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.

THERMODYNAMICS | ENERGY

A New Way to Turn Heat Into Useful Energy

A discovery published last month in the journal Science Advances could lead to more efficient thermal energy harvesting. The effect—which researchers call paramagnon drag thermopower—is a local thermal perturbation of spins in a solid that can convert heat to energy even in a paramagnetic material, a place where spins weren’t thought to correlate long enough to do so. [NEW ENERGY AND FUEL]

BIOLOGY

First Hint That Body’s ‘Biological Age’ Can Be Reversed

Taking a cocktail of two diabetes medications and a growth hormone over the course of a year, nine healthy volunteers’ immune systems showed signs of rejuvenation and shed, on average, 2.5 years from their biological ages. Described as “surprising” and “futuristic” these results will need to be replicated in larger and better controlled trials in order to have an impact on disease and anti-aging treatments. [NATURE]

FUTURE OF WORK | TECHNOLOGY

The Work of the Future: Shaping Technology and Institutions

Robots are taking our jobs. AI will mean the end of work. Three-fourths of all jobs will be automated. The rhetoric may be alarmist, but it arises from genuine concerns. MIT recently created the Task Force on the Work of the Future to identify an evidence-based path forward. This is its first report, and its aim is to provide preliminary insights to help frame the public debate and public policy. [MIT]

STRATEGY | ECOSYSTEM

Here’s What You Need to Know to Compete in an Ecosystem-Driven World

We tend to think about business as hierarchy-driven, and you win by climbing your way to the top of the stack. In reality, however, the impact of a good idea is seldom felt until an ecosystem develops to support it: cars couldn’t take off until we build roads, and the productivity impact of PCs wasn’t revolutionary until software and the internet matured. In an ecosystem-driven world, power emanates from the center of networks. How do you make your way there? [DIGITAL TONTO]

MARINE BIOLOGY | VIDEO

Watch an Octopus Dream

A marine biologist captured incredible footage of a dreaming octopus rapidly changing color. [PBS]

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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.

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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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.

ASTROPHYSICS

A Flashing Mystery is Unfolding at the Center of the Milky Way

At the heart of our galaxy lies a black hole with some four million times the mass of the sun. Known as Sagittarius A* (which is pronounced “Sagittarius A star”), it creates a tumultuous environment, whipping stars around at millions of miles per hour and shredding any asteroids that come close with the force of its gravity. The beast now appears to be acting even more aggressively than usual, flashing twice as brightly as astrophysicists have ever seen before. [POPULAR SCIENCE]

CHEMISTRY | BIOLOGY

Did Biology Begin with Tiny Bubbles?

New research suggests that tiny, heated, gas-filled bubbles in hydrothermal rocks could have kick-started life’s emergence on prebiotic Earth. Simulation experiments suggest that bubbles could enrich prebiotic molecules and enable six essential processes that could eventually give rise to life, adding weight to the idea that conditions at hydrothermal vents were ideal for life to first form. [ROYAL SOCIETY]

INNOVATION

Telling a Good Innovation Story

Partners at McKinsey spent three years researching how people frame their innovation stories to create differentiation and attract attention. After analyzing more than 1000 “innovation stories,” they extracted three lessons for senior managers and entrepreneurs on what makes a compelling an emotional story. [MCKINSEY]

SEMICONDUCTORS | ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Cerebras Systems Unveils a Record 1.2 Trillion Transistor Chip for AI

A California based startup, Cerebras Systems, this week revealed the largest processor ever built, with 400,000 cores on a single chip. Why build bigger when the trend over the past decades has been smaller and smaller? Because it’s ideal for AI applications where it dramatically speeds training time. [VENTURE BEAT]

INNOVATION

Top Emerging Technologies 2019

Leading technology experts from around the globe evaluated dozens of proposals to come up with this list of emerging technologies poised to shake up the world. Some of them will surprise you. [WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM]

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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.

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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