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.

PHYSICS

The X17 Particle: Scientists May Have Discovered the Fifth Force of Nature

Physicists have long known of four fundamental forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. Now evidence is growing for a fifth. Building on experimentally-reproduced work from 2016, a team at Hungary’s Institute for Nuclear Research observed the X17 particle—a “protophobic X boson”—being emitted from the decay of a helium isotope rather than the original experiment’s beryllium-8. If confirmed, the existence of a fifth force would completely change our understanding of the universe. [BIG THINK]

HEALTH

Humans Placed in Suspended Animation for the First Time

As part of a trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, doctors are using a technique in which a patient suffering from acute trauma is rapidly cooled to the point where all heart and brain function is stopped. They are, essentially, dead. The surgical team then has two hours to operate before the patient is warmed and their heart restarted. [NEW SCIENTIST]

INNOVATION

Why Constraints Are Good for Innovation

After reviewing 145 empirical studies, the authors conclude that innovation thrives when individuals, teams, and organizations are working with a healthy dose of constraints. But striking the right balance is hard, and they suggest guidelines for picking the constraints that will foster innovation rather than creating frustration and suppressing creativity. [HBR]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

The Blogger Behind “AI Weirdness” Thinks Today’s AI is Dumb and Dangerous

In her recently released book You Look Like A Thing and I Love You, blogger Janelle Shane discusses and highlights the absurdly funny—but also quite serious—limitations of today’s AI. [IEEE SPECTRUM]

LIFE

The Saga of The Cannibal Ants in a Soviet Nuclear Bunker

This is the weird, but true, story of an extraordinarily resilient group of ants, who after falling into the darkness of an underground bunker, resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. It has a happy ending. [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.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

An Energy Breakthrough Could Store Power for Decades

For decades, scientists have sought an affordable and effective way of capturing, storing, and releasing solar energy. Researchers in Sweden say they have a solution that would allow the power of the sun’s rays to be used across a range of consumer applications—heating everything from homes to vehicles. [BLOOMBERG]

HYDROGEN ECONOMY

New Catalyst Efficiently Produces Hydrogen from Seawater

In work described in Nature Communications , researchers from the University of Houston reported a significant breakthrough this week: alkaline seawater electrolysis using inexpensive oxygen and hydrogen evolution catalysts that achieves industrially-required current densities at record low voltages. [UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON]

MANAGEMENT | LEADERSHIP

If You Can Manage a Waffle House, You Can Manage Anything

Running a 24-hour budget diner isn’t glamorous, but it forces leaders to serve others with speed, stamina and zero entitlement. Here’s how an unpretentious management training program offers those who can take it a crash course in leadership. [WSJ]

DRONES

Drones Make First Home Prescription Deliveries

Partnering with competing drone companies and pharmacies, UPS (Flight Forward – CVS) and FedEx (Google’s Wing Aviation – Walgreens) recently completed drone delivery of medications to private residences. The deliveries in North Carolina and Virginia were the first of their kind under a pilot program approved by U.S. regulators; commercial drone rules for U.S. airspace are expected in 2021. [REUTERS | FEDEX]

VIDEO

Wildlife Using Florida’s Wildlife Crossings

When the Florida Department of Transportation decided to build wildlife passageways under major highways, they included wildlife cameras which have now captured rare Florida panthers, bears, alligators, fox, bobcats, and other animals making use of the throughways. [FDOT]

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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

‘Artificial Leaf’ Successfully Produces Clean Gas

Using only sunlight, carbon dioxide and water, an ‘artificial leaf’ produces syngas, a molecule used in a wide variety of commodities and traditionally produced by fossil fuels. Scientists inspired by natural photosynthesis, are researching ways for this carbon neutral device to provide sustainable chemical and liquid fuel alternatives. [NANO MAG]

NUCLEAR POWER | ENERGY

Green, Nuclear, and Crowdfunded: One Startup’s Unconventional Route to Building a Novel Reactor

With three highly publicized accidents at nuclear power plants over the last few decades, public opinion has decidedly been against nuclear energy. But with the success of a crowdfunded campaign for its stable salt reactor, Moltex Energy is at the forefront of a changing attitude toward nuclear power that promises to be a more sustainable and safe alternative to traditional power sources. [FORTUNE]

LEADERSHIP

Team-Building Lessons from the British Army

Whether working on an internal start-up at a large company or building a new firm from scratch, entrepreneurship is a team sport. When it comes to managing teams and getting people to perform at their best, entrepreneurs can learn a lot from the British Army, which has almost 400 years of history to draw from and a personnel system designed to scale up and scale back teams quickly. [ENTREPRENEUR]

BUSINESS MODEL

Digital Transformation Should Start With Customers

The evidence is piling up that organization-wide digital transformation is challenging for many organizations. So where to start? If the three major options are operations, business models, and customer experience, why should companies address internal processes if they are at least adequate? And while changing business models can lead to substantial improvements in company valuations, it’s a heavy lift. That leaves the customer experience; here’s the case for starting there. [MIT SLOAN]

QUANTUM COMPUTING

Google Claims Quantum Computing Breakthrough

Google announced last week that their quantum processor, Sycamore, achieved “quantum supremacy,” a term-of-art which means quickly completing a calculation that a traditional supercomputer would need 10,000 years to solve. Google claims that Sycamore finished such a calculation in three minutes and 20 seconds. IBM, however, doesn’t think the calculation was all that challenging. [LA TIMES]

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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.

ASTRONOMY

Is “Planet 9” Actually a Primordial Black Hole?

Astronomers are on the trail of something big. Their target is between 5 and 15 times the mass of Earth and orbits the sun beyond Neptune. This is Planet 9, the last undiscovered orbiting body in the solar system, and a new theory about why we’ve never seen it is gaining traction: it may be a tennis-ball-sized black hole. [MIT TECH REVIEW]

MATERIALS | REFRIGERATION

Refrigerators of the Future May Be Inspired by the Weird Physics of Rubber

A new refrigeration technique harnesses the ability of rubber and other materials to cool down when released from a tight twist. The team has already applied the technique to cool a stream of water by 7.7° C in a single, 30-second cycle. The technology is in its infancy, but the discovery could someday provide an alternative to traditional cooling systems which account for about 20% of global electricity consumption. [NOVA]

STRATEGY

Hey CEOs, Have You Hugged the Uncertainty Monster Lately?

Terrible headline, but interesting article. You’ll miss a lot if you spend all your time focusing on the unknown. Learn to embrace it, however, and you can turn it into a competitive advantage. [WSJ]

INNOVATION

Validate the Business Model Before Building It

The worst way to validate a business model is buy building it: all the learning happens after you spent the money. Instead of making this expensive mistake, try something new: prototype your business model. [SHIPULSKI]

EVOLUTION

What Whales and Dolphins Left Behind for Life in the Ocean

Genes that are not being used are usually inactivated or simply disappear. A new study has pinpointed 85 of these genes, including blood coagulation, hair growth, and melatonin that were purged as cetacean ancestors moved from land into the sea, eventually becoming modern day whales, dolphins, and porpoises. [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.

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]

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.

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]

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.

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]

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.

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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