The World’s First Nuclear Fusion Power Plant Is Coming


By Caroline Delbert fusion power plant

  • Like future Olympic Games, the first nuclear fusion power plant site is being chosen a decade in advance.
  • Coverage of fusion experiments ignores that these plants will also have staff, security, and more.
  • Fission likely causes far worse “meltdowns,” but there are still big safety questions to answer.

In the U.K., energy developers are making plans to choose a site for the world’s first fusion power plant. As with most fusion projects, this milestone is likely at least a decade away, and the site in question will be less than one half square mile—not exactly a high bar to clear, though complicated by its need to be adjacent to the existing grid. 

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Web Summit 2019: This is what the house of 2025 could look like

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The way we sleep, eat and retreat from the world around us is poised for significant transformation, David Eun, Samsung’s Chief Innovation Officer, told this week at Web Summit.

Eun presented a sketch of Samsung’s vision for the house of the future. The aim is to foster experiences on a foundation of technology and innovation, he said, “the likes of which we have never seen before.”

With the advent of 5G, the percentage of connected devices in the home will continue to grow, “and in the near future, the question won’t be how many devices are connected. The question will actually be, how many devices are not connected.”

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Smart concrete could pave the way for high-tech , cost-effective roads

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 Every day, Americans travel on roads, bridges, and highways without considering the safety or reliability of these structures. Yet much of the transportation infrastructure in the US is outdated, deteriorating, and badly in need of repair.

Of the 614,387 bridges in the US, for example, 39 percent are older than their designed lifetimes, while nearly 10 percent are structurally deficient, meaning they could begin to break down faster or, worse, be vulnerable to catastrophic failure.

The cost to repair and improve nationwide transportation infrastructure ranges from nearly US$190 billion to almost $1 trillion. Repairing US infrastructure costs individual households, on average, about $3,400 every year. Traffic congestion alone is estimated to cost the average driver $1,400 in fuel and time spent commuting, a nationwide tally of more than $160 billion per year.

I am a professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and the director of the Center for Intelligent Infrastructures at Purdue University. My co-author, Vishal Saravade, is part of my team at the Sustainable Materials and Renewable Technology (SMART) Lab. The SMART Lab researches and develops new technologies to make American infrastructure “intelligent,” safer, and more cost-effective. These new systems self-monitor the condition of roads and bridges quickly and accurately and can, sometimes, even repair themselves.

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New approach to circuit compression could deliver real-world quantum computers years ahead of schedule

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Compression of a circuit that has an initial volume of 882 using the proposed method. The reduced circuit has a volume of 420, less than half its original volume.

A major technical challenge for any practical, real-world quantum computer comes from the need for a large number of physical qubits to deal with errors that accumulate during computation. Such quantum error correction is resource-intensive and computationally time-consuming. But researchers have found an effective software method that enables significant compression of quantum circuits, relaxing the demands placed on hardware development.

Quantum computers may still be far from a commercial reality, but what is termed ‘quantum advantage’—the ability of a quantum computer to compute hundreds or thousands of times faster than a classical computer-has indeed been achieved on what are called Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) devices in early proof-of-principle experiments.

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Scientists 3D Bioprint a hybrid tissue construct for cartilage regeneration

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Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine scientists (WFIRM) have developed a method to bioprint a type of cartilage that could someday help restore knee function damaged by arthritis or injury.

This cartilage, known as fibrocartilage, helps connect tendons or ligaments or bones and is primarily found in the meniscus in the knee. The meniscus is the tough, rubbery cartilage that acts as a shock absorber in the knee joint. Degeneration of the meniscus tissue affects millions of patients and arthroscopic partial meniscectomy is one of the most common orthopedic operations performed. Besides surgery, there is a lack of available treatment options.

In this latest proof-of-concept strategy, the scientists have been able to 3D bioprint a hybrid tissue construct for cartilage regeneration by printing two specialized bioinks – hydrogels that contain the cells – together to create a new formulation that provides a cell-friendly microenvironment and structural integrity. This work is done with the Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System, a 3D bioprinter that was developed by WFIRM researchers over a 14-year period. The system deposits both biodegradable, plastic-like materials to form the tissue “shape” and bioinks that contain the cells to build new tissues and organs.

