Matter & Energy

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The increased need for, and the implementation of renewable or clean energy, questions the premise of its safety and reliability because it brings about the possibility of being threatened by hackers by way of theft or cyberattacks. The magnitude of real-time data and the distributed generation of energy make for easy gateways. Take charging an electric car, for example — a group of such vehicles are ultimately connected to a larger power unit, which can, if jeopardized, compromise the grid of an entire city.

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What if we could generate all the energy required to power the whole of civilization, just using wind turbines? It might sound far-fetched but new research published this week has suggested that this scenario is not entirely unrealistic.

A new location for wind farms

It would however, require some significant changes to the location of wind farms – placing these far out in deep water areas of our oceans, as opposed to on land or relatively near to the shore.

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The increase in need for, and the implementation of renewable or clean energy questions the premise of its safety and reliability because it brings about the possibility of it being threatened by hackers through theft or cyberattacks. The magnitude of real-time data and the distributed generation of energy make for easy gateways. Take charging an electric car, for example — a group of such vehicles are ultimately connected to a larger power unit, which can, if jeopardized, compromise the grid of an entire city.

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Hydrogen derived from water and exploited for its potentially huge energy payload is a substance of interest for those researching post-oil fuels and their uses. Some researchers and inventors conclude that hydrogen is the clean, green solution to humanity’s consistent need for power. The last few years alone have seen a revolution in hydrogen-purification methods. These include studies that have demonstrated chemical reactions that result in efficient and prolonged hydrogen production from solution, also known as ‘artificial photosynthesis’.

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The batteries that power our smartphones, tablets and other similar electronics are a crucial factor that affects how we use them on a daily basis. Despite advances in their technology, they may still discharge at a faster rate than we might like, and interrupt our screen-time when it’s time to recharge them. A longer battery life may mean a larger, more bulky battery which, unfortunately, is out of step with the perceived preference for more streamlined and thinner devices.

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Lately, a lot of effort has been dedicated to researching new approaches to harvest green energy, from environmental resources. Green, or renewable energy, is collected from renewable resources, such as wind, geothermal heat, sunlight, waves and river motion. Furthermore, human body motion is also being considered as a potentially very rich source of energy. This is especially the case for low-energy consumption electronics, such as wearable, implantable and personal electronics and sensing technologies allowing for example, continuous health monitoring.

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We are in need of novel new fuel sources for the future, with one potential solution being the possibility of converting fatty acids to hydrocarbons using an algal enzyme which is activated by light. The ability to scale this recently discovered reaction to an industrial level could well provide an environmentally friendly new source of hydrocarbon energy.

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Storing natural energy sources like wind and solar energy is highly unpredictable, thus hastening the need to resort to alternate means. While some countries have taken to stockpiling hydroelectricity, other nations face challenges due to reasons like water scarcity or poor accessibility. Meanwhile, the daily requirements for energy via televisions, air conditioners, water heaters and so on, continue to escalate among both our homes and places of work.

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Cells are able to transmit and process information by using molecular machines designed by evolution. These biochemical machines, usually proteins, change their structure and function in predictable ways based on input from the environment. These components of the cell can be organized into cascades, or branching chain reactions, in which the changes in one component are transmitted to a large number of components downstream.

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In the scenic mountain ranges of Rjukan in Norway, tourists can go and see the evidence of work on using hydrogen as a fuel source. This location contains waterfalls that were harnessed for hydroelectric power in the 1920s. The energy generated from this plant would be used to split water into hydrogen and water using electricity through a process known as electrolysis, in an adjoining factory. Many researchers in Norway still think this is the way of the future, and that hydrogen can power any modern concern, from housing to industry.

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Inspired by the high temperatures of the last few years, engineers from Stanford University have created a plastic-based material which can keep pour bodies cool. The idea is that it could be incorporated into clothing items, to cool the wearer’s body far more efficiently than current natural or synthetic fabrics. It is low-cost and makes the person that wears it feel nearly 4 degrees’ Fahrenheit cooler than if they wore pure cotton clothing.

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The International Energy Agency estimate that around the world, 1.8 billion people live without electricity. In Africa, this is a particular issue. In an interview with CNBC, Ponmile Osibo from the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association said: “The situation is Arica at the moment is quite significant, over 40 percent of the population does not have direct access to energy.”

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For years, physicists have been trying to track down an elusive particle which, although predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics, has evaded detection until now. This week, the LHCb experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider has definitively detected the presence of this particle, known as Xi CC ++.

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We all love smart technologies. Smart phones, smart cars, smart houses, and so on. I have a device in my pocket that can relay my location by GPS, calculate the distance to my destination, count the number of steps it takes me to get there and displays the number of calories I burned; all of this while I stream cat videos from the internet. I can even control my smart house remotely from my phone, or have the doors to my smart car automatically unlock as I approach. It is glorious.

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Forget to charge your music player before a run, or the battery life of your smartphone insufficient to get you through the day? For a generation that depends on electronic devices for their daily needs, the challenge of charging or powering gadgets begs for a sustainable solution.

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Now the summer is in full swing, many of us enjoy getting out in the fresh air and making the most of the sunny weather. Sometimes this means sitting in the park whilst we’re on our lunchbreak and inevitably most of us turn to our phones to check our emails and social media whilst relaxing. This leads to the annoying situation where we try to read our phone screens in bright sunshine, and whilst this is definitely a situation that could be described as a ‘first world problem’ it’s one that has inspired researchers to try and come up with a solution.

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Currently, there’s two main ways to access the energy needs that your household requires. Either connect to the national grid, or go off-grid and meet them through a combination of renewable energies. If you live off-grid, solar panels and wind turbines, or often a combination of the two, are currently the most popular choices. There’s many people who would love the chance to either generate their own electricity or use a more environmentally friendly choice but for various reasons, do not have the option of installing their own off-grid system.

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Imagine never having to worry if your phone was fully charged before heading out to run or cycle your favorite trail, because you could charge it whilst exercising. Well, we could be literally one step closer to this reality thanks to a new technological advance which allows for the charging of electronic devices using something we all produce when exercising: sweat.

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Many countries are on a mission to lead the way towards a future where 100% of our energy demands are met by renewable sources. New wind and solar farms are springing up apace, with countries keen to attract developers to install new wind and solar farms and manufacturers working hard to reduce the cost of their technology.

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Imagine a new carbon neutral system of generating energy which has the potential to meet up to 40% of our global demand for power? The source might come as a surprise – our coastal estuaries where salt and fresh waters meet.

Scientists at Penn State University have created a system to harness energy along our coastlines, which early tests suggest could be very efficient indeed.

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