There are more mobile phones in the world than there are people. Nearly all of them are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which are the single most important component enabling the portable electronics revolution of the past few decades. None of those devices would be attractive to users if they didn’t have enough power to last at least several hours, without being particularly heavy.
Imagine returning home after a long-haul flight, exhausted and red-eyed. You’ve just reclaimed your baggage after getting through immigration when you’re stopped by a customs officer who demands you hand over your smartphone and the password. Do you know your rights?
You’ve read the headlines: quantum computers are going to cure disease by discovering new pharmaceuticals! They’re going to pore through all the world’s data and find solutions to problems like poverty and inequality!
It seems like every few months there’s a new cellphone, laptop or tablet that is so exciting people line up around the block to get their hands on it. While the perpetual introduction of new, slightly more advanced electronics has made businesses like Apple hugely successful, the short shelf life of these electronics is bad for the environment.
Almost all life on earth is based on DNA being copied, or replicated, and understanding how this process works could lead to a wide range of discoveries in biology and medicine. Now for the first time scientists have been able to watch individual steps in the replication of a single DNA molecule, with some surprising findings. For one thing, there’s a lot more randomness at work than has been thought.
Plugging in the power – or at least what you think is power – to a USB-C powered laptop can connect your computer, and the valuable personal data on it, directly to hackers. Your personal financial information, passwords and documents stored on the laptop could help a cybercriminal steal your identity. The laptop may even be used to attack your employer’s computers and network.
People have no idea how fast the world is changing. So said Peter Diamandis to the audience at Singularity University’s Global Summit, taking place this week in San Francisco. Diamandis believes the convergence of multiple technologies is transforming business models, and they’re never going back.
Birds have long inspired humans to create their own ways to fly. We know that soaring bird species that migrate long distances use thermal updrafts to stay in the air without using up energy flapping their wings. And glider pilots similarly use thermals currents and other areas of rising air in order to remain airborne for longer.
For several years, civil society groups have been calling for a ban on what they call “killer robots”. Scores of technologists have lent their voice to the cause. Some two dozen governments now support a ban and several others would like to see some kind of international regulation.
Los Angeles is looking into whether it should spend an estimated US$3 billion on a massive, 20-mile underground pumped hydropower storage system that would be connected to the iconic Hoover Dam on the Colorado River outside of Las Vegas.
We’re still figuring out what the heck antimatter even is, but scientists are already getting ready to fiddle with it. Physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) are one step closer to cooling antimatter using lasers, a milestone that could help us crack its many mysteries.
Cars have gone from a “get me from point A to point B by burning gas” mode of transportation to a dream project for innovative techies. Cars can now run on electricity, be summoned by smartphone apps in cities all over the world, and are being developed to navigate without a human behind the wheel.
The next generation of mobile technology is coming our way. On Tuesday, Sprint announced plans to release a 5G smartphone by mid-2019. According to a company press release, the phone is a collaboration with LG Electronics.
Last week, a few miles off the northern coast of Scotland, a cylinder the size of a shipping container was carefully lowered to the bottom of the ocean floor. Sounds like a clever (if complex) way to bury evidence, or treasure, or something similarly mysterious.
Despite decades of ongoing research, scientists are trying to understand how the four fundamental forces of the Universe fit together. Whereas quantum mechanics can explain how three of these forces things work together on the smallest of scales (electromagnetism, weak and strong nuclear forces), General Relativity explains how things behaves on the largest of scales (i.e. gravity). In this respect, gravity remains the holdout.
Why do batteries die? And, why can they only be recharged so many times before they won’t hold a useful amount of charge? My young son asked me about that years ago when his battery-powered toy car stopped moving, wondering about what he called an “everlasting battery.” And this same question has probably crossed the mind of every cellphone user trying to send one last text before the screen blinks off.
You may have sworn off aerosol sprays in the ’90s when everyone was talking about the hole in the ozone layer, but a team of researchers from MIT has found a use for aerosols that could be good for both the environment and our health. This spray contains nanobots, tiny sensors with the potential to do everything, from detecting dangerous leaks in pipelines, to diagnosing health issues. They published their research in Nature Nanotechnology on Monday.
Thanks to virtual reality, you can swim with the dolphins, play some tennis, or spend some alone time, all from the comfort of your own living room. But it’s not yet perfect — a horrible wave of nausea can hit anytime, right in the middle of these activities.
AI has gotten pretty good at completing specific tasks, but it’s still a long way from having general intelligence, the kind of all around smarts that would let AI navigate the world the same way humans or even animals do.
The 50,000 ships sailing the sea at any one time have joined an ever-expanding list of objects that can be hacked. Cybersecurity experts recently displayed how easy it was to break into a ship’s navigational equipment. This comes only a few years after researchers showed that they could fool the GPS of a superyacht into altering course. Once upon a time objects such as cars, toasters and tugboats only did what they were originally designed to do. Today the problem is that they all also talk to the internet.
Spring construction season is underway, and many tons of concrete will be used in the coming months. Unfortunately, concrete is a brittle material: Placed under stress, it cannot bend very far before it fractures. Some pavements that are being poured now will crack within a few years and require expensive repairs. New concrete will be mixed, and the cycle will start again
Wind and solar energy are growing rapidly in the U.S. As these energy sources become a bigger part of the electricity mix, their growth raises new questions: How do solar and wind influence energy prices? And since power plants last for decades, what should policymakers and investors think about to ensure that investments in power infrastructure pay off in the future?
Researchers have demonstrated how infrared laser pulses can shift electrons between two different states, the classic 1 and 0, in a thin sheet of semiconductor. The technique could help to solve a major issue with quantum computing.
Hydrogen fuel cells were supposed to be the next big thing. Their promise peaked during the gas crisis of the 1970s as a clean energy source to power cars and electric plants, hydrogen fuel never truly took off.
Offshore oil rigs can be extremely dangerous places to work. Over the last few decades, several offshore explosions have led to environmental disasters and the death of workers. Regulations have so far failed to stop fatal accidents from occurring. But with developments in technology, particularly the rise of automation, we’re hoping that future accidents can be reduced.
If wearing a virtual reality or augmented reality headset is ever to become commonplace, hardware manufacturers will need to figure out how to make the devices small and lightweight while ensuring their images are sharp and clear. Unfortunately, this task faces a key limitation in optics: Conventional lenses are curved glass objects that focus different wavelengths of light in different locations, which would show viewers blurry images. As a result, pretty much anything with a lens – from tiny smartphone cameras to large-scale projectors – uses multiple lenses, which add weight, thickness and complexity, increasing cost.