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Faster Than Light Travel

Are you fascinated by Star Trek’s famous superluminal spacecraft propulsion system, the Warp Drive? The one that would enable space crafts to travel faster than light? Guess what? Scientists have finally come up with theories grounded in conventional physics that might just make FTL travel through a warp drive possible!

In a new bombshell dropped by astrophysicist Dr. Erik Lentz of Germany’s Gottingen University, bending the fabric of space and time to the will of scientists is quite possible. Lentz introduced the first theoretical design of Warp Drive grounded in the concepts of conventional physics which will allow scientists to overcome the vast expanse between humans and stars and making Faster-Than-Light (FTL) travel quite possible.

Lentz’s theory published in the peer-reviewed journal, Classical and Quantum Gravity, reimagined the shape of the warp space thus overcoming the dependence on exotic materials as suggested in models suggested by scientists previously.

“The suggested theory has opened up new dimensions for studies of FTL travel moving it a step away from theoretical physics and closer to engineering,” said Lentz in a statement.

The Warp drive concept is quite fascinating to scientists and researchers particularly because if the concept really comes to life, it will enable humans to travel to the Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system, in 3 years or less. If a usual modern rocket were to travel the same distance, it will take more than 50,000 years, and thus practically impossible.

While the fictional star trek model of FTL Warp Drive worked by the collision of matter and antimatter generating explosive energy which would be used to propel the space ship faster than the speed of light, the idea was no more than fiction.

In 1994, physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed a Warp Drive model which is known as the Alcubierre Drive. In his research paper abstract, Miguel wrote, “by a purely local expansion of spacetime behind the spaceship and an opposite contraction in front of it, motion faster than the speed of light as seen by observers outside the disturbed region is possible.”

The idea of Alcubierre was based on expanding massive amounts of energy, however, particle physics knows of no such mechanism capable of creating this amount of negative energy.

Lentz’s paper suggests a new method of warp drive, one that isn’t dependent on exotic matter. In his research he discovered spacetime bubbles, taking the shape of solitons, which the scientists working previously had overlooked.

Applying the same Einstein’s equations of general relativity for various configurations of solitons, Lentz was able to finally find one equation that could work with conventional energy resources and didn’t need negative energy.

“The next step is to figure out how to bring down the astronomical amount of energy needed to within the range of today’s technologies, such as a large modern nuclear fission power plant. Then we can talk about building the first prototypes,” Lentz said.

Smart Fabrics Turning Your Clothes into a Walking Digital Display

Imagine walking around with your clothes lighting up like a digital display, allowing you to send messages and emails and turning into a keyboard. Even more shocking, imagine a direct communication with your clothes allowing them to adapt to varying temperatures or share crucial fitness information with your instructor while you are in the middle of a marathon run.

While it sounds like an ironman suit straight out of science fiction, smart fabric is quite real and scientists from the Fudan University in China have been able to create a fabric with embedded digital components that can conveniently be used as a digital display and communication tool while being folded, washed, and worn like your regular clothes.

The introduction of durable smart fabrics are set to revolutionize the world of wearable gadgets. According to experts the market size is expected to exponentially increase by 30.4% from 2019 to 2025.

The attempts at building conductive yarns that could be woven into fabrics had been going on for decades, but most attempts barely made it out of the research labs and onto people’s bodies since the resulting fabrics were extremely fragile and couldn’t withstand the abuse our clothes are usually put through.

Other smart fabrics which have been able to make it to market operate in predetermined ways such as the high-end beachwear manufactured by a French startup Spinali Design, with ultraviolet sensors which notify users when to apply sunscreen.

However, this new fabric developed by the researchers in China has been able to withstand over 100 washing and drying cycles and its display continues to work just fine, becoming a revolutionary leap forward in the field of electronic textiles that will have an insurmountable impact on industries worldwide, according to research published in the journal “Nature.”

The authors of the research journal suggest that the practical use for smart fabrics will not just be limited to fashion designer being able to integrate adaptive electronic displays into their outfits, but will have far more serious and life changing applications.

People with physical or cognitive impairments will be able to conveniently communicate with the smart fabrics. In addition, the speech-to-text display will allow communicating in foreign languages. The use of smart fabrics for the advertising industry will also evolve the concepts of marketing & advertising allowing people to turn into walking billboards.

Many tech giants around the world have been actively working on integrating the smart fabric technology to new applications. For instance, Google has been working with Levis for quite a few years to develop a smart denim jacket using Google’s Project Jacquard Smart Tech giving built in touch controls to the sleeves of the jacket. Similarly, Apple filed a patent to integrate health monitoring technology into clothing. 

