Tag Archives: Powerful

At least 2 killed, dozens of homes destroyed after powerful Cyclone Yasa slams Fiji

A powerful cyclone hit Fiji overnight, killing at least two people and destroying dozens of homes in the Pacific island nation, authorities said Friday.

While Cyclone Yasa proved terrifying for those in its path, there was a sense of relief in other parts of the country that the devastation wasn’t as widespread as many had initially feared.

Vasiti Soko, the director of the National Disaster Management Office, told reporters the cyclone hit with wind gusts of up to 345 km/h.

“We will continue to assess the scale of damage in the coming days,” she said. “But we are likely looking at hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Soko said they would provide more details on those who had died later.


Fiji National Disaster Management Office Director Vasiti Soko, left, speaks at a news conference in Suva on Wednesday. (Lice Movono/AFP via Getty Images)

FBC News reported one of those who died was 46-year-old farmer Ramesh Chand, who was sheltering from the cyclone in his home in the town of Lovelove on the island of Vanua Levu when part of his house fell on him, also injuring his eldest son.

The man’s wife, who wasn’t named, told FBC she grabbed her younger son and ran to a nearby home to seek help: “We called my husband. Wake up! Wake up! But he didn’t wake up.”

The storm destroyed many other homes on the island, which is Fiji’s second largest.

The eye of the storm moved through Vanua Levu from about 6 p.m. local time on Thursday. It missed the capital city Suva and the major tourist hub of Nadi on Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu.

“It’s a nightmare,” Labasa resident Banuve Lasaqa Lusi told Radio New Zealand. “The thunderous sound of the wind and what is flying around is what’s frightening.”


A fallen electric pole is seen in in Savusavu, Fiji, on Friday. (Fiji Roads Authority via Reuters)

She said many people’s houses had been flattened, with some sheltering under their beds or escaping with just the clothes on their backs.

Authorities said the cyclone was weakening Friday as it moved southeast over some of Fiji’s outer islands.

However, they warned of danger from flooding. Fiji’s government said that the Rewa River was rising, with rain continuing intermittently. The Rewa skirts Suva and runs through Nausori, where Suva’s airport is located.


A flooded road crossing is seen in Savusavu on Thursday. (Fiji Roads Authority/via Reuters)

Many had worried the storm could rival the destruction caused by Cyclone Winston, which killed 44 people and caused widespread damage when it hit in 2016.

The Fiji Times newspaper reported the cyclone had destroyed about 20 homes and a community hall in the village of Tiliva and that homes in other villages had also been damaged or destroyed.

Authorities had warned the cyclone would hit with sustained winds of up to 250 km/h. But by Friday, the cyclone’s winds had dropped to about half that speed.


The storm prompted more than 20,000 people to move into government evacuation centres. It also downed power lines, cut communications, and caused flash flooding and road closures.

Before the cyclone hit, authorities had imposed an overnight curfew throughout the nation and declared a state of natural disaster.

Located about one-third of the way from New Zealand to Hawaii, Fiji has a population of about 930,000.

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CERN Plans New Particle Collider 30 Times More Powerful Than LHC

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The Large Hadron Collider is the most advanced and complex machine ever built by humanity, and it’s allowed us to study the inner workings of the universe in unprecedented ways. However, there’s only so much you can do with a 27-kilometer particle collider. So, CERN has approved plans to build a much larger collider called the Future Circular Collider (FCC) with a 100-kilometer (62-mile) circumference.

Physicists have made many predictions about the nature of the universe and the existence of exotic particles. The best way we know to expose these particles to test theories is to smash protons together at high speeds and see what comes out. That’s how the Large Hadron Collider confirmed the existence of the Higgs Boson in 2012. Generally, higher collider power means more particle detections. The LHC produced the Higgs results with 13 125–126 GeV of energy, but the instrument can run at 13 TeV (an order of magnitude more). An ongoing upgrade will push the LHC even further, but the FCC will dwarf this instrument with a predicted collision energy of 100 TeV. 

When the FCC is up and running, it will be able to spit out Higgs bosons on demand, allowing scientists to map the way these particles interact with other matter. The first iteration of the FCC will rely on electron-positron collisions, which is ideal for producing Higgs particles. After that, the team will upgrade the instrument to handle proton-proton collisions, reaching its full 100 TeV potential. 

