Author GrowthPilot

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.

SPACECRAFT | PROPULSION

Lightsail 2 Spacecraft Succeeds in Flying on Sunlight Alone

Lightsail 2 is the first spacecraft propelled by nothing but sunlight. The crowdfunded vehicle reached orbit with traditional thrusters but raised that orbit two kilometers using only the force of photons. [TECH CRUNCH]

CLIMATE | FOOD

Using CO2 and Renewable Energy to Make Food Out of Thin-air

olein is a single-celled protein made with solar energy, CO2 extracted from the atmosphere, water, and nutrients/vitamins. The Finnish company responsible, Solar Foods, is hoping that food derived directly from carbon dioxide and sunlight can be a force in the growing movement to disrupt traditional food industries. [WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM]

PROGRESS

We Need A New Science of Progress

“Progress” is the combination of economic, technological, scientific, cultural, and organizational advancement that has transformed our lives and raised standards of living over the last several centuries. Is progress itself understudied? Does it need its own discipline? Here are the arguments. [ATLANTIC]

TECHNOLOGY

Scientist are Using the Cold of Outer Space to Rethink Air Conditioning

Using the centuries-old concept of radiative cooling, SkyCool Systems has developed a new material that reflects the light and heat of the sun so well that it can lower temperatures beneath the film by 5°-10° C as compared to the air around it. Radiative technologies could be leading us toward a revolution in low-energy cooling systems if we can overcome obvious implementation obstacles. [QUARTZ]

CARTOGRAPHY

Finally, A World Map That Doesn’t Lie

Traditional flat maps of the world based on the Mercator projection hideously distort land-masses and and create widespread misconceptions about the Earth. In 2016, Tokyo-based architect and artist Hajime Narukawa attacked this problem with a complicated, multistep process and created the most accurate 2D depiction of the globe to date. We couldn’t find a high-resolution version of the map online, so we made one that you can find here. [DISCOVER MAG]

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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.

COATINGS | MATERIAL SCIENCE

Researchers Develop Ice-Proof Coating for Large Surfaces

Based on insights from the field of fracture mechanics, researchers at the University of Michigan developed a new class of coatings that sheds ice effortlessly from even large surfaces. The work could move the world closer to reaching the long-sought goal of ice-proofing cargo ships, airplanes, power lines and other large structures. [PCI]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE | VOICE ANALYSIS

How to Catch a Criminal Using Only Milliseconds of Audio

A criminal who made repeated hoax distress calls to the US Coast Guard over the course of 2014 probably thought they were untouchable. They left no fingerprints or DNA evidence behind and made sure their calls were too brief to allow investigators to triangulate their location. Unfortunately for this hoaxer, however, voice analysis powered by AI is now so advanced that it can reveal far more about you than a mere fingerprint. [WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM]

PERSONAL PRIVACY | CORPORATE SECURITY

Your Browser Extensions Are Leaking Sensitive Data and Your Boss Is Spying on You [links in the text below]

I Found Your Data. It’s For Sale. As many a 4 million people are leaking personal and corporate secrets through Chrome and Firefox browser extensions. The data these extension are gathering and then selling is . . . well . . . alarming: user names, passwords, patient names, medications, tax records, top-secret corporate R&D projects, and corporate network firewall codes. [WASHINGTON POST]

The New Ways Your Boss Is Spying on You. Many companies are employing high-tech surveillance to examine employee activity in the workplace. Advocates insist that monitoring every move and message of employees is necessary to allow companies to root out problems, spot high performers, and better allocate resources. Critics are concerned that workers are giving far too much of their personal privacy.
[WSJ]

DISRUPTION | INNOVATION

Is It Possible to Disrupt a Cow?

The cow is a new sort of target for Silicon Valley: it’s not a hunk of capital, it won’t join your social network, and it certainly won’t be called by an API. It is, instead, evolved to turn feed into protein as efficiently as nature allows, solar powered, fully autonomous, and has achieved a perfect product-market fit. So why are billions in venture capital betting on its competitors? [PERSPICACITY]

PHYSICS

The Greatest Long-Term Threats Facing Humanity

This is NOT a piece about threats that are already here like climate change or Ebola. Instead, it’s a fascinating look at the known, well-understood threats of the far future and speculation about how we might overcome them. And, naturally, it concludes with a spot-on reference to Isaac Asimov’s great short story, “The Last Question”. [BBC]

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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.


