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G David Bock
Lynden WA USA
Posts: 480
Joined: 2020
Science and Technology
12/2/2020 7:08:55 PM
In the context of the Present shaping the Future, and also the Present being the History of the Future, it might help to have a thread focused on current developments of science and technology, especially weapons and warfare applications.
So, ... start off with this;

Omniviolence Is Coming and the World Isn’t Ready
Emerging bio-, nano-, and cyber-technologies are enabling criminals to target anyone anywhere and, due to democratization, increasingly at scale.
EXCERPTS:
...
In The Future of Violence, Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum discuss a disturbing hypothetical scenario. A lone actor in Nigeria, “home to a great deal of spamming and online fraud activity,” tricks women and teenage girls into downloading malware that enables him to monitor and record their activity, for the purposes of blackmail. The real story involved a California man who the FBI eventually caught and sent to prison for six years, but if he had been elsewhere in the world he might have gotten away with it. Many countries, as Wittes and Blum note, “have neither the will nor the means to monitor cybercrime, prosecute offenders, or extradite suspects to the United States.”

Technology is, in other words, enabling criminals to target anyone anywhere and, due to democratization, increasingly at scale. Emerging bio-, nano-, and cyber-technologies are becoming more and more accessible. The political scientist Daniel Deudney has a word for what can result: “omniviolence.” The ratio of killers to killed, or “K/K ratio,” is falling. For example, computer scientist Stuart Russell has vividly described how a small group of malicious agents might engage in omniviolence: “A very, very small quadcopter, one inch in diameter can carry a one-or two-gram shaped charge,” he says. “You can order them from a drone manufacturer in China. You can program the code to say: ‘Here are thousands of photographs of the kinds of things I want to target.’ A one-gram shaped charge can punch a hole in nine millimeters of steel, so presumably you can also punch a hole in someone’s head. You can fit about three million of those in a semi-tractor-trailer. You can drive up I-95 with three trucks and have 10 million weapons attacking New York City. They don’t have to be very effective, only 5 or 10% of them have to find the target.” Manufacturers will be producing millions of these drones, available for purchase just as with guns now, Russell points out, “except millions of guns don’t matter unless you have a million soldiers. You need only three guys to write the program and launch.” In this scenario, the K/K ratio could be perhaps 3/1,000,000, assuming a 10-percent accuracy and only a single one-gram shaped charge per drone.

That’s completely—and horrifyingly—unprecedented. The terrorist or psychopath of the future, however, will have not just the Internet or drones—called “slaughterbots” in this video from the Future of Life Institute—but also synthetic biology, nanotechnology, and advanced AI systems at their disposal. These tools make wreaking havoc across international borders trivial, which raises the question: Will emerging technologies make the state system obsolete? It’s hard to see why not. What justifies the existence of the state, English philosopher Thomas Hobbes argued, is a “social contract.” People give up certain freedoms in exchange for state-provided security, whereby the state acts as a neutral “referee” that can intervene when people get into disputes, punish people who steal and murder, and enforce contracts signed by parties with competing interests.
...
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/omniviolence-is-coming-and-the-world-isn-t-ready?utm_source=pocket-newtab
[Read More]
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
G David Bock
Lynden WA USA
Posts: 480
Joined: 2020
Science and Technology
12/3/2020 1:40:52 PM
The Race To Crack Battery Recycling—Before It’s Too Late
Millions of EVs will soon hit the road, but the world isn’t ready for their old batteries. A crop of startups wants to crack this billion-dollar problem.
...
Every day, millions of lithium-ion batteries roll off the line at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada. These cells, produced on site by Panasonic, are destined to be bundled together by the thousands in the battery packs of new Teslas. But not all the batteries are cut out for a life on the road. Panasonic ships truckloads of cells that don’t pass their qualification tests to a facility in Carson City, about a half hour’s drive south. This is the home of Redwood Materials, a small company founded in 2017 with an ambition to become the anti-Gigafactory, a place where batteries are cooked down into raw materials that will serve as the grist for new cells.

