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Watch this all-electric ‘flying car’ take its first test flight in Germany

April 24, 2017

 

Flying cars, that perennial dream for futurists that always seem to be at least five years away, may be a little closer to reality than we realize. A lot of prototypes have been showcased recently, and a lot of money is being tossed around. More people than ever seem to buy into the crazy notion that in the near future we’ll be buzzing between rooftops in private, autonomous drones. Today, Munich-based Lilium Aviation announced an important milestone: the first test flight of its all-electric, two-seater, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) prototype.

In a video provided by the Munich-based startup, the aircraft can be seen taking off vertically like a helicopter, and then accelerating into forward flight using wing-borne lift.

The craft is powered by 36 separate jet engines mounted on its 10-meter long wings via 12 movable flaps. At take-off, the flaps are pointed downwards to provide vertical lift. And once airborne, the flaps gradually tilt into a horizontal position, providing forward thrust.

During the tests, the jet was piloted remotely, but its operators say their first manned flight is close-at-hand. And Lilium claims that its electric battery “consumes around 90 percent less energy than drone-style aircraft,” enabling the aircraft to achieve a range of 300 kilometers (183 miles) with a maximum cruising speed of 300 kph (183 mph).

In many ways, electric-powered aviation is still in its infancy. Electric cars with thousand-pound batteries generally max out at 300 miles per charge. The most sophisticated electric aircraft today can barely muster an hour aloft at 99 mph — and that’s without vertical take-off and landing. But Patrick Nathen, co-founder of Lilium Jet and the startup’s head of calculation and design, said their battery technology will get the job done.

“It’s the same battery that you can find in any Tesla,” Nathen told The Verge. “The concept is that we are lifting with our wings as soon as we progress into the air with velocity, which makes our airplane very efficient. Compared to other flights, we have extremely low power consumption.”

Safety is a major emphasis at Lilium, Nathen added. While the startup is working toward having its aircraft piloted autonomously, it intends to use human pilots in the meantime. There will be parachutes on board, and something called the “Flight Envelope Protection System” will prevents the pilot from performing maneuvers or flying the aircraft beyond safe flight parameters.

The plan is to eventually build a 5-passenger version of the jet. So anyone who dreams of a minivan version of the Jetsons’ flying car, this craft is for you. And naturally, Lilium envisions its aircraft used in dense, urban areas in an on-demand capacity. Pull out your smartphone, book a seat, and make your way to the nearest launchpad, which can be found at street level or on a nearby rooftop. Like Uber, but for flying cars (even though Uber is already working on its own version).And before you dismiss this as another luxury mode of transportation for the super-rich, Nathen insists the goal is to get the cost low enough so everyone can use it. A 55-minute taxi ride from Midtown Manhattan to JFK airport, with a fare of $55, becomes a breezy 5 minute flight in a Lilium jet, for as low as $6.

If it seems fantastical, it’s probably because it is. Flying cars, of course, are ridiculous. Wild-eyed inventors have been pursuing the idea for decades, with little to show for it. Many have gone broke, and some have died, trying to turn their fever dreams into reality. The fact that flying cars act as a stand-in for some distant, unattainable future isn’t a mistake. There are many things about flying cars that make them impractical, unworkable, and even wrongheaded. The problem is that these aircraft don’t solve any problems for normal human beings, nor do they even gesture toward a meaningful impact in the distant future. But that hasn’t stopped many from trying. And with better materials, autonomous navigation systems, and other technical advances, dozens of well-heeled investors are convinced that we’re on the cusp of seeing flying cars — or at least small, electric, autonomously flown commuter planes — take to the skies.

“We are right now at the magical point,” Nathen said. “We have without a doubt started at the perfect time… This is why you can see a lot of different projects from all over the world.”

http://www.theverge.com/2017/4/20/15369850/lilium-jet-flying-car-first-flight-vtol-aviation-munich

Video

Dave Brain: What a planet needs to sustain life

September 24, 2016

“Venus is too hot, Mars is too cold, and Earth is just right,” says planetary scientist Dave Brain. But why? In this pleasantly humorous talk, Brain explores the fascinating science behind what it takes for a planet to host life — and why humanity may just be in the right place at the right time when it comes to the timeline of life-sustaining planets.

The ‘impossible’ EM Drive is about to be tested in space

September 24, 2016

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An actual EM Drive is about to be launched into space for the first time, so scientists can finally figure out – once and for all – if it really is possible for a rocket engine to generate thrust without any kind of exhaust or propellant.