MATERIALS SCIENCE | TEXTILES | VIDEO

Old Bread Becomes New Textiles

Researchers are hoping to grow a biomass of fungi on bread waste and then use it to spin yarn and to create a new class of nonwovens. [UNIVERSITY OF BORAS]

PHYSICS

Scientists Are Working to Confirm the Existence of a Mirror Universe

Almost thirty years ago, scientists studying how neutrons break down into protons may have unwittingly fired particles through a passage into a parallel universe. This summer, in a series of experiments at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, physicist Leah Broussard is set to find out if this passage actually exists and how to open it methodically. Her results and those of several related experiments may suggest a new explanation for dark matter. [MACH]

INNOVATION | STRATEGY | MANAGEMENT

Innovative Companies Are Trouncing the Rest of the Market

Joseph Mezrich’s Innovation Index describes a finding that more executives should be paying attention to: companies that spend their cash on R&D (instead of on stock buybacks) nearly doubled the returns of their competitors, and the analysis applies to both technology companies and large manufacturers. In this Kraft Heinz case study, Colin Robinson applies the Mezrich framework to illustrate what happens when an industrial giant ignores innovation. [CNN | ECONIC]

ENERGY | CHEMISTRY

Magnets Can Double the Efficiency of Water Splitting and Could Help Usher in a Hydrogen Economy

Recent experiments at the Institute of Chemical Research in Catalonia, Spain, have shown that simply bringing an ordinary permanent magnet within touching distance of a water-splitting reactor can double process efficiency, slashing the amount of energy required to obtain hydrogen. [ROYAL SOCIETY OF CHEMISTRY]

HYDRAULICS | BATTERIES | VIDEO

Electrochemistry Helps This Fish Bot Shimmy

This robotic fish has fins powered by a flow battery with liquid electrolyte doubling as hydraulic fluid. [C&EN]

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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.

MATERIALS SCIENCE

Perovskites: Moving from Solar Cells to X-ray Sensors to LEDs

Their ability to absorb light makes perovskites, a compound matching the structure of naturally-occurring perovskite, an excellent material for solar cells. But they’re also being explored as X-ray sensors and may become the next-generation material of choice for LED displays. [HACKADAY | SCIENCE MAG]

PHYSIOLOGY

Mobile Device Usage May be Changing Our Bodies

Examining X-ray images of Australians between the ages of 18 and 30, scientists have noticed an uptick in the number of people with bony growths at the base of their skulls. They believe these growths may be the result of our bodies compensating for poor posture caused by constantly looking down at hand-held mobile devices. [SCIENCE ALERT]

LEADERSHIP

What Silicon Valley Can Learn From Bill Walsh’s The Score Takes Care of Itself

In a review of the late Bill Walsh’s book, The Score Takes Care of Itself, Notejoy CEO Sachin Rekhi highlights the leadership philosophy of the former (great) San Francisco 49ers head coach. A key element of success for any team: focusing on process instead of outcome. [SACHIN REKHI]

ELECTRIC VEHICLES | AVIATION | VIDEO

Eviation Unveils Electric Airplane

The world’s first all-electric commercial aircraft was unveiled by startup Eviation at the International Paris Air Show last week. The nine-passenger plane is designed to serve short regional routes, will be able to fly 650 miles on a charge, and is set to begin testing soon in central Washington state. Massachusetts-based Cape Air is the first customer for the new craft and expects to begin flying it in 2022. You can find a video walk-through of the plane here. [GEEK WIRE | TPG]

SCIENCE

These are the Countries that Trust Scientist the Most—and the Least

An interesting look at a first-of-its-kind study surveying the thoughts and feelings about science and health of people around the world. Findings show that attitudes vary by gender, nationality, education, and income. And that people in the United State overestimate their understanding of science more than in any other country. [SCIENCE MAG]

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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.

