This former semiconductor factory is now the worlds largest indoor farm, producing 10k heads of lettuce per day

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This indoor Japanese farm uses LED lights and hydroponics to produce lettuce 2.5 times faster, with just 1% of the water, when compared to an outdoor farm.

When we think about factories, and what we decry as “factory farms,” we probably don’t think very highly of them as being a key component in the future of agriculture, but if we can take what factories do best, such as use technology to build efficient production lines, and pair that with what nature does best, which is growing biomass from light and water and minerals, then growing food in plant factories starts to make a lot of sense.

Converting what were formerly industrial buildings into indoor farming operations, especially in urban areas and locations that aren’t conducive to year-round outdoor food production, could be an excellent reuse of existing resources (the buildings themselves, the infrastructure that supports them, and their locations in or near cities) to help build a more sustainable food system. And this sort of operation can be done in a way that’s both highly efficient and productive (PDF), in essence turning our ideas about industrial-scale factory farming on their heads.

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Samsung: Expect 6G in 2028, enabling mobile holograms and digital twins

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Just as the earliest 5G networks began to go live two years ago, a handful of scientists were eager to publicize their initial work on the next-generation 6G standard, which was at best theoretical back then, and at worst an ill-timed distraction. But as 5G continues to roll out, 6G research continues, and today top mobile hardware developer Samsung is weighing in with predictions of what’s to come. Surprisingly, the South Korean company is preparing for early 6G to launch two years ahead of the commonly predicted 2030 timeframe, even though both the proposed use cases and the underlying technology are currently very shaky.

Given that the 5G standard already enabled massive boosts in data bandwidth and reductions in latency over 4G, the questions of what more 6G could offer — and why — are key to establishing the need for a new standard. On the “what” side, Samsung expects 6G to offer 50 times higher peak data rates than 5G, or 1,000Gbps, with a “user experienced data rate” of 1Gbps, plus support for 10 times more connected devices in a square kilometer. Additionally, Samsung is targeting air latency reductions from 5G’s under 1 millisecond to under 100 microseconds, a 100 times improvement in error-free reliability, and twice the energy efficiency of 5G.

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Facebook built a new fiber-spinning robot to make internet service cheaper

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Facebook has designed a robot that can install fiber on traditional power lines, as shown in this rendering.

 The robot’s code name is Bombyx, which is Latin for silkworm, and pilot tests with the machine begin next year.

The robot rests delicately atop a power line, balanced high above the ground, almost as if it’s floating. Like a short, stocky tightrope walker, it gradually makes its way forward, leaving a string of cable in its wake. When it comes to a pole, it gracefully elevates its body to pass the roadblock and keep chugging along.

This isn’t a circus robot. Facebook developed the machine to install fiber cables on medium-voltage power lines around the globe. The aim is to make it cheaper for internet service providers to build out their networks using super-fast and reliable fiber connections. Installing fiber is a pricey endeavor, limiting where it can be deployed. If the cost of installation goes down, says Facebook, so too does the cost of service for the end user.

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Research scientists develop groundbreaking artificial cartilage

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The new material is strong enough to work in knees

 Need some cartilage? There’s a technology for that.

Knee surgery is a frequently-performed procedure across the country. Why? Well, the knees are at work for most of your waking hours, and the same activity that keeps you physically fit can also lead to wear and tear on them. If you’ve ever needed to have work done on the joint itself, you may be aware of the difficulties of coming up with a lasting replacement: until recently, there wasn’t a replacement durable enough for the cartilage in a human knee.

That might no longer be the case, however. At Science Alert, David Nield has the news that a group of researchers, some affiliated with Duke University, have made a breakthrough in replacing cartilage. They’ve come up with a hydrogel that compares favorably to the material currently used for knee replacement surgery:

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Alphabets Loon launches its balloon powered Kenyan internet service

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 Alphabet’s Loon has officially begun operating its commercial internet service in Kenya . This is the first large-scale commercial offering that makes use of Loon’s high-altitude balloons, which essentially work as cell service towers that drift on currents in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Loon’s Kenyan service is offered in partnership with local telecom provider Telkom Kenya, and provides cellular service through their network to an area covering roughly 50,000 square kilometres (31,000 square miles) that normally hasn’t had reliable service due to the difficulty of setting up ground infrastructure in the mountainous terrain.

