Device That Revolutionized Timekeeping Receives an IEEE Milestone

Physicist James Clerk Maxwell was perhaps the first to recognize that atoms could be used to keep time. In 1879 he wrote to electricity pioneer William Thomson, suggesting that the “period of vibration of a piece of quartz crystal” would be a better absolute standard of time than the mean solar second (based on the Earth’s rotation) but would still depend “essentially on one particular piece of matter” and therefore would be “liable to accidents.” Maxwell theorized that atoms would work even better as a natural standard of time. Thomson wrote in the second edition of the Elements of Natural Philosophy, published in 1879, that hydrogen atoms, sodium atoms, and others were “absolutely alike in every physical property” and “probably remain the same so long as the particle itself exists.”

Source: Device That Revolutionized Timekeeping Receives an IEEE Milestone – IEEE – The Institute

Renewable energy is becoming so cheap the US will meet Paris commitments even if Trump withdraws

Globally, the price of solar panels has fallen 50% between 2016 and 2017, they write. And in countries with favorable wind conditions, the costs associated with wind power “can be as low as one-half to one-third that of coal- or natural gas-fired power plants.” Innovations in wind-turbine design are allowing for ever-longer wind blades; that boost in efficiency will also increase power output from the wind sector, according to Morgan Stanley.

Source: Renewable energy is becoming so cheap the US will meet Paris commitments even if Trump withdraws — Quartz

How to Call B.S. on Big Data: A Practical Guide

Mind the Bullshit Asymmetry Principle, articulated by the Italian software developer Alberto Brandolini in 2013: the amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it. Or, as Jonathan Swift put it in 1710, “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it.”Plus ça change.

Source: How to Call B.S. on Big Data: A Practical Guide

Future of carbon fibre is here

The technology, developed by Carbon Nexus PhD student Maxime Maghe and Carbon Nexus General Manager Steve Atkiss, has the potential to reduce the energy used in carbon fibre production by 75 per cent and reduces the production process time from around 80 minutes to under 15 minutes.

In addition, the specialised carbon fibre production machinery required is expected to cost around 50 per cent less than current equipment.

Source: Future of carbon fibre is here : Deakin Invenio

Iceland drills 4.7 km down into volcano to tap clean energy

Iceland’s decision to harness the heat inside the earth in a process known as geothermal energy dates back to the 1970s and the oil crisis.

But the new geothermal well is expected to generate far more energy, as the extreme heat and pressure at that depth makes the water take the form of a “supercritical” fluid, which is neither gas nor liquid.

Source: Iceland drills 4.7 km down into volcano to tap clean energy

Earth-sized telescope set to snap first picture of a black hole

Each telescope will point at Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, and measure every radio wave coming from its direction. Linking together observatories spread across such a huge area and combining their observations to filter out extra light will effectively create a powerful “virtual telescope” almost the size of Earth.

Source: Earth-sized telescope set to snap first picture of a black hole | New Scientist

As other telescopes are added to the network in coming decades, observations of the black holes will become even more precise, and should provide fundamental insights into the workings of our universe.

Math and the Best Life

If mathematics is a medium for human flourishing, it stands to reason that everyone should have a chance to participate in it. But in his talk Su identified what he views as structural barriers in the mathematical community that dictate who gets the opportunity to succeed in the field — from the requirements attached to graduate school admissions to implicit assumptions about who looks the part of a budding mathematician.

Source: Math and the Best Life — an Interview With Francis Su | Quanta Magazine

Japan plans supercomputer to leap into technology future

In the area of supercomputing, Japan’s aim is to use ultra-fast calculations to accelerate advances in artificial intelligence (AI), such as “deep learning” technology that works off algorithms which mimic the human brain’s neural pathways, to help computers perform new tasks and analyze scores of data.

Source: Japan plans supercomputer to leap into technology future

GE is building America’s first offshore wind farm with turbines twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty

GE and Deepwater Wind, a developer of offshore turbines, are installing five massive wind turbines in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. They will make up the first offshore wind farm in North America, called the Block Island Wind Farm.

Over the past several weeks, the teams have worked to install the turbines 30 miles off the coast of Rhode Island, and are expected to finish by the end of August 2016. The farm will be fully operational by November 2016.

Source: GE is building America’s first offshore wind farm with turbines twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty