Category: News Posts

Graphene Supercapacitors Are About To Change The World – Here’s How

So before I can explain how super capacitors will fix this, let’s back up and explain how batteries work in the first place.

To make it simple, batteries work by moving electrons from a negatively charged material called an anode to a positively charged material called the cathode, and the device siphons off those electrons to power the device.

For instance, nickel cadmium batteries use a nickel oxide cathode and a cadmium anode. Hence the name.

This is a chemical process called oxidation that involves an electrolyte layer sandwiched between the electrodes.

In the case of the nickel cadmium batteries, they use potassium hydroxide as the electrolyte.

But this is a one-shot deal. The chemical reaction releases the electrons, but there’s no way to re-introduce electrons into the equation.

So they’re not rechargeable. And for a world increasingly reliant on portable devices, that’s just not good enough.

Enter Lithium-Ion batteries, which were developed in the 1970’s by John B. Goodenough. That’s his real name. That’s not a joke.

Lithium ion batteries have a cathode made of lithium, duh, and an anode made of carbon, again with an electrolyte between the layers to facilitate the reaction.

The difference is lithium will absorb more electrons, so it can be recharged. But it is still a chemical reaction, so it can only reintroduce those electrons at a certain charge rate.

Super capacitors work differently. Instead of using a chemical reaction to make electrons flow, also called and electrochemical process, they use static electricity, or an electrostatic process.

Now, capacitors have been in our computers for decades, and they work by holding opposite charges between two metallic plates separated by a dielectric material.

Super capacitors, as you may have already figured out, are larger versions of capacitors that use a double layer to hold more energy. In fact they’re sometimes called double-layer capacitors.

And the cool thing about them is that since the electricity is static and not chemical, there’s far less resistance to the charge. In fact, it’s almost instantaneous.

The problem is, they don’t hold that much energy. You need a vast amount of surface area to hold enough energy to make them really useful.

So Lithium Ion batteries are very energy dense, meaning they hold a lot more stored energy, but super capacitors are very power dense, meaning the transfer the energy much faster.

If, theoretically, you could create super capacitors that could hold as much as a lithium ion battery, you’d have cell phones that could recharge in seconds and it would be good for the rest of the day.

And dare we dream it? An EV car that fully charges faster than it takes to pump gas.

There is one material that could make this dream a reality. It’s called graphene.

Graphene is basically a one-atom thick lattice of carbon atoms that has some ridiculous properties. It’s 200 times stronger than steel, but incredibly light, biodegradable, biocompatible, meaning it can be used in the human body.

They say it can be used to desalinate sea water, make space elevators, and form the basis for supercomputers, but for our purposes, it also happens to be one of the most electrically capacitive substances known to man.

It has the same energy density as lithium ion batteries with the power density of super capacitors. And since it’s only one atom thick, you can pack a ton of surface area into a small space.

With any luck, in the next 10-15 years, we’ll have super capacitor batteries that can handle energy densities at industrial scales giving us quick, plentiful electricity whenever we need it.

Anker Is Launching A Campaign For Its New Line Of Wireless Earbuds

zolo

Smartphone accessory maker Anker is getting serious about audio with a new brand name and product line called Zolo. The company plans on selling its first product under the name, the Zolo Liberty+ wireless earbuds.

Although Zolo was first announced earlier this year, the Liberty+ earbuds will be the first product under the brand. The Zolo Liberty+ are slated to start shipping to backers in November 2017.

Anker CEO Steven Yang says the company is stressing three points with the Liberty+ price, smart features, and battery life. That last one makes sense — a healthy chunk of Anker’s business is in selling portable battery packs for smartphones, tablets, and pretty much any other device with a USB charging port.




To that end, Yang says the team of engineers behind the Liberty+ created a device with three and a half hours of standalone battery, with 48 hours of extra battery power stored in the Liberty+ carrying case.