Built by American inventor and chemical engineer, Guido Fetta, the EM Drive is as controversial as it gets, because while certain experiments have suggested that such an engine could work, it also goes against one of the most fundamental laws of physics we have.

As Newton’s Third Law states, “To each action there’s an equal and opposite reaction,” and many physicists say the EM Drive categorically violates that law.

This is because in order for a thruster to gain momentum in a certain direction, it has to expel some kind of propellent or exhaust in the opposite direction.

But the EM Drive simply goes in one direction with no propellant, and thus violates the law of conservation of momentum, which Newton derived from his Third Law.

And not only that, but it could produce enough thrust to blast humans to Mars in just 70 days.

As Fiona MacDonald put it back in June, space enthusiasts love to get excited about the EM Drive, because if it works, it has the potential to remove major barriers in our need to explore the Solar System and beyond.

But just as many are sick of hearing about it, because, on paper at least, it doesn’t work within the laws of physics.

Invented by British scientist Roger Shawyer back in 1999, the EM Drive – short for electromagnetic propulsion drive – purportedly works like this.

It uses electromagnetic waves as ‘fuel’, creating thrust by bouncing microwave photons back and forth inside a cone-shaped closed metal cavity. This causes the ‘pointy end’ of the EM Drive to accelerate in the opposite direction that the drive is going.

“To put it simply, electricity converts into microwaves within the cavity that push against the inside of the device, causing the thruster to accelerate in the opposite direction,” Mary-Ann Russon explains over at The International Business Times.

Since its invention, the EM drive has shown no signs of quitting, in test after test. Last year, trials by NASA scientists at the Eagleworks lab revealed “anomalous thrust signals”, and an independent researcher in Germany conceded that the propulsion system, somehow, does indeed produce thrust.

Fast-forward to now, and there are rumours that the NASA Eagleworks paper we reported on in June has finally passed the peer-review process, and is expected to be published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Journal of Propulsion and Power.

If the rumours by José Rodal from MIT are true – and let’s be clear, they’re still just rumours at this point – it could be huge.

As Brendan Hesse explains for Digital Trends:

“This is an important step for the EM Drive as it adds legitimacy to the technology and the tests done thus far, opening the door for other groups to replicate the tests. This will also allow other groups to devote more resources to uncovering why and how it works, and how to iterate on the drive to make it a viable form of propulsion.

So, while a single peer-reviewed paper isn’t going to suddenly equip the human race with interplanetary travel, it’s the first step toward eventually realising that possible future.”

And on top of all of that, we’re about to see an actual EM Drive be blasted into space.

Guido Fetta is CEO of Cannae Inc, and the inventor of the Cannae Drive – a rocket engine that’s based on Roger Shawyer’s original EM Drive design. Last month, he announced that he would launch this thruster on a 6U CubeSat – a type of miniaturised satellite.

David Hambling reports for Popular Mechanics that roughly one-quarter of this shoebox-sized satellite will be taken up by the Cannae Drive, and they’ll stay in orbit for at least six months: “The longer it stays in orbit, the more the satellite will show that it must be producing thrust without propellant.”

No launch date has been set just yet, but it could happen in as soon as six months’ time.

As Hambling points out, Fetta better hurry, because a team of engineers in China, and Shawyer himself, are both also working on their own launchable EM Drives, so someone’s going to get there first, and we seriously cannot wait to see what will happen.

http://www.sciencealert.com/the-impossible-em-drive-is-about-to-be-tested-in-space

Self-powered ‘materials that compute’ and recognize simple patterns

September 24, 2016

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University of Pittsburgh researchers have modeled the design of a “material that computes” — a hybrid material, powered only by its own chemical reactions, that can recognize simple patterns.

The material could one day be integrated into clothing and used to monitor the human body, or developed as a skin for “squishy” robots, for example, according to the researchers, writing in the open-access AAAS journal Science Advances.

A computer that combines gels and piezeoelectric materials

The computations (needed to design the hypothetical material) were modeled utilizing Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) gels, a substance that oscillates in the absence of external stimuli, combined with an overlaying piezoelectric (PZ) cantilever, forming “BZ-PZ” (as in “easy peasy”). The BZ gels oscillate periodically, triggered by chemical stimulation, without the need for external driving stimuli. Piezoelectric (PZ) materials generate a voltage when deformed and, conversely, undergo deformation in the presence of an applied voltage.

