Tag: energy

Fusion Energy Is Coming. No, Really.

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Fusion energy has been about 20 years away for over 60 years now. It’s become something of a running joke at this point. But new developments over the last 5-10 years suggest that this time, it could finally be within our reach.

Behind The Hype Of ‘Lab-Grown’ Meat

Some folks have big plans for your future. They want you—a burger-eatin’, chicken-finger-dippin’ American—to buy their burgers and nuggets grown from stem cells.

One day, meat eaters and vegans might even share their hypothetical burger. That burger will be delicious, environmentally friendly, and be indistinguishable from a regular burger.

And they assure you the meat will be real meat, just not ground from slaughtered animals.

That future is on the minds of a cadre of Silicon Valley startup founders and at least one nonprofit in the world of cultured meat.

Some are sure it will heal the environmental woes caused by American agriculture while protecting the welfare of farm animals.




But these future foods’ promises are hypothetical, with many claims based on a futurist optimism in line with Silicon Valley’s startup culture.

Cultured meat is still in its research and development phase and must overcome massive hurdles before hitting market.

A consumer-ready product does not yet exist and its progress is heavily shrouded by intellectual property claims and sensationalist press. Today, cultured meat is a lot of hype and no consumer product.

The truth is that only a few successful prototypes have yet been shown to the public, including a NASA-funded goldfish-based protein in the early 2000s, and a steak grown from frog cells in 2003 for an art exhibit.

More have come recently: Mark Post unveiled a $330,000 cultured burger in 2013, startup Memphis Meats has produced cultured meatballs and poultry last and this year, and Hampton Creek plans to have a product reveal dinner by the end of the year.

Because many in the cultured meat industry see this meat as cruelty-free, animal rights groups have become more vocal about cultured meat in its recent past.

For now, we know that the meat is made by growing animal-derived cells in the lab and harvesting the meat after a month or so.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Will Our Planet’s Personal Space Heater Ever Burn Out?

Yes, the sun will eventually burn out. But not for a long, long time.

The sun has used up about half of its hydrogen fuel in the last 4.6 billion years, since its birth. It still has enough hydrogen to last about another 5 billion years.




The temperature of the sun’s surface is about 10,340 degrees Fahrenheit (5,726 degrees Celsius).

The sun burns using a nuclear fusion process, combining hydrogen into helium. When the sun runs out of hydrogen, it will fuse helium and other heavier elements until it runs out of fuel.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

In The Future, Your Sweat Could Power Your Gadgets

Sweat is often an annoyance, or even an embarrassment. We spend tons on antiperspirants, fans, air conditioners, ice cream, and anything else that will keep our body temperatures down to keep sweating at bay.

With a new wearable innovation that turns sweat into energy, that all might change.

From tattoos that can monitor health conditions to golf shirts that measure their wearer’s swings, wearable technology is one of the fastest-growing tech advancements of the 21st century.

Recently, researchers at University of California, San Diego unveiled their own latest wearable: A flexible square patch that can be applied to the skin, where enzymes in the device could feed on human sweat to produce power.




Although it measured just a few centimeters in size, a single square, or biofuel cell, was able to generate enough power to run a radio for an entire two days.

Later versions proved capable of generating up to ten times more energy as their predecessors, meaning that in the future, if you forget to charge your smartphone before a hard workout, no worries!

Just plant your biocell on your skin, and your sweat might make enough juice to let you to stream your gym playlists during an hour of cardio, and for days to come.

A Sweat-Powered Radio is Cool, but That’s Just the Start

Biofuel cells have come a long way over the years. While the possibility of sweat-powered radios and other electronics is pretty fantastic, scientists have much bolder applications for the technology in store for the future.

Those cells could be used as health monitors, checking glucose levels in diabetic patients or to measuring the lactic acid produced in muscles during exercise.

The power generated could fuel a Bluetooth connection that could deliver the information right to a smartphone so that wearers could get real-time reports on their physical health.

The future of wearable biocells has plenty of advantages, but one of the best is that they are non-invasive. This means faster application and less pain.

Eventually, they’ll become less expensive, making them a great alternative to devices like conventional blood glucose monitors that require patients to prick their fingers multiple times per day, or permanent surgical implants like pacemakers.

With the University of California team’s take on wearables, future medical monitors may be self-powering, too.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

The Big Bang Wasn’t The Beginning, After All

A Universe that expands and cools today, like ours does, must have been hotter and denser in the past. Initially, the Big Bang was regarded as the singularity from which this ultimate, hot, dense state emerged. But we know better today.

The Universe began not with a whimper, but with a bang! At least, that’s what you’re commonly told: the Universe and everything in it came into existence at the moment of the Big Bang.