Planning for the LHC began in the early 1990s, and principal construction kicked off in 1998. However, CERN had the advantage of upgrading an existing facility to make the LHC a reality. The 27-kilometer tunnel that houses the LHC beam path was originally built in the 1980s for the Large Electron-Positron Collider. The FCC will require an entirely new construction project to bore out a 100-kilometer underground ring, and that won’t start until 2038 at the earliest. So, we’re probably looking at the mid-21st century before the FCC is doing science. 

The project could eventually cost upward of $ 23 billion, which is more than CERN can gather from its European partners. The organization might need to partner with the US, China, or Japan. However, it could finally shed light on some of the most vexing conundrums in physics, such as the higher prevalence of matter compared with antimatter and the composition of dark matter.

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Prince’s Estate Releases a Powerful Handwritten Letter From the Singer About Racial Intolerance

Prince’s Estate Releases a Powerful Handwritten Letter From the Singer About Racial Intolerance | Entertainment Tonight

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Microsoft Built One of the Most Powerful Supercomputers in the World to Develop Human-Like AI

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Microsoft and OpenAI announced a partnership last year to develop new artificial intelligence technologies, and Microsoft just revealed the first product of this deal: a massively powerful supercomputer. The system is one of the top five most powerful computers in the world, and it’s exclusively for training AI models. The companies hope this supercomputer will be able to create more human-like intelligences. We just hope those intelligences will not exterminate humanity. 

Microsoft didn’t say where exactly its new Azure-hosted supercomputer ranks on the TOP500 list; just that it’s in the top five. Based on the last list update in November 2019, Microsoft’s system is capable of at least 38,745 teraflops per second, which is the peak speed of the number five ranked University of Texas Frontera supercomputer. Although, it could be as high as 100,000 teraflops without moving up the list — there’s a big gap between numbers four and five. 

While we don’t have measurements of its raw computing power, Microsoft was happy to talk about all the hardware inside its new supercomputer. There are 285,000 CPU cores, which sounds like a lot. However, that’s less than any of the supercomputers currently in the top five. Microsoft’s AI computer also sports 10,000 GPUs and 400 gigabits of data bandwidth for each GPU server. 

You might know OpenAI from its work on GPT-2, the fake news bot that the company initially deemed too dangerous to release. OpenAI used a technique called self-supervised learning to create GPT-2, and it will be able to do more of that with the new supercomputer. In self-supervised learning (sometimes called unsupervised learning), computers create models by assimilating large amounts of unlabeled data, and humans can make adjustments to the model to nudge it in the right direction. This has the potential to create much more nuanced and effective AI, but it takes a lot of processing power. 

We can only guess at what OpenAI will be able to develop with one of the world’s fastest supercomputers at its disposal. Microsoft and OpenAI believe that a powerful computer with reinforced learning techniques can learn to do anything a human can do — it’s just a matter of time and scale. In a human brain, there are trillions of synapses carrying electrical impulses that create conscious thought. In AI, the equivalent is a parameter. The latest OpenAI model has about 17 billion parameters, and the companies think parameters will reach into the trillions very soon.

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Folding@Home Now More Powerful Than All the Supercomputers on Earth

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The past six weeks have seen a lot of unprecedented activity across the globe, most of it bad. One bright spot in the gloom — though of course, a rather conditional one — has been the sudden explosion in computational power being flung at analyzing and understanding COVID-19.

It wasn’t that long ago we were reporting on the Folding@Home network’s record-breaking 1.5 exaFLOPS of performance. Now, the system has broken 2.5 exaflops. At that speed, it’s reportedly faster than the sustained performance of all Top500 supercomputers combined.

There’s a pretty significant asterisk to this, however. Folding@Home is still ramping up the amount of work they can assign to the network. If you don’t feel like this problem has improved much in recent weeks, it’s because the new machines have been signing on as fast as additional work can be farmed out.

FoldingHomeNetwork

Total computational power in the Folding@Home network.

On April 13, the team announced that Folding@Home would now test simulations of how existing antiviral drugs like Remdesivir may interfere with the normal replication of COVID-19 within the body. The goal for the project is to evaluate all of the FDA-approved NTP (Nucleotide TriPhosphate) drugs currently on the market to see which may be the most effective at killing coronavirus. The project is also continually working to distribute more work units to all available systems, so if you’ve noticed your system being idle lately, you’ve got two choices: Wait for some of the newer work units coming down the line, or move to a project like Rosetta@Home, which is generally smaller and could also probably use some help.

