One of the World’s Tiniest Nuclear Plants Is Coming to Idaho

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The demonstration represents a new-generation of micro-reactors.

An innovative nuclear plant that runs on lower waste fuel hopes to be online by 2022-2025.

The plant’s creator, Oklo, joins startups around the world working to innovate safer, smaller nuclear power plants.

But experts suggest that Oklo’s timeline is unrealistic with years of nuclear approval process ahead.

An experimental nuclear reactor in Idaho could be the first of its kind in the United States: a commercial reactor providing power using fuel that reduces nuclear waste. The small power plant could power about 1,000 homes and can run almost autonomously for 20 years.

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‘We are literally making electricity out of thin air’; UMass develops groundbreaking technology that will change the way we power electronics

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Graphic image of a thin film of protein nanowires generating electricity from atmospheric humidity. (Ella Maru Studios)

Soon having to replace batteries or spend time recharging your phone could be a thing of the past. Scientists in Amherst are developing a new technology that will use the moisture from the air to create a charge.

The device is still in early stages having only been made public on Monday on the UMass website. It uses a natural protein to create electricity from moisture in the air and could have significant implications for the future of renewable energy, climate change and the future of medicine.

In layman’s terms; “We are literally making electricity out of thin air,” said the laboratories of electrical engineer Jun Yao. “The Air-gen generates clean energy 24/7.”

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Writing a quantum algorithm? Avoid using a quantum computer

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A Zapata researcher works on one of the company’s quantum computing algorithms.

Startups are helping companies write software for quantum computers. It isn’t easy.

Zapata Computing, a 30-person startup in Boston, creates software for quantum computers. But when a customer has a problem it would like to solve, one of Zapata’s first steps is to figure out how much it can avoid using a quantum machine.

That’s because quantum computing is, like the tiny particles that underlie the technology, in a paradoxical state: It has arrived, but it isn’t quite here. Quantum algorithms theoretically will be used for such transformative purposes as cracking encryption, simulating chemical reactions, and optimizing financial transactions. But the quantum machines that Google, IBM and other companies have so far put online for people to use aren’t up to the task. Their limited number of quantum bits, or qubits, are unstable: They can’t encode a lot of data yet.

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AI-formulated medicine to be tested on humans for the first time

Prescription Medication

It took less than a year to develop the drug, which is designed to treat OCD.

A drug designed entirely by artificial intelligence is about to enter clinical human trials for the first time. The drug, which is intended to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, was discovered using AI systems from Oxford-based biotech company Exscientia. While it would usually take around four and a half years to get a drug to this stage of development, Exscientia says that by using the AI tools it’s taken less than 12 months.

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Engineers just built an impressively stable quantum silicon chip from artificial atoms

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Newly created artificial atoms on a silicon chip could become the new basis for quantum computing.

Engineers in Australia have found a way to make these artificial atoms more stable, which in turn could produce more consistent quantum bits, or qubits – the basic units of information in a quantum system.

The research builds on previous work by the team, wherein they produced the very first qubits on a silicon chip, which could process information with over 99 percent accuracy. Now, they have found a way to minimise the error rate caused by imperfections in the silicon.

“What really excites us about our latest research is that artificial atoms with a higher number of electrons turn out to be much more robust qubits than previously thought possible, meaning they can be reliably used for calculations in quantum computers,” said quantum engineer Andrew Dzurak of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia.

“This is significant because qubits based on just one electron can be very unreliable.”

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Replacement blood vessels may be woven from bio-yarn

 

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Blood vessels made from the yarn should reportedly be tolerated by all patients

When a damaged blood vessel has to be replaced, it’s important that the replacement be well-tolerated by the body. And while bioprinted blood vessels are one possibility, French scientists are now working on weaving the things out of collagen yarn.

Led by researcher Nicolas L’Heureux, a team at the Inserm institute – aka the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research – started by lab-cultivating human cells, which in turn produced extracellular matrix deposits that were high in collagen. The extracellular matrix is the three-dimensional network of macromolecules that surrounds the body’s cells, helping to keep those cells structurally and biochemically supported.

Sheets of the lab-grown matrix deposits were next cut into very thin fiber-like strips, forming the yarn. It can be woven, knitted or braided, and has already been used to create vascular grafts (implantable tubes for redirecting the flow of blood). Those grafts exhibited “burst pressure, suture retention strength and transmural permeability that surpassed clinical requirements.”

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Graphene amplifier unlocks hidden frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum

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Light in the THz frequencies hits the ‘sandwich’ and is reflected with additional energy. Credit: Loughborough University

Researchers have created a unique device which will unlock the elusive terahertz wavelengths and make revolutionary new technologies possible.

Terahertz waves (THz) sit between microwaves and infrared in the light frequency spectrum, but due to their low energy, scientists have been unable to harness their potential. The conundrum is known in scientific circles as the “terahertz gap.”