Space, time, and all the matter and energy within began from a singular point, and then expanded and cooled, giving rise over billions of years to the atoms, stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies spread out across the billions of light years that make up our observable Universe.

It’s a compelling, beautiful picture that explains so much of what we see, from the present large-scale structure of the Universe’s two trillion galaxies to the leftover glow of radiation permeating all of existence.

Unfortunately, it’s also wrong, and scientists have known this for almost 40 years.

The idea of the Big Bang first came about back in the 1920s and 1930s. When we looked out at distant galaxies, we discovered something peculiar: the farther away from us they were, the faster they appeared to be receding from us.




According to the predictions of Einstein’s General Relativity, a static Universe would be gravitationally unstable; everything needed to either be moving away from one another or collapsing towards one another if the fabric of space obeyed his laws.

The observation of this apparent recession taught us that the Universe was expanding today, and if things are getting farther apart as time goes on, it means they were closer together in the distant past.

An expanding Universe doesn’t just mean that things get farther apart as time goes on, it also means that the light existing in the Universe stretches in wavelength as we travel forward in time.

Since wavelength determines energy (shorter is more energetic), that means the Universe cools as we age, and hence things were hotter in the past.

It’s tempting, therefore, to keep extrapolating backwards in time, to when the Universe was even hotter, denser, and more compact.

First noted by Vesto Slipher, the more distant a galaxy is, on average, the faster it’s observed to recede away from us. For years, this defied explanation, until Hubble’s observations allowed us to put the pieces together: the Universe was expanding.

Theorists thinking about these problems started thinking of alternatives to a “singularity” to the Big Bang, and rather of what could recreate that hot, dense, expanding, cooling state while avoiding these problems.

The conclusion was inescapable: the hot Big Bang definitely happened, but doesn’t extend to go all the way back to an arbitrarily hot and dense state.

Instead, the very early Universe underwent a period of time where all of the energy that would go into the matter and radiation present today was instead bound up in the fabric of space itself.

That period, known as cosmic inflation, came to an end and gave rise to the hot Big Bang, but never created an arbitrarily hot, dense state, nor did it create a singularity.

What happened prior to inflation — or whether inflation was eternal to the past — is still an open question, but one thing is for certain: the Big Bang is not the beginning of the Universe!

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Mich Ultra’s Super Bowl Ad Is Heavy On Sweat, Light On Beer

Is it an ad for your local health club … or a beer? Michelob Ultra will continue its fitness-themed campaign in the Super Bowl with a spot that includes a lot more cycling and running than drinking.

The low-calorie brew does not appear until the very end, when all the sweating is over.

The Anheuser-Busch InBev brand seeks to link social drinking and working out via the soundtrack: The theme song from the classic TV show “Cheers.”

The agency is FCB Chicago, which was behind a similar athletic-themed spot for the brand that aired in last year’s Super Bowl called “Breathe.”




This year’s ad is called “Our Bar.” An extended cut (above) will be trimmed to 30 seconds for the in-game airing.

The spot uses “real fitness enthusiasts — not actors — doing what they do day-in and day-out: going through a tough workout together and sharing cold beers afterwards to celebrate,” Ultra stated in a press release.

We recognized that the social lives and beer-drinking occasions of the Michelob Ultra consumer extend beyond gathering at the bar or at home with friends,” Azania Andrews, VP-Michelob Ultra, stated in the press release.

Communities forming around fitness activities represent a new type of socializing. ‘Our Bar’ emphasizes that beer is a part of this new world, grounded in celebrating accomplishments.”

With Friday morning’s release of the ad, AB InBev has now made public all four of its Super Bowl ads, including spots for Budweiser, Bud Light and Busch.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

The Nike Epic React Sneaker Has Higher Energy Return To Push You Forward As You Run

Last Tuesday, Nike announces the release of a new proprietary foam midsole technology called Nike React.

The very first shoe to feature React will be the Epic React Flyknit running shoe. It’s a sleek little number (available February 22), with a simple, knit upper that sits atop a single layer of extra thick React foam.

In a trend that’s been sweeping the running shoe industry, Nike is centering all its attention and fanfare on the properties of the foam itself, rather than highlighting other individual parts of the shoe.




React is our most complete foam ever,” says Ernest Kim, footwear innovation director at Nike. Kim geeks out, praising the ride this new foam delivers.

You not only get great energy return—13 percent greater than Lunarlon—but [you also get] a much softer experience as well,” he says.

For a runner who wants a shoe that feels springy and light, but that can still hold up through plenty of miles, Kim feels that Nike nailed it with React.

If you think you’ve heard a similar tune before, you’re right. Last September, Brooks revealed its DNA AMP foam, also touting a blend of cushioning and energy return.

Last year, we saw the first shoes from Altra made with the cleverly-named AltraEGO foam, which—you guessed it—distinguishes itself by its soft step-in feel and bouncy ride.

