Tesla has always been about pushing full speed toward a tech-tastic future. CEO Elon Musk wouldn’t settle for making a luxurious, sexy, environmentally-friendly electric car. He made one that could hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. Then 2.8 seconds. Then 2.5—all the while ratcheting up the range, from the original 265 miles per charge to the current, top of the line 335.
As Friday night became Saturday morning, Dong Kim sounded defeated.
Kim is a high-stakes poker player who specializes in no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em. The 28-year-old Korean-American typically matches wits with other top players on high-stakes internet sites or at the big Las Vegas casinos. But this month, he’s in Pittsburgh, playing poker against an artificially intelligent machine designed by two computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon. No computer has ever beaten the top players at no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em, a particularly complex game of cards that serves as the main event at the World Series of Poker. Nearly two years ago, Kim was among the players who defeated an earlier incarnation of the AI at the same casino. But this time is different. Late Friday night, just ten days into this twenty-day contest, Kim told me that he and his fellow humans have no real chance of winning.
It is really hard to photograph a meteor. Even though some 25 million of them hurtle toward Earth each day, most of them are too small to track. Those you can see are tough to spot during the day, and most people are sleeping when they streak across the sky at night. But Prasenjeet Yadav managed to get one anyway, entirely by accident.
After a flock of Canada geese knocked out the engines of a US Airways jetliner in January 2009, pilot “Sully” Sullenberger was famously able to safely land the Airbus A320 on the Hudson River. What became known as the “Miracle on the Hudson” was happy news, especially for the 155 passengers whose lives Sullenberger saved.
But it was terrible news for geese and other birds that migrate or make their homes near the three major airports in the New York City area. To prevent a similar incident from happening again, nearly 70,000 birds have been intentionally killed near John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports over the past eight years, the Associated Press reports.
Cornell engineers hope that clean water runs deep. They have developed a new technique to test for a wide range of micropollutants in lakes, rivers and other potable water sources that vastly outperforms conventional methods.
“Water quality monitoring is conventionally done by narrowly investigating one or a few contaminants at a time. We aimed to develop an analytical method that would be as broad as possible,” said Damian Helbling, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. Helbling and Amy Pochodylo, M.S. ’14, published their research as the cover story in the journal Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology.
New air quality research is investigating a major, but often overlooked contributor to outdoor pollution and climate: burning of solid fuel for cooking and heating.
Cookstove studies typically evaluate how they contribute to indoor air quality issues in houses where solid fuel is frequently used for cooking and heating. A new paper from the University of Colorado Boulder appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has taken a different approach, going outside the home and evaluating how cookstoves impact ambient air pollution and climate.
Physicist Fatima Ebrahimi at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has published a paper showing that magnetic reconnection — the process in which magnetic field lines snap together and release energy — can be triggered by motion in nearby magnetic fields. By running computer simulations, Ebrahimi gathered evidence indicating that the wiggling of atomic particles and magnetic fields within electrically charged gas known as plasma can spark the onset of reconnection, a process that, when it occurs on the sun, can spew plasma into space.
A Florida State University researcher is taking a deep dive into the carbon cycle and investigating how carbon moves from the ocean surface to greater depths and then remains there for hundreds of years.
Drugs that contain one or more fluorine atoms tend to be more stable, more powerful, and easier for the body to absorb. For those reasons, drug developers would like to be able to incorporate fluorine or a fluorine-containing unit known as trifluoromethyl into new experimental drugs, but this has been very difficult to do.
Now, a team of chemists at MIT and Boston College has discovered a new type of catalyst that can incorporate a trifluoromethyl group within a variety of organic molecules. The availability of these exceptionally efficient and selective catalysts should allow researchers to rapidly generate potential new fluorinated drugs, including antibiotics and anticancer agents, for testing.
Computer models play a significant role in environmental policy, but offer only a partial picture of the industrial system
Whether it’s electric automobiles, renewable energy, carbon tax or sustainable consumption: Sustainable development requires strategies that meet people’s needs without harming the environment. Before such strategies are implemented, their potential impact on environment, economy, and society needs to be tested.
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