I’m genuinely curious to see what comes of all the computer time dedicated to solving COVID-19. We’ve never spent this much horsepower attacking a single virus in such a focused way, and what we learn here might be vital to long-term viral research on this and other projects. Never in human history — not with the human genome, or AIDS, or SARS, or even cancer research — has so much horsepower been so unilaterally focused on a single goal. I don’t know if it’ll pay dividends, but if it does, we’ll have learned something about just how much compute horsepower it takes to drive these kinds of breakthroughs.

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Leaked GPU Specs Suggest Xbox Series X Substantially More Powerful Than PS5

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A new set of rumors have leaked regarding the next-generation Xbox and PS5 and the GPUs both consoles will bring to market. We’ve known the broad specs of both platforms for a bit — both use AMD GPUs and CPUs, with the GPU based on AMD’s most recent RDNA architecture, while the CPU is derived from the same 7nm Ryzen CPU cores that launched earlier this summer. What we’ve lacked is specific details on the GPU cores themselves.

Eurogamer has gotten their hands on some leak data they feel is fairly legit, and the website’s track record with this kind of information is solid. There have been some rumored APU configurations that leaked earlier this year, but this new data implies the Sony PS5 will feature 36 GPU clusters clocked at up to 2GHz. Supposedly the silicon, codenamed Oberon, is designed to operate in three different modes (Gen 0, 1, and 2) with clocks of 800MHz, 911MHz, and 2GHz respectively. Supposedly memory bandwidth is 448GB/s in Gen 2 mode (though 512GB/s is an alternate possibility) and the GPU can reportedly also be variably configured in terms of ROP and core counts. Eurogamer states:

While a 2.0GHz GPU clock is used for what is described as the fully unlocked ‘native’ or ‘Gen2’ mode, the processor is also tested in what is referred to as Gen1 and Gen0 modes. The former is explicitly stated as running with 36 compute units, a 911MHz core clock, 218GB/s of memory bandwidth and 64 ROPs – the exact specifications of PlayStation 4 Pro. The latter Gen0 mode cuts the CU and ROP counts in half and runs at 800MHz, a match for the base PS4. The indications are that back-compat is an integral part of the silicon, which in turn raises some interesting questions about the makeup of the Navi GPU and the extent to which older GCN compatibility may be baked into the design.

The implication here is that the PS5 SoC contains multiple GPU clusters, just like the PS4 Pro did. Using multiple GPU clusters in the same SoC would give Sony the same ability to turn the clusters on or off depending on which mode the GPU was running in. Alternately, the GPU cluster could be physically unified but designed to allow for this kind of fine-grained power gating. Stamping out identical clusters would be simpler, designing a unified cluster with fine-grained gating is probably more complex but saves on die space.

As for the Xbox Series X, Eurogamer is implying this console packs serious firepower. Here’s the rumored configuration:

Image by Eurogamer

If this rumor proves true — always something to keep in mind — the Xbox Series X will launch packing the equivalent of a high-end PC GPU. The largest GPU AMD has ever built are cards like the R9 Fury X and Vega 64, with 4096 cores. A 56-cluster Navi GPU would pack 1.4x more GPU cores than the 5700 XT, which already competes in the high-end PC GPU segment at the ~$ 400 price point. While AMD is expected to launch Navi 20 before the Xbox Series X debuts, we haven’t seen any indication that the company intends to dramatically expand the number of GPU cores it offers — Navi improved on GCN’s performance by making the individual cores more efficient as opposed to simply throwing more cores at the problem. It’s highly unlikely, in other words, that AMD would build a 56 CU for Microsoft and then ship a 128 CU design into the PC market.

If this rumor proves true, Microsoft is playing a far more aggressive game than it did last generation. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that AMD ships an 80 CU version of Navi 20, which comes out to 2x Navi 10. That would give the Xbox Series X 3,584 GPU cores compared to 5,120 for Navi 20, or about 70 percent as many.

In 2013, the Xbox One shipped with 768 GPU cores. The month before, AMD had shipped the R9 290X, with 2,816 cores. The PS4, at debut, had 1,152 cores. The Xbox had 27 percent as many GPU cores as the R9 290X, while the PS4 had 41 percent. While we can’t draw linear comparisons between console and PC performance strictly on the basis of GPU core count, the PC GPU was obviously far larger, with significantly more compute and graphics resources.