Two BZ-PZ oscillator units connected with electrical wires. Triggered by the chemical oscillations, the BZ gels (green) expand in volume, generating a force (F1 and F2) and thereby cause the deflections ξ1 and ξ2 of the PZ cantilevers (orange and blue layers) , which generate an electric voltage U. That voltage then deflects the cantilevers (the inverse PZ effect), which then compress the underlying BZ gels and thereby modify the chemomechanical oscillations in these gels. The end result is the components’ response to self-generated signals (sensing), volumetric changes in the gel (actuation), and the passage of signals between the units (communication). For computation, the communication also leads to synchronization of the BZ gel oscillators. (credit: Yan Fang et al./Science Advances)

“By combining these attributes into a ‘BZ-PZ’ unit and then connecting the units by electrical wires, we designed a device that senses, actuates, and communicates without an external electrical power source,” the researchers explain in the paper.*

The result is that the device can also be used to perform computation. To use that for pattern recognition, the researchers first stored a pattern of numbers as a set of polarities in the BZ-PZ units, and the input patterns were coded with the initial phase of the oscillations imposed on these units.

Multiple BZ-PS units wired in serial and parallel configurations to form a network (credit: Yan Fang et al./Science Advances)

With multiple BZ-PZ units, the oscillators can be wired into a network  formed, for example, from units that are connected in parallel or in series. The resulting transduction between chemomechanical and electrical energy creates signals that quickly propagate and thus permits remote coupled oscillators to communicate and synchronize. This synchronization behavior in BZ-PZ network can be used for oscillator-based computing.

The computational modeling revealed that the input pattern closest to the stored pattern exhibits the fastest convergence time to the stable synchronization behavior, and is the most effective at recognizing patterns. In this study, the materials were programmed to recognize black-and-white pixels in the shape of numbers that had been distorted.

The researchers’ next goal is to expand from analyzing black-and-white pixels to grayscale and more complicated images and shapes, as well as to enhance the devices storage capability.

Perfect for monitoring human and robot bodies

Compared to a traditional computer, these computations are slow and take minutes. “Individual events are slow because the period of the BZ oscillations is slow,” said Victor V. Yashin, Research Assistant Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “However, there are some tasks that need a longer analysis, and are more natural in function. That’s why this type of system is perfect to monitor environments like the human body.”

For example, Dr. Yashin said that patients recovering from a hand injury could wear a glove that monitors movement, and can inform doctors whether the hand is healing properly or if the patient has improved mobility. Another use would be to monitor individuals at risk for early onset Alzheimer’s, by wearing footwear that would analyze gait and compare results against normal movements, or a garment that monitors cardiovascular activity for people at risk of heart disease or stroke.

Since the devices convert chemical reactions to electrical energy, there would be no need for external electrical power. This would also be ideal for a robot or other device that could utilize the material as a sensory skin.

The research is funded by a five-year National Science Foundation Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE) grant, which focuses on complex and pressing scientific problems that lie at the intersection of traditional disciplines.

“This work at the University of Pittsburgh … is an example of this groundbreaking shift away from traditional silicon CMOS-based digital computing to a non-von Neumann machine in a polymer substrate, with remarkable low power consumption,” said Sankar Basu, NSF program director.

* This continues the research of Anna C. Balazs, Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and Steven P. Levitan, the John A. Jurenko Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. 


Abstract of Pattern recognition with “materials that compute”

Driven by advances in materials and computer science, researchers are attempting to design systems where the computer and material are one and the same entity. Using theoretical and computational modeling, we design a hybrid material system that can autonomously transduce chemical, mechanical, and electrical energy to perform a computational task in a self-organized manner, without the need for external electrical power sources. Each unit in this system integrates a self-oscillating gel, which undergoes the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction, with an overlaying piezoelectric (PZ) cantilever. The chemomechanical oscillations of the BZ gels deflect the PZ layer, which consequently generates a voltage across the material. When these BZ-PZ units are connected in series by electrical wires, the oscillations of these units become synchronized across the network, where the mode of synchronization depends on the polarity of the PZ. We show that the network of coupled, synchronizing BZ-PZ oscillators can perform pattern recognition. The “stored” patterns are set of polarities of the individual BZ-PZ units, and the “input” patterns are coded through the initial phase of the oscillations imposed on these units. The results of the modeling show that the input pattern closest to the stored pattern exhibits the fastest convergence time to stable synchronization behavior. In this way, networks of coupled BZ-PZ oscillators achieve pattern recognition. Further, we show that the convergence time to stable synchronization provides a robust measure of the degree of match between the input and stored patterns. Through these studies, we establish experimentally realizable design rules for creating “materials that compute.”

