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2021 Paper Group

A few friends in my discord do a weekly ‘paper’ discussion group (like a book club, but weirder) and I figured it’d be nice to record some comments from the papers & occasionally revisit interesting papers with updates to see if they panned out or not. I put a backlog of the papers we’ve discussed at the end and future papers and notes to the top of the next section.

Year in Review!

All the papers below were covered this past year. To have a bit of fun we picked a number of ‘best of’ categories and voted on a paper for each of the various groups, below are the categories and winners!

Paper Reviews

  • Evaluation of CAN Bus Security Challenges
    • This paper discusses security deficiencies in CAN technologies used in cars.
    • It also does a good job outlining how the CAN bus works and how it does not effectively offer integrity, availability, or confidentiality.
    • The actual ‘substance’ of the security analysis and practical discussion or approaches to solutions were somewhat lackluster but overall a decent intro talk. Would highly recommend watching this defcon talk which discusses some attack approaches in more detail & shows more practical application.
  • A Concept of a Compact and Inexpensive Device for Controlling Weeds with Laser Beams –
    • This was a cool paper where the researchers put together a quite cheap implementation of an autonomous laser-powered weed killing robot.
    • The build was very budget and moderate even improvements in hardware would likely lead to a much more effective solution.
    • Concept seems valid and there are even commercial players in the space today
  • Hibernation as a Tool for Radiation Protection in Space Exploration
    • The researchers are having some success inducing hibernation in to animals like rats which is a first step to understanding how similar techniques may be used for inducing it in other species like humans.
    • Long-distance space travel will involve years of exposure to generally unfriendly conditions such as 0 gravity, high rates of radiation, and extremely enclosed spaces. Hibernation in other species seems to elicit some positive physiological responses which may reduce the impact of radiation exposure in space as well as other detrimental phenomenon.
    • Paper was somewhat lackluster in that the actual research was very specific responses in certain animals and there is a clearly a lot of work until this research can look specifically at humans or space travel applications. However, it does propose an interesting method to potentially address those problems.
  • Evaluating Physical-Layer BLE Location Tracking Attacks on Mobile Devices
    • This paper discusses a novel approach of tracking devices by uniquely identifying them via manufacturing differences/imperfections in their radios.
    • I was surprised by the effectiveness of the technique and the way they identify the variation in the radios.
  • Increased telomerase activity and comprehensive lifestyle changes: a pilot study
    • I was pretty underwhelemed by this one. Essentially, ‘radically living healthier’ results in positive side effects and presense of telomerase.
    • Study group was small with mostly high-risk people, study duration was long particularly long-term.
  • South Atlantic Anomaly Areal Extent as a Possible Indicator of Geomagnetic Jerks in the Satellite Era
    • Essentially this paper identified an apparent relationship of the 2nd derivative of the minima of the South Atlantic Anomaly and subsequent geomagnetic jerks.
  • Nano-biosupercapacitors enable autarkic sensor operation in blood
    • This paper discusses a ~1000x improvement of size of an ‘in-blood’/’in vivo’ energy storage device.
    • They discuss some of the possibilities of an energy storage device like this at these dimensions.
  • Food for Thought: A critique of the balanced harvesting approach to fishing
    • tl;dr the paper challenges a new proposal in the fish harvesting world which suggests that instead of fishing select species of a certain size and higher fish should be populated based on natural breakdowns of the ecosystem and remove size requirements to spread the load and allow more fish to make it to a larger size, etc.
    • The arguments focuses on a few arguments – we don’t have perfect ecosystem distribution knowledge so this is somewhat guess-based; additionally the ability to actually implement and monitor this sort of thing would take significantly more effort than existing things.
    • The paper also talked about limited evidence provided to support the balanced harvest approach; provided some counter examples where it doesn’t seem to be beneficial.
    • Ultimately, the paper suggests that balanced harvesting as a strategy might be more detrimental than current methods.
  • Real-time dialogue between experimenters and dreamers during REM sleep
    • I really liked this paper but I’m also a bit biased because I picked it out. The paper demonstrates with decent evidence that it is possible to have real-time interactions with a dreamer and exchange data (math problems and their answers).
    • The paper used a very cool methodology, a reasonable (but still small) sample size, was performed in several labs by several teams with independent verifiers of the data, and presented a good argument for their case.
    • I will follow-up on this paper in the future as it is a really cool topic and I hope this spurns forward other research. I was particularly impressed with the effectiveness they had in eliciting lucid dreams from the test groups & the clarity of some of the signals. Very cool and pretty easy read!
  • Opportunities and Challenges of Lithium Ion Batteries in Automotive Applications
    • Another good paper! This dealt with the some of the key challenges and landmarks LIBs have before they can be be considered to effectively and efficiently integrated in to the automotive ecosystem.