For comparison, Apple’s AirPods last up to five hours on a single charge, but the case stores only 24 hours of backup battery life.

zolo

As for smart features, Yang says the Liberty+ is the first pair of wireless earbuds designed to work with all four major digital assistants: Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana.

The company has also allegedly simplified the pairing process to the point that it works almost as seamlessly as Apple’s AirPods, which rely on the special W1 chip to better bridge communication between the phone and the headphones.

Yang says the company decided to go the Kickstarter route not because it needs the funding, but rather, the company wanted to gauge interest and ensure that it was developing a product consumers would actively want.

Plus, Kickstarter allows Anker to incorporate feedback into the development process. “It’s not for the capital,” Yang says. “We want to really get a batch of loyalists and fans to grow together with the brand.”

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Pass it on: Popular Science

This Universal Zoom Lens Lets You Zoom Your Smartphone Cameras Up To 8x!

telephoto

The camera on your mobile device has all the power, megapixels, and quality you could want. The kicker is, unlike DSLR cameras, you’re stuck with the one lens.




With this handy accessory, however, you can add some telephoto excellence to your phone, tablet, or laptop. It has a 9° angle of view and an 8x zoom for added versatility.

It’s compatible with most smartphones and tablets, and has an easy clip design. Don’t miss this great deal.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Flying The World’s Most Affordable Single-Engine Private Jet

Cirrus Aircraft

Cirrus Aircraft, based in Duluth, Minn., is marketing the new Vision SF50 as the most affordable personal jet on the market.

The Vision Jet is the kind of plane that could have a big impact on the aviation market. Bringing a jet much closer to the affordability range of many pilots who now opt for turboprop or piston planes.




With seating for five adults and two kids, the Vision Jet is on the small side as far as private jets go, but  still has impressive capability. It has a top speed of 345 miles per hour.

Maximum range is 1,380 miles, putting city pairs like Denver to Atlanta within nonstop reach.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

 

Australia’s Freaky Deep Sea Creatures

spiny crab

An international group of scientists have used new technology to plumb the dark depths of Australia’s eastern abyss for the first time, revealing an exciting array of rare sea life but also rubbish a kilometer under water.

Forty scientists, representing 14 organizations and seven different countries, have come together on the RV Investigator to explore Australia’s eastern waters.

Dr. Tim O’Hara, from Museums Victoria, is the chief scientist of the project and he said it had been a fishing expedition like no other.




“It’s really exciting, it’s completely new and it’s never been done before in Australian waters,” he said.

The scientists have now completed their mission and along the way they have scooped up an exciting array of sea life and surveyed a world that had rarely been glimpsed.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Monster Hail Storm Could Be On The Rise If Global Warming Continues

There is much uncertainty about the effects of anthropogenic climate change on the frequency and severity of extreme weather events like hailstorms, and subsequent economic losses, while this is also relevant information for the design of climate policy.

Few studies conducted indicate that a strong positive relation exists between hailstorm activity and hailstorm damage, as predicted by minimum temperatures using simple correlations.

This relation suggests that hailstorm damage may increase in the future if global warming leads to further temperature increase.




This study estimates a range of Tobit models of relations between normalized insured hailstorm damage to agriculture and several temperature and precipitation indicators for the Netherlands. Temporal dynamics are explicitly modeled.

A distinction is made between damage costs for greenhouse horticulture and outdoor farming, which appear to be differently affected by variability in weather. ‘Out of sample’ forecast tests show that a combination of maximum temperatures and precipitation predicts hailstorm damage best.

hail storm

Extrapolations of the historical relations between hailstorm damage and weather indicators under climate change scenarios project a considerable increase in future hailstorm damage.

Our estimates show that by 2050 annual hailstorm damage to outdoor farming could increase by between 25% and 50%, with considerably larger impacts on greenhouse horticulture in summer of more than 200%.

The economic implications of more hailstorm damage for, and adaptation by, the agricultural and insurance sectors are discussed.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

 

What’s Really Killing King Coal?

