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SeattleJS Conference

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There was a good turnout at the July 2018 SeattleJS meetup, about 160 attendees. Three presentations were given:

Package Quest: The Journey of a Package from the npm Registry to Your Computer
by Jeff Lembeck

Ever wonder what happens when you npm install something? Follow an odyssey across the wires as our hero client embarks on an adventure to bring you the software that you need, right when you ask for it. After this talk you'll have a better understanding of the course a package takes—helping you understand architecture that works at scale as well as being able to troubleshoot package installation problems.

Jeff Lembeck is an Engineering Manager with npm, inc. He writes code, talks a lot, and is the former lecturer for University of Washington's JavaScript certificate program. He's also a co-organizer of SeattleJS and an active contributor to the open source community. When far away from a computer, Jeff seeks out oyster happy hours and longs for a hot tub boat to call home.

Logux: Redux Actions On The Server
by Andrey Sitnik

What if we can remove all our code for AJAX and instead of AJAX just synchronize Redux actions between client and server and between clients? Or what if our server could create Redux action for the client and client will receive it next online?

Andrey Sitnik, the creator of PostCSS and Autoprefixer will speak about his new open source project, which mixes ideas from Redux, CRDT, and distributed systems to bring you a replacement for AJAX and GraphQL.

CORS Doesn't Hate You
by Ryan Miller

CORS (Cross-Origin Resource Sharing) is subject tinged with dread for many web developers, but it doesn't have to be! In this lightning talk, I'll explain both the history of CORS and the logic behind its implementation, as well as a few tips for debugging common CORS errors. (Blog form of this talk is located here).

Ryan Miller is lead frontend engineer at @Algorithmia. Prior to @Algorithmia, Ryan built hybrid mobile applications at @ChefSteps, and loves learning about the nooks and crannies of the internet.

SeattleJS July #1

I was the first one to show up.

SeattleJS July #2

The Meetup this month was hosted by RealSelf located in the Capital One building in downtown Seattle—really nice offices and good views of the Seattle waterfront and Pioneer Square.

SpaceX and Blue Origin: Comparison and Contrast

SpaceX and Blue Origin Logos

The private aerospace manufacturers SpaceX, founded by business magnate and engineer Elon Musk, and Blue Origin, founded by Amazon.com chairman and current CEO Jeff Bezos have sparked debate as to whether or not the two companies are competing in a sort of 21st Century Space Race not unlike that which enveloped the United States and its rival the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.

“The problem with a race is that the end goal is winning. President Kennedy's dream was "landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth" before the end of the 1960s in order to "win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny." Apollo was a product of the Cold War. Once we beat the Russians to the moon, budget cuts to NASA began to roll out. The planned Apollo 20 flight was cancelled in January 1970, just six months after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Apollos 18 and 19 quickly followed. NASA had the will and the way, but Congress wasn't on board for it. The decades that followed have seen a cycle of ambitious plans downscaled to fit shrinking budgets.”

Although these two companies may appear similar in that they were founded by billionaire entrepreneurs, that they manufacture rockets which leave the Earth's atmosphere, and that it may be tempting for some to once again call upon the competitive excitement of the Space Race, the truth is that SpaceX and Blue Origin were created with two different goals in mind.

How are They Similar?

Both SpaceX and Blue Origin have been deploying reusable rockets, meaning that when the rocket is deployed it is then later sent back to Earth to land for use again. Before 2016, this was unprecedented.

How are They Different?

“Blue Origin, for example, is focusing on sub-orbital space flight that allows passengers to experience the sensations of space without leaving Earth’s atmosphere, The Verge says. New Shepard doesn’t have the power to leave the Earth’s atmosphere and enter orbit, so the vessel returns to the planet’s surface a few minutes after entering sub-orbit.

Meanwhile, SpaceX’s goals centre around lowering the cost of space flight, the website says, with the hope of one day launching a manned mission to Mars. The company’s rockets also carry payloads, including satellites and cargo.”

Earth's Carrying Capacity for Human Life

Albert Einstein

No species has altered the Earth the way we have. In fact, human behavior has impacted the planet so much that there is a proposed geological timescale, dubbed the Anthropocene Epoch, which is used as a way of defining the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth's geology and ecosystems. Its precise date of occurrence is still under debate.

Human population, now over 7 billion, cannot continue to grow indefinitely. There are limits to the life-sustaining resources earth can provide us. In other words, there is a carrying capacity for human life on our planet. Carrying capacity is the maximum number of a species an environment can support indefinitely. Every species has a carrying capacity, even humans. However, it is very difficult for ecologists to calculate human carrying capacity. Humans are a complex species. We do not reproduce, consume resources, and interact with our living environment uniformly. Carrying capacity estimates involve making predictions about future trends in demography, resource availability, technological advances and economic development.”

India, China, and Nigeria are projected to have the world's largest populations by 2100.

“Aside from the limited availability of freshwater, there are indeed constraints on the amount of food that Earth can produce...

Even in the case of maximum efficiency, in which all the grains grown are dedicated to feeding humans (instead of livestock, which is an inefficient way to convert plant energy into food energy), there's still a limit to how far the available quantities can stretch. "If everyone agreed to become vegetarian, leaving little or nothing for livestock, the present 1.4 billion hectares of arable land (3.5 billion acres) would support about 10 billion people," Wilson wrote.

The 3.5 billion acres would produce approximately 2 billion tons of grains annually, he explained. That's enough to feed 10 billion vegetarians, but would only feed 2.5 billion U.S. omnivores, because so much vegetation is dedicated to livestock and poultry in the United States.

So 10 billion people is the uppermost population limit where food is concerned. Because it's extremely unlikely that everyone will agree to stop eating meat, Wilson thinks the maximum carrying capacity of the Earth based on food resources will most likely fall short of 10 billion.

According to population biologist Joel Cohen of Columbia University, other environmental factors that limit the Earth's carrying capacity are the nitrogen cycle, available quantities of phosphorus, and atmospheric carbon concentrations, but there is a great amount of uncertainty in the impact of all of these factors. "In truth, no one knows when or at what level peak population will be reached," Cohen told Life's Little Mysteries.”

Astronomers Prove General Relativity on Galactic Scales

Albert Einstein

Einstein's general theory of relativity predicts that objects deform space-time around them therefore causing passing light to be deflected, resulting in a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. The effect is only noticeable for massive objects; most lenses are far too distant to measure their mass with precision. The galaxy known as ESO 325-G004, however, is one of the closest lenses available to us here on earth, its distance is approximately 450 million light-years away.

Gravity, as Einstein asserted, is a consequence of the distortion of space and time. Any object distorts the fabric of space-time; futhermore, the greater the object's mass, the greater the effect of distortion and the object's gravitational pull.

“Astronomers using the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile, and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, have made the most precise test yet of Einstein’s general theory of relativity outside the Milky Way. The nearby galaxy ESO 325-G004 acts as a strong gravitational lens, distorting light from a distant galaxy behind it to create an Einstein ring around its centre. By comparing the mass of ESO 325-G004 with the curvature of space around it, the astronomers found that gravity on these astronomical length-scales behaves as predicted by general relativity. This rules out some alternative theories of gravity.”

“General relativity has been tested with exquisite accuracy on Solar System scales, and the motions of stars around the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way are under detailed study, but previously there had been no precise tests on larger astronomical scales. Testing the long range properties of gravity is vital to validate our current cosmological model.”