Redwood is part of a wave of new startups racing to solve a problem that doesn’t really exist yet: How to recycle the mountains of batteries from electric vehicles that are past their prime. Over the past decade, the world’s lithium-ion production capacity has increased tenfold to meet the growing demand for EVs. Now vehicles from that first production wave are just beginning to reach the end of their lifespan. This marks the beginning of a tsunami of spent batteries, which will only get worse as more electric cars hit the road. The International Energy Agency predicts an 800 percent increase in the number of EVs over the next decade, each car packed with thousands of cells. The dirty secret of the EV revolution is that it created an e-waste timebomb—and cracking lithium-ion recycling is the only way to defuse it.

Redwood’s CEO and founder J. B. Straubel understands the problem better than most. After all, he played a significant role in creating it. Straubel is cofounder and, until last year, was the CTO at Tesla, a company he joined when it was possible to count all of its employees on one hand. During his time there, the company grew from a scrappy startup peddling sports cars to the most valuable auto manufacturer on the planet. Along the way, Tesla also became one of the world’s largest battery producers. But the way Straubel sees it, those batteries aren’t really a problem. “The major opportunity is to think of this material for reuse and recovery,” he says. “With all these batteries in circulation, it just seems super obvious that eventually we're going to build a remanufacturing ecosystem.”

There are two main ways to deactivate lithium-ion batteries. The most common technique, called pyrometallurgy, involves burning them to remove unwanted organic materials and plastics. This method leaves the recycler with just a fraction of the original material—typically just the copper from current collectors and nickel or cobalt from the cathode. A common pyro method, called smelting, uses a furnace powered with fossil fuels, which isn’t great for the environment, and it loses a lot of aluminum and lithium in the process. But it is simple, and smelting factories that currently exist to process ore from the mining industry are already able to handle batteries. Of the small fraction of lithium-ion batteries that are recycled in the US—just 5 percent of all spent cells—most of them end up in a smelting furnace.

The other approach is called hydrometallurgy. A common form of this technique, called leaching, involves soaking lithium-ion cells in strong acids to dissolve the metals into a solution. More materials, including lithium, can be recovered this way. But leaching comes with its own challenges. Recyclers must preprocess the cells to remove unwanted plastic casings and drain the charge on the battery, which increases cost and complexity. It’s part of the reason why spent lithium-ion batteries have been treated as waste ever since the first commercial cells hit the market in the early 1990s. It was often several times cheaper to mine new material, especially lithium, than recover it with leaching.
....
The challenge with direct recycling is that cells are not designed with material recovery in mind. Instead, they’re manufactured to produce energy for a long time, and as cheaply as possible. Generally speaking, recycling isn’t even an afterthought. And this makes them hard to unpack. Individual cells are complex systems that have several chemically-distinct components mixed—sometimes welded—together in a small volume. These become challenging to extract without the help of strong acids or extreme temperatures.

For now, Gaines and her colleagues are focused on figuring out how to salvage the structure of batteries that already exist. In the future, however, it’s possible that batteries may be made to be recycled—but only if that’s cost effective and doesn’t affect performance. “Designing for recycling is a very important area, but you can’t sacrifice performance at all, or nobody’s going to want to do it,” says Gaines. “The best way to attack that isn’t obvious, and to be honest, there hasn’t been a lot of really good work in that area.”
....
Aceleron’s solution to the problem is deceptively simple. Cummins and his team designed a battery container that can be used for a variety of different cell types to link them without a welded connection. The company’s battery platform, Circa, compresses the batteries in a hard shell case and uses a removable circuit to connect them. This means that if an individual cell fails, or the pack’s owner wants to upgrade to a better battery, the cells can be swapped out by loosening some nuts and bolts. “The way batteries are designed today, everything is welded and glued together, and the assumption is that at the end of usage it is disposed of,” says Cummins. “We had to reinvent how you assemble batteries with something that is designed for reuse as well as recycling.”
....
https://www.wired.com/story/the-race-to-crack-battery-recycling-before-its-too-late/?utm_source=pocket-newtab
[Read More]

