Monthly Archives September 2019

In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY | MANUFACTURING

A Better Way to Adiponitrile

Adiponitrile is an important precursor for making nylon 6,6 and one of the most produced chemicals worldwide. Industry generally synthesizes it through an energy-intensive process involving acutely toxic reactants. The less-often-used route is driven by electrochemistry; it’s environmentally-friendly but inefficient. Researchers at NYU discovered that pulsing the current used to drive the reaction could increase yields and then used a machine-learning algorithm to optimize the process. The result: they increased selectivity by 325% and yields by 30%. [C&EN]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Allen Institute’s Aristo AI System Finally Passes an Eighth-Grade Science Test

It’s easy to mistake extraordinarily good (but narrow) AI performance in a single domain for human-like reasoning, yet very few machines are capable of the feat. A minor milestone was reached last month, however, by a program developed specifically for test-taking: it managed to score 90% on a multiple choice science test usually given to New York eighth-graders. But there are caveats. [GEEKWIRE]

STRATEGY | NEGOTIATION

One Negotiation Strategy That Will Make You a World-Class Negotiator


Hyperfocus is required to negotiate, but it’s also where we most often trip ourselves up in any complex negotiation. We become myopic, losing sight of the context and larger goal of the negotiation. This simple strategy can solve the problem and help you become a better negotiator by getting outside your biases and preconceptions. [INC]

LANGUAGE | INFORMATION THEORY

Listening For Extraterrestrial Blah Blah

After listening for decades, the general consensus is that we have never heard a signal from an alien civilization. But what if we have and we just didn’t recognize it? By applying information theory to the communications of socially complex animals, scientists have broadened our understanding of what signals generated by an alien intelligence might look like and are applying this understanding to an analysis of data collected by the Allen Telescope Array at the SETI Institute. [NAUTILUS]

QUANTUM COMPUTING

Quantum Radar Demonstrated For the First Time

Researchers created the world’s first quantum radar, a device that can detect objects at a distance using only a few photons and emitting little detectable electromagnetic radiation. This device could have potential for use in both non-invasive biomedical and security applications. [MIT TECH REVIEW]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

CHEMISTRY | ENERGY

Eliminating the Middleman Improves the Production of Clean-Burning Hydrogen

The hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) relies on electrocatalysts to derive oxygen and molecular hydrogen from water. Now researchers have synthetically conjugated a water-splitting catalyst to a graphite electrode to cut out the catalytic mediator. The result: rather than having HER proceed through a step-wise path involving redox intermediates, the conjugated catalyst facilitates a direct route to the reaction. [C&EN]

AEROSPACE | BIOLOGY

A Crashed Israeli Lunar Lander Spilled Tardigrades on the Moon

The first private spacecraft to reach the moon was loaded with an archive of human knowledge, DNA, and . . . dehydrated tardigrades. On April 11, the the lunar lander crashed, ejecting the package onto the lunar surface where—presumably—it will remain for a very, very long time. [WIRED]

MANAGEMENT | LEADERSHIP

Identifying and Defusing Idea Bullies

Do you think you might have an idea bully in your life? Chances are you do. This short read presents ways to help you spot (or self-identify as) a potential idea bully and a discussion about how to bring them back into the fold as powerfully contributing team members. [FUTURE SHAPERS]

ECONOMICS | AUTOMATION

Who Will Own the Robots?

Could the proliferation of increasingly efficient AI provoke social upheaval by eliminating huge numbers of jobs while producing great wealth for a very few? These concerns have been around since the Industrial Revolution, but there is surprisingly little evidence regarding the impact of automation on employment. Is there a way forward that is both fair and broadly delivers benefits? [MIT TECH REVIEW]

AGRICULTURE | INNOVATION

15 Agtech Startups to Watch in 2020

The world population is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. Simultaneously, the agriculture industry is facing increasing production costs, labor shortages, land management inefficiencies, food waste, and disconnected consumers demanding transparency to the origin of their food. Agtech startups worldwide are developing innovative solutions to tackle these challenges. [ROCKETSPACE]

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