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Oct 15, 2017

Directed Energy Propulsion has made a lot of experimental progress

Posted by in category: space travel

Philip lubin, university of california, santa barbara, directed energy for interstellar study.

Starting at 26 minutes of this video.

They are making progress with laser locking over kilometer distances. They are making 2 gram starchip prototypes. they are looking at making ultrathin starchips that would be a meter across but very lightweight.

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Oct 15, 2017

Startup Iron Ox is developing small farms in suburbia that will be run by robots

Posted by in categories: finance, food, habitats, robotics/AI, sustainability

You could drive past and never see the only farm in San Carlos, California. The tiny city of 30,000 that sits between San Francisco and Silicon Valley has all the charms of suburbia—sprawling office parks and single-story homes—but doesn’t seem a likely suspect for agriculture.

The farm, run by startup Iron Ox, is nestled between three stonemasons and a plumber in a nondescript office park building; there’s no greenhouse, no rows of freshly-tilled soil, or tractor parked outside. Only peeking in the large bay door reveals the building’s tenants: a few hundred plants and two brightly-colored robot farmers.

Iron Ox looks a lot like a tech company. One of its co-founder is an ex-Google engineer and it raised $1.5 million in pre-seed venture capital from Y Combinator, Pathbreaker, and Cherubic Ventures in April 2016. Instead of fake food, or plant-based meat meals, or even a food delivery service tethered to an app, Iron Ox is reinventing farming, raising real, not faux, food. Think hydroponically raised lettuce and basil, like what you’d get at an ordinary farmers market.

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Oct 15, 2017

NASA Satellite Sees Overheated Tropical Forests Oozing with Carbon Dioxide

Posted by in categories: satellites, sustainability

NASA’s OCO-2 satellite has detected a dramatic spike in global atmospheric carbon dioxide, and overheated tropical forests are partly to blame.

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Oct 15, 2017

There’s a new challenger to lithium batteries

Posted by in categories: food, sustainability

With the EV market about to explode and the European Union planning a battery-making consortium to bring the continent onto the global EV battery scene, Stanford researchers released a paper claiming their sodium battery could compete with the lithium-ion market leader.

New battery development has been fairly slow against the backdrop of the projected electric car market size, and so far no innovation has proved to be as economical as lithium-ion. The Stanford battery uses sodium—a cheaper, more abundant material than lithium—and is still in the development stages.

Sodium makes up the Stanford battery’s cathode, and the anode is made from phosphorus, with the addition of a compound called myo-inositol, which can be derived from rice bran or corn. According to the researchers, this chemical combination yields efficiency rates comparable to that of lithium-ion batteries at a lower cost—a much lower cost.

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Oct 15, 2017

The First Human to Attempt CRISPR Gene Editing on Their Genome

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

The first attempt at human CRISPR gene editing did not occur in a hospital or University or in a clinical trial by some $100 million funded company. Instead, it happened in small cramped room in San Francisco in front of 30 or so people who squeezed in to listen to a talk about how biohackers are making genetic and cellular modification accessible.

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Oct 15, 2017

How scientists and supercomputers could make oceans drinkable

Posted by in categories: nanotechnology, particle physics, supercomputing, sustainability

Aleksandr Noy has big plans for a very small tool. A senior research scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Noy has devoted a significant part of his career to perfecting the liquid alchemy known as desalination—removing salt from seawater. His stock-in-trade is the carbon nanotube. In 2006, Noy had the audacity to embrace a radical theory: Maybe nanotubes—cylinders so tiny, they can be seen only with an electron microscope—could act as desalination filters. It depended on just how wide the tubes were. The opening needed to be big enough to let water molecules flow through but small enough to block the larger salt particles that make seawater undrinkable. Put enough carbon nanotubes together and you potentially have the world’s most efficient machine for making clean water.

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Oct 15, 2017

Gene Editing Is Here, and Desperate Patients Want It

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

Two-thirds of Americans support therapeutic use, but regulators are still stuck in the 1970s.

Should Americans be allowed to edit their DNA to prevent genetic diseases in their children? That question, which once might have sounded like science fiction, is stirring debate as breakthroughs bring the idea closer to reality. Bioethicists and activists, worried about falling down the slippery slope to genetically modified Olympic athletes, are calling for more regulation.

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Oct 15, 2017

Oil spills are no match for this super cool sponge

Posted by in category: futurism

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Oct 15, 2017

BMW is putting IBM’s Watson AI in the passenger seat

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

The BMW i8 is already one of the most futuristic-looking cars on the road, but it’s about to get more innovative inside, too. BMW has just announced a brand-new tech collaboration with IBM, which will see the tech giant’s Watson AI tested in four of BMW’s hybrid sports cars. The project will see BMW engineers and IBM researchers work together in Germany, as both IBM and BMW have research facilities in Munich.

The project aims to make driving assistance and information more personalised and intuitive – and Watson looks to be the perfect candidate for the job. IBM’s powerful AI should make the car’s existing systems much easier to use, and BMW has already given a few examples of how it could work. The i8’s manual will be by Watson, so drivers will be able to enquire about vehicle information in natural language, rather than select phrases. In the same way, BMW and IBM want the Watson-fitted i8 to provide updates on everything from fuel levels to traffic updates in a simple, easy way.

However, Watson’s machine learning will have another benefit, too: personalisation. By gradually learning the routes, language and needs of a driver, Watson will be able to deliver the right amount of information almost before it’s needed.

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Oct 15, 2017

Your future companion in your old age could be a robot

Posted by in categories: food, habitats, robotics/AI

The market is definitely there. But, it needs to be able to do a minimum amount of practical things, in about this order: 1. it needs to be able to cook even the most basic of meals, being unable to cook for themselves is usually the main reason someone has to go into a nursing home; 2. being able to clean your average kitchen and bathroom; 3. being able to do basic yard tasks, operating a lawnmower and a snowblower. Those would be the most important, after those get mastered have it equipped to do more niche tasks and entertainment features.

As to when, we have clumsy humanoid robots right now, and AI will supposedly reach human level around 2029. It will just be a task of merging those two between now and then, and getting that robot down to a reasonable cost, which i think would be in the neighborhood of a brand new SUV.

As artificial intelligence advances, we humans will form relationships with our robot helpers and caregivers.

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