If — again, if — these rumors are true, the gaps are going to be a lot narrower this time around. The 1.7GHz clock speed on the Xbox Series X’s GPU is required to hit a supposed target of 12TFLOPS, but Eurogamer didn’t get that clock speed leak directly. The gap in GPU performance between the PS5 and XSX would be partially offset by faster clocks on the PS5, but only partially.

Frankly, the spec gap between the PS5 and XSX is large enough that you could argue the Xbox specs are less likely to be true. It’s also possible Microsoft decided to pull out all the stops after the disaster of the Xbox One. Doubling down on beating Sony in raw performance from Day 1 might represent Microsoft’s big idea for preventing a repeat of what happened last generation.

If the Xbox rumors are accurate there doesn’t seem to be a way for MS to sell the console at $ 400 without losing money — and I’ve got doubts about $ 500 as well, given that the system is expected to also use a high-speed NVMe-attached SSD and GDDR6. Hard drives might be slow, but they’re still cheaper than the equivalent amount of solid state storage. That doesn’t mean MS can’t pursue a loss-making strategy, but both MS and Sony opted not to do that with the initial Xbox One / PS4 after taking heavier-than-expected losses on X360 and PS3 (particularly in Sony’s case).

This kind of configuration would make a lot more sense if Microsoft is serious about a lower-end version of the console and intends to debut both. The PS5’s smaller GPU looks more like what we’d expect from a generational update. On the other hand, if this points to an upper-end Xbox Series X, it means that version of the console is going to pack high-end* PC-equivalent performance. With a 56-CU Navi, 8-core Ryzen 7nm CPU and 560GB/s of system memory bandwidth there’s no way it could perform like anything else.

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Powerful earthquake in Albania kills 16, injures hundreds

Rescue crews used excavators to search for survivors trapped in toppled apartment buildings after a powerful pre-dawn earthquake in Albania killed at least 16 people and injured more than 600.

The 6.4 magnitude quake was felt across the southern Balkans early Tuesday and was followed by multiple aftershocks. In nearby Bosnia, another temblor with a preliminary magnitude of 5.4 struck southeast of the capital and rattled Sarajevo. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in that earthquake.

The quake collapsed at least three apartment buildings while people slept, and rescue crews were working to free people believed trapped. There was no indication as to how many people might still be buried in the rubble.

The bodies of three people were removed from a collapsed building in the coastal city of Durres, 33 kilometres west of the capital Tirana, the Defence Ministry said. Another two people were found dead and removed from the rubble of a building in Thumane, while one person died after jumping from his home to escape shaking from the quake in Kurbin, 50 kilometres north of the capital.

WATCH: Houses reduced to rubble in Albania after earthquake

The most powerful earthquake to hit Albania in decades rocked the capital Tirana and surrounding region early on Tuesday, causing buildings to collapse and burying residents under rubble. 1:42

Local television stations showed footage of a young boy being pulled from a collapsed building after an excavator moved a broken slab of concrete and local men pulled mangled reinforcement bars out of the way.

Albanian officials reported at 3:15 p.m. local time two more dead in Durres, saying only that the dead were found, apparently in one of the collapsed buildings in the western city. 

The Health Ministry is reporting that around 600 people have been injured, some who are still in very serious condition.

All government agencies were on alert and “intensively working to save lives at the fatal spots in Durres and Thumane,” Rama said. About 400 soldiers are putting up tents in two towns to shelter people with damaged houses.


Military and emergency personnel put an injured man on a stretcher in Thumane. The 6.4 magnitude quake was felt across the southern Balkans early Tuesday. (Florion Goga/Reuters)

“It is a dramatic moment where we should preserve calm, stay alongside each other to cope with this shock,” Prime Minister Edi Rama said, thanking countries that offered support.

Rama said neighbouring countries, the European Union and the U.S. had offered to send assistance. Rama said he had spoken to his Italian, Greek and Turkish counterparts and with the EU and U.S. embassies in Tirana.

Greece was sending about 40 rescuers, with one 26-member search and rescue team with two sniffer dogs and specialized equipment flying from Athens to Tirana on board a military aircraft, while the second team was heading to the quake zone by road from northern Greece. Italy was sending specialized urban search and rescue teams from three Italian regions while Serbia, Romania, Turkey and Montenegro were also sending search-and-rescue teams.


