Flying Cars

As a child, most of us would watch science fiction movies and believed the future was filled with hover boards and flying cars. Well, hover boards have become very popular and flying cars have begun to be built. So were all those predictions correct?

The Japanese government has decided to invest heavily into the development of flying car technology to make this a reality. They want to be the first country to have such a futuristic transportation system and even believe they can start commercializing these cars by 2023.

Even though Japan is actively working towards flying cars and their development, all over the world such technology is also being worked on by industry giants such as Uber, Airbus, and Boeing.

The dream of being able to cover a small distance in vehicles that have a vertical takeoff is very much alive and is close to being fulfilled in Japan due to the strides they are making in this technology.

Image: http://www.skydrive2020.com

The country’s newest set up that specializes in flying cars is SkyDrive and has recently also revealed a model for people to feast their eyes upon. Their SD-XX is a two-seat vehicle that is meant to fly and is about the size of a car. It comes with an average speed of 62mph. According to Japanese media, the company wants to start testing the model this year.

They believe they want to start slow and small and do not want to risk too many people. This is why they have chosen to start an air taxi service in either Tokyo or Osaka, and decided that the initial flight would be over the sea. This would minimize the risk of too many people being hurt if there was a malfunction.

The media has reported that fast progress is being made because of the backing of many people, investing their money as well as their talent and skills to make the dream a reality.

The startup plans to introduce round trips all over Japan, mainly focusing around attractions like Universal Studios. They believe that the model will be flown on autopilot, but will require a pilot should an emergency situation arise.

The setup aims to create at least 100 vehicles by the end of 2028 and believe that the cost of these cars should not be more than what an expensive branded car would cost. If this were to work out, it would revolutionize the transportation industry and could lead to rapid advances in flying vehicles for the future. This startup shows lots of potential and by 2028 we could begin to see flying cars all over Japan.

Fusion Reactor

Fusion reactors were a huge technological advancement when they were created. They are a form of power generation used all over the world to create electricity for the masses. The way they work is that two lighter nuclei combine to create a heavier nucleus which then releases energy. The devices that are created to hold this energy or to facilitate the reaction are called fusion reactors.

Even though many countries in the world have fusion reactors, scientists have now decided to build the world’s largest fusion reactor to generate electricity. The project has been started in the South of France and is now in the planning stages, while the actual building is meant to begin by 2025.

Editorial credit: Aerovista Luchtfotografie / Shutterstock.com

The project is not facilitated by just one country rather it a union of 35 countries who have come together. The project is called ITER and is said to be very ambitious. On their website, they believe they want to try and create fusion energy with the help of a gigantic magnetic device called tokamak.

One thing to keep in mind is that fusion energy is clean and good for the environment. It, unlike fossil fuels, does not harm the environment and is a much better and more powerful alternative. ITER’s director-general believes that the project will be a miracle for the environment as it could enable the exclusive use of clean energy.

If the energy produced is more than what has been used to start the project, soon enough countries can rely solely on clean energy with massive benefits for the environment. It is also better than the nuclear fission power currently used as there is no nuclear waste or a risk of a meltdown.

Yet if we were to focus on the research done on fusion reactors and the way they function, it shows that the reactions within are very unpredictable and very difficult to control. This is why it may be difficult for ITER to create a structure that could control and predict the fusion reaction well.

To counter this, ITER plans to create a reactor weighing approximately 23,000 tons while having 3000 tons of magnets that are connected to superconducting cables totaling 200 kilometers long. All of which will need to be kept at a very low temperature of -269 degrees.

Building this machine will not be an easy task and has been compared to the precision of a Swiss watch and 3D puzzle that will need to put together intricately like a timeline by the Director-General.

The team, however, behind the project is optimistic about the results. The fusion reactor is meant to produce self-heating plasma which is said to produce about 10 times the heat of the input amount. If this project is completed successfully, it could create a new world for us.

Hydrogen-Powered Car

When the kid from Back to the Future went to the future, he saw flying cars and floating transportation. Even though we have not quite achieved this, we still are moving towards it. Recently, the concept of hydrogen cars has been introduced.

Image: https://www.hyperion.inc/xp1

In California, a company called Hyperion has unveiled the XP-1 which is a car powered by Hydrogen with a 1000 mile range as well as a top speed of 221 mph and can launch from 0-60 in just a few seconds.

Many would assume that this firm is a competitor of Tesla, the car company created by Elon Musk, however, they intend to produce more interest in hydrogen power for the masses, rather than electric. Hence, they believe that they are not a car company rather they are an energy company that is building a car to let the world know more about hydrogen power.

Usually, cars that we use tend to have heavy lithium-ion batteries that are extremely bad for the environment. However, the Hyperion XP-1 does not have such a battery pack. It generates power through the help of two hydrogen tanks that feed its motor. This then results in lower curb weight and a much larger range.

The company generates hydrogen mostly from steam reforming of natural gas. Hence, making hydrogen is extremely environmentally friendly because the byproduct that is left behind is just water, with no harmful greenhouse gases.

However, the main issue with this car is that there are not enough hydrogen refueling stations across the country. This then makes it difficult for users to refuel their car and discourages many buyers. In the US in 2018, there were only 39 hydrogen refueling stations across the country, something that would need to change if this technology were truly to become mainstream and commercial.

Fortunately, Hyperion wants to change that and believes that there needs to be many more refueling stations. To counter this problem, they have decided to create their hydrogen fueling stations all across the country, similar to Tesla’s supercharger network.

