…Keepon will do the job!
Category Archives: science
The major area falling behind in today’s technology is in the power department. It’s not just a question of how long the batteries last – but on how fast they charge, how reliable they are. Imagine that you could have an electrical car that had the same autonomy as a gas powered one, but that could be charged in about the same amount of time as it takes to fill a gas tank, for instance. Or batteries that could have any arbitrary shape, taking the best advantage of the available volume in any device.
These are a few of the things that could become possible with a proposed new technology by Pulickel Ajayan et al from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. Basically, it’s the combination of cellulose and nanotubes, creating a flexible robust battery – with a twist. It can be built in a way that it becomes a hybrid of a battery with a capacitor – able to hold the amount of power batteries can, coupled with the ability to charge and discharge as fast as capacitors are able. Being flexible, these batteries could be easily produced in all shapes necessary to take the best advantage of any design. Let’s see how soon this technology can be mass produced.
I still find amazing how unimportant some things are to the media and people in general. The furthest man-made objects are the Voyager 1 probe, now 15.5 billion kilometers from Sun – that’s 103.6 times the distance the Earth is from the Sun, and it’s sister probe, the Voyager 2, which is 12.3 billion kilometers from the Sun (82.2 AU).
After 30 years from their launch from Earth, despite still being operational and doing active and useful science, they are mostly unknown to everyone. These are the pinnacles of human genius – pieces of ourselves out there, studying the universe. We should be celebrating our long reach as humans – instead, we focus on the worst and most banal aspects of humanity, everyday.
They’re not the only probes still working – many others are active, a lot of them lasting well beyond their expected lifespan.
Just as a gedankenexperiment about people’s opinion about our (human) impact on the world. What if it was proven that global warming was due largely to the natural climatic cycles, and not so much on our own actions? That our actions had merely and slightly accelerated the process? Should we fight this “natural” global warming and the rise of oceanic levels to protect much of our civilization? Or should we just say “let nature take its course”?
I’m not saying that I believe global warming is a natural phenomenon, I do believe we are capable of having an impact of this magnitude on our environment. I would just like to know what environmentalists would defend if their life in the end was being challenged by nature, and not by ourselves.
The world’s first commercially viable quantum computer was unveiled and demonstrated today in Silicon Valley by D-Wave Systems, Inc., a privately-held Canadian firm headquartered near Vancouver.
This is the first paragraph of today’s press release issued by D-Wave Systems. Visit their website for more information on quantum computing in general (in a very accessible language), although commercial “how do I buy it” information is not there explicitly, they hint they’ll be selling capacity online. Let’s see if a) it’s for real, and b) even if it is, what will be the immediate and future impact. They don’t claim that quantum computers will replace conventional computers, explaining (plus here and here) which kinds of problems are better tackled by this technology.
Sometimes, evolution happens in small steps, but if this is true it might signal a true leap in what computers can do. Lets wait and see.
A few links with both sides of the story, and more information:
With the passing of 20 years since the death of Margot Einstein, Einstein’s stepdaughter, a treasure trove of correspondence has been unsealed. It covers the period from 1912 to 1955, and it colors a bit (more) the life of the great scientist and thinker, showing that deep down – no matter who we are – we all have our flaws, and redeeming qualities that cover those faults. Via Boing Boing, via 3quarksdaily.
Bigelow Aerospace, headed by Robert Bigelow, owner of the Budget Suites of America Hotel Chain (and other companies) has launched a expandable space module, basically a model of a future “space hotel”, that expands in size once it reaches orbit. Another science fictional idea that has come into being!