SCIENCE

The Future of Helium is Up in the Air

Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, but what we have on Earth today is all we have: it’s is only created as a byproduct of the (very slow) underground decay of uranium and thorium, and we are experiencing a worldwide shortage. Everything from optical fibers and semiconductors to MRI imaging, airbags, and the Hadron Collider (start on page 7) will be profoundly affected. [SMITHSONIAN | ACS]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

The Secrets of Machine Learning: Ten Things You Wish You Had Known Earlier to be More Effective at Data Analysis

A lengthy but in-depth look at the failures and successes of machine learning and how this information can be used to achieve higher quality, more valuable data science. [ARVIX]

TEAMWORK | MANAGEMENT

Small Teams of Scientists Have Fresher Ideas

“Big teams take the current frontier and exploit it,” says James Evans, a University of Chicago sociologist who studies the history of science. “They wring the towel. They get that last ounce of possibility out of yesterday’s ideas, faster than anyone else. But small teams fuel the future, generating ideas that, if they succeed, will be the source of big-team development.” R&D organizations should take note: small teams produce markedly more disruptive work than large ones. [ATLANTIC]

INTERNET OF THINGS | BUSINESS MODEL

How Does an Icebox Pay for a Data Plan?

While the widely circulated prediction of the world having 50 billion connected devices by 2020 has proven wildly optimistic, the IoT market continues to grow steadily. Many in the industry are betting that cellular IoT will be the winning connectivity choice, but provisioning is a challenge. As in many areas, the problem is not the technology, it’s the business model. [EETIMES]

AEROSPACE

NASA Captured Photos of Merging Supersonic Shock Waves

Supersonic shock waves are created when aircraft travel faster than the speed of sound. The air pressure can’t keep up with the speed of the aircraft, builds up, and results in a sonic boom. Recently, two U.S. Air Force craft were not only traveling faster than the speed of sound, but they were so close that their shockwaves merged and NASA was able to capture it on camera. [LIVE SCIENCE]

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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

Confirmed: New Phase of Matter is Solid and Liquid at the Same Time

A team of physicists at the University of Edinburgh has confirmed a new fourth state of matter. Potassium atoms, studied via a neural network that learned quantum mechanics, appear to be both a solid and a liquid simultaneously when subjected to tremendous pressure. Existing in this state is unusual and such matter would be found only in extreme environments, such as Earth’s mantle. [NAT GEO]

TECHNOLOGY

Your Car Knows When You Gain Weight

As your car collect information about its own systems, it’s also collecting massive amounts of data about you. It knows where you live, who you call and text, your finances, and even how much weight you gain. Who owns this data? Unclear. What are the car companies doing with it? Also unclear, but plans have been announced by at least one manufacturer to begin monetizing it. [NYT]

LEADERSHIP | INNOVATION

How to Manage Misfits And Not Kill Your Company

Identifying the right kind of “troublemakers” in your organization—the driven, talented, smart, and impatient-for-results people who can sometimes drive you a little crazy—is a key to reaching your innovation goals, but it’s not always easy to lead them effectively. This short piece can help. If you want a deeper dive into the subject, read this NASA case study about the renegades who brought real-time data systems to the Johnson Space Center despite opposition from an entrenched bureaucracy. [GAME-CHANGER | MITSLOAN]

AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

Self-Driving Trucks Begin Mail Delivery Test for U.S. Postal Service

The USPS is partnering with the startup TuSimple to test autonomous trucks over five routes in the Southwestern US. With each round-trip totaling more than 2100 miles and 45 hours of driving—a distance that requires multiple human drivers for maximum efficiency—they’re hoping these trucks will be a solution for an industry bogged down by safety constraints and an aging workforce. [REUTERS]

3D PRINTING | BIOENGINEERING | VIDEO

Watch A 3D-Printed Lung Air Sac Breathe

Earlier this year, bioengineers debuted the first 3D-printed heart made from human tissue and now they’ve developed the first 3D-printed lung air sac. While these organs are a long way from being implanted into living creatures, continued study could lead to a future where printed organs for human use is the norm. [CNET | QUARTZ]

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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 | MATERIALS

With a Simple Twist, a ‘Magic’ Material Is Now the Big Thing in Physics

The stunning emergence of a new type of superconductivity with the mere twist of a carbon sheet has left physicists giddy and its discoverer nearly overwhelmed. The possibilities for higher-temperature superconductivity, revolutionary electronics, and the arrival of quantum computers are exciting, but the discovery has also opened a window into a relatively simple platform to explore exotic quantum effects. [QUANTA]

