futurism.com | Scientists Created a Battery That Self-Destructs in 30 Minutes

Transient Electronics

If you’re developing any sort of revolutionary small-scale tech, chances are, you’ve come across problems with the battery. Teams have been developing edible electronics, but they still use conventional, toxic batteries that are less than edible.

Transient electronics have the same problems, but that may be changing. A team from Iowa State University has developed a battery that can deliver a 2.5 volt charge for 15 minutes, and then dissolve in water in half an hour.

Transient electronics are devices that are designed to self-destruct, dissolve, or disintegrate completely, like they never existed. But batteries are still a problem with this tech. “Any device without a transient power source isn’t really transient,”said team leader Reza Montezami, in a statement.

This new battery uses conventional lithium-ion technology. It’s made up of eight layers, including an anode, a cathode and the electrolyte separator, all wrapped up in two layers of a polyvinyl alcohol-based polymer.

The result is a 1 mm thick, 5 mm long and 6 mm wide battery. Upon exposure to water, it’s casing swells, breaking apart the electrodes and completely dissolving. While certain nanoparticles don’t degrade, those disperse so much that it doesn’t matter.

Spy Stuff

Obviously, this all has numerous applications, especially on the military side of things. Any Mission Impossible-esque spy could just plop his transient device into a puddle, and it would dissolve by itself, evading study by enemies.

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CBS via Getty Images

But it could also be used in biodegradable electronic sensors or equipment, leaving a negligible environmental impact. Any scientist could just leave his equipment in the jungle, and precipitation would remove the danger of discarded equipment.

Or they could be used in the aforementioned edible electronics or implants, powering devices for a short time and then dissolving (toxicity issues would still have to be considered of course). Basically, although this has impressive implications for people like Inspector Gadget, the medical industry will definitely benefit from this impressive innovation.

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futurism.com | We Just Passed Another Global Warming Threshold, And There’s No End in Sight

Temperatures Rising

Amidst the seemingly never ending debate on whether climate change is real or not, new readings of the Earth’s CO2 levels continue to show that it is real.Agencies that regularly monitor CO2 levels, like NASA, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the Mauna Loa Observatory, have noticed that we have reached a crucial point.

Usually, towards the end of September, CO2 levels reach their lowest point of the year — as plants grow and take in CO2 over the summer. Except this time around, despite reaching counts comparatively lower then any for this year, CO2 levels have not gone below the 400 parts per million benchmark.

Credits: Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Mauna Loa Observatory
Credits: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Mauna Loa Observatory

What’s it Mean?

Experts say that the safest CO2 levels in the atmosphere should be about 350 ppm, a level we have long-since passed. This year alone, we have already reached the 400 ppm mark and its not getting any lower. Scripps scientist Ralph Keeling believes there will be the occasional daily dip, a little below 400 ppm due to certain conditions, like typhoons. However, “it already seems safe to conclude that we won’t be seeing a monthly value below 400 ppm this year – or ever again for the indefinite future.”

NASA’s chief climate scientist expressed the same concerns: “At best, one might expect a balance in the near term and so CO2 levels probably wouldn’t change much — but would start to fall off in a decade or so. In my opinion, we won’t ever see a month below 400 ppm.”

Ever since man altered the levels of CO2 — thanks to the Industrial Revolution — to rates plants cannot cope up with, there has been a steady rise in CO2 levels warming the Earth about 1.8 F. And 2016 might be that time when we crossed another threshold, since we went past the safe 350 ppm levels.

To be clear, this benchmark is not an apocalyptic tipping point. Essentially, 399 ppm was not “safe” and reading beyond 400 now spells immediate and certain doom for life on the planet. As Extreme Tech puts it, “Four hundred was a place that some optimistic folks thought, if we all really pulled together, we could get our carbon emissions to level off.”

There is hope, of course, assuming we continue to take the necessary steps to counter the trend. It may take a decade or so, but, at the very least, we must try.