Why “utility fogs” could be the technology that changes the world

March 13, 2016

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Arthur C. Clarke is famous for suggesting that any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic. There’s no better example of this than the ultra-speculative prospect of “utility fogs” — swarms of networked microscopic robots that could assume the shape and texture of virtually anything.

We may be decades away from this sort of technological wizardry, but futurists are already thinking about how we could use it.

We spoke to J. Storrs Hall, the independent researcher who came up with the concept of utility fogs back in 1993. He believes that utility fogs will irrevocably alter our physical landscape — and quite possibly our bodies as well.

Indeed, Hall’s idea has inspired both scientists and science fiction writers. The potential for utility fogs has been seriously considered by futurists like Ray Kurzweil and Robert Freitas. And we’ve seen scifi visions of the technology with Warren Ellis’s foglet beings in Transmetropolitan, Neal Stephenson’s personal nanodefense systems in The Diamond Age, and many others.

Here’s how utility fogs are going to work.

Active Polymorphic Materials

Hall came up with idea for utility fogs when imagining what an advanced form of seat belt might look like.

Why "utility fogs" could be the technology that changes the world

“I came up with this vision of form fitting foam — one that could take on the shape of anything inside it and on the fly,” he told io9, “which got me to wondering if we could ever possibly build something like that.” The answer, says Hall, came to him by considering the nascent field of molecular nanotechnology. By designing and creating objects at the molecular scale, Hall envisioned a fog that could quickly morph along with the movements of anything around it — including the passengers of cars.

In essence, the utility fog would be a polymorphic material comprised of trillions of interlinked microscopic ‘foglets’, each equipped with a tiny computer. These nanobots would be capable of exerting force in all three dimensions, thus enabling the larger emergent object to take on various shapes and textures. So, instead of building an object atom by atom, these tiny robots would link their contractible arms together to form objects with varying properties, such as a fluid or solid mass.

Read more at: http://io9.gizmodo.com/5932880/how-utility-fogs-could-become-the-technology-that-changes-the-world

Matter will be created from light within a year, claim scientists

March 03, 2016

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Researchers have worked out how to make matter from pure light and are drawing up plans to demonstrate the feat within the next 12 months.

The theory underpinning the idea was first described 80 years ago by two physicists who later worked on the first atomic bomb. At the time they considered the conversion of light into matter impossible in a laboratory.

But in a report published on Sunday, physicists at Imperial College London claim to have cracked the problem using high-powered lasers and other equipment now available to scientists.

“We have shown in principle how you can make matter from light,” said Steven Rose at Imperial. “If you do this experiment, you will be taking light and turning it into matter.”

The scientists are not on the verge of a machine that can create everyday objects from a sudden blast of laser energy. The kind of matter they aim to make comes in the form of subatomic particles invisible to the naked eye.

The original idea was written down by two US physicists, Gregory Breit and John Wheeler, in 1934. They worked out that – very rarely – two particles of light, or photons, could combine to produce an electron and its antimatter equivalent, a positron. Electrons are particles of matter that form the outer shells of atoms in the everyday objects around us.

But Breit and Wheeler had no expectations that their theory would be proved any time soon. In their study, the physicists noted that the process was so rare and hard to produce that it would be “hopeless to try to observe the pair formation in laboratory experiments”.

Oliver Pike, the lead researcher on the study, said the process was one of the most elegant demonstrations of Einstein’s famous relationship that shows matter and energy are interchangeable currencies. “The Breit-Wheeler process is the simplest way matter can be made from light and one of the purest demonstrations of E=mc2,” he said.

Writing in the journal Nature Photonics, the scientists describe how they could turn light into matter through a number of separate steps. The first step fires electrons at a slab of gold to produce a beam of high-energy photons. Next, they fire a high-energy laser into a tiny gold capsule called a hohlraum, from the German for “empty room”. This produces light as bright as that emitted from stars. In the final stage, they send the first beam of photons into the hohlraum where the two streams of photons collide.

The scientists’ calculations show that the setup squeezes enough particles of light with high enough energies into a small enough volume to create around 100,000 electron-positron pairs.

The process is one of the most spectacular predictions of a theory called quantum electrodynamics (QED) that was developed in the run up to the second world war. “You might call it the most dramatic consequence of QED and it clearly shows that light and matter are interchangeable,” Rose told the Guardian.

The scientists hope to demonstrate the process in the next 12 months. There are a number of sites around the world that have the technology. One is the huge Omega laser in Rochester, New York. But another is the Orion laser at Aldermaston, the atomic weapons facility in Berkshire.