There’s still some time until we see our local clothing outlets displaying digital clothing on their mannequins, but it may just happen in the very near future.

Cloud Seeding

As concerns of water scarcity in the wild west of the United States grow, scientists continue to resort to modern weather modification techniques to create rain in areas of the West Coast facing the worst drought in centuries. With limited rainfall and continuing droughts, the Colorado River and its water-banks are running dry, risking the water supply to over 30 million Americans.

To overcome the drought, in the snowcapped mountains of the West Coast, crushed particles of a chemical compound are being launched from the ground up into the sky or being directly injected into the clouds through airplane flares. The purpose of injecting these particles in the clouds is simple: encourage precipitation, in common terms, provoke rainfall.

While the idea of a cloud making machine may sound as if it’s out of a comic, this process is called cloud seeding, and it is very real. The technique uses particles of silver iodide injected in the clouds. The structure of silver iodide is very similar to ice and thus attracts droplets causing them to cluster and freeze eventually resulting in rainfall/snow. The snow melts during the warmer months and the water is added to the running streams increasing the supply to the population.

The concept of cloud seeding has been around for over 5 decades. It has been used not only to encourage rainfall, but to also reduce hailstone size and to cause clouds to precipitate earlier than when they are expected to.

The effectiveness of the process is still a point of huge discussion as most of the experiments done in the second half of the 20th century didn’t yield satisfactory results and no significant increase in precipitation was ever recorded. However, scientists working on the cloud seeding project believe that right now is the best time to address the issue as global temperatures continue to rise, posing an even greater risk of drought that could last for decades.

Scientists believe that in order to better manage the water supply across America, authorities have only two choices. The first is to reduce the demand by introducing conservation and recycling methods and the second is to somehow increase the water supply. “Cloud seeding is a relatively inexpensive proposition,” remarked Jeff French, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Wyoming.

While Jeff French himself is doubtful about cloud seeding being a viable option to increase rain/snow in the regions, it is a technique worth trying to help regions prone to drought.

The states of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming, among others are not holding back in their attempts to modify the weather of the region and induce rainfalls and have all introduced cloud seeding projects.

Research recently suggested a 5 – 15% increase in rain/snow fell in regions where the technique was implemented, but unfortunately, scientists haven’t been able to draw a concrete link between increased rain and cloud seeding.

World’s First Home Hydrogen Battery

While most of Texas drowned in darkness and cold with the biggest power outage of recent times hitting the region, an Australian energy company might have found the perfect solution in the form of a renewable hydrogen-powered battery, which can store 3 times more power than Tesla’s famed Powerwall.

Lavo’s hydrogen battery can store enough energy to run an entire home for about 3 days becoming the world’s first home hydrogen battery.

Lavo’s Green Energy Vs Tesla’s Powerwall:

The Tesla Powerwall typically works on Lithium Battery Systems and until now served as the perfect alternative to generating and storing energy for when the sun went out.

The Lavo Green Energy Storage System weighing over 320 KGs offers a rather improved solution with a storing capacity of over 40Kilowatt-hours, roughly 3 times greater than Tesla’s Powerwall. The battery also has Wi-Fi Connectivity and a phone application allowing home owners to monitor and control the power storage capacity. You can even connect several Energy Storage Systems and create a mini power supply plant at your home.

How Does the Lavo Battery Function?

The Lavo Green Energy Storage System can be connected to a hybrid solar inverter and a water outlet through a purification unit. The battery uses excess energy to electrolyze the water running through it and releases oxygen simultaneously storing hydrogen in a metal hybrid sponge. When the energy is needed, the battery uses a fuel cell to deliver this energy directly to your home and power your appliances.

The hydrogen battery doesn’t use Earth’s rare metals and poses a lower risk for accidents. While the claims made by LAVO may seem too good to be true, there’s a price to pay, and trust us, that price is quite high. The battery costs approximately 3 times higher than the Tesla Powerwall and is currently available for $26,900. However, the manufacturers of the hydrogen battery believe that the price will go down making it the most viable energy solution for modern homes.

The unit also has a limited efficiency of 50 percent which is far below the average efficiency of Lithium-Ion battery systems. However, there’s a lot of margin for improvement in the product and if the Australian company continues to implement the latest tech advancements to the hydrogen-powered battery systems, it might give Tesla a run for their money.

Russia’s Next-Gen Military Armor

For decades, the US and Russian military have competed excessively in body armor technology, to give their soldier superhuman capabilities. For over a decade now, the Russian Sotnik or Centurion is leading the race by multiple paces. The third generation body armor can survive 7.62 mm rounds and is equipped with other high-end gear include night vision goggles and internal communication systems.

