U.S. military’s new infrared sensor needs almost no power to function | Military & Aerospace Electronics

Made for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for its N-Zero program, it can detect and read infrared (IR) light and frequencies.

The sensor reportedly will require no external battery power to operate, consuming “zero standby power” until it detects IR radiation.

When it encounters IR wavelengths, it will prompt mechanical movements within the sensor that will heat it and confirm that there is a source of such light in its vicinity, using plasmonically enhanced micromechanical photoswitches (PMPs) — switches made with materials that can covert light to electricity.

Source: U.S. military’s new infrared sensor needs almost no power to function – Military & Aerospace Electronics

Reprogrammable prototyping solutions: a must for space design verification – Intelligent Aerospace


Space is an extremely harsh environment for electronic components, particularly in light of high levels of ionizing radiation and radiation-induced single event effects (SEEs).

For digital and mixed-signal electronics, the effects of cosmic radiation fall broadly into two categories: permanent and temporary.

Permanent effects include single event latch-ups (SELs), configuration upsets causing permanent loss to a device’s functionality such as those seen in static random access memory (SRAM) FPGAs, and damages when devices’ total ionizing dose (TID) ratings are exceeded.

Temporary effects include single event upsets (SEUs), single event transients (SETs), and single event functional interrupts (SEFIs). Though temporary, they are still a cause for concern, as an SEU could have an immediate effect on the output state of a device relied on for control or it could change the logic state of a memory cell later relied upon for a mission-critical function.

Mitigating against the effects of cosmic radiation presents a considerable challenge for not only systems designers – who typically build error-checking, redundancy, and voting algorithms into their digital designs – but also device manufacturers making radiation-hardened (RH) and radiation-tolerant (RT) components.

Source: Reprogrammable prototyping solutions: a must for space design verification – Intelligent Aerospace

How to make coastal cities more flood-ready | Smart Cities Dive


Although some people don’t like to address floods until after the fact, advance planning helps immensely.

Modern modeling and GIS-aided floodplain maps make that easier. “They can look at individual structures and … even do simulations … and see how many structures are covered,” Larry Larson said. “They can see the relative depth of them. They can predict how many structures are going to be damaged and what the options might be.”

Regardless of strategy, “part of what the community should be doing beforehand … [is to] develop a hazard mitigation plan,” Larson said.

Source: How to make coastal cities more flood-ready | Smart Cities Dive

Eco-friendly mushroom furniture is on display at the London Design Festival 2017 | Quartz


The core of the biotech in the furniture is mycelium, the cotton candy-like, vegetative part of fungus. Cox and Ivanova say they drew inspiration from what they call an “ancient material relationship”: They mix the mycelium with woodchips from hazel and goat willow plants, then put the mixture in different molds. Over time, the mycelium spreads through the wood, and grows until it takes the shape of the container.

The whole growing process is quick and easy to control. Designers decide when to halt the growth to achieve the ideal shape and texture.

Source: Eco-friendly mushroom furniture is on display at the London Design Festival 2017 — Quartz

Road to electric car paradise paved with handouts


The Norwegian finance ministry says basic tax breaks totaled about a cumulative 12 billion crowns by the end of 2016. There are now about 140,000 fully electric cars on the road.

Britain and France, the only two countries to announce deadlines for phasing out combustion engines, also offer generous subsidies to electric car buyers.

Buyers in Britain get a grant of up to 35 percent of the purchase price, while in France someone selling a diesel car and buying electric receives thousands of euros in benefits.

Norway’s electric cars: tmsnrt.rs/2wnEmNs

Source: Road to electric car paradise paved with handouts

To find aliens, we must think of life as we don’t know it | Aeon Ideas


To open our minds, we need to go back to basics and consider the fundamental conditions that are necessary for life.

First, it needs some form of energy, such as from volcanic hot springs or hydrothermal vents. That would seem to rule out any planets or moons lacking a strong source of internal heat. Life also needs protection from space radiation, such as an atmospheric ozone layer.

Finally, everything we know about life indicates that it requires some kind of liquid solvent in which chemical interactions can lead to self-replicating molecules. Water is exceptionally effective in that regard. It facilitates making and breaking chemical bonds, assembling proteins or other structural molecules, and – for an actual organism – feeding and getting rid of waste.

Source: To find aliens, we must think of life as we don’t know it | Aeon Ideas

Why the wiring of our brains makes it hard to stop climate change


Humans aren’t well wired to act on complex statistical risks. We care a lot more about the tangible present than the distant future.

Many of us do that to the extreme—what behavioral scientists call hyperbolic discounting—which makes it particularly hard to grapple with something like climate change, where the biggest dangers are yet to come.

Our mental space is limited and we aren’t primed to focus on abstruse topics. Except for a small fraction that are highly motivated, most voters know little about the ins and outs of climate change, or the policy options relating to it.

Instead, voters’ opinions about such things derive from heuristics such as political party affiliation and basic ideology.

Source: Why the wiring of our brains makes it hard to stop climate change

Brexit Thoughts From The Lake District

We are told that the UK will negotiate free trade agreements across all sectors if we leave the EU.

It is the case that government money is being used to train future trade negotiators, given that this was an extinct profession in the UK.

But it is hard to think that a free trade agreement in agriculture with two of the favorite go-to partners, the United States and Australia, can be designed in such a way that they could not flood the UK with sheep products, in which they (particularly Australia) have a comparative advantage.

The English countryside would never be the same again.

Source: Brexit Thoughts From The Lake District

NASA Says Goodbye to Its Saturn Probe | Nextgov.com


Cassini’s journey to Saturn began with its launch in 1997. It took seven years of travel for Cassini to reach its destination, where it became the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn. Since then, it has transmitted a steady stream of images and data about the planet’s rings, atmosphere and many moons.

Part of Cassini’s probe even detached and landed on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, and discovered it could potentially host microbial life.

Source: NASA Says Goodbye to Its Saturn Probe – Nextgov.com

John Deere spent $300 million on Blue River Technology, a company that murders weeds with artificial intelligence | Quartz


Blue River Technology makes a number of farm tools: an automatic precision weed-sprayer, a device that trims lettuce at scale, and software for drones to analyze crops. The company once considered using a Tesla coil to zap weeds, according to Willy Pell, Blue River’s director of new technology, which is objectively a cool idea.

John Deere’s tractors have a level of autonomy today—some can steer themselves via help from GPS signals, while image sensors can determine the quality of grain during harvesting. But the company says Blue River’s AI will allow future tractors to understand each individual plant in crops like lettuce and cotton, two areas Blue River has already showcased.

Source: John Deere spent $300 million on Blue River Technology, a company that murders weeds with artificial intelligence — Quartz