A successful demonstration will encourage physicists who have been eyeing the prospect of a photon-photon collider as a tool to study how subatomic particles behave. “Such a collider could be used to study fundamental physics with a very clean experimental setup: pure light goes in, matter comes out. The experiment would be the first demonstration of this,” Pike said.

Andrei Seryi, director of the John Adams Institute at Oxford University, said: “It’s breathtaking to think that things we thought are not connected, can in fact be converted to each other: matter and energy, particles and light. Would we be able in the future to convert energy into time and vice versa?”

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/may/18/matter-light-photons-electrons-positrons

Seven Emerging Technologies That Will Change the World Forever

March 03, 2016

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When someone asks me what I do, and I tell them that I’m a futurist, the first thing they ask “what is a futurist?” The short answer that I give is “I use current scientific research in emerging technologies to imagine how we will live in the future.”

However, as you can imagine the art of futurology and foresight is much more complex. I spend my days thinking, speaking and writing about the future, and emerging technologies. On any given day I might be in Warsaw speaking at an Innovation Conference, in London speaking at a Global Leadership Summit, or being interviewed by the Discovery Channel. Whatever the situation, I have one singular mission. I want you to think about the future.

How will we live in the future? How will emerging technologies change our lives, our economy and our businesses? We should begin to think about the future now. It will be here faster than you think.

Let’s explore seven current emerging technologies that I am thinking about that are set to change the world forever.

1. Age Reversal

We will see the emergence of true biological age reversal by 2025.

It may be extraordinarily expensive, complex and risky, but for people who want to turn back the clock, it may be worth it. It may sound like science fiction but the science is real, and it has already begun. In fact, according to new research published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, Professor Jun-Ichi Hayashi from the University of Tsukuba in Japan has already reversed ageing in human cell lines by “turning on or off”mitochondrial function.

Another study published in CELL reports that Australian and US researchers have successfully reversed the aging process in the muscles of mice. They found that raising nuclear NAD+ in old mice reverses pseudohypoxia and metabolic dysfunction. Researchers gave the mice a compound called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide or NAD for a week and found that the age indicators in two-year-old mice were restored to that of six-month-old mice. That would be like turning a 60-year-old human into a 20-year-old!

How will our culture deal with age reversal? Will we set limits on who can age-reverse? Do we ban criminals from this technology? These are the questions we will face in a very complex future. One thing is certain, age reversal will happen and when it does it will change our species and our world forever.

2. Artificial General Intelligence

The robots are coming and they are going to eat your job for lunch. Worldwide shipments of multipurpose industrial robots are forecast to exceed 207,000 units in 2015, and this is just the beginning. Robots like Care-o-bot 4 and Softbank’s Pepper may be in homes, offices and hotels within the next year. These robots will be our personal servants, assistants and caretakers.

Amazon has introduced a new AI assistant called ECHO that could replace the need for a human assistant altogether. We already have robots and automation that can make pizza, serve beer, write news articles, scan our faces for diseases, and drive cars. We will see AI in our factories, hospitals, restaurants and hotels around the world by 2020.

3. Vertical Pink Farms

We are entering the techno-agricultural era. Agricultural science is changing the way we harvest our food. Robots and automation are going to play a decisive role in the way we hunt and gather. The most important and disruptive idea is what I call “Vertical PinkFarms” and it is set to decentralise the food industry forever.

The United Nations (UN) predicts by 2050 80% of the Earth’s population will live in cities. Climate change will also make traditional food production more difficult and less productive in the future. We will need more efficient systems to feed these hungry urban areas. Thankfully, several companies around the world are already producing food grown in these Vertical PinkFarms and the results are remarkable.

Vertical PinkFarms will use blue and red LED lighting to grow organic, pesticide free, climate controlled food inside indoor environments. Vertical PinkFarms use less water, less energy and enable people to grow food underground or indoors year round in any climate.

Traditional food grown on outdoor farms are exposed to the full visible light spectrum. This range includes Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Violet. However, agricultural science is now showing us that O, Y, G and V are not necessary for plant growth. You only need R and B.LED lights are much more efficient and cooler than indoor florescent grow lights used in most indoor greenhouses. LED lights are also becoming less expensive as more companies begin to invest in this technology. Just like the solar and electric car revolution, the change will be exponential. By 2025, we may see massive Vertical PinkFarms in most major cities around the world. We may even see small Vertical PinkFarm units in our homes in the future.

