Best of Last Week – Sun in a box, new dark matter theory and metabolism boost after exercise lasts longer than thought

December 10, 2018 by Bob Yirka
'Sun in a box' would store renewable energy for the grid
MIT researchers propose a concept for a renewable storage system, pictured here, that would store solar and wind energy in the form of white-hot liquid silicon, stored in heavily insulated tanks. Credit: Duncan MacGruer

It was a good week for technology as a team at MIT unveiled what they described as a 'sun in a box' to store renewable energy for the grid—it is based on storing excess electricity collected from solar cells and wind farms in large tanks of white-hot molten silicon. Also, a team at the MIT Media Lab described building a plant cyborg that could move toward a preferred light source—they put the plant on a wheeled base with electronics that converted plant communications to movement commands. And Till Hartman, from Harvard Medical School, carried out a study to improve computer vision in the dark using classical convolution neural networks. Also, a team that included members from Caltech, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Honda Research Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory outlined a new battery concept based on fluoride ions that may increase battery lifespans.

There were also a couple of stories that made headlines around the world. In the first, a team at the University of Oxford suggested they may have solved one of the biggest questions in physics: What is the nature of dark matter? They came up with a new theory that could explain the missing 95 percent of the cosmos by unifying dark matter with dark energy as a fluid that possesses negative mass. And a study by researchers from Yale University of Oviedo in Spain, the Galapagos Conservancy and the Galapagos National Park Service reported that the death of Lonesome George may have helped reveal the mystery of why giant tortoises live so long.

In other news, University of Kent researcher Robin Mackenzie explored the ethical implications of creating sentient and self-aware sexbots in considerable detail and discovered there may be more at stake than previously thought. And a team at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer at Université de Montréal announced a major breakthrough in the quest for a cancer vaccine. Also, an international team of space scientists reported on the detection of the biggest known black-hole collision to date.

And finally, if you are worried that taking a day or two off from your fitness routine will ruin your efforts, you may not need to worry—a team at UT Southwestern Medical Center found that a single workout can your boost metabolism for days.

© 2018 Science X Network

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