Can Software Make a Smart Power Grid?
Software has enabled one utility company to cut power consumption by up to 50 percent by more intelligently managing the delivery of electricity to homes and businesses.
What's the Latest Development?
In a small test of electricity grids in Washington state, new computer software developed by I.B.M. reduced power consumption by up to 50 percent, saving customers an average of 10 percent on their bills. That system is now set to be tested on a much larger scale, ultimately knitting together the electricity grids of five states and 11 utility companies. The project will "integrate wind power, store power from the grid, accommodate electric vehicle charging, and establish 'microgrids' that can survive on their own in the event of a power outage."
What's the Big Idea?
As America's infrastructure rapidly ages, smart grids are one potential way to modernize the nation's power system. The software developed by I.B.M., which was funded by the Recovery Act of 2009, "sends signals to the smart thermostats and appliances about how much it currently costs the utility to provide it electricity. Then, based on the preferences entered by the consumer, the smart systems in a home send signals back to the utility about how much power they will use."
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.
- Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
- In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
- Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
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