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Scientists Accidentally Create a Battery That Can Outlast Your Device
Scientists at University of California, Irving stumble across the secret to long-lasting rechargeable batteries.
Over the last decade or so it’s become increasingly obvious that the limits of battery technology are a pothole on our road to the future. It’s not even a new problem; scientists have been trying to invent better batteries since Edison. Whether we’re talking about storing clean energy, more practical electric cars, or maybe even just our dozing-off phones, battery issues are slowing progress w-a-a-y down. They’re not powerful enough unless they’re uselessly big and seriously pricey. They take a long time to recharge. And for keeping the devices we depend on up and running, they just don’t last long enough.
That is, at least, until researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) stumbled across a way to make ridiculously long-lasting rechargeable batteries. They’ve made a battery that takes 200,000 charge cycles, says, “Is that all you got?” and keeps going. That’s 400 times the charges that a lithium battery can handle.
They were as surprised as anyone. ”We started to cycle the devices, and then realized that they weren't going to die," admitted chair of UCI’s Chemistry department Reginald Penner in an interview with Popular Science. "We don't understand the mechanism of that yet."
Penner’s lab had been experimenting with replacing lithium with gold nanowires—they’re thousands of times thinner than a human hair and very conductive, with a large surface area for storing and transferring electrons. The goal was to make a solid-state battery, without the liquid lithium batteries contain that makes them overly sensitive to heat and combustible. Other researchers have experimented with using the nanowires before, but they’re fragile.
At UCI, PhD candidate Mya Le Thai got the idea of suspending the brittle nanowire in a protective electrolyte gel after coating them with manganese oxide.
And boom: Super-Battery.
“Mya was playing around, and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it,” as Penner tells it. “She discovered that just by using this gel, she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity.”
Rechargeables usually die after 6-7,000 charges, so this is amazing. UCI suspects the gel makes the nanowire more pliable, and thus prevent the cracking that ended previous experiments. This could be the kind of battery-life breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.
Here’s the young scientist herself telling the story of this amazing leap forward.
"Deepfakes" and "cheap fakes" are becoming strikingly convincing — even ones generated on freely available apps.
- A writer named Magdalene Visaggio recently used FaceApp and Airbrush to generate convincing portraits of early U.S. presidents.
- "Deepfake" technology has improved drastically in recent years, and some countries are already experiencing how it can weaponized for political purposes.
- It's currently unknown whether it'll be possible to develop technology that can quickly and accurately determine whether a given video is real or fake.
The future of deepfakes<p>In 2018, Gabon's president Ali Bongo had been out of the country for months receiving medical treatment. After Bongo hadn't been seen in public for months, rumors began swirling about his condition. Some suggested Bongo might even be dead. In response, Bongo's administration released a video that seemed to show the president addressing the nation.</p><p>But the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=324528215059254" target="_blank">video</a> is strange, appearing choppy and blurry in parts. After political opponents declared the video to be a deepfake, Gabon's military attempted an unsuccessful coup. What's striking about the story is that, to this day, experts in the field of deepfakes can't conclusively verify whether the video was real. </p><p>The uncertainty and confusion generated by deepfakes poses a "global problem," according to a <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/research/is-seeing-still-believing-the-deepfake-challenge-to-truth-in-politics/#cancel" target="_blank">2020 report from The Brookings Institution</a>. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense released some of the first tools able to successfully detect deepfake videos. The problem, however, is that deepfake technology keeps improving, meaning forensic approaches may forever be one step behind the most sophisticated forms of deepfakes. </p><p>As the 2020 report noted, even if the private sector or governments create technology to identify deepfakes, they will:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"...operate more slowly than the generation of these fakes, allowing false representations to dominate the media landscape for days or even weeks. "A lie can go halfway around the world before the truth can get its shoes on," warns David Doermann, the director of the Artificial Intelligence Institute at the University of Buffalo. And if defensive methods yield results short of certainty, as many will, technology companies will be hesitant to label the likely misrepresentations as fakes."</p>
Context is everything.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a number of new behaviours into daily routines, like physical distancing, mask-wearing and hand sanitizing. Meanwhile, many old behaviours such as attending events, eating out and seeing friends have been put on hold.
A new study looks at how images of coffee's origins affect the perception of its premiumness and quality.
- Images can affect how people perceive the quality of a product.
- In a new study, researchers show using virtual reality that images of farms positively influence the subjects' experience of coffee.
- The results provide insights on the psychology and power of marketing.