Is the Land that Gave us Combustion-Engine Cars About to Be the Death of Them?
Will this EU power be the first to prove that a modern, industrialized nation can make major shifts towards cleaner, greener energy without catastrophe?
New legislation may be the death of the internal combustion engine in Germany, and perhaps Europe at large. A bipartisan resolution was passed by the Bundesrat, one of the two highest legislative bodies in Germany, calling for a ban on the use of internal combustion engines on roads by 2030 to be passed in Brussels, which would affect all of the European Union.
The gravity of the resolution is made greater when the fact that German regulations are often the model for EU regulations is taken into account. That this resolution was passed by the nation with the largest automotive manufacturers in Europe and the home of the Autobahn is no less considerable.
One of the legislators who voted for the bill, Oliver Krischer, a member of the German Green Party, was quoted as saying; “If the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions is to be taken seriously, no new combustion engine cars should be allowed on roads after 2030” in endorsement of the resolution. He references the recent Paris Agreement which seeks to curtail greenhouse gas pollution in signatory nations, which require Germany to make substantial reductions in its pollution output.
What might happen if Europe does phase out internal combustion? Luckily there is a similar case to compare it to, with a similar time frame and scope.
Several years ago, the Germans passed legislation calling for a phase-out of nuclear power; citing environmental and security concerns. The ambitious phase-out seeks to shut down all Germany’s nuclear plants by no later than 2022. Nuclear power usage has declined from being the source of a third of all electricity production to less than a fifth in 2014. The plan is currently on track to be completed on schedule.
The nuclear phase-out has been the catalyst for a series of initiatives to promote renewable power in Germany. While there were concerns about the consequences of a reduction in electricity production at the beginning, the transition has gone on without major issues. This has been made possible by aggressive policies to improve energy efficiency, strong regulations to encourage renewables, and large investments in clean energy. Plans to reach 35% renewable energy production nationally by 2020 are deemed achievable.
The phase-out seems to show that a modern, industrialized nation can make major shifts towards cleaner, greener energy without catastrophe. It can even be done quickly if the planning is done well enough.
So, is the land that gave us the modern internal combustion engine going to be the death of it? That remains uncertain, as the resolution has no legal force at this time. The German Transport Minister has reiterated the lack of legal power behind the resolution and declared the whole thing to be “utter nonsense”. There is also the problem of how clean the non-petrol powered cars would be, if the energy used to power them isn’t clean they can’t be either.
At the very least, a mere attempt to do something this far-reaching is likely to have tremendous effects on the state of alternative technologies for powering cars. If anybody can engineer a better, cleaner automobile, it would be the Germans.
Why self-control makes your life better, and how to get more of it.
(Photo by Geem Drake/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
- Research demonstrates that people with higher levels of self-control are happier over both the short and long run.
- Higher levels of self-control are correlated with educational, occupational, and social success.
- It was found that the people with the greatest levels of self-control avoid temptation rather than resist it at every turn.
Ready your Schrödinger's Cat Jokes.
- For a time, quantum computing was more theory than fact.
- That's starting to change.
- New quantum computer designs look like they might be scalable.
Quantum computing has existed in theory since the 1980's. It's slowly making its way into fact, the latest of which can be seen in a paper published in Nature called, "Deterministic teleportation of a quantum gate between two logical qubits."
To ensure that we're all familiar with a few basic terms: in electronics, a 'logic gate' is something that takes in one or more than one binary inputs and produces a single binary output. To put it in reductive terms: if you produce information that goes into a chip in your computer as a '0,' the logic gate is what sends it out the other side as a '1.'
A quantum gate means that the '1' in question here can — roughly speaking — go back through the gate and become a '0' once again. But that's not quite the whole of it.
A qubit is a single unit of quantum information. To continue with our simple analogy: you don't have to think about computers producing a string of information that is either a zero or a one. A quantum computer can do both, simultaneously. But that can only happen if you build a functional quantum gate.
That's why the results of the study from the folks at The Yale Quantum Institute saying that they were able to create a quantum gate with a "process fidelity" of 79% is so striking. It could very well spell the beginning of the pathway towards realistic quantum computing.
The team went about doing this through using a superconducting microwave cavity to create a data qubit — that is, they used a device that operates a bit like a organ pipe or a music box but for microwave frequencies. They paired that data qubit with a transmon — that is, a superconducting qubit that isn't as sensitive to quantum noise as it otherwise could be, which is a good thing, because noise can destroy information stored in a quantum state. The two are then connected through a process called a 'quantum bus.'
That process translates into a quantum property being able to be sent from one location to the other without any interaction between the two through something called a teleported CNOT gate, which is the 'official' name for a quantum gate. Single qubits made the leap from one side of the gate to the other with a high degree of accuracy.
Above: encoded qubits and 'CNOT Truth table,' i.e., the read-out.
The team then entangled these bits of information as a way of further proving that they were literally transporting the qubit from one place to somewhere else. They then analyzed the space between the quantum points to determine that something that doesn't follow the classical definition of physics occurred.
They conclude by noting that "... the teleported gate … uses relatively modest elements, all of which are part of the standard toolbox for quantum computation in general. Therefore ... progress to improve any of the elements will directly increase gate performance."
In other words: they did something simple and did it well. And that the only forward here is up. And down. At the same time.
These modern-day hermits can sometimes spend decades without ever leaving their apartments.
- A hikikomori is a type of person in Japan who locks themselves away in their bedrooms, sometimes for years.
- This is a relatively new phenomenon in Japan, likely due to rigid social customs and high expectations for academic and business success.
- Many believe hikikomori to be a result of how Japan interprets and handles mental health issues.
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