Bottling up the sun – the latest on our quest for fusion energy

by Jonathan Squire The human race has an energy problem. Despite continually increasing demand, we still have no truly viable way to produce energy on a necessary scale without significant environmental consequences. So what about solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, geothermal, or CCS (carbon capture and storage)? Each of these generation methods has its own disadvantages, and certainly…

Breast is best, and breast is breast

by Elizabeth O’Sullivan Compared with feeding at the breast, feeding infant formula is associated with a number of risks for babies; among other things, they suffer from more respiratory infections, more diarrheal disease, and perform worse on tests of cognitive development. For mothers, longer duration of feeding at the breast is associated with a reduced risk…

Micro-grids: a simple solution to power cuts

by Vivek Bhandari Power cuts are rare occurrences in some parts of the world and they are a daily occurrence in others. Throughout the world, people would like to avoid these power cuts and have reliable, secure and clean electricity. Micro-grids¹ are emerging as a simple and flexible technology that will help to improve power…

NELL: a machine that continuously reads, learns, and thinks by itself

by Derry Tanti Wijaya “Milk drinkers are turning to powder”—here is a classic example of a sense that is tricky for humans to interpret but next to impossible for machines. As humans we instinctively know that milk drinkers can’t become powder just by drinking milk; otherwise nobody would be brave (or stupid) enough to drink it. We have…

The next big step in computers: what can physics offer us?

By Juan Andrés Muniz and Su-Peng Yu Few scientific breakthroughs of the past century have had as big an impact as the development of electronics and computer related technology: starting with the gigantic prototype computers that occupied several rooms, and then becoming the modern mobile devices that can fit in our pockets. This boom resulted…

Implementing existing and new ideas toward sustainable building design

by Rotana Hay The building sector cannot be overlooked in any vision of a sustainable future. Buildings and infrastructure constitute the largest consumer of natural resources. During their life time, buildings also consume a tremendous amount of energy. The sector constitutes about 40% of total primary energy use and 30% of annual anthropogenic greenhouse gas…

From trash to treasure: Making electricity from waste heat

by Michael Gaultois Governments are clamouring to secure stable energy resources for the future. Much attention is focused on developing clean, sustainable, and renewable energy sources. However, the often invisible alternative is to be more efficient with the energy we already produce. This is not to say that we won’t need more energy, but rather that…