Inverse Daily: Meet the woman who works the night shift on Mars
Plus: The future of work and A.I. may be all in your head.
It’s 1:30 a.m. in Pasadena, California, and 6 p.m. on Mars. Vandi Verma is about to start the night shift — on the Red Planet.
In a new interview, Verma takes Inverse through her “evening.” She arrives at her workstation, slips on a set of 3D glasses, and transports her mind’s eye to a different world, “cruising along the Martian terrain and exploring its surface.”
As Inverse reporter Passant Rabie writes:
Verma was born and raised in Halwara, India. After graduating from Punjab Engineering College in Chandigarh, India, with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, she went on to pursue her Ph.D. in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University.
Verma started working with NASA in 2004 before graduation while she was still completing her thesis.
“I was in grad school when Sojourner (NASA’s first rover on Mars) was developed,” Verma says. “In fact, I never thought I'd get to drive them.”
I am Claire Cameron, managing editor of Inverse. Embrace your Tuesday and keep scrolling for more illuminating details from Rabie’s interview and more essential stories from Inverse.
This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for May 11, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.
These robots want to read your mind while you work — Penn State engineers have designed a system to help robots read the mind of workers on the job, which researchers say could help build trust and collaboration. Sarah Wells has the story:
Robots aren’t coming for your jobs; they’re coming for your brains.
The emotional intelligence this EEG technology is attempting to create walks the line between WALL-E-like endearment and Orwellian panoptic control, but like any modernizing workplace technology, it’s coming for us whether we like it or not.
What the researchers behind the tech say: “This is probably the future of human-machine interaction, especially in field-oriented industries.”
- 5 things to know before you romance a robot
- A.I. is getting more lifelike by copying a trick from human children
- One surprising way robot lawnmowers will help the Earth
2021 Rolls Royce Ghost review — If you win the lottery, buy this car. This is the private jet of automobiles, writes Jordan Golson:
My Ghost, painted in English White with a Seashell interior, Arctic White accents, and Turchese piping, retails for $428,625. Turchese is Italian for turquoise, and I'm pretty sure they called it Turchese because that means it's more expensive and considerably more lovely.
And yes, to answer your next question, it's worth every penny. I spent my whole weekend with this car trying to figure out how best to explain it, and I'm still struggling. But, if you draw a Venn diagram between people with $428,625 to spend and people who appreciate the finer things in life, you'll find a lot of people to whom this car is absolutely worth the money.
- 2021 Polestar 2 review: The electric car you've never heard of is a hoot
- Forget Tesla: Experts say these 4 tech companies are the future of self-driving cars
- These 5 “bespoke” Rolls-Royce motor cars reveal new levels of luxury
Perseverance: Meet the driver behind the Mars 2020 rover — Vandi Verma has driven rovers on Mars since 2008. Now, she is “behind the wheel” of Perseverance. Passant Rabie talked to Verma to find out what it is like to drive on Mars:
“When you’re driving, you’re so immersed in an environment,” Verma tells Inverse. “I don’t know if there are rocks on Earth that I know as well as I know some of the rocks on Mars.”
Verma is the chief engineer for Robotic Operations for NASA’s Perseverance rover, and one of her many tasks is driving the rover on Mars. During her 10-hour shift, Verma operates on Mars from the perspective of the rover, working on Martian time and seeing the Red Planet through the robot’s eyes.
“When I look at one of the rover’s selfies, I can look at the back of the images and know the tracks of the drive I did,” Verma says.
- Ingenuity: Hear the first sound of a helicopter on Mars
- SpaceX Starlink: How Musk could pay for his audacious Mars city in 30 years
- Watch NASA’s Curiosity rover explore an important Martian landmark
Pizza test reveals a weird link between diet and immune cells — What happens when the “powerhouse of the cell” gets salty? In certain immune cells, they lose their energy-producing powers. Inverse writer Sophie Putka reports:
With the help of one of America’s favorite salty foods, pizza, researchers in Germany found a unique way sodium can change the tiny structures deep within one class of immune cells, damaging their function temporarily.
It should be noted that athough salt and sodium are often used interchangeably, they’re not the same. Sodium is the main ingredient of salt, but a measured amount of salt does not equal the same measure of sodium. Sodium is what enters the bloodstream when you eat something salty.
“What is interesting and new is that sodium is a powerful communicator with mitochondria with regards to blunting mitochondrial function,” Dominik Müller tells Inverse.
- Keep your gut bacteria happy by eating more of these 5 food groups
- Is a vegan diet healthy for your heart? Science reveals the surprising truth
- Keto may help you stay sober for longer
Let me know what you think of this daily dispatch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow me on Twitter at @ClaireHCameron, where I share some of my favorite stories from Inverse and elsewhere around the web every day.
May 11 birthdays — Cam Newton (32), Blac Chyna (33), Robert Roode (44), Jonathan Jackson (39), Sabrina Carpenter (22) (Source: AP)