The computing giant today announced its "IBM 5 in 5" predictions of five technology developments in the next five years. The most provocative is mind reading, to understand brain disorders, or where sensors will be able to translate people's thoughts into actions, such as operating a computer.
TOKYO--The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has finally been stabilized after it was crippled by a tsunami in March, the Japanese government said yesterday.
Engineers working under operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) have brought the plant to a state of "cold shutdown," meaning the reactors can be safely kept cool and that radiation exposure is limited to 1 millisievert per year at the site's boundary.
"We are now moving from trying to stabilize the reactors to decommissioning them," Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters, emphasizing the importance of the achievement.
"This is a challenge to not only our nation, but also the whole of humanity. I believe there will come a day when Fukushima will be remembered as the place where our future was founded by the bravery, the commitment, and resourcefulness of all our people."
Explosions occurred at four of the six reactors when cooling systems failed. They released massive amounts of radiation into the environment, forcing the evacuation of an estimated 88,000 people from a zone roughly 150 miles north of Tokyo. … Read more
Thanks in no small part to Moore's Law, engineers and entrepreneurs now have incredibly powerful tools at their hands, creating a fertile environment for invention.
In the year ahead, we're guaranteed more powerful supercomputers and smartphones from the tech industry's basic building block--the microchip. But in a world where the amount of information doubles every year, computers' ability to make sense of it has never been more vital, touching every field of scientific research from robotics to satellite imagery.
Meanwhile, advances in very different fields--materials science and biotech--are paving the way for better batteries, biofuels, and cleaner … Read more
A technique first developed to print flexible electronics has helped engineers at start-up Semprius reinvent the shape of concentrating solar technology.
The company's tiny solar cells, each a dot the size of a ballpoint pen tip, have been validated to convert 41 percent of solar energy to electricity, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory announced yesterday. Semprius is in the process of building a manufacturing facility in Henderson, N.C., to make concentrating solar arrays using its "micro-transfer printing" technique, according to the Department of Energy.
The semiconductor printing technique can be used for many applications, including improving … Read more
GreenVolts is blasting the equivalent of 1,300 suns onto a solar cell to survive in the cut-throat solar industry
The Fremont, Calif.-based start-up today announced it has raised an additional $35 million and unveiled a redesigned large-scale solar array. The series D funding brought $20 million from industrial conglomerate ABB which will market GreenVolt's solar system to businesses and utilities.
The solar industry is undergoing a brutal price war driven by the rapidly falling price of conventional silicon solar panels. GreenVolts has designed a concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) system, where powerful Fresnel lenses focus light onto several super-efficient … Read more
The physics buzz reached a frenzy in the past few days over the announcement that the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva is planning to release what is widely expected to be tantalizing--although not conclusive--evidence for the existence of the Higgs boson, the elementary particle hypothesized to be the origin of the mass of all matter.
Many physicists have already swung into action, swapping rumors about the contents of the announcement and proposing grand ideas about what those rumors would mean, if true. "It's impossible to be excited enough," says Gordon Kane, a theoretical physicist at the University … Read more
To leap to the next generation of nuclear power technology, Bill Gates-backed start-up TerraPower is approaching countries rather than individual utilities or financiers.
Gates last week disclosed that he brought up TerraPower's fourth-generation nuclear power technology with government officials at the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology during a visit to China. "TerrPower is having very good discussions with [China National Nuclear Corporation] and various people in the Chinese government," Gates told the Associated Press.
RavenBrick is developing a window that knows when it's hot enough for shade.
The Denver-based company has been working on a window coating that creates a heat-blocking tint triggered by the outdoor temperature. The company is in the process of raising $3 million in venture capital with plans to build a factory that will start operating in about a year, according to co-founder and President Wil McCarthy.
One of the trends in building design is to use large windows to bring in daylight, which creates a pleasing workspace and lowers the need for artificial lighting. One of the challenges … Read more
General Electric has a customer for its natural gas power plant that nimbly navigates changes in electricity demand.
The company today announced a deal with French energy provider EDF to supply a FlexEfficiency 50 power plant which will be the first connected to a national grid.
GE is touting both the energy efficiency and the flexibility of this new turnkey power plant which it hopes will replace traditional power generators that, like steering bulky ocean liners, take hours to ramp up and down.
The ability to quickly adjust natural gas power production makes the FlexEfficiency well suited to work in … Read more
Solar charger kits that help power gadgets aren't new. But how about one that also enables you to brag to your social network about how much energy it's generating?
The Changers Starter Kit, which costs about $150, uses a flexible solar module and a solar battery. The battery calculates how much energy you capture, and then, once connected to your laptop, uploads that information so it can be shared on Twitter or Facebook. SmartPlanet's Sumi Das checks out the Changers Starter Kit in the video above.