In a recent announcement that has met mixed reactions from warfare analysts, the Russian state-owned military manufacturer Rostec claimed that they have begun working on the 4th generation Sotnik which will be strong enough to withstand a direct shot of .50 caliber bullet, making it even more powerful than bulletproof vehicles.

A .50 caliber bullet is larger than your fist and approximately 3 times larger than the 7.62mm bullets, and anyone who is hit directly by the .50 caliber almost immediately dies. If in an extremely fortunate case the person survives, they are most likely to end up with irreparable physical damage.

However, whether the armor would allow soldiers to move along the front lines during battles is another story altogether.

How Real is the Claim?

Russian military warfare development experts believe that the 4th generation Sotnik made of lightweight polyethylene fiber and armor will be able to withstand the brunt of .50 caliber bullets with ease and will also be lighter in weight and easier for the soldier to wear and move around thus literally giving Russian soldiers superhuman capabilities during combat.

The armor is also said to be equipped with other robotic equipment and communication exchange systems integrated within making it a literal embodiment of the ironman. In a press release issued by Rostec, it was claimed that this new armor will surpass the outgoing Ratnik Suit that includes features of thermal vision, internal heaters, gas kit, med kit, and integrated communications. In the last 8 years, over 300,000 units of the Ratnik have been delivered to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The Arms Race Between Russia & USA:

Even though the US army has excessively worked for decades to developed armors that will enhance the capabilities of the soldiers on the front line, they haven’t been able to achieve even half of what the Russian manufacturers have built.

Russian military experts and analysts have said Rostec is very serious about keeping up its bold promises and believes they will be able to further lead the high-tech battle armored race for centuries to come.

Looking Back in History:

In the 1990s, US Helicopter crews were issued with the SARVIP (Survival Armor Recovery Vest Inserts and Packets) including huge pockets for ceramic plates to withstand the 0.50 caliber bullets. However, the weight of the armor was so much that they were hardly ever worn by the crew.

Earlier in WW1, the Germans also introduced Sappenpanzer, a heavy body armor made of segmented steel plates. Even though the armor was successful in terms of protecting the soldiers but it was so heavy that it could only be worn by machine gunners or sentries.

Whether the new Russian Sotnik will be able to break the barriers of the past and provide superhuman capabilities without restricting movement is yet to be seen.

Integrating Human Brain Cells into Microchips

For a long time, science has attempted to imitate the human brain’s intellectual and adaptive capabilities to create artificial solutions. Artificial Intelligence was the first big step towards imitating the functions of the brain. However, today AI has developed far beyond a simple problem-solving data model and machine learning system, to artificial neural networks, a more complex imitation of the human nervous system.

While machine learning systems chiefly operated according to programmed algorithm and data, like the Facebook Facial Recognition feature that scanned through millions of uploaded photographs, scientists are now taking AI a step further by making the machines think, really think.

Project Neu-Chip

In an effort to harness the intelligent processing capabilities of the human brain, a team of international scientists from Aston University, England have embarked on project Neu-Chip, a detailed study and experiment to try to physically integrate human brain cells into Artificial Intelligence Microchips.

The research has received a grant of €3.5 Million from the European Commission. Scientists will try and layer complex networks of brain cells onto microchips in order to enable the chips to dynamically solve problems from the data. The brain cells integrated on the chips will be stimulated by firing varying patterns of light beams. Scientists will then use 3D computer modeling to study any changes to track the adaptability of the cells.

The project includes research associates, professors and scientists from institutions throughout Europe and beyond.

The Endless Possibilities

According to a press release issued by Aston University, mathematician David Saad, one of the scientists participating in the research program said that the aim of the study is to harness the unrivaled computing power of the human brain in order to dramatically increase the ability of computers to solve problems.

The scientists on the research team collectively believe that this integration of human brain cells into a microchip has all the potential to surpass the limitation in machine learning technology. It’s believed to have the potential to bring about a dramatic shift in AI technology by improving the processing power as well as the energy consumption of AI machines for solving complex problems.

Dr. Jordi Soriano, an associate professor of Physics at the University of Barcelona said that the ability to engineer neuronal circuits in a dish and train them to conduct data analysis will provide new insights into how the brain computes information and finds solutions. The developed technology may even help to design unique and exciting human-machine interfaces.

Project Neu-Chip is not just focused on making AI algorithms more efficient and faster, but also more powerful and independent. Until now, all AI powered programs and machines typically relied on artificial circuitry inspired by the human brain. However, with Project Neu-Chip, scientists are actually experimenting on implementing the biological cell itself for the very first time.