Out of respect for those who have given their lives in service to our country, Autodesk employees in the United States are not working today. My wife and I are attending a ceremony in Alameda to honor our fallen heroes. Before we go, I thought I'd talk a little about our getAbstract pilot.
Autodesk is trying a service called getAbstract. The getAbstract service is a web site that Autodesk subscribes to which provides 5 page summaries of books and articles. I used it to get the essential concepts contained in a book I had never read.
In May 2009, after seeing the author on The Daily Show, I bought and read the book Uranium by Tom Zoellner. I then wrote a blog article about it.
Each getAbstract summary provides a set of take-aways. For fun I decided to compare the Uranium take-aways provided as part of the getAbstract site with the Uranium summary I provided in my blog article.
|It's Alive in the Lab||}getabstract|
|Uranium is the heaviest element that occurs naturally. With a large number of protons in its nucleus, it lends itself to releasing energy when its nucleus is split in a collision with another particle.||Uranium holds huge danger as a source of the apocalypse and great promise as a source of clean energy. One ton can produce as much power as 20,000 tons of coal.|
|Uranium is so unstable that it naturally sheds particles. As it loses protons, it becomes radium, then radon, and then polonium. Despite this, the ore itself can be picked up and carried around safely as long as the dust is not inhaled.||Uranium breaks down into radium, radon and plutonium. It is common and lethal.|
|Uranium ore must be concentrated into U-235 before there is a danger of a spontaneous chain reaction. Creating U-235 does not come easy. Processing requires a plant the size of a football field. This is not like making homemade beer in one's apartment bathtub.||The core element in the Hiroshima atomic bomb was uranium’s most powerful, heavily concentrated form: enriched U-235. Making U-235 is an immense job, but a small piece in a bomb can vaporize a city.|
|Prior to its use for nuclear reactions, when mining for precious metals like gold and silver, uranium was often found and cast aside as a "bad luck" metal.|
|Cancer often results from uranium poisoning because the particles cast off from the material bombard the cell's nucleus and disrupt the makeup of the cell.||Inhaled in a closed space, like a mine, uranium enters the lungs, causing cancer.|
|X-rays got their name because "X" was a placeholder for an unknown source of energy. The original MIME type for DWF was drawing/x-dwf where "x" was for experimental.|
|Plutonium does not occur naturally and only exists as a result of a freakish occurrence when uranium is bombarded with neutrons. It got its name from the planet Pluto that had been spotted only 11 years earlier. Plutonium is easier to manufacture in bulk than U-235 but is more dangerous to use.||The amount of plutonium that flashed into energy in the Nagasaki bomb was about one-third the weight of a penny and killed more than 40,000 people, ending WWII.|
|The U.S. spent $2 billion on the Manhattan Project, which built the WWII atomic bomb. President Harry Truman called it the "greatest scientific gamble in history."|
|By the mid-1960s, during the Cold War, the U.S. had 30,000 nuclear warheads.|
|Much of the former U.S.S.R.’s nuclear material is not catalogued, and the material that is identified and stored is badly secured.|
|Today, about 40% of the world’s known uranium is in Australia. The largest single uranium mine is in Niger.|
So they are surprisingly similar. I guess you could say getAbstract provides tangible benefits. (Rim-shot!)
The business versions of Cliff's Notes are alive in the lab.