Loon has been working toward deploying its first commercial service deployment in Kenya since it announced the signed deal in 2019, but the company says that the mission has taken on even greater significance and importance since the onset of COVID-19, which has meant that reliable connectivity, especially in light of the restrictions upon travel that the epidemic has placed, makes the ability to remotely contact doctors, family members and others all the more important.

Some of the technical details of how Loon’s stratospheric balloons will offer this continuous service, and what kind of network quality people can expect, include that the fleet has around 35 balloons acting together, which are moving constantly to maintain the target area coverage. Average speeds look to be around 18.9Mbps down, and 4.74 Mbps up, with 19 millisecond latency, and real-world testing has shown that this has served well for use across voice and video calls, as well as YouTube streaming, WhatsApp use and more, according to Loon.

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Sony’s wearable, pocket-sized air conditioner is finally available for sale!

Summer is not for everyone – sure it is nice when you are at the beach but is it nice to feel like you are being roasted like a turkey when its not Thanksgiving? I personally thrive in the snow but keeping on brand with being unprecedented like 2020, I have found myself in lockdown in India which means I am currently dealing with a hot, humid, tropical climate and it feels like I am an iPhone on 1% battery. What people like me need is Sony’s Reon Pocket air conditioner, which is FINALLY on sale, to keep us cool, calm, and collected!

A portable, wearable, air conditioner is no more a thing of futuristic TV shows. The Reon Pocket is a smartphone-controlled personal gadget that was designed to be compact and cool. It works using thermoelectric cooling and can cool the user’s body temperature by 13 degrees celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) and raise your temperature by about 8 degrees Celsius (about 14 degrees Fahrenheit). Reon sits on the base of your neck in a special undershirt designed for it. It uses the Peltier effect which means a temperature difference is created by applying a voltage between two electrodes connected to a sample of semiconductor material. The heat is absorbed or emitted when you pass an electrical current across a junction to either lower your temperature or increase it without bulk or noise.

It is sleek, minimal and comfortable as a piece of wearable tech. Like any smart device of our times, Reon’s functions can be controlled via Bluetooth. Set to the desired temperature using the mobile app which also features an automatic mode. It only weighs 85 grams and can be charged with the common USB-C port. The only downside is that the battery lasts for just two hours on a single charge but that is enough time for you to run all errands or enjoy a picnic before you start to melt.

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Atom-by-atom assembly makes for cheap, tuneable graphene nanoribbons

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Graphene nanoribbons could serve a variety of purposes, and a new way to produce then could help unleash this potential

The wonder material graphene can take many forms for many different purposes, from transparent films that repel mosquitoes to crumpled balls that could boost the safety of batteries. One that has scientists particularly excited is nanoribbons for applications in energy storage and computing, but producing these ultra-thin strips of graphene has proven a difficult undertaking. Scientists are claiming a breakthrough in this area, devising a method that has enabled them to efficiently produce graphene nanoribbons directly on the surface of semiconductors for the first time.

The wonder material graphene can take many forms for many different purposes, from transparent films that repel mosquitoes to crumpled balls that could boost the safety of batteries. One that has scientists particularly excited is nanoribbons for applications in energy storage and computing, but producing these ultra-thin strips of graphene has proven a difficult undertaking. Scientists are claiming a breakthrough in this area, devising a method that has enabled them to efficiently produce graphene nanoribbons directly on the surface of semiconductors for the first time.

As opposed to the sheets of carbon atoms arranged in honeycomb patterns that make up traditional graphene, graphene nanoribbons consist of thin strips just a handful of atoms wide. This material has great potential as a cheaper and smaller alternative to silicon transistors that would also run faster and use less power, or as electrodes for batteries that can charge in as little as five minutes.

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GPS III isn’t fully operational yet, but when it is, it’ll be great

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The GPS III satellite armada will eventually make our GPS technology more accurate, but we’re not quite there yet.

