Lab-grown wood could be future of furniture

Found on BBC News on Wednesday, 24 March 2021
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American scientists are working on a plan to "grow" wood in a laboratory without sunlight or soil.

Growing wood to the size of a coffee table, she explained, would be a "slow process, a few months… obviously that's much quicker than a tree which might take 20 years to grow".

Because it is so much more efficient to use resources and destroy nature to build the labs, run them and produce the gel to grow the wood, than just to plant a sapling and let mother nature do its job...

A warp drive that doesn't break the laws of physics is possible

Found on New Scientist on Wednesday, 03 March 2021
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Previous ideas about how to make these hypothetical devices have required exotic forms of matter and energy that may not exist, but a new idea for a warp drive that doesn’t break the laws of physics may be theoretically possible.

It probably won't be ready anytime soon though.

The Future Of Hydrogen Power… Is Paste?

Found on Hackaday on Tuesday, 16 February 2021
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The Fraunhofer Institute wants to run smaller vehicles on magnesium hydride in a paste form that they call POWERPASTE.

Interestingly, the paste only provides half the available hydrogen. The rest is from water added start a reaction to release the hydrogen. Fraunhofer claims the energy density available is greater than that of a 700 bar tank in a conventional hydrogen system and ten times more than current battery technology.

If it's stable it sure sounds like a good option.

Sputnik V vaccine is 91.6% effective against symptomatic covid-19

Found on New Scientist on Wednesday, 10 February 2021
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Of the 14,964 people who received the vaccine, 16 developed symptomatic covid-19 compared with 62 out of 4902 in the placebo group. The results, published today in The Lancet, suggest efficacy was similar across all age groups, including among people over the age of 60.

“All our critics are sitting quiet at the moment,” Dmitriev said during a press conference on 2 February. “We have addressed all of the concerns […] Sputnik V has proven itself to be one of the most effective and safest vaccines of the world.” Sputnik V has already been approved in 15 countries, and this could increase to 25 countries by the end of this week, he said.

As long as it works and is safe, it does not matter who made it.

2-Acre Vertical Farm Run By AI And Robots Out-Produces 720-Acre Flat Farm

Found on Intelligent Living on Monday, 28 December 2020
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Plenty’s climate-controlled indoor farm has rows of plants growing vertically, hung from the ceiling. There are sun-mimicking LED lights shining on them, robots that move them around, and artificial intelligence (AI) managing all the variables of water, temperature, and light, and continually learning and optimizing how to grow bigger, faster, better crops. These futuristic features ensure every plant grows perfectly year-round. The conditions are so good that the farm produces 400 times more food per acre than an outdoor flat farm.

Plenty’s farms grow non-GMO crops and don’t use herbicides or pesticides. They recycle all water used, even capturing the evaporated water in the air. The flagship farm in San Francisco is using 100% renewable energy too.

This is pretty impressive and looks like it could be a useful way to reduce the need for land, which in turn can be returned to nature itself to increase the habitats for plants and animals. Still, you cannot help but to wonder if their name was a hint at Orwell.

Microsoft: 2021 is the year passwords die

Found on Neowin on Monday, 21 December 2020
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The company has highlighted the strides it made to kill off passwords in 2020, and has stated that it plans to make them a thing of the past for all its customers in 2021.

Microsoft noted that almost 80% of all cyberattacks target passwords, and one in 250 corporate accounts get compromised each month due to this. That said, the company is making an effort to transition people to passwordless solutions.

A password only fails if it is weak, or if the underlying OS allows successful attacks and exploits.

Meet the zeptosecond, the shortest unit of time ever measured

Found on LiveScience on Monday, 19 October 2020
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Scientists have measured the shortest unit of time ever: the time it takes a light particle to cross a hydrogen molecule.

That time, for the record, is 247 zeptoseconds. A zeptosecond is a trillionth of a billionth of a second, or a decimal point followed by 20 zeroes and a 1. Previously, researchers had dipped into the realm of zeptoseconds; in 2016, researchers reporting in the journal Nature Physics used lasers to measure time in increments down to 850 zeptoseconds. This accuracy is a huge leap from the 1999 Nobel Prize-winning work that first measured time in femtoseconds, which are millionths of a billionths of seconds.

That's... quick.

Computer Scientists Break the 'Traveling Salesperson' Record

Found on Wired on Sunday, 18 October 2020
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Most computer scientists believe that there is no algorithm that can efficiently find the best solutions for all possible combinations of cities.

Now Karlin, Klein and Oveis Gharan have proved that an algorithm devised a decade ago beats Christofides’ 50 percent factor, though they were only able to subtract 0.2 billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a percent. Yet this minuscule improvement breaks through both a theoretical logjam and a psychological one. Researchers hope that it will open the floodgates to further improvements.

"Billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a percent". You have to take their word for it to see it as an improvement.

Scientists rename human genes to stop Microsoft Excel from misreading them as dates

Found on The Verge on Friday, 07 August 2020
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Each gene is given a name and alphanumeric code, known as a symbol, which scientists use to coordinate research. But over the past year or so, some 27 human genes have been renamed, all because Microsoft Excel kept misreading their symbols as dates.

This is extremely frustrating, even dangerous, corrupting data that scientists have to sort through by hand to restore. It’s also surprisingly widespread and affects even peer-reviewed scientific work. One study from 2016 examined genetic data shared alongside 3,597 published papers and found that roughly one-fifth had been affected by Excel errors.

They should just drop Excel and use something that works. When a program tries to be smart and messed with the inserted data, it gets uninstalled. Simple as that.

Material that cannot be cut would make the ultimate bike lock

Found on New Scientist on Tuesday, 21 July 2020
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Its inventors embedded ceramic spheres in aluminium foam to create a material that couldn’t be cut with angle grinders, power drills or water jet cutters.

“It’s pretty amazing,” says Miranda Anderson at the University of Stirling, UK, who worked on the project. Rather than just being a hard surface that resists external pressure, the material turns the force of the drill or cutting mechanism back on itself, as the ceramic spheres create vibrations that disrupt the external force. “It actually destroys the cutting blade through the sideways jerky vibrations that it creates, or it widens the water jet’s spray,” says Anderson.

Claims like these just make you want to mess around with the product to see if all that is really true.