There are a couple of other issues involved here this article doesn't address;
1) There is a very extensive environmental "cost" in extracting lithium and the other components to make these batteries in the first place and so far that ecological/environmental impact is being neglected.
2) Nicholas Tesla aside, we have yet to draw "free" electricity out of the atmosphere as his efforts and research suggested. There is either the use of hydroelectric (dams) systems or the burning of hydrocarbon fuels to produce that electricity, or the alternate environmental impact and expense in resources and mining, manufacturing, etc. to create photovoltaic("solar") cells or the windmill generators. When these other costs are factored in, there is no cheap, or free energy and "reusable" is not accurate when it neglects the "capital" involved in producing such devices to begin with.
- and nuclear ...
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
G David Bock
Lynden WA USA
Posts: 480
Joined: 2020
Science and Technology
12/7/2020 1:07:32 AM
Why Interstellar Travel Is so Damn Hard
Basic physics goes a long way towards explaining why a pair of theoretical rocket engines may never come to fruition.
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/why-interstellar-travel-is-so-damn-hard?utm_source=pocket-newtab
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
G David Bock
Lynden WA USA
Posts: 480
Joined: 2020
Science and Technology
12/8/2020 3:15:21 PM
Elon Musk is maybe being a bit sensational in naming his rockets "Starship" since none are capable of traveling to any nearby stars, however, he is pushing envelopes with his efforts at privatized space efforts and launch systems. The latest:

SpaceX may launch a Starship rocket more than 40,000 feet above Texas today. Here are 3 ways to watch live video of the flight attempt.
EXCERPT:
...

SpaceX hopes to launch a full-size Starship rocket prototype 12.5 kilometers (7.8 miles) into the air from southeastern Texas on Tuesday.
The planned flight, Starship's highest yet, is designed to test the aerodynamics, steering, and landing ability of the 16-story steel-bodied prototype.
FAA airspace closures permit SpaceX to launch Starship SN8, or serial no. 8 (as the prototype is known), between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT on Tuesday.
SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk said a lot could go wrong, and gave the rocket a one-in-three chance of landing in one piece.
Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

SpaceX is about to attempt its most ambitious test launch yet of Starship-Super Heavy, a fully reusable rocket system that may one day slash the cost of reaching space by 1,000-fold.

The aerospace company, founded by Elon Musk, aims to launch a three-engine, 16-story prototype of the Starship spaceship on Tuesday from its expanding facilities at Boca Chica, Texas. (SpaceX is not yet ready to test a 23-story booster that'd eventually help propel a spaceship to orbit.)

Musk tweeted on November 24 the plan is to fly the prototype - called Starship serial no. 8, or SN8 - up to 50,000 feet or 9.3 miles (15 kilometers). However, SpaceX later lowered that ceiling to 41,000 feet or 7.8 miles (12.5 kilometers), according to Reuters.

Such a high-altitude flight attempt is the most ambitious yet for Starship. Musk said last week that a "lot of things need to go right" for SN8 to land intact, adding that he thinks there's "maybe 1/3 chance" that it does.

A launch attempt could occur anytime between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT (9 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET), according to a Federal Aviation Administration airspace closure notice. SpaceX could try again Wednesday or Thursday at roughly the same times if any hiccups prevent launch. Poor weather, a technical glitch, or a boat entering the launch's danger zone - a new challenge for Starship - could lead to delays.
...
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/spacex-may-launch-a-starship-rocket-more-than-40000-feet-above-texas-today-here-are-3-ways-to-watch-live-video-of-the-flight-attempt/ar-BB1bKc1S?ocid=msnbcrd&li=BBnb7Kz
[Read More]
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
G David Bock
Lynden WA USA
Posts: 480
Joined: 2020
Science and Technology
12/8/2020 3:21:36 PM
An interesting development out of CCP China;
China turns on nuclear-powered 'artificial sun'
EXCERPT:
China successfully powered up its "artificial sun" nuclear fusion reactor for the first time, state media reported Friday, marking a great advance in the country's nuclear power research capabilities.

The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China's largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device, and scientists hope that the device can potentially unlock a powerful clean energy source.

It uses a powerful magnetic field to fuse hot plasma and can reach temperatures of over 150 million degrees Celsius, according to the People's Daily -- approximately ten times hotter than the core of the sun.

Located in southwestern Sichuan province and completed late last year, the reactor is often called an "artificial sun" on account of the enormous heat and power it produces.

