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.  . . .  READ MORE

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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 . . .  READ MORE

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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

NASA’s Solar Probe Found Things Near the Sun that We Can’t Explain

The fastest object ever created by humans discovered intensely energetic rogue waves within our Sun and solar wind speeds beyond what any model had predicted. Neither discovery was expected (or can be easily explained), suggesting there are significant gaps in our understanding of the Sun. [MOTHERBOARD]

QUANTUM COMPUTING

In Surprise Breakthrough, Scientists Create Quantum States in Everyday Electronics

Usually thought of as too delicate to coexist with consumer electronics, a team working at the University of Chicago just announced that they can electronically control quantum states in silicon carbide semiconductors. The breakthrough could offer a means to more easily build and design quantum electronics. [UCHICAGO]

INNOVATION

American Innovation, a Murder Mystery

For about a century, American growth was driven by tinkerers, trusts, and corporate labs, which eked out regular advances in products based on engines, electrical circuits, and synthetic materials. Today, another half-century later, a coast-to-coast flight still takes you as long as it took in the 70s, and—with the major exception . . .  READ MORE

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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

Scientists find ‘Monster’ Black Hole So Big They Didn’t Think It Was Possible

Stellar black holes are caused by the death of star, and there are estimated to be 100 million in the Milky Way. An international group of scientists recently discovered one with a mass 70 times that of the sun, more than three times larger than current theories predicted was possible. Figuring out its origin is the next step. If you want to read more, this article by one of the team members that discovered it is a good place to start. [WASHINGTON POST | CONVERSATION]

SOLAR ENERGY

Sunshine Coast University Switches On a Solar-Powered Thermal Battery

Sunshine Coast University in Australia recently turned on its new solar-fed thermal battery. Using rooftop solar arrays and a battery that stores 7 MW of energy in water, the system powers more than 40% of everything on campus from air conditioning to lighting to computer processing. The school will save $100 million in electric bills over the next 25 years and eliminate 92,000 tons of CO2 emissions. [PV MAGAZINE]

INNOVATION

Why Companies Do “Innovation Theater” Instead of Actual Innovation

As companies get larger, they start to value process over product, and . . .  READ MORE

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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

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 . . .  READ MORE

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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 . . .  READ MORE

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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 . . .  READ MORE

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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 . . .  READ MORE

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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 . . .  READ MORE

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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]

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