4. Transhumanism

By 2035, even if a majority of humans do not self-identify as Transhuman, technically they will be. If we define any bio-upgrade or human enhancement as Transhumanism, then the numbers are already quite high and growing exponentially. According to a UN Telecom Agency report, around 6 billion people have cell phones. This demonstrates the ubiquitous nature of technology that we keep on or around our body.

As human bio-enhancements become more affordable, billions of humans will become Transhuman. Digital implants, mind-controlled exoskeletal upgrades, age reversal pills, hyper-intelligence brain implants and bionic muscle upgrades. All of these technologies will continue our evolution as humans.

Reconstructive joint replacements, spinal implants, cardiovascular implants, dental implants, intraocular lens and breast implants are all part of our human techno-evolution into this new Transhuman species.

5. Wearables and Implantables

Smartphones will fade into digital history as the high-resolution smart contact lens and corresponding in-ear audio plugs communicate with our wearable computers or “smart suits.” The digital world will be displayed directly on our eye in stunning interactive augmented beauty. The Ghent University’s Centre of Microsystems Technology in Belgium has recently developed a spherical curved LCD display that can be embedded in contact lenses. This enables the entire lens to display information.

The bridge to the smart contact starts with smart glasses, VR headsets and yes, the Apple watch. Wearable technologies are growing exponentially. New smart augmented glasses like Google Glass, RECON JET, METAPro, and Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses are just the beginning. In fact, CastAR augmented 3D glasses recently received over a million dollars in funding on Kickstarter. Their goal was only four hundred thousand. The market is ready for smart vision, and tech companies should move away from handheld devices if they want to compete.

The question of what is real and augmented will be irrelevant in the future. We will be able to create our reality with clusters of information cults that can only see certain augmented information realities if you are in these groups. All information will be instantaneously available in the augmented visual future.

6. Atmospheric Water Harvesting

California and parts of the south-west in the US are currently experiencing an unprecedented drought. If this drought continues, the global agricultural system could become unstable.

Consider this: California and Arizona account for about 98% of commercial lettuce production in the United States.Thankfully we live in a world filled with exponential innovation right now.

An emerging technology called Atmospheric Water Harvesting could save California and other arid parts of the world from severe drought and possibly change the techno-agricultural landscape forever.

Traditional agricultural farming methods consume 80% of the water in California. According to the California Agricultural Resource Directory of 2009, California grows 99% of the U.S. almonds, artichokes, and walnuts; 97% of the kiwis, apricots and plums; 96% of the figs, olives and nectarines; 95% of celery and garlic; 88% of strawberries and lemons; 74% of peaches; 69% of carrots; 62% of tangerines and the list goes on.

Several companies around the world are already using atmospheric water harvesting technologies to solve this problem. Each company has a different technological approach but all of them combined could help alleviate areas suffering from water shortages.

The most basic, and possibly the most accessible, form of atmospheric water harvesting technology works by collecting water and moisture from the atmosphere using micro netting. These micro nets collect water that drains down into a collection chamber. This fresh water can then be stored or channelled into homes and farms as needed.

A company called FogQuest is already successfully using micro netting or “fog collectors” to harvest atmospheric water in places like Ethiopia, Guatemala, Nepal, Chile and Morocco.
Will people use this technology or will we continue to drill for water that may not be there?

7. 3D Printing

Today we already have 3D printers that can print clothing, circuit boards, furniture, homes and chocolate. A company called BigRep has created a 3D printer called the BigRep ONE.2 that enables designers to create entire tables, chairs or coffee tables in one print. Did you get that?

You can now buy a 3D printer and print furniture!

Fashion designers like Iris van Herpen, Bryan Oknyansky, Francis Bitonti, Madeline Gannon, and Daniel Widrig have all broken serious ground in the 3D printed fashion movement. These avant-garde designs may not be functional for the average consumer so what is one to do for a regular tee shirt? Thankfully a new Field Guided Fabrication 3D printer called ELECTROLOOM has arrived that can print and it may put a few major retail chains out of business. The ELECTROLOOM enables anyone to create seamless fabric items on demand.

So what is next? 3D printed cars. Yes, cars. Divergent Microfactories (DM) has recently created a first 3D printed high-performance car called the Blade. This car is no joke. The Blade has a chassis weight of just 61 pounds, goes 0-60 MPH in 2.2 seconds and is powered by a 4-cylinder 700-horsepower bi-fuel internal combustion engine.