POLYMERS | CHEMISTRY

This New Plastic Can Be Endlessly Recycled

Many plastics can’t be reused without “downcycling” due to manufacturing additives. But a new material developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, PDK, may provide a solution: it can be deconstructed to the molecular level, separated from additives, and then reused as if new. And it’s not the only one; just last year, another new polymer was described as ‘infinitely’ recyclable. [SMITHSONIAN and SCIENCE DAILY]

INNOVATION

How to Stop Playing “Target Market Roulette”: A New Addition to the Lean Toolset

The Lean Methodology tells you how to rapidly find product/market fit inside a specific market and how to pivot when your hypotheses are incorrect, but it doesn’t help you figure out how to locate the best market for you new invention in the first place. A new book by Mark Gruber and Sharon Tai, Where to Play, closes this gap. In this post by Steve Blank, he asks the authors to summarize their technique and provide an example of how to use it. [STEVE BLANK]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE | BOOK REVIEW | PODCAST

How Will AI Change Our Lives? Experts Can’t Agree — and that Could Be a Problem

Some experts warn that AI represents an existential threat to human life, while others find the argument ridiculous. Two new books—Possible Minds, edited by John Brockman, and Architects of Intelligence by Martin Ford—take similar approaches to grappling with the topic. Across the books, 45 researchers describe their thinking. Almost all perceive something momentous on the horizon, but they disagree profoundly on whether it should give us pause. For further thinking on the subject, listen to Sam Harris’s interesting interview with three of the contributors to Possible Minds. [VOX | MAKING SENSE PODCAST]

ASTROPHYSICS | VIDEO

A Violent Splash of Magma That May Have Made the Moon

Scientists remain uncertain about the moon’s origin. A study published a few weeks ago in Nature Geoscience suggests that it was forged from the fires of an ocean of magma sloshing over the baby Earth’s surface. If correct, the model may solve a longstanding paradox and help explain the evolution of our own planet. [NYT]

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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.

ENGINEERING

Mimicking the Structure and Function of Ant Bridges in a Reconfigurable Microswarm for Electronic Applications

A short read on how engineers are emulating the collective behavior of self-organizing social insects and applying what they’ve learned to artificial robotics systems in electronics. [ACS NANO]

ASTROPHYSICS

Sneaky Meteor Evades Earthling Detection, Explodes with Force of 10 Atomic Bombs

In mid-December 2018, a meteor—with an impact energy of about 10 atomic bombs—shattered over Earth. Aside from systems designed to enforce international nuclear testing treaties, the second largest meteor event of the last 30 years went almost completely unnoticed because it happened over the Bering Sea. Thankfully, NASA’s Planetary Defense Conference Exercise spent time this week running a doomsday drill to figure out what to do when we learn of a pending strike that is more serious. [POPSCI and INVERSE]

MANAGEMENT | LEADERSHIP

Behind the Black Hole Image: One Giant Leap for Teamwork

The first ever picture of a black hole was unveiled with much fanfare last month, but buried beneath the excitement was the story of how it came to be. And there was nothing easy about it. This article provides insight into how a group of scientists, across various countries and disciplines, debated, interrogated, and collaborated to make what many thought was a far-fetched dream, into reality. [WSJ]

NEUROSCIENCE

People Can Sense Earth’s Magnetic Field, Brain Waves Suggest

We’ve long been aware that birds and fish use magnetoreception for navigating the Earth. By exposing humans to an Earth-like magnetic field pointed in different directions, scientists now have evidence that people subconsciously respond to Earth’s magnetic field as well. Why we have this ability and how our brains use the information remains an open question. [SCIENCE NEWS]

GEOLOGY | VIDEO | INFOGRAPHIC

Watch 100 Years of Earthquakes Rock the World in this Incredible Animation

Earth is an incredibly dynamic planet. Now, thanks to improved seismometer technology and the dedicated work of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, we can see just how active it is and has been. The graphic embedded in the linked article is flat, but you can find the global view of the same data here. [FORBES and NOAA]

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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.