"The development of nuclear fusion energy is not only a way to solve China's strategic energy needs, but also has great significance for the future sustainable development of China's energy and national economy," said the People's Daily.

Chinese scientists have been working on developing smaller versions of the nuclear fusion reactor since 2006.

They plan to use the device in collaboration with scientists working on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor -- the world's largest nuclear fusion research project based in France, which is expected to be completed in 2025.

Fusion is considered the Holy Grail of energy and is what powers our sun.
...
https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20201204-china-turns-on-nuclear-powered-artificial-sun
[Read More]
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
G David Bock
Lynden WA USA
Posts: 480
Joined: 2020
Science and Technology
12/13/2020 5:25:40 PM
As so often the case, one solution to a problem results in a new problem ...
The curse of 'white oil': electric vehicles' dirty secret
The race is on to find a steady source of lithium, a key component in rechargeable electric car batteries. But while the EU focuses on emissions, the lithium gold rush threatens environmental damage on an industrial scale
...
Lithium is key to this energy transition. Lithium-ion batteries are used to power electric cars, as well as to store grid-scale electricity. (They are also used in smartphones and laptops.) But Europe has a problem. At present, almost every ounce of battery-grade lithium is imported. More than half (55%) of global lithium production last year originated in just one country: Australia. Other principal suppliers, such as Chile (23%), China (10%) and Argentina (8%), are equally far-flung.

Lithium deposits have been discovered in Austria, Serbia and Finland, but it is in Portugal that Europe’s largest lithium hopes lie. The Portuguese government is preparing to offer licences for lithium mining to international companies in a bid to exploit its “white oil” reserves. Sourcing lithium in its own back yard not only offers Europe simpler logistics and lower prices, but fewer transport-related emissions. It also promises Europe security of supply – an issue given greater urgency by the coronavirus pandemic’s disruption of global trade.
...
The urgency in getting a lithium supply has unleashed a mining boom, and the race for “white oil” threatens to cause damage to the natural environment wherever it is found. But because they are helping to drive down emissions, the mining companies have EU environmental policy on their side.
Advertisement

“There’s a fundamental question behind all this about the model of consumption and production that we now have, which is simply not sustainable,” said Riofrancos. “Everyone having an electric vehicle means an enormous amount of mining, refining and all the polluting activities that come with it.”
...
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/dec/08/the-curse-of-white-oil-electric-vehicles-dirty-secret-lithium
[Read More]

It is a very lengthy article.
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
G David Bock
Lynden WA USA
Posts: 480
Joined: 2020
Science and Technology
12/13/2020 5:41:39 PM
Speaking of "Tesla" ....

The Rise and Fall of Nikola Tesla and his Tower
The inventor’s vision of a global wireless-transmission tower proved to be his undoing.
...
But what his contemporaries may have been lacking in scientific talent (by Tesla’s estimation), men like Edison and George Westinghouse clearly possessed the one trait that Tesla did not—a mind for business. And in the last days of America’s Gilded Age, Nikola Tesla made a dramatic attempt to change the future of communications and power transmission around the world. He managed to convince J.P. Morgan that he was on the verge of a breakthrough, and the financier gave Tesla more than $150,000 to fund what would become a gigantic, futuristic and startling tower in the middle of Long Island, New York. In 1898, as Tesla’s plans to create a worldwide wireless transmission system became known, Wardenclyffe Tower would be Tesla’s last chance to claim the recognition and wealth that had always escaped him.
...
Tesla patented his AC motors and power systems, which were said to be the most valuable inventions since the telephone. Soon, George Westinghouse, recognizing that Tesla’s designs might be just what he needed in his efforts to unseat Edison’s DC current, licensed his patents for $60,000 in stocks and cash and royalties based on how much electricity Westinghouse could sell. Ultimately, he won the “War of the Currents,” but at a steep cost in litigation and competition for both Westinghouse and Edison’s General Electric Company.

Fearing ruin, Westinghouse begged Tesla for relief from the royalties Westinghouse agreed to. “Your decision determines the fate of the Westinghouse Company,” he said. Tesla, grateful to the man who had never tried to swindle him, tore up the royalty contract, walking away from millions in royalties that he was already owed and billions that would have accrued in the future. He would have been one of the wealthiest men in the world—a titan of the Gilded Age.