These are just seven emerging technologies on my radar. I have a list of hundreds of innovations that will change the world forever. Some sound like pure sci-fi but I assure you they are real. Are we ready for a world filled with abundance, age reversal and self-replicating AI robots? I hope so.

——

Image #2: This “pinkhouse” at Caliber Biotherapeutics in Bryan, Texas, grows 2.2 million plants under the glow of blue and red LEDs.
Courtesy of Caliber Therapeutics

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/scott20150929

Scientists at Large Hadron Collider hope to make contact with parallel universe in days

November 8, 2015

Image of protons colliding at LHC

Atom art: An image of two protons smashed together at the LHC But next week’s experiment is considered to be a game changer.

The staggeringly complex LHC ‘atom smasher’ at the CERN centre in Geneva, Switzerland, will be fired up to its highest energy levels ever in a bid to detect – or even create – miniature black holes.

If successful a completely new universe will be revealed – rewriting not only the physics books but the philosophy books too.

It is even possible that gravity from our own universe may ‘leak’ into this parallel universe, scientists at the LHC say.

The experiment is sure to inflame alarmist critics of the LHC, many of whom initially warned the high energy particle collider would spell the end of our universe with the creation a black hole of its own.

But so far Geneva remains intact and comfortably outside the event horizon.

Indeed the LHC has been spectacularly successful. First scientists proved the existence of the elusive Higgs boson ‘God particle’ – a key building block of the universe – and it is seemingly well on the way to nailing ‘dark matter’ – a previously undetectable theoretical possibility that is now thought to make up the majority of matter in the universe.

Mir Faizal, one of the three-strong team of physicists behind the experiment, said: “Just as many parallel sheets of paper, which are two dimensional objects [breadth and length] can exist in a third dimension [height], parallel universes can also exist in higher dimensions.

“We predict that gravity can leak into extra dimensions, and if it does, then miniature black holes can be produced at the LHC.

“Normally, when people think of the multiverse, they think of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, where every possibility is actualised.

“This cannot be tested and so it is philosophy and not science.

“This is not what we mean by parallel universes. What we mean is real universes in extra dimensions.

“As gravity can flow out of our universe into the extra dimensions, such a model can be tested by the detection of mini black holes at the LHC.

“We have calculated the energy at which we expect to detect these mini black holes in ‘gravity’s rainbow’ [a new scientific theory].

“If we do detect mini black holes at this energy, then we will know that both gravity’s rainbow and extra dimensions are correct.”

When the LHC is fired up the energy is measured in Tera electron volts – a TeV is 1,000,000,000,000, or one trillion, electron Volts

So far, the LHC has searched for mini black holes at energy levels below 5.3 TeV.

But the latest study says this is too low.

Instead, the model predicts that black holes may form at energy levels of at least 9.5 TeV in six dimensions and 11.9 TeV in 10 dimensions.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/565315/Scientists-at-Large-Hadron-Collider-hope-to-make-contact-with-PARALLEL-UNIVERSE-in-days

The coming fuel cell revolution: What you need to know

September 20, 2015

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Conversations about fuel cells tend to sway perilously between groundless optimism and exceptional despair. To grasp this visually, one need look no farther than the historical stock chart of FuelCell Energy Inc., the largest player in the fuel cell industry. Three times in the last four years, the company’s stock has doubled in a number of days, before crashing down to new lows. While public sentiment regarding fuel cells seems to be trending pessimistic, three technological forces have been quietly percolating in the background, creating a kind of perfect storm that could propel fuel cell technology from obscurity into widespread adoption.

The first and perhaps most surprising of these forces is the plateauing of battery efficiencies. While hardly a day goes by in which some new academic publication promises to have solved the world’s battery crises, these innovations have been tantalizingly slow in making their way to market. The net effect is that we are still plugging away with the same lithium ion battery tech that has been around for decades. And because of the ever-increasing demand for a solution to the power storage dilemma, many companies have opted to look outside the battery box, and often as not, their eyes have come to rest on fuel cells. Two recent news bulletins suggest the smart money is shifting away from the pursuit of better batteries to the adoption of fuel cells.

Apple Inc. recently made waves by issuing a patent for a fuel-cell-based system that would be capable of powering a MacBook for several weeks without recharge. The patent uses specifications already existing in Apple’s MagSafe charger, suggesting the fuel cell could be used with iPhones and iPads as well. While fuel cells typically work by mixing a fuel such as hydrogen, with an oxidizing agent such as water or oxygen, the Apple patent also lists borohydride, sodium silicate, lithium hydride, magnesium hydride, and other compounds as fuel sources. Apple’s patent comes on the heels of a British company announcing that they had developed a built-in hydrogen fuel cell capable of powering an iPhone for an entire week.