Micro-plastics in Humans

When plastic was converted into a form that could be beneficial to humans, we all thought it was a great step forward. Plastic solved many different issues that we faced, from packaging, containers and much more, revolutionizing every single industry. However, what we did not count on was the long-term impact it would have on us as humans.

For years now, scientists have been warning us about climate change and the impact of greenhouse gases as well as the fact that plastic does not degrade. However, we did not listen and kept on creating more and more products using more and more plastic. Eventually, it has come to a point where micro-plastic are now evident within human bodies.

A group of researchers who have been studying plastics and the impact they have on the human body, found nano-plastics in all 47 samples they tested. These samples included various human organs such as the kidneys, lungs, spleen, and more.

In the long term, plastics have become more of a threat to us than a benefit because of the negative environmental impact they have created. Scientists predict that if things keep going the way they have, chances are that Earth will become uninhabitable very soon.

In the samples tested through a mass spectrometer, they found traces of polycarbonate (PC), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and polyethylene (PE) which are all commonly used plastic products in our daily lives. Bisphenol A (BPA) was also found within the samples, which is a common ingredient within food packaging.

Humans, however, are not the first to be found with plastic in their bodies. They have already been discovered in the sea life and seafood we eat. They have even been found in the deepest parts of our oceans.

The research has been building upon previous studies which had already demonstrated that in Germany, 97% of the blood and urine samples which were collected from 2500 children showed traces of plastic in them. At least 17 contained toxic levels of plastic products or byproducts. Another study also showed similar results, in which human stools were tested. It was found there were 20 particles of plastic to every 10 grams of human stool.

The research did take note of the donor’s history and background. This then will help them recognize through the lifestyle they live, what the route and cause of this plastic coming into the human body is and how we might be able to avoid it.

Researchers are unsure of the actual impact plastic can have on human health, but they do not seem optimistic.

Level 5 Vehicle Autonomy

For so many years, everyone has been hearing about potential cars that will drive themselves while the occupant just sits there relaxing. This is basically the level 5 of vehicle autonomy where the vehicle will not require any human attention instead it will carry out all the tasks of a human driver with artificial intelligence. With level 5 vehicle autonomy, self-driving cars will perceive the environment itself, making required adjustments accordingly. These types of cars are expected to not even have a steering wheel in them or the usual acceleration/brake pedals found in a normal car.

The future that includes these cars may be nearer than we thought. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, firmly believes that the dream of the level 5 autonomy in a car may be approaching rapidly. Elon Musk in a recent video stated that by the end of this year, Tesla may be fully equipped for the basic functionality of the level 5 vehicle autonomy. However, it may still be a little unclear about what he meant for basic functionality as Elon Musk didn’t further elaborate on it.

Tesla has made a huge amount of revenue with a self-driving feature that it introduced in one of its cars, but this feature is still far away from the level 5 vehicle autonomy that Elon Musk talks about. This feature still requires the occupant to keep his hands on the steering wheel whereas there will be an absence of a steering wheel with level 5 vehicle autonomy. With level 5 autonomy, the structure of driving will change, which will require a lot of trust building among Tesla patrons, as people can become a little skeptical and adjustment takes time.

Apart from Tesla, other companies like Lyft, Amazon and Google have also been focusing on the level 5 vehicle autonomy. In recent times, Lyft has tested out their self-driving feature and stated it as a success. On the other hand, Amazon is known to have bought a self-driving startup company to speed up its focus on developing level 5 vehicle autonomy. Often termed as the leader, the Google spin off Waymo has even put the level 5 autonomy to good use. It has been using a minivan to deliver groceries to customers using level 5 vehicle autonomy. With the pandemic, a contactless delivery option is proving to be extremely helpful.

Level 5 vehicle autonomy will be like a dream in a car where the occupant can carry out other important tasks or just relax instead of worrying about driving.

Pandemic Murder Rates

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the whole world upside down, affecting everyone. Now if that was not enough, recent investigations show that the current pandemic has resulted in a substantial increase in the crime rate in major US cities. Among others, crimes like murder, theft, burglary and gun violence have been the top trending. Even though the murder rates when compared to the same time last year are more this year, experts are still unsure on how to connect the increase in these rates with the global pandemic.

According to studies, New York is witnessing the highest rate of gun violence during the last 25 years and the murder rate has risen by 4.1% compared to last year. This a serious matter for concern and experts are still drawing lines of comparison with the pandemic. If it isn’t controlled immediately, it might increase. Starting from June, homicides saw an increase of 250 percent in Los Angeles alone over Independence Day weekend, while Chicago witnessed 14 murders with 106 people being shot. These same cities are witnessing a rise in burglary and theft as well.

Mass shootings were reported between 3rd and 5th July that resulted in 160 people murdered and around 500 wounded. With the rise in murder, other crimes are growing as well as if the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t enough for governments to focus on.

Whether the increase in murder rates can be connected to the global pandemic or not, the rise still poses a major concern for the government. Apart from taking care and making sure that the danger posed by corona virus doesn’t increase further, the government now has to take preventive measures to control these murders as well. The entire world is facing a crisis situation where everyone is affected, the rise in murder rates increases the stress to those who are trying to remain unaffected by the global pandemic.

However, contrary to the increase in crime rates in the major US cities, the overall crime has decreased in other parts of the world. The logic behind this being that all around the world, governments imposed lockdown and stay at home orders. This affected commutes, day to day routine and leisure activities, and this meant that as people were not leaving the safety of their homes, the crime rates in those areas decreased, which is just a little ray of sunshine in these testing times.