The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.4 quake, which struck just before 4 a.m. local time, had an epicentre 30 kilometres northwest of the capital Tirana, at a depth of 20 kilometres. Scores of aftershocks included three with preliminary magnitudes of between 5.1 and 5.4.

“We are expecting multiple aftershocks following the main earthquake. That will pose a danger to human life. People in the affected areas should be aware of this danger,” said Akis Tselentis, director of the Geodynamic Institute of Greece, speaking in Athens.

‘Ready to offer assistance’

Neighbouring Kosovo was sending an emergency crew, while Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ordered a fire department rescue unit specializing in disaster response to travel to Albania, Greek authorities said. The Turkish ambassador also said his country was sending a team of rescuers and medics.

The European Union is sending condolences to the people of Albania following the earthquake and says it stands ready with emergency aid should it be required.

Foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and humanitarian aid commissioner Christos Stylianides say the EU “is ready to offer assistance.”

The bloc’s office in Tirana says Europe’s civil protection mechanism has been mobilized to help in the aftermath of the strong quake.

A statement from the EU delegation to Albania says Brussels has already helped mobilize three search and rescue teams to assist in ongoing search and rescue operations.


Emergency personnel work near a damaged building. Officials said around 300 injured people were treated in Durres, Tirana and Thumane. (Florion Goga/Reuters)

The quake was felt along the Albanian coast as well as Kosovo, Montenegro, Greece, and parts of southern Serbia.

Authorities reported scores of aftershocks — as strong as magnitude 5.5 — and called on people in the most affected areas to stay out of their homes and avoid driving in the affected areas to allow emergency vehicles free access. Many reported seeing cracks in their apartment walls.

Seismologists say a strong earthquake has rattled southern Bosnia, several hours after a deadly quake struck in nearby Albania. It is unclear if this was a separate quake or an aftershock. 

The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, which monitors global earthquake activity, said the shallow earthquake of magnitude 5.4 tremor occurred just after 9 a.m. local time southeast of the capital Sarajevo.

At least three apartment buildings and the power distribution station were damaged in Thumane.

An earthquake in September in roughly the same area damaged hundreds of homes.

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‘Powerful piece of circumstantial evidence’ that virus causes paralyzing illness in kids

Scientists have found the strongest evidence yet that a virus is to blame for a mysterious illness that can start like the sniffles but quickly paralyze children.

The poliolike syndrome, called acute flaccid myelitis or AFM, is very rare. Since the first reports from California in 2012, the U.S. has experienced an increasingly bigger outbreak every other year, from late summer into fall.

Doctors have a chief suspect but proof that it’s the culprit germ has been frustratingly elusive.

So researchers tried a new trick: They checked patients’ spinal fluid for signs the immune system had fought an invading virus. Sure enough, kids who got sick harboured antibodies that target enteroviruses, just the viral family specialists believe is to blame.

“This is circumstantial evidence that this is what’s going on, but it’s a powerful piece of circumstantial evidence,” said Dr. Michael Wilson of the University of California, San Francisco, who helped lead the research. His team reported the findings Monday in Nature Medicine.

Nailing down a suspect is key to better diagnosis and eventually finding a way to prevent or treat the illness, said study co-author Dr. Riley Bove, a neurologist at the university whose own son developed AFM at age 4.

“If you don’t have a cause, you can’t have a vaccine,” Bove noted. Wilson developed “a good enough microscope, in a sense, to find things they suspected were there.”

Some 590 cases of the ailment have been confirmed in the U.S. since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began counting in 2014. Cases spiked that year and in 2016 and last year, with just a few in the intervening years. So far, there have been 22 this year.

As of June 6, four cases of AFM have been reported in Canada, compared with 59 last year.

Bove’s son, Luca Waugh, illustrates the pattern: His whole family caught a cold in the summer of 2014 — and a few days later, Luca woke up with weakness in his neck that travelled down his shoulder. Despite fast hospitalization, within days he had body-wide paralysis and trouble breathing. He recovered gradually, and today still has some paralysis in his neck, shoulder and arm.