Then there’s Reebok Float Foam, Saucony Everun, New Balance Fresh Foam, Puma Ignite. Every major company now has its own hero foam, a trend that can be traced back to a compound called Boost, introduced by Adidas in 2012.

As magical as the new foams feel for many, they aren’t for everyone. “At the end of the day, shoes are so personal,” Harper says.

There’s going to be people who put on a [foam] shoe, and it doesn’t connect with them for some reason—doesn’t connect with their stride, doesn’t feel good underfoot.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Astrophysics: High Energy Galactic Particle Accelerator Located

The highest-energy cosmic rays that bombard Earth have been traced to their source — rare galaxies with supermassive black holes at their center.

A collaboration of more than 370 scientists working with the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina tracked the rays by pointing particle detectors skywards and tracing high-energy hits back to the objects that were most likely to have produced them.

These high-energy particles hit Earth’s atmosphere with an energy that is 100 million times higher than anything produced by man-made particle accelerators.




Unlike lower-energy cosmic rays, which are bent and deflected by magnetic fields in the Universe, high-energy rays whizz through space in a nearly straight line, making it possible to trace them back to their source.

Ultra-high-energy cosmic rays were first detected in 1962. But whatever made these particles was so extreme that it didn’t fall within any physics known at that time.

Since then, scientists have been determined to solve the mystery of where these super-energetic particles come from.

High-energy cosmic rays are extremely rare, with less than one particle hitting a square kilometer of Earth every hundred years. That has made them hard to study.

And although they pass in a nearly straight line through space, it has not been known exactly how much they are deflected by galactic magnetic fields.

Source revealed

The vast Pierre Auger Observatory has 1,600 ground-based particle detectors over an area of 3,000 square kilometers. Even so, the Auger team can spot these cosmic rays at a rate of only two per month.

The team measured cosmic rays from January 2004 until May 2006, and to ensure a rigorous check on their data, they then looked at a further year’s worth of data.

At the heart of AGN is a supermassive black hole, which churns up enough energy to spit out protons with staggering energies of more than 100 x 10 18 eV.

AGN are very violent situations in space,” says Alan Watson of the University of Leeds, UK, a spokesman for the Pierre Auger Collaboration.

Matching the direction of the rays to these violent galaxies is enough to convince Watson, and the Auger team, that they have found the source of the highest-energy cosmic rays.

But for some, the statistics aren’t quite good enough to be so certain.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Why Is Power Consumption For Gadgets Dropping At Home?

A new report from the Consumer Electronics Association and Fraunhofer USA asserts that the power consumed by home electronics declined from 12% between 2013 and 2010 in the U.S.

It’s a positive result, especially when you add in that the number of devices climbed from 2.9 billion to 3.8 billion over that same period.

But what’s really interesting about the report is why power consumption is declining.




In a word, it’s tablets. The number of plugged in TVs has declined from 353 million in 2010 to 301 in 2013, a 14% drop.

The number of plugged-in desktops has dropped from 101 million to 88 million while the number of active laptops has declined from 132 million to 93 million.

Tablets, meanwhile, have gone from being a relative asterisk to being present in 100 million households.

While part of the decline in consumed by TVs can be attributed to new accounting methods and the final disposal of those remaining CRT tubes, the bigger impact seems to be coming from the shift to smaller screens.

The active power consumption of a 34-inch TV is 90 watts: a TV this size will consume 166 kilowatt hours a year under normal use scenarios. Desktops will consume 186 kilowatt hours.

Notebook power draw can range from 6 to 36 watts and account for 53 kilowatt hours of power consumption. A tablet might use 6.1 kilowatt hours a year in regular use.

In short, power consumption is dropping at home, but more importantly we are seeing a tectonic shift in what we use.

Tablet sales might be below some analyst’s expectations, but they are having an impact on the categories around them.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

What Is A Horsepower?

The horsepower (hp) is a unit in the foot-pound-second ( fps ) or English system, sometimes used to express the rate at which mechanical energy is expended.

It was originally defined as 550 foot-pounds per second (ft-lb/s).




A power level of 1 hp is approximately equivalent to 746 watt s (W) or 0.746 kilowatt s (kW). To convert from horsepower to watts, multiply by 746.

To convert from watts to horsepower, multiply by 0.00134. To convert from horsepower to kilowatts, multiply by 0.746. To convert from kilowatts to horsepower, multiply by 1.34.

While the horsepower, the watt, and the kilowatt are all reducible to the same dimensional units, the horsepower is rarely used to express power in any form other than mechanical.

You will likely get raised eyebrows if you talk about a 1-hp microwave oven, just as you would feel uncomfortable talking about a 37-kW outboard motor.

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Pass it on: Popular Science