Category Physics

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]

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.


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]

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

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]

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 | 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]

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.

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]

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.

GEOLOGY

Earth’s Magnetic Field is Acting Up and Geologists Don’t Know Why

Driven by a fast moving jet of liquid iron beneath Canada, Earth’s north magnetic pole is traveling away from North America, has crossed the International Date Line, and is headed towards Siberia. It is changing so rapidly that experts have to update the World Magnetic Model, which governs all modern navigation, a year earlier than scheduled. [NATURE]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE | MATERIALS SCIENCE

Artificial Intelligence Meets Materials Science

Developing and launching new advanced materials can take decades, but an engineering research team at Texas A&M is employing machine learning, data science, and a wealth of expert knowledge to accelerate the process. Their autonomous program uses an algorithm that—while working with very little initial data—adaptively picks the best machine learning models to find the optimal material to fit any given criteria. [PHYS ORG]

MANAGEMENT | LEADERSHIP

Hiring Intrapreneurs: A Practical Guide

If you can ignore the goofy graphics and the too-cute analogies, there is a wealth of good information in here about the nature of intrapreneurs and what it takes to support their work, an effort that can be richly rewarding for any company. [BOARD OF INNOVATION]

MANAGEMENT | LEADERSHIP

19 Workplace Predictions for 2019

A quick, sarcastic look at some of the biggest challenges facing employers and employees in the coming year. [LINKEDIN]

PHYSICS | CHEMISTRY

The Periodic Table is an Icon. But Chemists Still Can’t Agree on How to Arrange It

The at-once recognizable shape and patterns of the 150 year-old periodic table may one day be not so recognizable. While new elements have been discovered and added to the table over the years and have changed its look slightly, there are many scientists who believe its current iteration is not its best configuration. Some think the question comes down to whether the table is shaped by physics or chemistry. As the debate rages on, we may just end up with more than one table hanging in our labs and classrooms to tell a more complete picture of chemistry. [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.

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]

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.

BATTERIES | CHEMISTRY | NANOPARTICLES

Superconductor Boosts Lithium-Sulfur Battery Performance

Next-generation batteries based on lithium-sulfur chemistry could store more energy in lighter packages than today’s best lithium-ion batteries. But the intricacies of Li-S chemistry also limit its durability. Now researchers have found they can rein in the chemistry of Li-S cathodes by adding nanoparticles of the superconductor magnesium diboride. [C&EN]

ELECTRICITY | EMISSIONS

Carbon Dioxide Emissions from the U.S. Power Sector Have Declined 28% Since 2005

Carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power sector have been on a steady decline and are now at the lowest level since 1987. Driven by low demand, state policies, and federal tax incentives encouraging the use of noncarbon electric generation like solar and wind, this decline in emissions will likely be a continuing trend. [EIA]

INNOVATION | STARTUPS

Lean StartUp’s Newest Tool: Innovation Accounting

A recent study of 1200 executives found that over half of them struggle with connecting their business and innovation strategies. Almost 75% believe they are not out-innovating their competition. Eric Ries, author of The Startup Way, thinks it’s because companies are measuring their progress using wild guesses; they should start using science instead. [INC]

PHYSICS

Redefining the Kilogram

The official object that defines the mass of a kilogram is a tiny, 139-year-old cylinder of platinum and iridium that resides in a triple-locked vault near Paris. Because it is so important, scientists almost never take it out; instead they use copies called working standards. But the last time they did inspect the real kilogram, they found it slightly heavier than all the working standards, which have been leaving behind a few atoms of metal every time they are put on scales. The result: representatives from 57 countries are meeting this month to vote on a proposal to make the International System of Units fully dependent on constants of nature. The ampere, kelvin, mole, and kilogram are all expected to get new definitions. [SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN]

SCIENCE | VIDEOS| IMAGES

The 8 Best Science Images, Videos, and Visualizations of the Year

From basic principles that explain our universe, to the newest technology, science can be weird, fun, and down right exciting. But science can also be strikingly beautiful. These 8 visuals are the best this year that not only explain scientific concepts clearly, but also show just how stunning science can be. [POP SCI]

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.

POLYMERS | PACKAGING | FOOD & BEVERAGE

Model Predicts Polymer Food Packaging’s Propensity for Absorbing Aroma Molecules from Their Contents

Packaging materials used to store products are a significant source of food and beverage flavor loss. Adapting a well-known model of polymer properties, researchers at A*STAR and Coca-Cola developed a mathematical model that can describe the mixing behavior of polymers with organic compounds and could lead to better tasting foods. [PHYS ORG]

DISRUPTION | TESLA | PODCAST

Tesla and the Nature of Disruption

In the context of an interesting discussion about whether Tesla is disruptive, Benedict Evans and Steven Sinofsky deliver a great overview of opportunity ecosystems in general. If you’ve ever wondered whether you are considering all the right factors when you have a new product idea, this provides high-level answers. [A16Z]

PHYSICS | COSMIC RAYS

Bizarre Particles Keep Flying Out of Antarctica’s Ice and They Might Shatter Modern Physics

A previously unknown and undetected high-energy particle has been making its way up through the frozen ground in Antarctica and blasting into space. What we know of cosmic rays is that they in fact, do the opposite, usually shooting down from space to enter Earth. So what exactly is this mysterious particle? That’s what physicists are working to figure out. [SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN]

NANOWIRES | SOUND

This Flexible Nanomembrane Loudspeaker Attaches to Skin and Plays a Violin Concerto

Researchers in South Korea have developed a hybrid nanomembrane that emits sound waves when fed with sound frequency electric currents. Using silver nanowires, a thin, flexible, and transparent membrane could act as a loud speaker as well as a microphone. We could all soon carry our own loudspeakers wherever we go, not in our bags or pockets, but on our skin. [INTERESTING ENGINEERING]

WIKIPEDIA | INFOGRAPHIC

WIKIGALAXY

A fascinating, three-dimensional visualization of the Wikipedia “galaxy:” 100,000 articles grouped into 500 thematic nebulas with the ability to fly across the galaxy following links from one article to the next. [WIKI]

Read More