New battery made of molten metals may offer low-cost

liquid metall battery
A novel rechargeable battery developed at MIT could one day play a critical role in the massive expansion of solar generation needed to mitigate climate change by midcentury. Designed to store energy on the electric grid, the high-capacity battery consists of molten metals that naturally separate to form two electrodes in layers on either side of the molten salt electrolyte between them. Tests with cells made of low-cost, Earth-abundant materials confirm that the liquid battery operates efficiently without losing significant capacity or mechanically degrading-common problems in today's batteries with solid electrodes. The MIT researchers have already demonstrated a simple, low-cost process for manufacturing prototypes of their battery, and future plans call for field tests on small-scale power grids that include intermittent generating sources such as solar and wind.

The ability to store large amounts of electricity and deliver it later when it's needed will be critical if intermittent renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are to be deployed at scales that help curtail climate change in the coming decades. Such large-scale storage would also make today's power grid more resilient and efficient, allowing operators to deliver quick supplies during outages and to meet temporary demand peaks without maintaining extra generating capacity that's expensive and rarely used.


Robots to Spy On Black Holes

accretion disk
Astronomers wanting more accurate measurements of distant black holes have some new assistants - robots that can tackle the tedious task of monitoring black hole neighbor clouds' glow.

The technique, known as reverberation mapping, has been in astronomers' toolkits for decades, but it required much labor and telescope time.

The idea is that radiation from swirling matter at the mouth of an active black hole will light up distant clouds. By chemically analyzing the gas in the so-called accretion disk around the black hole and comparing it with the glow of gas farther away, astronomers can figure out the mass of the black hole and the strength of its gravitational field.


A new all-solid lithium-sulfur battery

Batteries - a guide to the future

Batteries that store renewable energy are essential for the Paris climate agreement to work. Viviane Richter describes the rechargeable batteries that could make it happen.

Turning solar and wind electricity into a 24/7 power source as reliable as coal. Eliminating the "range anxiety" that stops people switching from petrol to electric cars. Stopping the irritation of flat smartphones or laptops.

Those are just a few of the advantages that affordable long-lived rechargeable batteries, capable of delivering a sustained high-powered output over weeks instead of days could offer.


Artificial intelligence software at the end of the rainbow

Artificial intelligence
The incoming artificial intelligence software revolution is affecting the finance sector. It's not easy to draw the boundaries of such a broad concept as the financial sector, but evolving customer expectations, crypto-currencies, peer-to-peer landing and changes in the regulatory landscape are all affecting the way finance is executed today. And those changes are rapid. Enjoy this introductory video provided by the Financial Times. It suggests a few questions, we will take care of the answers in this post.

Artificial intelligence software and personal finance

As I work in finance, people always ask me if we will benefit or be damaged by this kind of financial innovation. To answer the question, we have to think what finance really means. To me finance is about managing and transferring risk. When I buy insurance, I transfer some risk to the insurer. When I buy a stock, I accept the risk of default of the issuer and hope for dividends and increase in value of my title. When I buy a derivative I want to cover the risk of adverse variances of interests, exchange rates etc...


Human-Like Neural Networks Make Computers Better Conversationalists

If you've ever tried to hold a conversation with a chatbot like CleverBot, you know how quickly the conversation turns to nonsense, no matter how hard you try to keep it together.

But now, a research team led by Bruno Golosio, assistant professor of applied physics at Universita di Sassari in Italy, has taken a significant step toward improving human-to-computer conversation. Golosio and colleagues built an artificial neural network, called ANNABELL, that aims to emulate the large-scale structure of human working memory in the brain - and its ability to hold a conversation is eerily human-like.


Q-carbon Puts Diamonds in Second Place

Long ago, ancient scientists attempted to master the craft of alchemy, or the mythical process of turning lead into gold. Alchemy has since been proven to be a hopeless task, but modern scientists have successfully unlocked the secrets to an even more stunning transformation: turning carbon, the basic building block of life, into diamonds.

A new, simple carbon-transforming technique that uses a laser to produce tiny diamond “seeds” is yielding even more sparkling results. Researchers, in a new study, used their method to create an entirely new phase of carbon that surpasses even diamonds in terms of hardness, and the new material could have a number of applications in medical and industrial fields.