Tech News Review Week 1-8 September 2020, by Stelios Iordanis

Space

NASA-Funded Scientist Claims New Thruster Could Approach Light Speed

https://www.wired.com/story/mach-effect-thrusters-interstellar-travel/

Although this thrust method cannot accelerate very fast, it could however persist for a long time, gradually gaining in velocity. An onboard nuclear reactor could be the solution for the electric power required. Therefore, it appears to be the only feasible solution for intergalactic voyages, at the moment.

 

Energy

Researchers find unexpected electrical current that could stabilize fusion reactions

https://phys.org/news/2020-09-unexpected-electrical-current-stabilize-fusion.html

These novel discoveries could give humankind greater ability to harness the fusion energy, a dream still elusive, for the time being.

 

The World’s Biggest Rooftop Greenhouse – Greenhouse Grower

https://www.greenhousegrower.com/crops/vegetables/look-up-its-the-worlds-biggest-rooftop-greenhouse/

Fully automated, the new greenhouse includes a water system that collects and reuses rainwater, thus economizing “up to 90%” water resources from rain compared to a traditional farm. This is a much more ecological intervention than PV panels and provide top quality locally sourced food that has not been degraded due to transportation.

 

AI

Microsoft’s New Deepfake Detector Puts Reality to the Test

https://singularityhub.com/2020/09/04/microsofts-new-deepfake-detector-puts-reality-to-the-test/

The dangers of deepfakes is overrated and multiple detection countermeasures have been proposed. The solutions envisaged by Microsoft are indeed very effective. Paradoxically, the ease of deepfakes production could maybe soon provide plausible deniability for everyone to claim that any video footage is not original.

 

 

IBM has built a new drug-making lab entirely in the cloud | MIT Technology Review

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/08/28/1007737/ibm-ai-robot-drug-making-lab-in-the-cloud/

The acceleration of chemical synthesis by AI is a goal pursued by multiple academic labs and startups and it already delivers impressive results for all kind of applications from pharmaceuticals to electronics.

 

Chinese scientists say their neuromorphic computer Darwin Mouse has the same number of neurons as a real mouse | South China Morning PostSouth China Morning Post

https://www.scmp.com/abacus/tech/article/3099945/chinese-scientists-says-their-neuromorphic-computer-darwin-mouse-has

Neuromorphic (i.e. brain-like) computers could prove to be a useful approximation of biological intelligence imitating biological evolution advantages and achieving ultra-low power consumption. Many alternative architectures will be proposed in the near future, however, most of them will be rejected.

 

 

Materials

Harvard Scientists Invent Materials That Can Remember Their Shape

https://interestingengineering.com/harvard-scientists-invent-materials-that-can-remember-their-shape

With this recycled keratin protein, a biocompatible material that can be 3D-printed into any shape and further pre-programmed with reversible shape memory, all existing wool products plus novel ones can be produced without shearing animals and we can thus reduce the environmental impact of the textile and fashion industry.

 

 

Scientists Debut Hovering “Antigravity” Device

https://futurism.com/the-byte/scientists-debut-hovering-antigravity-device

the scientists used vibrations, cycling 100 times a second, causing a mixture of glycerol and silicon oil, both thicker than water, to be suspended over a cushion of air. Possible applications include keeping gases suspended in fluids for industrial purposes, e.g. in mineral processing and waste-water treatment.

 

 

A step toward a better understanding of molecular dynamics

https://phys.org/news/2020-09-molecular-dynamics.html

 

Biotech

Doctors Fight Deadly Tumors Using Gene-Hacked Virus

https://futurism.com/neoscope/fight-deadly-tumors-gene-hacked-virus

Genetic engineering is delivering incredible solutions even for solid, treatment-resistant tumors, it is thus clear that the regulatory framework should become more liberal, in order to facilitate R&D.

Human Embryo Gene Editing Gets a Road Map—Not a Green Light | WIRED

https://www.wired.com/story/human-embryo-gene-editing-gets-a-road-map-not-a-green-light/

Countries with a more liberal attitude towards genetic engineering will have a big advantage over the EU and the USA, which are so hesitant.

 

Scientists Invent Artificial Skin That Can Feel Pain

https://futurism.com/scientists-invent-artificial-skin-feel-pain

Electrical signals can already mimic various levels of pain, however, these new devices can react to real mechanical pressure, temperature and pain, and produce the right electronic response.

 

Bodybuilding supplement promotes healthy aging and extends life span, at least in mice | Science | AAAS

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/09/bodybuilding-supplement-promotes-healthy-aging-and-extends-life-span-least-mice

AKG may increase Lifespan and DRAMATICALLY Increase Healthy Years – Engineering Evil

https://engineeringevil.com/2020/09/01/akg-may-increase-lifespan-and-dramatically-increase-healthy-years/

Some of the mice did experience low lifespan extension (the average was around 12%), however measures of healthspan increased more than 40 percent. The goal of the scientists is to minimize the time of disease and frailty: Alpha-ketoglutarate, an endogenous metabolite, made the middle-aged mice get healthier over time.

 

Robotics

Autonomous Robots Could Mine the Deep Seafloor – IEEE Spectrum

https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-software/autonomous-robots-could-mine-the-deep-seafloor

Amaran the Tree-Climbing Robot Can Safely Harvest Coconuts – IEEE Spectrum

https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/amaran-tree-climbing-robot-can-safely-harvest-coconuts

These Underwater Drones Use Water Temperature Differences To Recharge – IEEE Spectrum

https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/renewable-power-underwater-drones

Robot Chicken Butchers, Brought to You by COVID-19 | The Pew Charitable Trusts

https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2020/08/10/robot-chicken-butchers-brought-to-you-by-covid-19

Unmanned aerial vehicles help wheat breeders | EurekAlert! Science News

https://sciencesources.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/asoa-uav090120.php

 

Drones and robotics systems offer new solutions every day, and maybe in 40 years from now, our species will be completely liberated from monotonous labor.