Just three satellites have been launched thus far, and only one of them is operational at the moment.

Elon Musk recently tweeted that our ‘GPS just got slightly better,’ but that isn’t entirely true.

We tend to take GPS for granted these days. It works pretty well already and it feels like it’s always been there, even though it’s a relatively new technology, all things considered. It’s not perfect, of course, and we can see evidence of that in our map apps and games like Pokemon Go that sometimes send us flying all over the map as it tries to zero in on our position.

But like any technology, it’s improving, and the launch of a new GPS III satellite is a tiny step toward a more accurate Global Positioning System for the future. Elon Musk is obviously very proud that he has played a part in this and tweeted out a not-entirely-accurate boast that your GPS just got better.

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Report: Hydrogen for fuel-cell vehicles likely to reach price parity with gasoline by 2025

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Hydrogen fuel-cell cars face many roadblocks to mass adoption, but a new report claims they could achieve price parity with gasoline by 2025.

 Drafted by the California Energy Commission, the report lays out a plan for development of renewable hydrogen production plants in the state, predicting that future demand and costs will make this new infrastructure worthwhile.

“The key findings are that the dispensed price of hydrogen is likely to meet an interim target based on fuel economy-adjusted price parity with gasoline of $6.00 to $8.50 per kilogram by 2025,” the report said.

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Meet Silq: The first intuitive programming language for quantum computers

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The creation of the C programming language was a massive milestone for classical computing. Developed by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson at AT&T Bell Laboratories in the early 1970s, C was an easy programming language for would-be computer coders to learn. At the time, most computer programs were written in what is called assembly language, which communicates directly with the computer’s hardware. But while assembly programs gave users unparalleled control over their machines, they were long, complex, and difficult to debug. C was different. It was easy, intuitive, and helped open up computer programming to an entirely new audience. It was nothing short of a revolution in computing.

Now, nearly 50 years after C was created, computer scientists have reached a similar milestone: A new programming language that brings the same level of coding simplicity to quantum computing.

Drawing parallels between the development of classical computers and the state of quantum computing today is difficult. Quantum computers, for those unfamiliar with them, represent the future of computing as we know it. Unlike a classical computer, which encodes information as a series of ones and zeroes, the “qubits” in a quantum computer can be either a one, a zero, or both at the same time. Quantum computers operate under different, quantum rules to classical computers — and promise to eventually be almost unimaginably fast when it comes to crunching data and carrying out calculations.

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Dog-like robots now on sale for $75,000, with conditions

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FILE – In this May 24, 2018, file photo, a Boston Dynamics SpotMini robot walks through a conference room during a robotics summit in Boston. Boston Dynamics on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 started selling its four-legged Spot robots online for just under $75,000 each. The agile robots can walk, climb stairs and open doors. But people who buy them online must agree not to arm them or intentionally use them as weapons, among other conditions.

You can now buy one of those unnerving animal-like robots you might have seen on YouTube — so long as you don’t plan to use it to harm or intimidate anyone.

Boston Dynamics on Tuesday started selling its four-legged Spot robots online for just under $75,000 each.

The agile robots can walk, climb stairs and observe their surroundings with cameras and other sensors. But people who buy them online must agree not to arm them or intentionally use them as weapons, among other conditions.

“The key goal for us is to make sure people trust robots,” Michael Perry, the company’s vice president for business development, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Somebody wanted to use Spot for a haunted house and we said no to that. It frames the robot in a negative context.”

The terms and conditions state that “Spot is an amazing robot, but is not certified safe for in-home use or intended for use near children or others who may not appreciate the hazards associated with its operation.”

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The best applications for Quantum Computing

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One of the areas that I have been researching is what applications can best make use of the power of quantum computing. Although this is a work in progress, I am providing a preliminary assessment for my readers based upon discussions with various experts and other research I have done so far. The list below is shown in a priority order based upon the combination of three factors that I have reviewed: Progress-to-Date, Difficulty, and Payoff. One thing to note is that the successful implementations for most, if not all, of these application areas will probably be based upon a hybrid platform that combines classical and quantum computing in a cloud environment to achieve the best of both worlds. So here’s the list.

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