Tech News Review week 27 September – 9 November 2020, by Stelios Iordanis

Nuclear Power

New nuclear engine concept could help realize 3-month trips to Mars

https://newatlas.com/space/nuclear-thermal-propulsion-ntp-nasa-unsc-tech-deep-space-travel/

The new concept could lead to nuclear engines that reduce deep space mission times drastically, but they could even be deployed as compact nuclear power modules on earth for all kind of applications.

 

Biotech

In Embryos, Crispr Can Cut Out Whole Chromosomes—That’s Bad | WIRED

https://www.wired.com/story/in-embryos-crispr-can-cut-out-whole-chromosomes-thats-bad/

Genetic engineering developments hide various dangers, as expected and CRISPR could theoretically be viewed as a very crude method a few years from now and rendered redundant by more precise technologies.

 

Invasive plants could be turned into textiles, research shows | Living

https://www.euronews.com/living/2020/11/08/invasive-plants-could-be-turned-into-textiles-research-shows

Taking advantage of the anti-fragile profile of invasive plants and their resilience could make  lead to a new raw material source for producing yarn, and pulp that can be transformed to glue, paper, etc.

 

AI

[2011.02904] Hyperrealistic Image Inpainting with Hypergraphs

https://arxiv.org/abs/2011.02904

This inpainting related paper presents impressive results using deep learning; it is amazing how an AI system can regenerate missing sections of everyday pictures with a precision like this and essentially exhibit “imagination” traits, in a way.

 

Quantum Computing

Know when to unfold ’em: Applying particle physics methods to quantum computing | EurekAlert! Science News

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-11/dbnl-kwt110520.php

The corpus of knowledge the high-energy physics community has accumulated can be leverage in the notorious problem of measurement noise of quantum computing devices, as proved in this project.

 

Internet

Amazon patent envisions pairing toxic gamers with other toxic gamers – Business Insider

https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-patent-pairs-toxic-gamers-with-other-toxic-gamers-2020-11

The underlying policy is somehow reminiscent of the exile destinations of the past, like Australia, and it could become the norm in cyberspace in numerous settings, combined with a social credit system, as applied in China, for instance.

 

Food technology

Forget plant-based. The future of food is bacteria

https://www.fastcompany.com/90572503/kombucha-was-just-the-beginning-this-designer-want-to-create-a-bacteria-based-food-industry

Fermentation products are famous for their health benefit profile and scalability potential.
Robotics

AI-Directed Robotic Hand Learns How to Grasp – IEEE Spectrum

https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/robotic-hand-uses-artificial-neural-network-to-learn-how-to-grasp-different-objects

So-called soft robotics will revolutionize robotics applications and lead to an unprecedented unemployment spike in the future.

 

UK general says a quarter of the army could be robots by the 2030s | Engadget

https://www.engadget.com/uk-army-robot-soldiers-173459422.html

Almost all armies have had trouble meeting recruitment targets, therefore obots are the only realistic solution (beside dramatic unemployment levels and hunger) to fill those holes or even expand the military capabilities of a country.

 

Electric Vehicles

Carmakers want to ditch battery packs, use auto bodies for energy storage | Ars Technica

https://arstechnica.com/cars/2020/11/carmakers-want-to-ditch-battery-packs-use-auto-bodies-for-energy-storage/

Further developments in material sciences are essential for the broad adoption of electric cars.

 

Energy

Microwave Water Splitting for Breakthroughs for Making Hydrogen, Oxygen and Fast Battery Charging | NextBigFuture.com

Microwave Water Splitting for Breakthroughs for Making Hydrogen, Oxygen and Fast Battery Charging

This method will simplify and significantly cheapen the process for hydrogen production, H2 is superior to lithium in all aspects while having controversial risk attributes, in general.

 

Computing

Next-generation computer chip with two heads – EPFL

https://actu.epfl.ch/news/next-generation-computer-chip-with-two-heads/

Novel chip design approaches like this could lead to a new renaissance in computing and applications relying on artificial intelligence.

 

Breakthrough for Quantum Dot Electronics | NextBigFuture.com

Breakthrough for Quantum Dot Electronics

These new fundamental electronic building blocks out of quantum dots are essential for designing powerful complex electronic devices that can be fabricated in a chemistry laboratory via simple, solution-based techniques, and offer long-sought components for printable circuits, flexible displays, lab-on-a-chip diagnostics, wearable devices, medical testing, smart implants, and biometrics. Indium, however,  used in the proposed building blocks, is a rare metal, and this will reliance on few suppliers problematic in the long run.

 

Biotech

Breakthrough for Remaking Cooking Oil and Food Waste into Plastic or Biodiesel | NextBigFuture.com

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2020/11/breakthrough-for-remaking-cooking-oil-and-food-waste-into-plastic-or-biodiesel.html

While most types of cooking oils have damaged the health of the western world population, they can present a truly ecological source of raw materials .

 

Meta DNA Revolutionizes DNA Nanotechnology By Scaling Up Size By 1000 to 1 Million Times | NextBigFuture.com

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2020/10/meta-dna-makes-revolutionizes-dna-nanotechnology-by-scaling-up-size-by-1000-to-1-million-times.html

DNA origami constitute a highly programmable method to construct customized objects and functional devices in the 10–100 nm scale useful for metamaterial construction and surface-based biophysical assays.

 

BioRevolution Could Reach $4 Trillion Per Year in the 2030s | NextBigFuture.com

BioRevolution Could Reach $4 Trillion Per Year in the 2030s

Biotechnology is clearly the only industry that can surpass in potential the internet or software industry.

 

Molecular Electronics for 400 Times Faster DNA Reading by 2024 | NextBigFuture.com

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2020/10/molecular-electronics-for-10-tb-per-day-reading-or-400-times-2020-capability-by-2024.html
A 400x acceleration is still not sufficient, however it could make DNA reading an everyday electronics technology, at last. Simple, fast, low cost and with clinical-grade accuracy including phasing, assembly and direct reading of epigenetic data. Epigenetics are quintessential in the cellular aging processes, therefore anti-aging technologies could thus be also revolutionized.

 

Self-replicating Anti-viral Molecular Machines | NextBigFuture.com

Self-replicating Anti-viral Molecular Machines

Synthetic molecular machines, made from nucleic acids, which are capable of digesting viral RNA and utilizing it to assemble additional copies of itself inside living cells could easily become humanity’s next nightmare, or an omnipotent tool for solving almost all health problems, like cancer or viruses countering viral infections by utilizing viral RNA as “food”.

 

Inexpensive Nasal Spray Prevents COVID-19 Infection in Ferrets, Shows Promise for Human Trials | BioSpace

https://www.biospace.com/article/inexpensive-nasal-spray-prevents-covid-19-infection-in-ferrets-shows-promise-for-human-trials/

Internasal sprays based on safe molecules are a very interesting approach against COVID-19, however, they are not fast-tracked at least for coming months next months.

 

Brain Cell DNA Refolds Itself to Aid Memory Recall | Quanta Magazine

https://www.quantamagazine.org/brain-cell-dna-refolds-itself-to-aid-memory-recall-20201102

The interaction of brain function and brain cell DNA is an unexplored research area: analyzing at the molecular level how the brain consolidates some memories and loses others could lead to methods for controllinh aging, learning and other basic processes.

 

Bionic breakthrough allows people with paralysis to control computers using their thoughts – ABC News

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-29/bionic-breakthrough-people-with-paralysis-to-control-computers/12825048

The researchers want to turn the device the size of a match stick and insertable in a similar way to an injection  into a control interface for robotic limbs.