Tech Tuesday 8/28/14 – Oscar Is Tired of Arizona Heat Edition
TT01 – Storing energy has always been an issue with modern society. Now that wind and solar are continuing to gain ground and the cost of the energy produced is declining, being able to store and recover that energy is developing a greater urgency. We already have pumped hydro, but you need to have the right geography for that to work. There are also ideas about using compressed air stored in underground caverns, but again, geography plays a big part. Lithium Ion and other metallic batteries are just too expensive for base load storage. Flywheels and thermal storage work, but both have a serious hazard element. Flow batteries are under development, but getting the cost down and energy densities up is keeping them just out of reach. But what about one of the oldest ways to store energy? Pick something up.
TT02 – Although, when it comes to Lithium Ion batteries, making them more durable does make them more attractive. And I love that they are using Oobleck (shear thickening non-Newtonian fluids) to do it.
TT03 – I admit, I hadn’t heard about this tidal turbine design, but I love it!It’s a lot easier to maintain a turbine like that if it’s floating on the surface, rather than anchored to the bottom. I mean, yes, it’s still anchored to the bottom, but not in the way older designs are, where there is an actual foundation the turbine sits on. This just has anchor chains/cables to keep it stationary.
TT04 – Meet ASTERIA, an award winning skateboard sized satellite that is essentially a telescope. My only concern is that the press release doesn’t mention how it plans to de-orbit the thing when it’s done.
TT05 – Water worlds may be quite common in the universe, but before you start thinking about how big of a personal luxury yacht you’ll need to sail under the sun and stars of those oceans, you may want to read the article just a bit further.
TT06 – The USAF just gave nearly half a billion dollars to Lockheed to develop a hyper-sonic missile. I really do hope we develop hyper-sonic technology, it’s just a shame that it’ll probably start out as a weapon (granted, an awful lot of our technology started out as part of a weapons program, it’s just unfortunate that one of the most effective ways to get government funding to advance engineering and science is to demonstrate a weapons utility).
TT07 – Physics confirmed, or the grandest conspiracy theory EVER!
TT08 – Being American, I’m always rooting for the home team, but being an advocate of space exploration, I will root for any team that advances our ability to explore space (as long as they share what they learn). So here is the ESA exploring the utility of using moon dust to build and shield lunar habitats.
TT09 – Stratolaunch, the company that takes wants to be your first stage, has developed a line of launch vehicles it hopes you’ll use. Aside from putting your rocket at a much higher altitude for launch, the idea also saves you fuel by optimizing your launch position and attitude, further reducing your first stage fuel needs.
TT10 – Hubble finds another 15,000 galaxies.
TT11 – Using beer to make transparent aerogels. Well, beer waste. You know, this is the 3rd or 4th story I’ve linked to where researchers at Boulder use beer to do some kind of engineering or biomed research. Not sure if they have a drinking problem, or the whole city does and they are just taking advantage of that?
TT12 – Take some platinum, add a little gold, and you get one of the most wear resistant metals in the world (comparable to diamond and sapphire). And as an extra added bonus, it creates it’s own lubricating layer. That last bit is like, WTF physics!?
TT13 – Ah, LoneStar, I see your Schwarzite is as inverted as mine!
TT14 – I find the conceit of turning coffee grounds into the next generation of Keurig cups or other coffee pods to be, ‘meh’. I’m not a fan of pod coffee. But I do like the idea of using coffee grounds to make biodegradable plastic.
TT15 – Pretty sure this is a super villain origin story, or maybe an Armageddon story.
TT16 – Putting a shape memory allow to work on an actual F/A-18 wing. Response time still seems kind long, but the weight reduction in a non-flight critical component might easily be worth it.
TT17 – 3D printing tiny graphene objects. I have to admit, 3D printing has advanced a lot faster than I expected it to. The commercially available stuff for a home user is still kinda low end, but if you have the money or the know how to build your own, what you can get is pretty impressive.
TT16 – Speaking of 3D printing, one obvious issue is how easy it is to use 3D printers to create counterfeit goods. QR codes to the rescue.
Biology & Medicine
TT17 – Using light to weaponize oxygen to kill bacteria.
TT18 – This seems similar to the procedure I went through to regenerate my knee cartilage (which is still doing quite well, thank you!).
TT19 – How plants summon birds when insects get to be too much. And, you know, that might be a better way to control pests rather than spraying poison.
TT20 – When you are running out of ideas, go back to the source material.
TT21 – The universal flu vaccine advances.
TT22 – This is cool, using gut bacteria to convert type A or B blood to type O.
TT23 – Speaking of gut flora, here is a review of the topic.
TT24 – Are you underwater, and want to get a message to a plane flying overhead? Previously, you’d have to float a comms array on the surface, but now you can just jiggle the surface with sonar and the plane can read the ripples and hear you loud and clear. Still not going to get your pizza delivered to you, though.
TT25 – Don’t worry, the TSA will still find a way to miss noticing 90% of it.
Odds & Ends
TT27 – How a volcano cooled the world. Makes me wonder if we can do it again to buy ourselves time.
TT28 – Not tech related, but this Reveal bit was kind of disturbing. Not because Bernie stole so much money, but because of how easily government missed all the red flags that would have let them shut him down far earlier. All the regulation in the world is only as good as the people enforcing it.
Photo by Ajithpoison