Category Materials

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.

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.

MATERIALS | ENVIRONMENT

Artificial Photosynthesis Breakthrough Could Turn CO2 into Plastics Cheaply

Scientists have long been able to capture and convert harmful CO2 into useful products. Researchers at Rutgers University have discovered that utilizing a new man-made photosynthesis process using nickel and phosphorus, which are both plentiful elements, converting CO2 is cheaper than ever. Next step, commercializing the technology and further investigation to go from the lab to producing plastics and other common materials. [NEW ATLAS]

ECONOMICS | INNOVATION | MANAGEMENT

Leaping Before the Platform Burns: The Increasing Necessity of Preemptive Innovation

10 years into the long recovery from the Great Recession, recessionary risks are rising. How is your business going to behave in the next downturn? History suggests that you will have a strong incentive to cut innovation investment and double-down on efforts to maximize efficiency and value extraction from existing core offerings. This is the wrong answer. In this wide-ranging piece, the authors draw on lessons from biology, computer science, and high-performing firms to suggest more successful strategies that you should start implementing now. [BCG HENDERSON INSTITUTE | REUTERS]

PHYSICS

A New Theory Unifies Dark Matter and Dark Energy as a “Dark Fluid” With Negative Mass

Drawing on a idea developed and then abandoned by Albert Einstein a century ago, a new theory attempts to explain why 95% of the universe appears to be missing. Astrophysicist James Farnes’ theory posits that dark matter and dark energy—unproven, placeholder theories designed to make the math accurately describe the observable behavior of the universe—with a new placeholder: a dark fluid with negative mass. If proven , the theory would challenge our fundamental understanding of the universe. [MOTHERBOARD]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

5 Important AI Predictions (for 2019) Everyone Should Read

Recent technological breakthroughs have raised questions and concerns about how they will improve, or destroy, our current way of life. Here are five Artificial Intelligence predictions that provide insight into some of those changes for the upcoming year and beyond. [FORBES]

BIOLOGY | GEOLOGY | PALEONTOLOGY | ANTHROPOCENE

How Giant Intelligent Snails Became a Marker of Our Age

Fossils and geochemical changes in the layers of the Earth’s crust are what scientist use to learn about geologic times past. New markers are being recorded, such as plastics, radioactive isotopes,–and the giant African land snail. Aided by its own natural survival traits and hitchhiking on human migrations around the globe, these large snails may play a key role in telling the story of the current Anthropocene era. [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.

COMPOSITES | GRAPHENE | MATERIALS

Graphene Nanotubes Find Industrial Niche in Fiberglass Storage Tanks

Roughly 10% of accidents that involve storage tanks are caused by the electrostatic charge generated when dissimilar materials are in relative motion to each other. To combat this, fiberglass tank manufacturers have typically relied on anti-static fillers such as carbon black or conductive mica, but graphene nanotubes are allowing them to reduce filler ratios by an order of magnitude while at the same time providing other benefits. [COMPOSITES WORLD]

STRATEGY | TRANSFORMATION

How to Embrace Digital Transformation

If you are sick of hearing about digital transformation, it’s understandable: the term has been used so indiscriminately that it’s become almost meaningless. But don’t give up because companies that do it wrong (or don’t do it at all) are not long for this world. This article provides a quick primer about the right way to think about the subject. [RACONTEUR]

PLATFORMS | BLOCKCHAIN | STRATEGY

The Myth of the Infrastructure Phase

Apps always come before infrastructure. Although this piece is aimed at the future of blockchain, there are lessons for any business struggling with a great idea that the world may not be ready for yet: the lightbulb came before the electrical grid, and airplanes were flying before there were airports. [UNION SQUARE VENTURES]

ENGINEERING | THE FUTURE

Will Elevators to Outer Space Ever Get Off the Ground?

Are space elevators the future of extra-planetary travel? Supporters see them as a way to ferry people and goods to space for a lower cost than rocket trips and with little need for passenger training. But this far-off goal faces significant engineering and political challenges. And don’t skip the comments because they are hilarious. [WSJ]

DATA SCIENCE | INFOGRAPHIC

FiveThirtyEight Gave It’s Readers 3 Million Russian Troll Tweets. Here’s What They’ve Found So Far

Last week, FiveThirtyEight published nearly 3 million tweets sent by handles affiliated with the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll factory.” They shared the data with the public in concert with the researchers who first assembled it, Darren Linvill and Patrick Warren, both of Clemson University. The goal: that other researchers, as well as FiveThirtyEight’s broader readership, would explore the tweet data, and share their findings, deepening our understanding of Russian interference in American politics. Readers did not disappoint. Some found ways to improve the data set while others created some useful—and startling—data visualizations. [FIVETHIRTYEIGHT]

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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 | VIDEO

This Improbable Membrane Could Block Germs While Allowing Surgeons to Operate Through It

In what might seem like science fiction, a team of researchers has engineered a reverse filter: it traps small particles and lets large ones through. The filter, held together by surface tension, is a transparent liquid membrane. Instead of sorting particles by size, it sorts them by kinetic energy—larger objects with more force break through, but lighter, slower objects do not. Once broken, the puncture self-heals instantaneously. [SCIENCE]

FINANCE | PODCAST

Should Companies Abandon Quarterly Earnings Reports?