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Chinese Tesla rival Xpeng steers clear of robotaxis, says self-driving trucks more likely to succeed

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Xpeng’s autopilot system Xpilot 3.0 is expected to be included in its P7 smart sedan in early 2021. Photo: HandoutXpeng’s autopilot system Xpilot 3.0 is expected to be included in its P7 smart sedan in early 2021.

It is difficult for self-driving systems to replace human drivers, especially in densely populated cities, Xpeng’s head of autonomous driving says

Self-driving long-haul trucks and robots handling last-mile deliveries are more likely to be successfully automated, according to Xinzhou Wu

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DARPA awards contracts for autonomous ‘Sea Train’

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DARPA concept

 The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded contracts for its Sea Train program, which seeks to enable autonomous vessels to perform long-range transit operations.

In September, Applied Physical Sciences Corp., Gibbs & Cox Maritime Solutions and Mar Technologies were chosen for the program, which will include two 18-month phases.

The contract awards’ total potential values were $31.2 million, $30.4 million and $28.5 million, respectively. Through the effort, DARPA wants “to provide some operational flexibility for medium-sized unmanned surface vessels,” said Andrew Nuss, a program manager within the agency’s tactical technology office. Each company is “developing a unique approach to be able to address the goals of the Sea Train program.”

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Revolutionary synthetic DNA disk could hold key to future of storage

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Synthetic DNA could solve the world’s storage problems

 A new proof of concept that would see data stored on synthetic DNA could hold the key to the world’s storage problems. In theory, if the concept is successful, all the world’s accumulated data would fit inside a shoebox.

By 2025, it is estimated that 463 exabytes of data will be produced every day – equivalent to 212,765,957 DVDs – and data center providers are constantly expanding to provide storage for this deluge of information. A single gram of DNA, however, can hold 455 exabytes of information – a fact that has drawn the attention of computer scientists.

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By 2024, 5G could be beamed to your phone using huge, hydrogen-powered aircraft

 

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A Stratospheric Platforms antenna, inside a testing chamber

In the near future, your phone may take its 5G signal from the sky instead of a nearby mast on the ground. It’s an innovative way to solve the problem of increasing connectivity without relying on thousands of terrestrial cell towers. The concept is known as a High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS), and it essentially takes the cell tower from the ground and puts it in the sky.

The latest HAPS project to be unveiled is from Stratospheric Platforms and Cambridge Consultants. Today, the pair revealed the core of its efforts, a special antenna and unmanned aircraft, which it has been working on confidentially for the last four years.

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General Atomics and Boeing’s new liquid laser could win high-energy weapon race

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The powerful, compact HELLADS liquid laser

The military has been striving to build a laser powerful enough to make an effective weapon literally since the first ruby laser was demonstrated back in 1960. Now General Atomics is working with Boeing BA +6.8% to finally realize the goal of a truly weapons-grade laser using new ‘liquid laser’ technology to break through the barrier holding back current devices.

The original ruby laser had an output of a fraction of watt, and could not be scaled up. Many other types of laser have been developed over the last sixty years, with generous military funding channeled into those that showed weapons potential. The gas dynamic laser, which resembled a lasing reaction taking place inside a rocket motor, was highly classified in the 1970s. One researcher joked that the best way to harm an enemy with such a massive a laser was to drop it on them.

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Virgin Hyperloop hits an important milestone : The first human passenger test

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For the first time, two people rode a hyperloop pod through a nearly airless tube at 100 mph

VirginVirgin Hyperloop announced that for the first time it has conducted a test of its ultra-fast transportation system with human passengers.

The test took place on Sunday afternoon at the company’s DevLoop test track in the desert outside Las Vegas, Nevada. The first two passengers were Virgin Hyperloop’s chief technology officer and co-founder, Josh Giegel, and head of passenger experience, Sara Luchian. After strapping into their seats in the company’s gleaming white and red hyperloop pod, dubbed Pegasus, they were transferred into an airlock as the air inside the enclosed vacuum tube was removed. The pod then accelerated to a brisk 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) down the length of the track, before slowing down to a stop.

It’s an important achievement for Virgin Hyperloop, which was founded in 2014 on the premise of making Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s vision of a futuristic transportation system of magnetically levitating pods traveling through nearly airless tubes at speeds of up to 760 mph (1,223 km/h) a reality.

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