A radical breakthrough in engine design:
Electrically driven cars are the future. But until we have cheap, 1000-mile batteries, we still need range-extending fossil-fuel engines. Those devices don’t need to turn wheels, just generate juice. The simple solution is to strap a generator to a piston engine, as BMW did with the two-cylinder range extender in its i3 EV. But if the engine never turns a wheel, there’s no need for it to rotate anything. Why not cut out the middleman and use the piston’s reciprocating motion to generate electricity? That obviates camshafts and most other rotating parts, too.
Toyota recently showed a prototype engine that does just that. It’s called the Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG). “Free” refers to the fact that the piston isn’t attached to a crankshaft; instead, as the piston is forced downward during its power stroke, it passes through windings in the cylinder to generate a burst of three-phase AC electricity. The FPEG operates like a two-stroke engine but adds direct gasoline injection and electrically operated valves. It can also be run like a diesel, using compression rather than a spark plug to ignite its fuel mixture.
Toyota says this mechanically simple engine achieves a claimed thermal-efficiency rating of 42 percent in continuous use. Only the best, most complicated, and most expensive of today’s gas engines can come close to that number, and only in specific circumstances.
To truly learn to live with water, New York needs to make, at least in current and future flood-prone areas, its infrastructure submersible; remove vital building systems from basements to higher floors or roofs; and eventually connect skyscrapers with “high-lines” like the recreational park not far from the Hudson River. By 2100, we need to have transformed many city streets into Venice-like canals so that businesses can continue to flourish; that goods, services, people and waste can get in and out unhindered using watertight subways, and where needed, barges, ferries and water taxis.
A great interview with Jacob, here.
Richard Holden of the OED (@rchrd_h) credits me as the first twittered use of ‘hash tag’ and #hashtag, but I’ve been left out of the OED citation itself. Odd, especially since Ben Zimmer came to the same result a few years ago).
It’s happening fast. Robotic suits are coming.
There are also hints that smell is a quantum sense. Our noses appear to work by sensing the natural vibration frequencies of the bonds between atoms in molecules. Those frequencies determine whether a smell receptor is switched on and sends a signal to the brain. The best explanation for experimental observations involves an electron using a phenomenon known as quantum uncertainty to tunnel through a seemingly impenetrable barrier. Essentially, it borrows energy from the universe in order to leap across an empty space in the smell receptors and trigger the brain’s sense of smell. As long as it returns the energy quickly enough, the electron can use as much as it needs. This “quantum tunnelling” phenomenon is also at the heart of modern electronics.”
Then there’s the navigation trick birds use for migration. Studies of the European robin (and the robin had to wear a cute little eyepatch during this research) suggest that a particular configuration of a molecule in the robin’s retina – a configuration that can only be explained by the rules of quantum theory – allows the bird to sense Earth’s magnetic field and thus determine the direction in which it should fly.
What about precognition? That’s how I sense what’s coming and which way to fly.
I kind of missed the part of Google I/O when Sundar Pichai showed Android apps running on Chromebook.
My bet is the Android model of computing will grow to eclipse Chrome OS efforts, because people will want the Android apps they know and love.
At this time, only Vine, Flipboard, and Evernote are available.
What about Android apps in the Chrome browser?