Coal’s prices will soon be so noncompetitive that coal-fired power will drop 51 percent by 2040, according to the latest electricity sector forecast.

Coal is dying. Even in China and India and total global greenhouse gas emissions from electrical generation will peak in 2026, according to a bullish report released Thursday by respected independent energy consultants.

“This year’s report suggests that the greening of the world’s electricity system is unstoppable,” said Seb Henbest, lead author of the New Energy Outlook forecast.

The report is published annually by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), an independent energy research firm, and is based on eight months of analysis and extensive market modeling.




Around the world, solar has become a formidable opponent to coal, BNEF said. That’s because the price of solar, which already costs roughly one-fourth of what it did in 2009.

Coal power generation in China has been growing but will reach a peak in 2026, the report says. Already, many planned coal plants are being cancelled.

solar panel

Wind costs are also dropping fast. Offshore wind costs are falling faster than onshore and are expected to skid 71 percent by 2040.

Land-based wind energy, which has already dropped by 30 percent in the last eight years, will continue to fall by 47 percent by 2040, the report says.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Want To Know What Happens When The Lightning Doesn’t Hit The Ground? Watch This!

lightning

Lightning is far more than just a sky-borne phenomenon: Remarkably, it can also form at ground level and shoot upwards.

This upside-down lightning is the subject of a paper published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, in which the strange behavior of these inverted bolts is revealed.




Despite the fact that there are roughly 40-50 lightning strikes somewhere around the world every second, they are surprisingly poorly understood.

Watch the video to know how this upside down lightning works!


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Pass it on: Popular Science

SpaceX Has Launched And Landed Two Falcon 9 Rockets In One Weekend

Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX successfully launched two payloads into orbit over the weekend, and then landed the first-stage booster from each rocket onto one of the company’s drone ships.

Last Friday, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the first telecommunications satellite for the country of Bulgaria from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The first stage booster for that rocket which had already been launched, landed, and refurbished once before was successfully maneuvered down for a safe landing on a barge called “Of Course I Still Love You”.




Last Sunday, SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 carrying 10 satellites for Iridium Communications from Vandenberg Air Force Base, located northwest of Los Angeles.

The first stage booster from that rocket was landed on the ship “Just Read the Instructions,” which was floating in the Pacific.

These events marked the fastest turnaround for SpaceX launches from two different sites, according to Spaceflight Now. SpaceX’s continued success with landing and re-using boosters could save the company and its customers millions of dollars.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Google’s Neural Network Is A Multi-Tasking Pro Can Tackle Eight Tasks At One Time

Neural networks have been trained to complete a number of different tasks including generating pickup lines, adding animation to video games, and guiding robots to grab objects.

But for the most part, these systems are limited to doing one task really well. Trying to train a neural network to do an additional task usually makes it much worse at its first.

However, Google just created a system that tackled eight tasks at one time and managed to do all of them pretty well.

The company’s multi-tasking machine learning system called MultiModal was able to learn how to detect objects in images, provide captions, recognize speech, translate between four pairs of languages as well as parse grammar and syntax. And it did all of that simultaneously.





The system was modeled after the human brain. Different components of a situation like visual and sound input are processed in different areas of the brain, but all of that information comes together so a person can comprehend it in its entirety and respond in whatever way is necessary.

Similarly, MultiModal has small sub-networks for audio, images and text that are connected to a central network.

multitasking

The network’s performance wasn’t perfect and isn’t yet on par with those of networks that manage just one of these tasks alone. But there were some interesting outcomes.

The separate tasks didn’t hinder the performance of each other and in some cases they actually improved it.

In a blog post the company said, “It is not only possible to achieve good performance while training jointly on multiple tasks, but on tasks with limited quantities of data, the performance actually improves. To our surprise, this happens even if the tasks come from different domains that would appear to have little in common, e.g., an image recognition task can improve performance on a language task.”

MultiModal is still being developed and Google has open-sourced it as part of its Tensor2Tensor library.

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Pass it on: New Scientist