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.

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]

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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

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]

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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.

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]

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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.

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]

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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.

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]

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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.

BIOENGINEERING | TEXTILES

Next Generation Cotton You Won’t Have to Iron

A team at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has started working on a cotton with many of the properties of synthetics, such as being stretchy, non-creasing and even waterproof, while retaining its natural fiber feel. “We’re looking into the structure of cotton cell walls and harnessing the latest tools in synthetic biology to develop the next generation cotton fiber,” CSIRO scientist Dr. Madeline Mitchell said. The goal: use the next generation cotton to take substantial market share from the current synthetics industry. [CSIRO]

INNOVATION

The Future Belongs to Whoever Creates It

An interesting blog post from Jeffrey Phillips, author of Relentless Innovation: “The fact is that the future doesn’t belong to anyone. Given the rapid pace of change and the emergence of new technologies and solutions, you can’t say with much certainty who will win . . . but if we try just a bit we can understand what’s likely to happen and in some instances perhaps even influence it.” [INNOVATE ON PURPOSE]

ENERGY | ENVIRONMENT

The Big Bet in Fracking: Water

Some investors see fortunes to be made in the U.S.’s hottest oil field—by speculating in water, not crude. Fledgling companies, many backed by private equity, are rushing to help shale drillers deal with one of their trickiest problems: what to do with the vast volumes of wastewater that are a byproduct of fracking wells. The wastewater is commonly removed by truck, 125 barrels at a time, and start-ups are focused on building pipelines to handle the volume. It’s tempting to think of this as an infrastructure play, but global companies should be thinking about the opportunity in other ways because there is a lot of money to be made: rising water management costs can add as much as $6 to the cost of producing a single barrel of crude. [WSJ]

DRONES

Warehouse Drones are Ready for the Spotlight

Delivery drones may have been getting the most press, but warehouse drones are are already making a difference in many industries. This is just the start of many in-plant uses of drones and other autonomous robot, and it’s a great proving ground: Warehouses are much more physically structured than manufacturing plants and so make it easier to develop capabilities. [SUPPLYCHAINDIVE]

PHYSICS | BIOLOGY | (OLD) INFOGRAPHIC

Revisiting a 1958 Map of Space Mysteries

A year after Sputnik launched in 1957, speculation was sizzling. Surely, humans would be up there before too long, which in turn would finally put us in a position to answer our many, many questions about the universe. In 1958, the American Oil Company (AMOCO) released a pictorial map outlining some of the most bedeviling space-related puzzles of the age and predicting what might happen when space explorers were able to get a closer look. Some of these questions were tied up pretty quickly, but the rest aren’t so neatly resolved. Sixty years later, Atlas Obscura checked in with space experts to weigh in on which have been cracked, and what continues to confound. Use the zoom tool to take a closer look. [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.

MANAGEMENT | WORK-LIFE BALANCE

You Could Be Too Much of a Team Player

Amid a sweeping workplace trend pushing collaboration, some people are finding they play a little too well with others, turning some personal qualities that might be strengths in other settings into weaknesses at work. The good news: changing just a few behaviors can regain 18% to 24% of the time you spend collaborating. [WSJ]

ENERGY

Alternative Photovoltaic Systems for the Houses of the Future

Following California’s new mandate requiring solar-powered systems for residential construction, this article highlights technologies likely to get a bump and discusses those that may be coming in the future. Coverage of building integrated photovoltaics (BIPVs) includes alternative roofing materials, window glazings, solar facades, and energy-harvesting concrete. [ARCHITECT]

PHYSICS

Settling Arguments About Hydrogen with 168 Giant Lasers

With gentle pulses from gigantic lasers, scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California transformed hydrogen into droplets of shiny liquid metal. Their research, reported on Thursday in the journal Science, could improve understanding of giant gas planets like Jupiter and Saturn whose interiors are believed to be awash with liquid metallic hydrogen. [NYTIMES]

3D PRINTING | MANUFACTURING

Five Myths About 3D Printing

Like any fast-developing technology, 3-D printing, described more technically as “additive manufacturing,” is susceptible to a variety of misconceptions. While recent debates have revolved around 3-D-printed firearms, most of the practical issues in the field come down to the emergence of new manufacturing techniques. The resulting culture of innovation has led to some persistent myths. Here are five of the most common. [WASHINGTON POST]

ECONOMICS | INFOGRAPHIC

Here’s How America Uses Its Land

There are many statistical measures that show how productive the U.S. is, but it can be hard to decipher how Americans use their land to create wealth. The 48 contiguous states alone are a 1.9 billion-acre jigsaw puzzle of cities, farms, forests and pastures that Americans use to feed themselves, power their economy and extract value for business and pleasure. This series of infographics derived from Department of Agriculture statistics break it all down. [BLOOMBERG]

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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.