Being able to detect and amplify THz waves (T-rays) would open up a new era of medical, communications, satellite, cosmological and other technologies. One major application would be as a safe, non-destructive alternative to X-rays. However, until now, the wavelengths, which range between 3mm and 30μm, have proved impossible to use due to relatively weak signals from all existing sources.

A team of physicists has created a new type of optical transistor—a working THz amplifier—using graphene and a high-temperature superconductor. The physics behind the simple amplifier relies on the properties of graphene, which is transparent and is not sensitive to light and whose electrons have no mass. It is made up of two layers of graphene and a superconductor that trap the graphene massless electrons between them like a sandwich.

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The sun is still a burning mystery. That may be about to change.

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The historic launch of the new European Solar Orbiter helps foster a golden age for understanding our nearest star.

On Sunday evening, a rocket lit up Florida’s nighttime sky as it ferried a spacecraft toward a first-of-its-kind adventure to the sun.

Even though our home star smolders every day in our skies, humans have only ever seen the sun from one perspective: face-on, from within the plane of the planets. The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter, or SolO, is about to change that, as it is designed to perform a detailed reconnaissance of the sun that will allow it to see the star’s previously invisible polar regions.

From this unique vantage point, SolO’s suite of 10 instruments will help uncover how the star sends streams of energetic particles called the solar wind throughout our planetary system. It will also help answer what controls the sun’s 11-year magnetic cycle, which varies in intensity and creates unanticipated fluctuations in solar activity.

“We fundamentally really don’t understand that,” says ESA’s Daniel Müller, SolO project scientist. “Hopefully, we’re filling in that gap with Solar Orbiter.”

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Company to harvest green hydrogen by igniting oil fires underground

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Injection wells at the Superb oil field in Canada. To make hydrogen, workers heat the reservoir with steam and feed it air, setting off underground oil fires.

This month, on the frozen plains of Saskatchewan in Canada, workers began to inject steam and air into the Superb field, a layer of sand 700 meters down that holds 200 million barrels of thick, viscous oil. Their goal was not to pump out the oil, but to set it on fire—spurring underground chemical reactions that churn out hydrogen gas, along with carbon dioxide (CO2). Eventually the company conducting the $3 million field test plans to plug its wells with membranes that would allow only the clean-burning hydrogen to reach the surface. The CO2, and all of its power to warm the climate, would remain sequestered deep in the earth.

“We want to launch the idea that you can get energy from petroleum resources and it can be zero carbon emissions,” says Ian Gates, a chemical engineer at the University of Calgary and co-founder of the startup, called Proton Technologies.

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3D Printing humans: A quick review of 3D Bioprinters

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It was only a matter of time before the iconic scene from 1997’s The Fifth Element became a reality. In the film Milla Jovovich’s character, Leeloo, is entirely rebuilt using her dead hand as a template. The resurrection is performed by a surgical robot that collects slices of heterogeneous tissue, generated from a yellow bio-ink, and places them rapidly in sequence, followed by the addition of softer tissues via long red fibres.

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New droplet-based electricity generator: A drop of water generates 140V power, lighting up 100 LED bulbs

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New droplet-based electricity generator: A drop of water generates 140V power, lighting up 100 LED bulbs

A research team led by scientists from the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has recently developed a droplet-based electricity generator (DEG) with a field-effect transistor (FET)-like structure that allows for high energy conversion efficiency and instantaneous power density thousands of times that of its counterparts without FET technology. This would help to advance scientific research of water energy generation and tackle the energy crisis.

The research was led together by Professor Wang Zuankai from CityU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, Professor Zeng Xiao Cheng from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Professor Wang Zhong Lin, founding director and chief scientist from Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems of Chinese Academy of Sciences. Their findings were published in Nature in a study titled “A droplet-based electricity generator with high instantaneous power density.”

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3D printing gets bigger, faster and stronger

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HARP in action as it vertically and continuously prints a large 3D object.

Research advances are changing the image of a once-niche technology.

A resin printer from Chad Mirkin’s lab at Northwestern University in Illinois can create structures as large as a person in hours (image sequence sped up). Credit: Northwestern University

As a metal platform rises from a vat of liquid resin, it pulls an intricate white shape from the liquid — like a waxy creature emerging from a lagoon. This machine is the world’s fastest resin-based 3D printer and it can create a plastic structure as large as a person in a few hours, says Chad Mirkin, a chemist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The machine, which Mirkin and his colleagues reported last October1, is one of a slew of research advances in 3D printing that are broadening the prospects of a technology once viewed as useful mainly for making small, low-quality prototype parts. Not only is 3D printing becoming faster and producing larger products, but scientists are coming up with innovative ways to print and are creating stronger materials, sometimes mixing multiple materials in the same product.

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