Either a germ or the body’s reaction to a germ was damaging nerves in the spinal cords of patients like Luca. The CDC noted that AFM spikes coincided with seasons when certain strains of enteroviruses — named EV-D68 and EV-A71 — were causing widespread respiratory illnesses. The problem: Doctors seldom found those viruses in the patients’ spinal fluid, leaving doubt about the link.

Antibodies programmed to track specific germs only wind up in spinal fluid if they fought infection there — what Wilson’s team set out to find.

The researchers customized a Harvard-developed tool to search for evidence of hundreds of viruses simultaneously — including herpes, measles, chickenpox, Zika and a whole list of enteroviruses. Add some spinal fluid, and any antibodies present would stick to their target, able to be identified.

‘Pretty compelling’

In tests of spinal fluid from 42 AFM patients and 58 children with unrelated neurologic illnesses, only enterovirus-targeting antibodies emerged as the potential culprit. Nearly three-fourths of patients harboured them, compared to less than 10 per cent of other children. Further work is underway to narrow down the specific strains.

“Before we develop antivirals or potential vaccines, you really want to prove the viruses are causing disease,” said Dr. John V. Williams, infectious disease chief at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, who wasn’t involved with the new study. “It’s pretty compelling” evidence.

Mysteries remain. Enteroviruses are hugely common, and doctors don’t know why only a tiny fraction of those infected develop the ailment, Williams said.

And as 2020 approaches, specialists are girding for another possible spike next summer. “There’s a lot of dread,” Bove said.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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‘It was powerful’: Cree babies are 1st to be born through Chisasibi midwifery program

Cayde and Ella Snowboy are the first two babies to be born under the Cree Board of Health and Social Services’ midwifery program.

They’re also cousins — their moms, Christina and Louisa Snowboy, are sisters.

They were pregnant at the same time, and signed up for midwifery care instead of the usual doctor’s visits during pregnancy and delivery.

“I was so happy that my family was there,” Christina said. “They supported me.”

The midwifery program, launched in September 2018, is part of efforts by the Cree health board to bring birthing back to the territory.

It gives Cree women with healthy pregnancies the choice to have their babies in Chisasibi, the largest Cree community in the region and the only one with a hospital, rather than down south.

“There were lots of people there while I was giving birth, lots of women,” said Christina.

“I was happy that I had lots of support.”

For Louisa, giving birth in Chisasibi meant being back in her own bed, with her healthy newborn and her older children, just four hours after giving birth — rather than having to stay for several weeks in a town almost 1,000 kilometres from home.

Louisa’s two older children were born in Val-d’Or. When midwifery services became available in her home community, she signed up right away.

Her positive experience helped convince her sister Christina, a first-time mom, to give birth in the community.
Cousins Cayde and Ella Snowboy were born in the spring. (CBHSSJB/T. Philiptchenko)

“[The birth] was indescribable. It was ecstatic. It was powerful,” said Jessyka Boulanger, the midwife who assisted Louisa.

“It was really like a circle of women supporting that life coming. It was so beautiful.”

Choosing where to give birth

Boulanger is one of four midwives in Chisasibi, and is also the head of midwifery services for the Cree Health Board. She travels by plane a lot, and often witnesses the moment when a mom steps off of a flight from the south and introduces her newborn to family for the first time, in an airport.

She says having the choice to give birth at home, with family close by, can be healing.

“The Cree, like many Indigenous communities, experienced trauma from residential schools, from colonization, separation of families. The systematic evacuation of women during pregnancy can re-open those traumas,” said Boulanger.

“Now, you can make that decision for yourself. You can decide where you feel the most secure, what has meaning for you, where you should be, and with whom. We’re able to give back that choice.”

When Louisa was pregnant, she and her family decided that her mom, Annie Sam, would be the one to welcome the baby. She says that having her mom catch the baby was deeply important to her.

“It’s wonderful that my two grandchildren were born here in our town,” said Annie Sam. “I wish more women would try to give birth here.”
Annie Sam, Louisa’s mother, Louisa and Jessyka Boulanger, head of midwifery services in Chisasibi, gaze at Ella. (CBHSSJB/T. Philiptchenko)

Traditional Cree birthing knowledge and practices are integral to the midwifery program. During pregnancy, women can learn from elders about naming rituals, ways of wrapping a baby, and how to treat rashes using traditional remedies.

The program is in high demand, with midwives now caring for almost half of Chisasibi pregnancies, or about 25 women. The community’s population is about 5,000 and growing quickly.

