Wi-Fi May Save Your Life

Grind for August 27th, 2018
“Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Changing Times

The Headline

Fewer Americans are relocating for work

The Grind

My parents met each other in a small town in Indiana after they both moved there to work for the same company.

That was in the 1980’s, when more than one third of job seekers moved to a new city or state to take advantage of new opportunities.

That number has since dropped to 10%.

The Details

According to census data, about 3.5 million Americans relocated for a new job in 2017. That’s down 10% from 2015, when 3.8 million people moved to a new city for work.

Work-related moves fluctuated between 20% and 35% of the labor force during the 1990’s and then dropped below 20% after the year 2000.

Experts point to two main factors in today’s falling worker mobility: increased job availability and changing family ties.

Parents today are less likely to relocate after a divorce than they were in prior decades, as more people opt for shared-custody arrangements.

“Any way you measure it, families are more complex than they used to be,” says sociologist Thomas Cooke.

Included in this trend is an increasing interest in parenting from fathers, who are spending more time on child care than ever before, and an increase in the amount of money women bring home – which makes it harder to replicate a family’s standard of living if one spouse decides to relocate.

“Such trends are chipping away at the once-common pattern of families following careers – typically the husband’s – and changing how workers think about distant job opportunities,” notes The Wall Street Journal.

You Learn Something New Everyday

The Headline

New report shows how Wi-Fi can be used to detect bombs

The Grind

A recent study conducted by researchers at Rutgers University – New Brunswick found that ordinary Wi-Fi can detect bombs and explosive chemicals inside bags.

How it works: the metals and liquids contained in dangerous objects interfere with Wi-Fi signals, but the materials used to hide those objects do not (think bomb inside a backpack).

Using this principle, the team built a Wi-Fi system that could distinguish dangerous objects from harmless objects with 99% accuracy. The rate dropped to 95% when the object was inside a bag and to 90% when the object was wrapped in something else and inside a bag.

The Implication

The team hopes to use their Wi-Fi system to improve security at large gatherings like festivals, concerts, and sporting events.

“In large public areas, it’s hard to set up expensive screening infrastructure like what’s in airports,” explains study co-author Jennifer Chen. “Manpower is always needed to check bags, and we wanted to develop a complementary method to try to reduce manpower.”

For now, the team will focus on improving the system’s accuracy so that it can better identify an object’s shape or the volume of liquid inside a container.

The study was awarded “best paper” at the 2018 IEEE Conference on Communications and Network Security.

Did you know… The TomTato is a plant that produces both potatoes and tomatoes!