His work with electricity reflected just one facet of his fertile mind. Before the turn of the 20th century, Tesla had invented a powerful coil that was capable of generating high voltages and frequencies, leading to new forms of light, such as neon and fluorescent, as well as X-rays. Tesla also discovered that these coils, soon to be called “Tesla Coils,” made it possible to send and receive radio signals. He quickly filed for American patents in 1897, beating the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi to the punch.

Tesla continued to work on his ideas for wireless transmissions when he proposed to J.P. Morgan his idea of a wireless globe. After Morgan put up the $150,000 to build the giant transmission tower, Tesla promptly hired the noted architect Stanford White of McKim, Mead, and White in New York. White, too, was smitten with Tesla’s idea. After all, Tesla was the highly acclaimed man behind Westinghouse’s success with alternating current, and when Tesla talked, he was persuasive.

“As soon as completed, it will be possible for a business man in New York to dictate instructions, and have them instantly appear in type at his office in London or elsewhere,” Tesla said at the time. “He will be able to call up, from his desk, and talk to any telephone subscriber on the globe, without any change whatever in the existing equipment. An inexpensive instrument, not bigger than a watch, will enable its bearer to hear anywhere, on sea or land, music or song, the speech of a political leader, the address of an eminent man of science, or the sermon of an eloquent clergyman, delivered in some other place, however distant. In the same manner any picture, character, drawing or print can be transferred from one to another place. Millions of such instruments can be operated from but one plant of this kind.”
...
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-rise-and-fall-of-nikola-tesla-and-his-tower?utm_source=pocket-newtab
[Read More]

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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
G David Bock
Lynden WA USA
Posts: 480
Joined: 2020
Science and Technology
12/14/2020 10:12:47 PM
Now this is an intriguing design and development ...
This Zeppelin-Shaped Business Jet Offers Longer Range and Better Fuel Efficiency
...
Sure, a sleek business jet might be more alluring, but the numbers for the zeppelin-like Celera 500L from Otto Aviation are more compelling. The six-seat business aircraft promises 18 to 25 mpg fuel economy—that’s eight times better than similarly sized aircraft—with a max cruise speed of 460 mph and a 4,500-nautical-mile range, as opposed to 2,100 nm for a typical light business jet. That means the 500L can connect any two locations in the continental US without refueling. And the $328-per-hour operating costs are a third of those for competitors’ light jets. Here’s how Otto makes the magic happen.

1. Smooth Moves: The push-propeller design avoids creating turbulent airflow across the fuselage, adding to the aircraft’s efficiency, while the ventral fin below provides strike protection.
...

...
2. Apex Twin: The Red A03 lightweight aluminum piston engine is a liquid-cooled V-12, with each twin six-cylinder bank capable of independent operation. The engine is certified to operate on Jet AI and biodiesel fuel—which means 50 percent lower fuel burn compared to turbine engines in the same category.

3. The Shape of Things: The odd shapes of the fuselage and wings create uninterrupted airflow, reducing drag by up to 60 percent compared to a similarly sized business aircraft. This laminar-flow design is what underpins the Celera’s fuel efficiency, speed and range.

4. The Flow With the Go: High-aspect ratio wings increase the Celera’s laminar flow. Unusually long wingtips provide both aerodynamic efficiency and lateral stability. Designed to fly above weather and other air traffic, the Celera doubles its airspeed as it climbs between 15,000 and 50,000 feet.

5. Volume to 11: The aircraft’s rounded shape allowed interior designers to install six spacious seats and the six-foot-two-inch headroom of a midsize jet, while placing the engine behind the cabin and using a rear prop makes for a much quieter in-flight experience. Its 448 cubic feet of volume bests competitors like Beechcraft’s King Air 350, with 416 cubic feet, and the Citation CJ3, with just 311 cubic feet.
....
https://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/other/this-zeppelin-shaped-business-jet-offers-longer-range-and-better-fuel-efficiency/ar-BB1bTGPf?ocid=msnbcrd&li=BBnbfcL
[Read More]
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

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