Category Uncategorized

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.

PRIVACY | TECHNOLOGY

Activate This ‘Bracelet of Silence’ and Alexa Can’t Eavesdrop

Growing privacy concerns and the lack of control over data captured by smart devices has prompted a surge in new products designed to help consumers opt-out of surveillance. Among them is a wrist-worn device that jams nearby microphones. [NYT]

AVIATION

No One Can Explain Why Planes Stay In The Air

Flying is an amazing example of human ingenuity. But providing an explanation for how exactly planes are able to stay in the air is a much more difficult feat. The two prevailing theories, developed by scientists whose work long predates air travel, attempt to explain lift but neither gives a complete account of the scientific process. [SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN]

LEADERSHIP

Don’t Demonize Employees Who Raise Problems

Problem spotters don’t especially enjoy bearing bad news, but they do it to advance the organization and help you, the leader. Maybe it’s because they have a different perspective. Maybe it’s that they are better at expressing the issue, where others struggle. Stop making it so hard on them to help you. [HBR]

BIOLOGY | ASTRONOMY

What Does It Means for a Planet to be “Habitable”

For many years scientists believed a planet needed two things to support life: a rocky surface and liquid surface water. Now the general consensus is . . . that there is no general consensus. [MIT TECH REVIEW]

EXISTENTIAL THREATS | PODCAST

The Bomb

Fred Kaplan is the author of the new book The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War. In this in-depth discussion between Sam Harris and Mr. Kaplan, they cover the history of nuclear deterrence, nuclear politics, U.S. first-strike policy, preventive war, limited nuclear war, and the details of nuclear weapon command and control. Although terrifying, all of it is worth your time. [MAKING SENSE PODCAST]

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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.

MEDICINE

Molecular Drills Tear into Superbugs’ Antibiotic Defenses

Bacteria are quickly evolving resistance to our best drugs, threatening to make the most mundane infections lethal once again. Now, researchers at Rice University have developed a new method to kill these emerging superbugs, using molecular “drills” to pierce their cell walls. The same technique has also been shown to work on cancer cells. [NEW ATLAS]

ENERGY | AUDIO

How Much the U.S. Relies on Oil From the Middle East

Helima Croft, managing director and global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, delivers an incredibly tight summary on why the U.S. remains dependent on Middle East oil despite being the top producer of oil and natural gas in the world. [NPR]

LEADERSHIP

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

Want to become mentally tougher? Here’s a list of things that people with the critical hallmarks of mental strength don’t do. [LIFEHACK]

HEALTH

98.6 Degrees Fahrenheit Isn’t the Average Anymore

Nearly 150 years ago, a German physician analyzed a million temperatures from 25,000 patients and concluded that normal human-body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. But at least two dozen modern studies have concluded the number is too high. [WSJ]

NATURE

A Zoo’s Jungle Cats Would Like Your Leftover Perfume, Preferably Calvin Klein

Large jungle cats have expensive taste: they are . . . well . . . obsessed with Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men. The ingredient they find irresistable is civetone, a lab-made copy of the pheromones of the civet, a cat-like mammal found in Africa and Southeast Asia. The scent is used by researchers to attract animals in the wild and used like catnip by zookeepers to keep the animals from getting bored. [WASHINGTON POST]

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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.

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. [DIGITAL TONTO]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE | HUMOR

We Shouldn’t Bother the Feral Scooters of Central Park

In this absurdist tale of feral scooters in the not-so-distant-future, optics research scientist and author Janelle Shane considers what can happen when artificially intelligent systems evolve. [NYT OPINION]

PHOTOGRAPHY | NATURE

How One Photographer Captures the Glory of Birds in Flight

If birds could leave visible trails in the sky, what would they look like? Catalan photographer Xavi Bou found out, and here he shares some of the astonishing—almost alien—images he captured. [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.

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 capitalism, why the term “digital natives” is tragically ironic, and how Larry Page realized that human experience could be extracted and monetized as Google’s “virgin wood.” [THE GUARDIAN]

PSYCHOLOGY

How to Get Teens to Give up Junk Food: Tell Them They’re Victims of Corporate Manipulation

Rather than just being told junk food is bad for them, a group of eighth graders was exposed to the marketing strategies food companies used to target them. Months later, the students showed a surprising change in their snack habits and food choices. [FAST COMPANY]

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Why Electric Cars Still Don’t Live Up to the Hype

With uncertainty about a number of contributing factors, including the overall cost of owning one, it’s still too soon to tell if EVs are the solution for a sustainable transportation future. [WASHINGTON POST OPINION]

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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 of computers—nothing in your luggage is likely to be much more useful or valuable than your parents’ equivalent. Who killed American innovation? There are a lot of suspects. [WSJ OPINION]

MATERIALS SCIENCE

Tiny Magnetic Particles Enable New Material to Bend, Twist, and Grab

A team of researchers from Georgia Tech and Ohio State has developed a soft polymer material that uses magnetic fields to transform into a variety of shapes. The material—which incorporates two types of magnetic particles and a shape-memory polymer— could enable a range of new applications from antennas that change frequencies on the fly to gripper arms for delicate or heavy objects. [PHYS ORG]

ASTRONOMY | SPACE

The 15 Most Awe-Inspiring Space Images of the Decade

Scientists revealed an astonishing amount about the universe over the last decade. Here—in pictures—are some of their most inspirational accomplishments. [VOX]

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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 the product people end up reporting to the process people. The company loses its ability to compete as an innovator. In response, they often turn to hackathons, design thinking classes, innovation workshops and other innovation theater activities that rarely deliver a shippable product. There’s a way to fix this. [STEVE BLANK writing in HBR]

SECURITY

A New Hack Uses Lasers to Send Inaudible Commands to Your Amazon Echo

Researchers used laser light to insert acoustic signals into micro-electro mechanical system microphones (MEMS). The result? The microphones produced electric signals as if the laser light was genuine audio. While it does not appear this security flaw has yet been exploited, scientists warn that any device using MEMS (smart phones, speakers, and even cars) is vulnerable to attack. [NEXT WEB]

NEUROLOGY

‘Promising Evidence’ Shows Mindfulness Meditation Can Slow Cognitive Decline

A recent study finds that practicing mindfulness meditation, training your mind to stay in the moment and relieving it from outside distractions and stress, can boost cognitive reserves. While more research is needed, this may be helpful for people living with mild cognitive impairment, often a precursor to Alzheimer’s. [STUDY FINDS]

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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 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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