    • There are challenges of energy density, capacity decay of cells, cost effectiveness, production capabilities and other landmarks which need to reach certain levels of maturity before the value proposition beats or exceeds fuels. There are also physical challenges in the ability for today’s material science to meet those goals. This has led to alternative battery designs – lithium metal batteries among others – which may or may not be the future for automotive energy needs if existing lithium ion designs do not continue to improve and meet the needed levels.
  • The extent of soil loss across the US Corn Belt
    • Paper describes the loss of ‘higher quality’ topsoil – especially on higher altitude areas throughout the cornbelt. It touched on a few things such as loss of carbon capture, lower yields, financial impact of lower yields, and how solutions are complicated.
    • Appeared to sample a very, very small amount data to arrive at their conclusions, led to some questions of how much they were looking for data to ‘fit’ their hypothesis vs sampling more soil to confirm the assumptions. The assumption – runoff going down hill, less nutrients at the top, etc. makes sense but there are also techniques (crop rotation, fertilizers, etc. which are intended to keep the level of nutrients at good levels. There was no discussion of if that is totally ineffective, partially, or if it completely covers the issue of soil loss.
    • Overall, it makes sense, seems to have some supporting data, and if true is a major issue. Definitely want to check for follow-up data down the road.
  • Standard Model with Partyaw
    • It got complicated. Have a picture though, I unfortunately don’t have link to credit.
three generations of matter 
interactions I force carriers 
-124.97 GeV/c2 
-2.2 Mewca 
-4.7 MeV/c2 
-0.511 MeV/c• 
-128 GeV/c2 
-96 Mewe 
-105.66 MeV/c• 
17 MeV/ca 
-173.1 GeV,'ca 
24.18 GeV/c2 
-1_7768 GeV1c• 
<18.2 MeV/ca 
Z boson 
-80.39 GeV/ca 
W boson 
  • Time Compression in Virtual Reality
    • An interesting topic which I think will have real findings in the years to come. The biggest criticism was that the sample size was really quite small & the findings had quite a lot of variance which makes it hard to put much weight in the conclusions.
    • The authors discuss this and provide a few possible ways to interpret their results (which is that VR does have a notable ‘time compression’ effect during the experience of VR) but they also point out a number of other controls or modifications to their experimental design which it seems would provide more insight than the current paper.
    • Overall interesting as a topic and from an experimental design but a lot of variables which may skew results.
  • Profunctor optics, a categorical update
    • Contributes some of the following computer science items: an abstraction to represent optics, expression of existing structures as mixed optics, new family of optics, unified definition of lenses which encompasses existing discrete definitions, and a lot of other items which build on prior results.
    • Interesting to programmers that care about optics.
  • Human hand as a powerless and multiplexed infrared light source for information decryption and complex signal generation
    • TL;DR – human hands generate IR light in a few interesting ways. This is notable because it is done without electricity, etc, so it may have uses in places where electricity is not readily available or as part of designed systems to leverage the infrared properties of the hand; the paper investigates using this for signal generation, encryption systems, and other applications.
    • Our general opinion of the paper was that it highlighted some really cool concepts but the execution was somewhat lackluster. Writing of the paper was kinda rough. Some super cool potentials -such as the wrist-based grating offering 3^5 bits of signaling.
    • Quote of the paper: “Moon is another natural light source that helps us see things during the night.”
    • Hope to see future citing of the paper with more interesting applications.
  • Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger
    • This was a really fun paper from 2017. I had heard about gravitational wave detections from LIGO when they were first announced as it was a pretty notable event. None of our group had read the paper and, when selecting a paper for this week I came across it in a list of frequently cited papers and decided to give it a go. On the whole we agreed it was an interesting paper, well written, and conveyed the significance and details of the detection well. Towards the end there was a big discussion about the assumptions used in the paper being both substantial and under acknowledged; on doing some follow-up research it looks like that was one of few criticisms of the paper which made its way in to a few journals — the assumptions held up and were logical but they were, never-the-less, still assumptions.
    • A good paper for those interested in what gravitational waves are, how they can be caused and how they are detected.
    • A really notable takeaway for me was the way the waves were predicted and modeled before any detections existed and not only were apparently quite accurate but also had modeled a variety of celestial phenomena (colliding black holes, stars colliding with black holes, colliding white dwarfs, etc. Very cool stuff!
  • The Attentional Cost of Inattentional Blindness
    • Interesting paper about some phenomenons tied to attention and missing stimulus when focused on other tasks. The paper does 5 experiments in a similar vein to the familiar gorilla/basketball experiment. The biggest highlight appears to be that when focusing on something an unusual/unexpected events happen, even subconsciously, it costs some degree of attention.
    • Interesting question – what would this look like in an fMRI? Would also be interesting to see other similar experiments in different circumstances or with larger groups of people.

Past Papers

Notable Updates in Paper Review Meetings


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