QUANTUM PHYSICS

Coolest Science Ever Headed to the Space Station

On May 21, NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory arrived at the International Space Station to explore a state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), in which atoms shed their individual identities and crowd en masse into a single quantum wave. Long-predicted, but first observed in 1995, achieving the state requires chilling atoms to a fraction of a degree above absolute zero, even colder than the average temperature of deep space. Moving experiments to space solves a key challenge: being able to observe the BEC for more than 10-20 milliseconds after release from the magnets and lasers used to trap and chill the atoms. [SCIENCE]

STRATEGY | PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

Building a Better MVP: How to Say No to the Wrong Things So You Can Say Yes to the Right Things

The most persistent mistake companies make during product development is also one of the easiest to solve. In fact, post-mortem evaluations of over 100 startups revealed that the primary cause of startup failure—in 42% of cases—was “no market need.” How can this happen? Founders overwhelmingly said “they were more focused on solving an interesting version of the problem, rather than solving the real problem as it existed.” Don’t ignore the importance of deeply understanding the job-to-be-done: whether you are a start-up or a major corporation, get out and talk to the market. Again and again. [ALLEYWATCH]

CHEMISTRY | BIOLOGICAL ENGINEERING

Chemists Synthesize Millions of Proteins Not Found in Nature

In a DARPA-funded project, MIT chemists have devised a way to rapidly synthesize and screen millions of novel proteins from amino acids not used in nature; the proteins could be used as drugs against Ebola and other viruses. These “xenoproteins” offer many advantages over naturally occurring proteins: they are more stable, don’t require refrigeration, and may not provoke an immune response. Amino acids can exist in two different configurations, known as L and D, but cells can use only the L variant. As building blocks for their xenoproteins, the researchers used 16 “mirror-image” (D) amino acids. The program has already synthesized D-variant proteins that will bind to the influenza virus, the anthrax toxin, and an Ebola glycoprotein. [MIT]

STRATEGY | AUTONOMOUS DRIVING

Building Autonomous Vehicles is Hard

This New York Times piece describes how Apple—handicapped by hubris and a demand to control everything—has struggled to find a partner to help execute its autonomous driving ambitions. Tesla, on the other hand, is struggling with a different problem: too much vision and not enough execution. In this piece (and podcast) which originally appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Steve Blank compares Elon Musk to Billy Durant (the founder of GM who was fired twice before Alfred Sloan took over) and “wonders if $2.6 billion in executive compensation [for Musk] would be better spent finding someone to lead Tesla to becoming a reliable producer of cars in high volume – without the drama in each new model. Perhaps Tesla now needs its Alfred P. Sloan.”

CHEMICALS | ENVIRONMENTAL

Water Woes Lead EPA to Toughen Fluorochemical Rules

The EPA held an invitation-only forum in Washington last week to announce the development of tougher national regulations on the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), and the related perfluorooctanoic acid, in an effort to keep these chemicals out of the drinking water supply. Administrator Pruitt said, “This should be and must be a national priority, and . . . we are going to be taking concrete steps as an agency to address that, along with you at the state and local level.” PFAs and PFOAs are known to persist in the environment and can pose health risks even at relatively low concentrations. Controversy plagues the EPA on this issue; it has been accused of suppressing a report suggesting the existing limits are too high and it did not open the May summit to affected community groups and activist organizations. New regulations will likely face opposition because of the importance of these chemicals across many industries. [PLASTICS NEWS]

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Throughout our work week, in the course of our research for clients across many industries and fields, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we deliver five interesting things we came across during the preceding weeks. And no filler.

COMPUTING | ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Chinese Police Add Facial-Recognition Glasses to Surveillance Arsenal

China is already the global leader in deploying cutting-edge surveillance technologies based on artificial intelligence. Now, mobile facial-recognition units mounted on eyeglasses are expanding the reach of that surveillance, allowing authorities to peer into places that fixed cameras aren’t scanning, and to respond more quickly. Unlike many fixed-camera facial-recognition systems that remotely connect cameras to vast facial databases stored in the cloud, the police glasses are wired directly to a hand-held device that contains an offline database—allowing them to work more quickly. [WALL STREET JOURNAL]

STRATEGY | INNOVATION | DISRUPTION

How GE Got Disrupted

GE’s problems are no secret, but their source is interesting: they spent the last few decades cutting costs, streamlining operations and increasing efficiency, yet it’s hard to think of any major invention that’s come out of the company since the CT scanner back in the 1970s. Six Sigma will only take you so far if you stop exploring: until GE can learn to make new discoveries that lead to new markets, its future will be in question. [DIGITAL TONTO]

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