POLYMERS | MATERIAL SCIENCE

A New Spring for Polymers in Japan

Supported by government funding, researchers in Japan have invented an array of novel polymers. One such material is a new type of aerogel called superfunctional air, or Sufa. Made of up to 98% air, it has superb insulation properties and transparency similar to glass, making it excellent for use in windows. And unlike other aerogels, it is softer, retains its shape after being pressed, and dries on its own, dramatically driving down production costs. [C&EN]

BATTERIES | ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Electric Car Battery with 600 Miles of Range? This Startup Claims to Have Done It

Innolith, a Swiss startup, claims to have made the world’s first 1,000 Wh/kg rechargeable lithium battery. With most electric car batteries topping out at about 250 Wh/kg, it sounds like a specious claim. But Innolith says the difference lies in the technology: they use an inorganic, salt-like material instead of the highly flammable organic solvent traditionally used in “wet” lithium-ion batteries. Plans are to launch a pilot program in Germany, and have the batteries ready for market by 2022. [VERGE]

MANAGEMENT | PSYCHOLOGY

Maslow Didn’t Make the Pyramid that Changed Management History

According to a new study by three management professors, the ubiquitous Maslow’s Pyramid infographic was not designed by the psychologist, but by a management consultant inspired by a theorist’s flawed interpretation of Maslow’s ideas (which many believe to be flawed themselves). When the oversimplified interpretation was applied to business management, it took on a life of its own. [QUARTZ]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Teaching Machines to Reason About What They See

Researchers want computers to reason more like humans. To accomplish this, they are merging statistical with symbolic programming. Popular in the mid-twentieth century, symbolic AI uses less data and inputs, instead relying on rules and logic to help machines connect images with words and make comparisons, much like a young child would. Studies led by the MIT-IBM research team are showing promising results. [MIT]

PHYSICS | VIDEO

Video: Phase-Changing Material Keeps Ice at Bay

Accumulation of ice on wind turbines or power lines can be damaging and dangerous. This short video details how dimethyl sulfoxide, which freezes at a higher temperature than water, is employed to keep ice from forming on surfaces. [C&EN]

Read More

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

Physicists Reverse Time Using Quantum Computer

In a four-stage experiment, researchers have seemingly defied the second law of thermodynamics and reversed time. Observing highly organized qubits on a quantum computer, they used an evolution program to cause chaos among the qubits, then used the same algorithm to rewind the qubits to their original state. [PHYS ORG]

DRONES | TECHNOLOGY

Your Drone-Delivered Coffee is (Almost) Here

With major cities packed with tall buildings, trucks, people, and power lines, some delivery services are focusing their drone delivery efforts on less challenging rural and suburban areas. Experiments underway in the U.S., Iceland, and Australia using a new generation of bigger, faster drones, are proving that drone deliveries are more cost and energy efficient than cars in less populated locales. [WSJ]

STRATEGY | ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

How to Develop an Artificial Intelligence Strategy: 9 Things Every Business Must Include

Artificial Intelligence has the power to transform the world, and if your business isn’t figuring out how to use it to your advantage, you risk being left behind. Here, Bernard Marr lays out a tight roadmap detailing the questions you should be asking and the steps you should be taking right now. [FORBES]

CLIMATE SCIENCE | ECOLOGY

Rise of the Golden Jackal

One of the least-studied canine predators, the Golden Jackal, once inhabited only the fringes of Europe. But over the past two decades its range has exploded, and jackals now outnumber wolves in Europe by more than 5-to-1. This unheard-of expansion of a medium-sized predator has scientists—and the general public—grappling with what the long-term ecological impacts may be for the continent. [NYT]

BIOLOGY

The 500-Year-Long Science Experiment

After Charles Cockell of the University of Edinburgh revived bacteria from a 10-year-old dried petri dish he had forgotten about, he became intrigued by questions about bacterial longevity. So Cockell and a group of German and U.S. collaborators designed a 500-year experiment to try and answer them. At the heart of the experiment are 800 hermetically sealed vials of bacteria, some of which will be tested every 25 years. Opening vials, adding water, and counting colonies that grow is easy. The hard part is ensuring someone will be doing this on schedule for 500 years. [ATLANTIC]

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