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futurism.com | If We Go To Mars, We Might End Up Killing Life That’s Already There

The case for planetary protection

Now that Elon Musk has revealed his bold plans to colonize Mars, many have voiced that a human presence may not be great for the red planet. Before you say to yourself “ugh, another climate control article,” we suggest you control yourself and read on.

Yes. Of course we are fearful that human beings could destroy Mars much like we are damaging the Earth. But, more importantly, this is about protecting whatever original Martian life might be there when we set foot on the red planet.

This is an actual issue that’s been recognized since the 1960s — the problem of planetary protection. How can we make sure that human presence on Mars will not contaminate whatever life forms might be on the red planet? That’s a question Catherine Conley, NASA’s senior planetary protector, has concerned herself with for 10 years now.

Keeping life on Mars intact

Fortunately, all spacefaring nations are obliged to protect the Earth and other planets from contaminating one another. In 1967, the Outer Space Treaty was signed and ratified, requiring all to avoid contaminating the moon and other celestial bodies.

So, the problem is, how do we do this? Take the curious case of the Curiosity, for instance. NASA’s Mars rover has been tasked to look for potential life on the red planet. So far, it has found evidence that water might’ve existed. If it actually finds water, though, it has to avoid contact with it for fear that whatever microbe Curiosity brought with it from Earth might contaminate the water.

Keeping it clean. Credits: NASA
Keeping it clean. Credits: NASA

Fortunately, there are measures to make sure that the likelihood of contamination stays low. NASA undertakes the strictest procedures to keep all its interplanetary equipment from carrying microbes, as much as possible. With the little amount that can actually survive the procedure and a trip through space, for one reason or another, we still have to be careful.

If bacterial life in Mars works the same way, more or less, that it does on Earth, then the smallest samples can pollute any chance we have of finding original Martian life.

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futurism.com | Partnership on AI: Tech Giants Unite to Develop Synthetic Intelligence for Humanity

All in for AI

Consider it one of humanity’s first coalitions for the development of artificial intelligence. This week, tech bigwigs Google, Microsoft, and IBM are joined by Facebook and Amazon—teaming up to form the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society. It’s a coalition, of sorts, composed of a 10-member board, with representatives coming from the five founding companies.

The five partner companies are leaders in their own right when it comes to AI development.

Google has DeepMind, which is behind AlphaGo. Microsoft has Cortana and other projects, while Amazon has its own Alexa. Facebook, of course, uses AI for its various features, including facial recognition and bots in its Messenger app.

Credits: partnershiponai.org
Credits: partnershiponai.org

Ethics/Fairness/Inclusivity

It is a very timely move, with all the developments in artificial intelligence (and its aggregate technologies) on the rise over the last five of years. A lot of the development seemed surprising and even scary for some people. That’s why the partnership identifies, as one of its three primary goals, the need to advance people’s understanding of AI.

According to their official page, the goal is “To advance public understanding and awareness of AI and its potential benefits and potential costs to act as a trusted and expert point of contact as questions/concerns arise from the public and others in the area of AI and to regularly update key constituents on the current state of AI progress.”

The two other goals are to provide research support to develop best practices to address areas of concern in “ethics, fairness, and inclusivity”, and to serve as a platform for all other AI researchers and potential stakeholders to address relevant issues. To ensure this, the partnerships’s board will include experts from the academic and the non-profit worlds.

Although actual competitors when it comes to product development, these companies — industry leaders, in their own right — acknowledge the need to work together do develop AI technology “for raising the quality of people’s lives and can be leveraged to help humanity address important global challenges such as climate change, food, inequality, health, and education,” as the partnership’s vision states.

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xkcd.com | Rosetta

[ mukeshbalani.com ] “You heard it here first…if you haven’t already heard it elsewhere”…

Rosetta

I WONDERED why he kept asking whether we thought the impact speed was too low.

http://xkcd.com/1740/

futurism.com | This Week in Science: September 24 – 30, 2016

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futurism.com | A Supersonic Jet Trainer

This is the supersonic aircraft that could land an $11 billion contract from the U.S. Air Force.

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