The other company to reveal plans for abandoning the battery in favor of fuel cells is the world’s largest car maker, Toyota. This is all the more surprising given Toyota’s pioneering success with battery-powered vehicles like the Prius. After several years of exhaustive research, the car giant seems to have concluded that battery powered vehicles will ultimately be labeled a historical dead end and have set their sights on vehicles powered by fuel cells. The reasoning behind Toyota’s startling reversal regarding batteries is worth careful scrutiny (especially if you’re in the market for a Tesla or other electric vehicle).

The insurmountable problem with battery powered vehicles as Toyota sees it is the issue of the time it takes to recharge. Even with Tesla’s much hyped “superchargers,” the time it takes to recharge an electric vehicle is nowhere near in the vicinity of what it takes to gas up a normal car. Toyota did the math and concluded that drivers won’t be satisfied waiting around 40 minutes for their electric vehicle to recharge. With the current technology, faster charging introduces massive inefficiencies that obviate the technological advantages of an electric vehicle.

Sensing a dead end, Toyota has bet their war chest on a new fuel cell powered vehicle called the Mirai. Unlike the Tesla, the Mirai can be fully refueled in as little as five minutes, bringing it in line with the amount of time consumers are accustomed to spending at the pump.

Media team swarming around the fuel cell powered Mirai.

Belying those that believe the Mirai might be some kind of one off that’s quickly abandoned, reports have surfaced that Lexus will also launch a fuel-cell-powered LS Sedan in the coming year. Mark Templin, executive vice president of Lexus International, has spoken bullishly about the advantages of fuel cells over other electric vehicles, citing design inefficiencies intrinsic to plugin hybrids. “Unfortunately, when you build a plug-in hybrid you add weight to the vehicle, and you make it less fuel-efficient,” said Templin in an interview with Green Car Reports. While he wouldn’t go on record regarding the potential for a Lexus-made fuel cell sedan, he intimated that this would be his drivetrain of choice in the future.

Besides from plateauing battery efficiencies, the second force agitating in favor of fuel cells is stricter pollution laws — specifically recent legislation requiring coal power plants to adopt more stringent emission standards. While coal power plants and fuel cells may seem like unlikely bedfellows, this is exactly what seems to be on the cards, thanks to a joint project being undertaken by the United States Department of Energy and FuelCell Energy Inc. Together they are developing an innovative carbon capture technology which will sequester CO2 and nitrogen dioxide from coal burning power plants and use it to power an attached 2-megawatt fuel cell. The model they are currently working with is designed to capture about 60 tons of CO2 per day.

While the concept of using fuel cells to capture carbon emissions has been around since the 1990s, only in the last decade has the cost of the enabling technology declined enough to make it a viable commercial solution. The higher costs owe in large part to the unique nature of the fuel cells in question, which are called molten carbonate fuel cells and rely on CO2 to operate. This is obviously a more complicated and expensive type of fuel cell than you might find powering your MacBook someday soon.

The third technological shift creating a rising tide for fuel cells is the invention of novel means for affordably creating their component fuels. While the beauty of fuel cells has always been their efficiency and lack of emissions, they have one major drawback – the gases that power them are expensive to supply, and often require inputs from more traditional power sources like natural gas. Hydrogen for instance, the principle component used to power most fuel cells, is contained in water. But in order to separate it from oxygen in a process called electrolysis, more traditional energy sources are often used, thus canceling out much of environmental and efficiency benefits to be gained from a fuel cell.

solar-water-splitter-hydrogen

Recently, however, there have been some promising developments in the creation of new mechanisms for generating hydrogen for fuel cells without resorting to natural gas. For instance, researchers at Rice University in Houston, Texas have devised a relatively simple, low cost way to separate hydrogen from oxygen using sunlight. At the heart of their innovation is a three-layer material made of aluminum, nickel oxide, and gold. Sunlight striking the material gets converted by the gold nanoparticles into high energy “hot” electrons. These “hot electrons” are sequestered on the top layer of the material and used to generate a photocurrent sufficient for splitting water, and siphoning off the resulting hydrogen gas. This hydrogen can then be used to power fuel cells.

If the above system proves commercially viable and able to scale, it could be a game changer for fuel cells, propelling them from a niche industry into the world’s most sensible power source.

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/214129-the-coming-fuel-cell-revolution-what-you-need-to-know