Curating the Internet: Science and technology micro-summaries for August 29, 2019

in rsslog •  9 months ago  (edited)

A new water harvester pulls water out of the desert air; Developmental psychology: when do kids start responding to peer pressure; A semi-autonomous telepresence robot; Water as a fuel for space travel; A Steem survey of technology advances in water harvesting and purification


Straight from my RSS feed
Whatever gets my attention

Links and micro-summaries from my 1000+ daily headlines. I filter them so you don't have to.


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  1. Water harvester makes it easy to quench your thirst in the desert - Berkeley's Omar Yaghi and colleagues published in a journal from the American Chemistry Society, ACS Central Science, this week with a description of their device that pulls water from the air. The device is the first of its kind that uses a custom material to be able to extract water from dry air, at a rate up to 2.27 cups of water per day per pound of material (1.3 liters per day per kilogram). In field tests in the Mojave desert, it was able to operate 24x7 using solar cells and batteries for power, and it reliably generated 6.6 cups of water per pound of material per day (0.7 liters per kg per day). Yaghi's startup, Water Harvester Inc. is now testing a microwave sized device, with plans to begin marketing soon. The device will supply 1.8-2.6 gallons (7-10 liters) of water per day. A planned refrigerator-sized device will eventually produce 52-66 gallons (200-250 liters). By adding fans and other improvements, this harvester is about 10 times more effective than a previous generation of the technology, and beats the proof of concept device by a factor of 100. The article closes with this: "The atmosphere has almost as much water at any one time as all the rivers and lakes," he said. "Harvesting this water could help turn dry deserts into oases." Unless I missed it, there's no information about expected pricing.

  2. When do kids start to care about other people's opinions? - Emory University PhD psychology student, Sara Valencia Botto, gives a TED talk on developmental psychology. She notes that adults use two principles in making some decisions: (i) We're cognizant of what others like, and know what they will approve and disapprove of; and (ii) We use this information to guide our behavior. In this talk, she describes some of her developmental psychology research with 14-24 month old children, where she explores the emergence of these value-driven behaviors in children. Spoiler: Even at that age, kids are already responding to value judgments from others.

  3. New Double 3 Robot Makes Telepresence Easier than Ever - Taking advantage of advances in 3D sensing, this telepresence robot uses mapping and semi-autonomous navigation to bring the video-conference to the participant. It has an integrated touch-screen so a user can click on a map to indicate the target location, and the robot will go there, avoiding obstacles along the way. It is designed with safety in mind so that it can even recognize things like blank walls and transparent windows. The control system is provided by an NVIDIA Jetson TX2 that is running ubuntu linux, and it has an extensive API for developers. A drawback is that customer's have tried to hang T-shirts on the robot to give them "personality", but that interferes with the sensors.

    Video here:


  • Water propulsion technologies picking up steam - In just about 2 years, the idea of using water as fuel for a space propulsion system has moved from novelty to main-stream. According to Momentus founder and president, Mikhail Kokorich, water is ideal as-is for use as a propellant in nuclear thermal, solar, or electrothermal engines, and it can also be easily broken down into oxygen and hydrogen. After a 2017 demo of the possibility by Aerospace Corp., a handful of companies are now pursuing water-fueled space technologies. In addition to Momentus and Aerospace Corp., this also includes Capella Space, HawkEye 360, and Tethers Unlimited. Water is so attractive because it is clean, easy to transport, and abundant - it could even be extracted from the Moon or asteroids. In addition to corporate interest, from Purdue to Tokyo, universities around the world are also developing this technology. Kokorich is also quoted as saying, "Just as oil powered the industrial revolution on Earth, water will power the space industrial revolution”. h/t RealClear Science

  • STEEM Scientist Developed Technology To Solved Fresh Drinking Water Worldwide. - In this Steem article, @malay11 describes recent advances in technology for access to safe drinking water. It stars off with a short description of the water harvester that was covered in this posts's link #1, then moves on to describe water purification systems from Saudi Arabia and the UK, and a cloud computing device that can test water purity with no chemicals through the use of UV rays. (A 10% beneficiary has been assigned to this post for @malay11)


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