Tech News Review week 12-19 October 2020, by Stelios Iordanis

Energy

New solar panel design could lead to wider use of renewable energy: Designing solar panels in checkerboard lines increases their ability to absorb light by 125%, a new study says — ScienceDaily

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201008121326.htm

Designing solar panels in checkerboard lines boosts their ability to absorb light by 125 percent; itis impressive how an established method can be further optimized with such a simple concept.

 

Turning plastic waste into hydrogen and high-value carbons | University of Oxford

https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2020-10-13-turning-plastic-waste-hydrogen-and-high-value-carbons

The new method represents an attractive potential solution for the problem of plastic waste being repurposed to be used as a valuable feedstock for producing clean hydrogen fuel and value-added carbon products.

 

Scientists Built a Fuel Cell Out of Spinach

https://futurism.com/the-byte/fuel-cell-spinach

Until now, carbon-based catalysts fail to outperform platinum. But lightly-salted spinach leaves that were blended, freeze-dried, and heat-treated into layers of nanosheets were more efficient than platinum fuel cells

 

Biotech

Enzymatic DNA synthesis sees the light

https://phys.org/news/2020-10-enzymatic-dna-synthesis.html

DNA-based data storage is getting more effective, faster, and cheaper thanks to this new technology making its real-world use feasible in the next decades.

 

New Injection Can Gene-Edit Specific Parts of the Brain, Scientists Say

https://futurism.com/neoscope/injection-gene-edit-specific-parts-brain

The methods draw upon combinatorial chemistry used by the pharmaceutical industry for designing the drugs themselves, are used to engineer the components of the delivery vehicl.

 

New research could help millions who suffer from ‘ringing in the ears’ | University of Minnesota

https://twin-cities.umn.edu/news-events/new-research-could-help-millions-who-suffer-ringing-ears

Combining sound and electrical stimulation of the tongue can significantly reduce tinnitus, with therapeutic effects sustained for up to 12 months post-treatment.

Engineers print wearable sensors directly on skin without heat | Penn State University

https://news.psu.edu/story/634601/2020/10/09/research/engineers-print-wearable-sensors-directly-skin-without-heat

Next, the researchers plan to modify the technology to target specific applications as needed, such as a precise on-body sensor network placed to monitor the particular symptoms associated with COVID-19.

 

Caltech Develops a Way to Map Brain Circuits in Real Time

https://scitechdaily.com/caltech-develops-a-way-to-map-brain-circuits-in-real-time/

The vision, the will, the funding, and computational power available today enable the development of powerful new tools for neuroscience at an unprecedented pace.

 

Robotics

Brutal Chinese Weapon Launches Swarm of Explosive Suicide Drones

https://futurism.com/the-byte/chinese-weapon-launches-swarm-explosive-suicide-drones

Chinese scientists demonstrated an array of 48 weaponized drones packed with explosives launching from the back of a truck, while troops on the ground can then identify the drones’ targets on a tablet device. This is clearly the future of warfare minimizing the human factor involvement.

 

Firefighters Are Using Drones That Drop Fireballs

https://futurism.com/the-byte/firefighters-drones-drop-fireballs

The ping pong ball-sized incendiaries, explode when they hit the ground and start small fires known as backfires. eliminating any possible fuel sources for larger fires that are spreading nearby. Even in nighttime ops and in smoky conditions.

 

‘Digit’ robot for sale and ready to perform manual labor

https://techxplore.com/news/2020-10-digit-robot-sale-ready-manual.html

The human-like robot has been designed to perform manual labor, such as removing boxes from shelves and loading them onto a truck for $250,000.

 

Machine Learning

 

Machine learning uncovers potential new tuberculosis drugs

https://techxplore.com/news/2020-10-machine-uncovers-potential-tb-drugs.html

The researchers can get additional experimental data, add it to the model and retrain it, further improving the predictions. Even a small amount of data can help the model get better.

 

Creating software that will unlock the power of exascale

https://techxplore.com/news/2020-10-software-power-exascale.html

Exascale computing has important applications in healthcare, energy research, astrophysics etc. It is one of the main technological fields needed for the USA to preserve supremacy in all scientific and military areas of research.

 

Reconstructing the brain of fruit flies | eLife Science Digests | eLife

https://elifesciences.org/digests/57443/reconstructing-the-brain-of-fruit-flies

Many of these findings will likely apply to larger brains, including our own. In the long run, studying the fly connectome may therefore lead to a better understanding of the human brain and its disorders. Performing a similar analysis on the brain of a small mammal, by scaling up the methods here, will be a likely next step along this path.