intelligence.

National SciTech Headlines

Anti-COVID-19 pills shown to reduce hospitalization and death rates

The U.K. approved of pharmaceutical company Merck's new antiviral pill molnupiravir, also known as Lagevrio, on Nov. 4, with the pill reducing the risk of hospitalization or death by about 50 percent for adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 cases. A day later, Pfizer announced its own antiviral pill called Paxlovid which reduces the chances of COVID-19 hospitalization or death by 89 percent. The FDA will make a decision of whether to approve Merck's pill for emergency use authorization at the end of November, and Pfizer says they will soon submit their application for emergency use authorization.

Microsoft unveils productivity app Microsoft Loop, competitor to Notion

Microsoft announced its new productivity application, Microsoft Loop, on Nov. 2. Described as a "powerful and flexible canvas with portable components," the product enables collaboration and database-integrated document editing in a manner very similar to apps like Notion, Coda, and AirTable. Its greatest difference is its integration with the rest of Microsoft Office and Teams, allowing Office users to embed documents inside Loop more easily than other apps and to send Loop documents in Teams. Its release date has yet to be announced.