Tesla And Panasonic Team Up To Bring The (Environmentally Friendly) Power To The People

The idea of a clean-energy car is a great and necessary one, but the challenge of creating non-cost-prohibitive EV batteries to run them was until recently still an issue. Now, clean-car pioneers Tesla, along with electronics giant Panasonic, have teamed up to take matters into their own hands.

According to engadget.com, Tesla and Panasonic announced that a major deal has been struck where the two companies will work together to mass-produce EV batteries at a new American factory (location to be determined.) The projected scale of the batteries' production will be large enough to eventually enable EV battery prices to drop.

The battery plant itself will take up between 500 and 1000 acres, and will employ 6,500 people. Current location speculations include Nevada, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

The terms of the deal state that Tesla will build and maintain the plant, while Panasonic will provide construction materials, lithium cells and manufacturing equipment. By 2020, Tesla is expecting to create 35GWh of cells and 50GWh of power packs to fuel some 500,000 of their cars.

While still pricey, Tesla cars will usher in a new era of transportation in a post-fossil-fuel world. Another golden age of American road travel could theoretically follow once it becomes inexpensive (and much more environmentally friendly) to drive cars again.  

Tesla automobiles being assembled.  Batteries definitely included.

3-D Bombs Away! U.S. Army Eyes "Printable" Explosives

The science of detonation physics is one that requires accuracy. The science of 3-D printing allows layers of material to be carefully plotted and strategically placed. The confluence of these two disciplines may soon literally be the bomb.

The U.S. Army is currently investigating how to create a new type of warhead using the technology of 3-D printing. This would theoretically allow them to have more control over precise design elements required to achieve a desired blast radius or to hit an extremely specific target, all in the same size as a conventional warhead. In a report from Army Technology magazine reprinted by popsci.com, U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center materials engineer James Zunino explained, “The real value you get is you can get more safety, lethality or operational capability from the same space."

Forward-placed 3-D printers could also expedite the testing processes for warheads in the field, a critical component of the design process. Soldiers could possibly print and test the weapons to discover the most desirable traits for a specialized mission within just a few days.

Peace remains unfit for print.

Something Is Awesome In The State Of Denmark: Wind Power Soon To Be Half As Expensive As Fossil Fuels

The world is warming up to the idea of alternative energy becoming the new norm, and now, Denmark believes it can augment the argument in a big way. Scientists claim that in two years, wind power in Denmark will be half the price of fossil fuels.

With other nations working to achieve parity between sustainable energy and fossil fuels, already developments have been made (for instance, in some parts of America, wind power is the same price as natural gas.) However Denmark is boldly blowing past parity, with Yale 360 reporting that two onshore wind power facilities launching in 2016 will provide electricity for as little as 5 Euro cents per kilowatt hour.

According to vice.com, Denmark is already operating with a 43% clean energy mix for their entire nation, and plan to have 50% of their power needs met by wind power by 2050. The framework is already in place. Denmark's energy minister Rasmus Peterson said, "Wind power today is cheaper than other forms of energy, not least because of a big commitment and professionalism in the field...This is true for researchers, companies and politicians. We need a long-term and stable energy policy to ensure that renewable energy, both today and in the future, is the obvious choice.”

With costs of turbine technology decreasing and the technology constantly improving, perhaps even more of the world will soon have windmills churning up clean energy.

The answer may, in fact, be blowin' in the wind.

iWomb: Microchip Birth Control From Bill Gates

Whether you plan to help give birth to one of the impending fresh several billions of people that will grace the world over the next decade (or especially if you're not), there is some interesting news, oddly from the technology field.  The Bill Gates Foundation has announced plans for a microchip that, when embedded under the skin, would work as an active contraceptive for up to sixteen years.

The chip, speculated on by Gates at MIT and now in development phases thanks to the Massachusetts company MicroCHIPS, holds reservoirs of birth control hormone which it would evenly time-release to be effective over a long duration.  Implanted in the arm, abdomen, or buttock, the chip is an unobtrusive 20mm x 20 mm x 7mm.  It would activate by a small electric reaction heating a seal to melt 30 microgram reserves of anti-baby hormone daily.

