The idea of creating a physical object from a digital file is fascinating. It conjures memories of the replicators in Star Trek that can create everything from clothes to starship components to different foods. Today’s 3D printing is making impressive strides in that direction, to the great interest of many manufacturers. It is now possible to print the components for sophisticated electronic devices with fairly simple equipment, for instance – as my research team has just shown by producing what we believe to be the first 3D-printed microphone.
When the UK government cancelled its plans to electrify train lines across Wales, the Midlands and the north of England, and cut back on the Great Western rail network electrification, it brought a premature end to a rail investment program once touted as the biggest the country had seen since the Victorian era. But now reports suggest that the government and train manufacturers are hoping there may be an alternative way to turn British railways electric: hydrogen.
MIT researchers have developed a new secure cryptocurrency that reduces data users need to join the network and verify transactions by up to 99 percent, compared to today’s popular cryptocurrencies, which could mean a more scalable network.
Rapid urban population growth is driving many cities around the world to reduce their carbon footprints. In Canada, two major policy agendas are designed to achieve this: boosting urban density and promoting low-carbon transportation such as electric vehicles (EVs).
IBM recently unveiled what it claimed was the world’s first commercial quantum computer. While the announcement of the Q System One wasn’t scientifically groundbreaking, the fact that IBM sees this as a commercial product that organisations (if not individuals) will want to use is an important breakthrough.
Industrial engineers from ‘Technologiecampus Gent ‘(KU Leuven) have developed a module that allows them to map the health of trees online. Using this module trees in a city or park can be monitored online.
It’s tempting to give up on data security altogether, with all the billions of pieces of personal data – Social Security numbers, credit cards, home addresses, phone numbers, passwords and much more – breached and stolen in recent years. But that’s not realistic – nor is the idea of going offline entirely. In any case, huge data-collection corporations vacuum up data about almost every American without their knowledge.
The human brain has amazing capabilities making it in many ways more powerful than the world’s most advanced computers. So it’s not surprising that engineers have long been trying to copy it. Today, artificial neural networks inspired by the structure of the brain are used to tackle some of the most difficult problems in artificial intelligence (AI). But this approach typically involves building software so information is processed in a similar way to the brain, rather than creating hardware that mimics neurons.
Despite fears that guns made with 3D printers will let criminals and terrorists easily make untraceable, undetectable plastic weapons at home, my own experience with 3D manufacturing quality control suggests that, at least for now, 3D-printed firearms may pose as much, or maybe even more, of a threat to the people who try to make and use them.
Cyber security researchers and analysts are rightly worried that a new type of computer, based on quantum physics rather than more standard electronics, could break most modern cryptography. The effect would be to render communications as insecure as if they weren’t encoded at all.
Everyone’s trying to get ready for roads that will be filled with more and more self-driving cars. But just as the first cars were imagined to be like horse-drawn carriages without the horses, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a future with self-driving cars won’t be that different — except that we won’t have to drive.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is getting a big boost to its performance. Unfortunately, for fans of ground-breaking physics, the whole thing has to be shut down for two years while the work is done. But once it’s back up and running, its enhanced capabilities will make it even more powerful.
Each time there’s a headline about driverless trucking technology, another piece is taken out of the old equation. First, an Uber/Otto truck’s safety driver went hands-off once the truck reached the highway (and said truck successfully delivered its valuable cargo of 50,000 beers). Then, Starsky Robotics announced its trucks would start making autonomous deliveries without a human in the vehicle at all.
Low energy efficiency is already a major problem for petrol and diesel vehicles. Typically, only 20% of the overall well-to-wheel energy is actually used to power these vehicles. The other 80% is lost through oil extraction, refinement, transport, evaporation, and engine heat. This low energy efficiency is the primary reason why fossil fuel vehicles are emissions-intensive, and relatively expensive to run.
As electric cars and trucks appear increasingly on U.S. highways, it raises the question: When will commercially viable electric vehicles take to the skies? There are a number of ambitious efforts to build electric-powered airplanes, including regional jets and planes that can cover longer distances. Electrification is starting to enable a type of air travel that many have been hoping for, but haven’t seen yet – a flying car.
For years, Elon Musk has talked about his plans to provide broadband internet access to the world using a constellation of satellites. Known as Starlink, this constellation was originally going to of nearly 12,000 low-cost satellites providing a terabit internet service. The first batch of these satellites is scheduled to launch in June of 2019, with the full constellation being deployed by the mid-2020s
Perhaps buoyed by a 67% increase in the sale of electric cars in Australia last year – albeit coming off a low base – the federal government this month announced a A$6 million funding injection for a network of ultra-fast electric vehicle recharging stations.
The time has come again when many of us switch our clocks from summer or daylight-saving time back to winter time. And the usual confusion sets in, is it an hour forwards or back? Why do we need to change the time at all? Indeed, EU member states have been asked if they would like to simply skip daylight saving time.
The human desire to create ever bigger and more impressive structures is insatiable. The pyramids of Ancient Egypt, the Great Wall of China and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – now the tallest edifice in the world at over 828 metres (2,722 ft) – are a consequence of pushing engineering to its limits. But huge buildings aren’t just monuments to human ambition: they might also hold the key to humanity’s progress in the space-faring age.
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.