In a tweet on Aug. 17, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to study whether it makes sense for publicly held companies to publish half-yearly earnings reports instead of the current quarterly mode. Many have argued that such a switch would help companies take a longer term view of the future to the benefit of both employees and investors. But watchdog groups and regulatory bodies worry that reduced oversight will lead to bad outcomes. This relatively short podcast (and comprehensive accompanying article) does a good job fleshing out the arguments on both sides of the issue. [WHARTON]

HEALTH | BIOLOGY

Gut Bug Enzyme Turns Any Blood into Type-O

By utilizing a promising new discovery, enzymes from gut bacteria, researchers believe they have found a reliable way to transform the different blood types into the universally accepted type-O. The future of blood donations could change for the better, if the next stage of clinical trials yields positive results. [BBC]

AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES | NETWORKING

Autonomous Vehicles in 2025: Network Cost Outstrips AI Computing Cost

When they consider the cost of ADAS/AV (autonomous vehicles), many observers assume that the computing power required for AI processing is going to be the costliest element.“Not so,” according to Alexander E. Tan, vice president and general manager of Automotive Ethernet Solutions at NXP. He predicts that in 2025 in-vehicle networking will cost more than computing. [EETIMES]

SCIENCE AWARDS

Here Are Your 2018 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

Ever wondered if saliva is actually a good cleaning agent, or how good chimpanzees are at imitating humans? Or whether stabbing a voodoo doll representing your horrible boss could help reduce workplace tension? The winners of this year’s Ig Nobel Prizes have got you covered. Established in 1991, the Ig Nobels are a good-natured parody of the Nobel Prizes, honoring “achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.” [ARS TECHNICA]

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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.

MANAGEMENT | DECISION MAKING | INNOVATION

Are MBAs Killing Our Companies and Our Economy?

If you wonder why most businesses still think of shareholders as their main priority or treat skilled labor as a cost rather than an asset—or why 80 percent of CEOs surveyed in one study said they’d pass up making an investment that would fuel a decade’s worth of innovation if it meant they’d miss a quarter of earnings results— it’s because that’s exactly what they are being educated to do. MBA education has fostered the sort of short-term, balance-sheet-oriented thinking that is threatening the economic competitiveness of the country as a whole. Is it time for a change? [EVONOMICS]

MATERIALS

Alan Turing’s Only Chemistry Paper Yields Desalination Technique

In 1952, computer science pioneer Alan Turing published his only chemistry paper which suggests a way to explain the formation of patterns such as spots and stripes in nature. And it turned out to suggest a way for scientists to do this on purpose. Chinese researchers created one of these “Turing structures” with patterns at the molecular level, resulting in a membrane that effectively filters the salt out of salt water. [DISCOVER]

MANAGEMENT | WORK-LIFE BALANCE

This 4-Day Work Week Experiment Went So Well, the Company Is Keeping It

A first-of-its-kind four-day work week experiment in New Zealand has come to an end after two months, but the trial went so well the company actually wants to make the changes permanent. While lots of research has shown the numerous benefits a reduced work week can provide to employees, what’s remarkable about this trial is that employees worked four days a week but got paid for five. [SCIENCE ALERT]

ASTRONOMY | GEOLOGY | ASTROBIOLOGY

Underground Lake Found on Mars? Get the Facts

Liquid water is refreshingly abundant on moons in the outer solar system, but it has proven surprisingly tough to find in reliable quantities on Mars—until now. Radar scans of the red planet suggest that a stable reservoir of salty, liquid water measuring some 12 miles across lies nearly a mile beneath the planet’s south pole. What’s more, the underground lake is not likely to be alone. [NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC]

MATERIAL SCIENCE | SENSORS

The Smart Home Ecosystem: Market and Competitors

Driven by investment and consumer enthusiasm, the global smart home market is expected to reach $123 billion by 2022, more than double the size of its $56 billion value in 2018. This comprehensive infographic from ABI Research is designed to provide vision on where vendors need to position themselves to maximize return on investment, create new revenue streams, shape their go-to-market strategies and hone in on the true competitors for mergers and acquisitions as well as product development. It’s pretty dense: download the PDF to get the best view. [ELECTRONICS 360 | ABI]

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