Much as the electric vibrator preceded the arrival of the electric iron, vacuum cleaner, and toaster, could this healthily sexual, simple and useful device lead the way for even more great discoveries for the common person?  Perhaps this could be the first wave of acceptable tech for regular humans to begin digitally augmenting their bodies.

Sexy science.

The Electricity Diet: Meet Bacterial "Biowires"

The mysteries of electricity can be fascinating in their omnipresent yet mysterious ways. A recent discovery of electricity-eating bacteria has raised questions about how these organisms may use their need for electricity to power nanobots and other technologies of the future.

As singularityhub.com reports, eight different types of electricity-chomping bacteria have been identified, shedding an entirely new light on the microbial world. UCLA scientists experiment on these creatures by running a current through seafloor sediment and observing the "biowires" that the bacteria form as they feed.

The bacteria can share their charge all along the wires they construct, and only require scant other trace elements (like sulphur, nitrogen and phosphorous) to survive.

Chief scientist Kenneth Nealson explained, “In the same way that photosynthetic bacteria or algae need only sunlight—they use the energy of the photons to reduce carbon dioxide to sugars, and go from there—our bacteria use the energy of electrons from the electrode to power the reduction of CO2 to sugar.”

The bacteria, once harnessed for power, may be able to create and fuel independent nano-machines that will fuel themselves from their environment to accomplish tasks too difficult, dangerous, or small-scale for humans.
The electricity diet is not recommended for humans.  Image courtesy 

ACLU and Human Rights Watch To NSA: Stop Spying On Journalists, Sources

Two human rights groups have come forward to voice their worries over hyper-invasive government monitoring derailing the efforts of many assiduous journalists.  As reported by the Washington Post, the ever-encroaching surveillance network that spies on emails, phone calls, and other digital data is making journalists' jobs harder and those willing to tell their stories more paranoid.

Both Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union came forward today to support a report decrying both the NSA's broad scope of operations as well as Obama's policy of locking up whistleblowers.  This combination, they say, is infringing on confidentiality not just between reporters and their subjects but even up to lawyers and their criminal defendants.  Both activist groups called for greater transparency regarding the methods of collecting, storing, and analyzing citizens' data.

ABC reporter Brian Ross, one of the 46 journalists, 42 lawyers, and assorted security professionals who presented the anti-surveillance report, mentioned that he now begins phone conversations with the phrase, "I'm a U.S. citizen, are you?"  This is due to laws (though many are currently up for debate) restricting the unfettered surveillance of Americans.  However the government maintains all of their watchdoggery is for "national security", and their constant worries about letting classified information leak have grown undeniably overbearing.  Hopefully thanks to this report, those that monitor our calls will soon be getting called out.

Image courtesy www.aclu.org.

Students Create $350 3-D Printed Prosthetic Arm

The future will be full of 3-D printed materials, and as this progresses we will recognize more and more that these creations will not just be helpful in daily life, but may also save astounding amount of money and effort for specialized fields and devices. Such was the case this week when Albert Manero, a Ph.d student in engineering at the University of Central Florida, helped outfit Alex, a 6-year-old boy, with a 3-D printed arm that cost only $350. Alex had been born missing part of his right arm, and that's where science stepped in.

Manero had teamed up with Alex's mom via the e-NABLE project, which seeks to create 3-D printed hands via online efforts, and after seven weeks of tests with an engineering team, finally created a working prototype. As reported by www.cbc.ca, Alex quickly learned how to use the technology in conjunction with his upper arm strength. Manero noted, "The first thing he did when he could actually control it a little bit was hug his mother."

Since Alex is young and will require upgrades as he grows, additional parts for the arm mechanism can be printed out, at a cost of $20-$50. A conventional prosthetic arm could run up to $40,000.

High five for 3-D printed arms!

Alex Pring and his innovative, inexpensive new arm.