Innovations and Inventions Continue Despite Pandemic


As the doom-and-gloom of the pandemic seems to have no end in sight, it’s good to spend a few minutes and remind ourselves of the positive that is happening all around us. Life does not stop with the virus.

In politics, Japan’s Karen Makishima was appointed the first female director of the Youth Division of the Liberal Democratic Party by the General Council. Speaking to The Japan Times, Makishima said she hopes this appointment will encourage women of the next generation to participate in politics. Former Prime Ministers Noboru Takeshita, Taro Aso, and Shinzo Abe all held this position and it is considered an important stepping stone for an LDP candidate. Could a premiership be in Makishima’s future?

To better understand tropical weather patterns, the American Meteorological Society is developing global weather models that can simulate thunderstorms and showers. Paired with satellites set to launch in a few years, the AMS will be able to predict weather and climate changes in advance which will help countries prepare for any natural disasters.

The tech world continues to wow with innovations. An exciting topic for many students has been Virtual Reality (VR). While this has been commercialized and is in use, a new extension of VR is unfolding: Extended Reality (XR). XR is a combination of Mixed Reality (MR), Augmented Reality (AR), and VR. MR is an extension of AR, which is the overlaying of the digital world onto reality, such as Snapchat filters.

In April 2020, a new AI technology-enabled researchers to find new molecules that could be used as prescription drugs. Using deep learning and computer-generated models, they can search through vast information on existing molecules and can hence develop new ones. The most important thing is that it enables drugs to be created at cheaper and faster rates.

In addition to the XR and AI technology, Google just made a breakthrough in Quantum computers. It can complete tasks in three minutes compared to a supercomputer that takes 10,000 years to do the same task. Although this was done only as a proof of concept, Google’s next goal is to build machines with enough qubits – the standard unit of quantum computation – which will outperform classical computers in minutes or even seconds. However, there is a challenge of not having enough technology at the moment to maintain a quantum state with a large number of qubits.  But professionals are working hard to overcome this obstacle.

Blockchain technology is also undergoing extensive research. It shows users a virtual path of digital transactions of cryptocurrency and is highly secure due to its encrypted nature. Some major companies like FedEx and MasterCard have invested in it, but this technology is expected to expand to smaller companies once its real-world applications are shown.

Much, much closer to home, this newspaper Hibiki was launched during the pandemic. Other new school clubs, such as a Green Environment Club, are in the works. And while our classes have moved online, that doesn’t mean innovation stops. An online pilot STEM class for 3rd and 6th grades just had a successful run and will return when the virus disappears.