Monthly Archives January 2020

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.

ROBOTICS | BIOLOGY | ETHICS

Scientists Use Stem Cells from Frogs to Build First Living Robots

Designed by an evolutionary algorithm and less than 1mm long, researchers at the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University used cells from African clawed frogs to create programmable living organisms. If ethical concerns can be navigated, the “xenobots” could one day deliver drugs in the body, locate and digest toxic materials, and clean microplastic pollution from the oceans. [THE GUARDIAN]

COATINGS | MATERIALS

Smudge-Proof, Bendable Coating Resists Scratches

Researchers at Queen’s University in Ontario have created the first coating that is wear-resistant, flexible, transparent, and omniphobic. And it’s easy to make. [C&EN]

PRODUCTIVITY

Let’s Face Facts, The Digital Revolution Has Been a Huge Disappointment

The paradox of increasing investment in digital technology yielding negligible productivity growth is a conundrum that has left economists baffled. What must be done to shift these results in a better direction? Learning from past mistakes, making different choices, and putting the technology to good use is a start. [DIGITAL TONTO]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE | HUMOR

We Shouldn’t Bother the Feral Scooters of Central Park

In this absurdist tale of feral scooters in the not-so-distant-future, optics research scientist and author Janelle Shane considers what can happen when artificially intelligent systems evolve. [NYT OPINION]

PHOTOGRAPHY | NATURE

How One Photographer Captures the Glory of Birds in Flight

If birds could leave visible trails in the sky, what would they look like? Catalan photographer Xavi Bou found out, and here he shares some of the astonishing—almost alien—images he captured. [ATLAS OBSCURA]

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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.

PHYSICS | QUANTUM MECHANICS

Space Heater: Scientist Find New Way to Transfer Energy Through a Vacuum

Phonons are wavelike collections of atoms that transfer heat, and it was long thought they could not work through a vacuum, instead requiring two objects to touch. But a vacuum is never really a vacuum because quantum fluctuations generate virtual particles that constantly pop in and out of existence. Scientists at Cal Berkeley have now demonstrated that phonons can use these particles to transfer heat through “empty” space. [SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN]

NEUROLOGY

Implanting False Memories in a Bird’s Brain Changes Its Tune

By manipulating brain cells with lasers, researchers have altered the memories of young zebra finches, bypassing their usual way of learning songs from older birds. Scientists are hoping their findings will one day be useful in helping humans affected with neurodevelopmental conditions and psychological trauma. [NEW SCIENTIST]

PRIVACY

‘The Goal is to Automate Us’: Welcome to the Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Shoshana Zuboff’s new book is a chilling exposé of the business model that underpins the digital world. In this interview she explains the origins of surveillance capitalism, why the term “digital natives” is tragically ironic, and how Larry Page realized that human experience could be extracted and monetized as Google’s “virgin wood.” [THE GUARDIAN]

PSYCHOLOGY

How to Get Teens to Give up Junk Food: Tell Them They’re Victims of Corporate Manipulation

Rather than just being told junk food is bad for them, a group of eighth graders was exposed to the marketing strategies food companies used to target them. Months later, the students showed a surprising change in their snack habits and food choices. [FAST COMPANY]

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Why Electric Cars Still Don’t Live Up to the Hype

With uncertainty about a number of contributing factors, including the overall cost of owning one, it’s still too soon to tell if EVs are the solution for a sustainable transportation future. [WASHINGTON POST OPINION]

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