What was lost for so many years is coming back, said Boulanger.

“To be able to share that celebration of life, bring it back to the community, to the family, instead of [birth] being a separation or stress or worry. That it can be, once again, a joyful event.”

The Cree Health Board is planning to expand midwifery services to other communities in Eeyou Istchee, and to train Cree midwives. Birthing homes will be built in Waskaganish, Mistissini, and Chisasibi over the next few years.

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Nvidia Built One of the Most Powerful AI Supercomputers in 3 Weeks

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Autonomous vehicles: they’re not perfect and sometimes they kill people. But they also hold the promise of safer transportation—and far fewer jobs—in the relatively near future. To help these vehicles upgrade their intelligence from causing fatal accidents to preventing them, Nvidia created the DGX SuperPod, an AI-optimized supercomputer that can help design a better self-driving car.

Nvidia made it very clear it wants to be amongst the leaders in artificial intelligence and decided to build a supercomputer to demonstrate that. It only took the company three weeks to build by connecting 96 Nvidia DGX-2H supercomputers with Mellanox interconnect technology. You can actually buy it, too, if the novelty of your sixth yacht has worn off and you have $ 435,000 burning a hole in your pocket.  That’s how much one DGX-2H costs at list price. The DGX SuperPod uses 96 of them. If you want to make a self-driving car, it seems Nvidia thinks it’ll cost somewhere in the ballpark of $ 41,760,000 to get started with the best hardware. Clearly, these systems were designed for large corporations.

NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD

Image credit: NVIDIA

With 1,536 Nvidia V100 Tensor Core GPUs, the SuperPod packs a lot of power for a relatively small system (by supercomputer standards). Nevertheless, if you want people to invest in anything that expensive you might want to prove that it’s up to the toughest of tasks. That’s why Nvidia decided to make its SuperPod build assist in solving one of the most difficult problems in AI.

Autonomous vehicles require an enormous amount of training data compared with technologies that use similar image classification models for other purposes (e.g. diagnostic medicine). The AI in a self-driving car isn’t looking for something specific and it needs to consider all of its surroundings and understand them well enough to safely function. That amounts in approximately one terabyte of data per vehicle per hour and the AI that powers autonomous vehicles needs to retrain itself continuously over time using data from an entire fleet. Nvidia decided to demonstrate how its SuperPod can help expedite the processing of training data measured in petabytes:

The system is hard at work around the clock, optimizing autonomous driving software and retraining neural networks at a much faster turnaround time than previously possible.  For example, the DGX SuperPod hardware and software platform takes less than two minutes to train ResNet-50. When this AI model came out in 2015, it took 25 days to train on the then state-of-the-art system, a single Nvidia K80 GPU. DGX SuperPOD delivers results that are 18,000x faster.  While other TOP500 systems with similar performance levels are built from thousands of servers, DGX SuperPOD takes a fraction of the space, roughly 400x smaller than its ranked neighbors.

While the DGX-2H happens to perform best using ResNet-50, those numbers would remain impressive when scaled for just about any image classification model. You should expect impressive performance from a multi-million dollar system, but accomplishing that at such a small (relative) size it’s clear why Nvidia has remained dominant the AI hardware market.

What kind of advancements might such capable hardware lead to?  Nvidia demonstrated that as well with a new and more accurate method of calculating distance from objects in three-dimensional space so autonomous vehicles can more easily prevent collisions.

Nvidia explains some of the key areas where this new approach helps to improve safety:

[W]e use convolutional neural networks and data from a single front camera. The DNN is trained to predict the distance to objects by using radar and lidar sensor data as ground-truth information. Engineers know this information is accurate because direct reflections of transmitted radar and lidar signals pro precise distance-to-object information, regardless of a road’s topology.  By training the neural networks on radar and lidar data instead of relying on the flat ground assumption, we enable the DNN to estimate distance to objects from a single camera, even when the vehicle is going up or down hill.

It seems like Nvidia has some new advancement in artificial intelligence on almost a weekly basis—even if it’s just a more efficient method of turning your dog into a lion. Perhaps that’s because the company can build one of the most efficiently powerful supercomputers in the world in three weeks. When you don’t have to wait very long to process an enormous amount of data, you can quickly test new ideas and find the optimal solution a lot faster. You just need around $ 40 million dollars to get started.

Top image credit: Nvidia

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