Japan finds a huge cache of scarce rare-earth minerals

Japan looks to replace China as the primary source of critical metals

Rare-earth magnets (nikkytok/Shutterstock)
  • Enough rare earth minerals have been found off Japan to last centuries
  • Rare earths are important materials for green technology, as well as medicine and manufacturing
  • Where would we be without all of our rare-earth magnets?
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The mystery material that can survive 75 nuclear blasts

Recipe for awe: Coat one egg with Starlite. Blast it with a ridiculous amount of heat until charred black. Crack it open.

(Miodownik/BBC Reel)
  • A professional hairdresser and amateur chemist invented an unbelievably heat-resistant coating called Starlite.
  • Military applications brought governments running, but the inventor's odd negotiating style ruined discussions.
  • Was Starlite lost when he died, or had it already been stolen?
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5 of the worst inventions in modern history

Be glad your name isn't attached to any of these bad ideas.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Some inventions can be celebrated during their time, but are proven to be devastating in the long run.
  • The inventions doesn't have to be physical. Complex mathematical creations that create money for Wall Street can do as much damage, in theory, as a gas that destroys the ozone layer.
  • Inventors can even see their creations be used for purposes far different than they had intended.
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New self-healing technology makes robots more human-like

The researchers created a special polymer that can make robots repair themselves.

  • Scientists are creating robots that can heal themselves
  • Ability to heal is important for soft robots
  • Soft robots can perform delicate operations but can damage easily
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New, MIT-made battery is powered by CO2

In the near future, we might use the toxic gas to power homes.

Shutterstock/Big Think
  • New research from an MIT team has resulted in a proof-of-concept battery that uses a CO2-based component.
  • The research made innovative use of technology from existing carbon-capture processes and applied it to battery systems, potentially circumventing the high cost of carbon capture and the inefficiency in prior CO2-based batteries.
  • The system could be installed in power plants to capture excess carbon dioxide and use it to store energy.
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