Refining Steel Without GHG Emissions

Refining metal ores is one of those things that’s really, really hard to do without emitting a huge amount of greenhouse gasses.  The energy sources behind our material economies are not as easily substitutable with renewables, because what they often require is extreme heat, and sometimes the carbon itself (in the case of steelmaking and concrete).  Researchers at MIT are looking at a way of directly refining molten iron oxide directly into pure iron electrolytically that results in very pure iron, and virtually no emissions, and it might work for other oxide refining processes as well.

Anti-aging gene therapy for mice

A virus expressing telomerase enzymes in mice has extended their lifespan up to 24% with a single treatment.  One year old mice get the full benefit.  Two year old mice get about a 13% lifespan boost.  No increased cancer incidence was observed.  Can’t imagine what the FDA human trial for this would look like…

Apple patents technology to remotely disable protesters’ smartphones

So Apple has patented a technology that would allow police to remotely disable protesters’ smartphones.  So… what, are they aiming to corner the smartphone market in China?  Iran?  Syria? Burma?  This kind of crap is why I’ve got a jailbroken Android device, and desperately wish that somebody would offer a high quality Ubuntu Linux laptop.  The centralization of technological control allows for a beautiful UX, and catastrophic exploitation by the state.

An American Made All-in-one Thermal Appliance

Newell Instruments in Illinois has developed an all-in-one “magic box” heat management appliance, to compete with the ones currently manufactured in Europe, which are often prohibitively expensive in the US.  The Newell CERV can both add and remove heat and humidity from a building and provide fresh air supply when needed.  It can also be coupled with a heat-pump based hot water heater.  Brought together in a super-insulated, airtight building this integration simplifies and increases the efficiency of space conditioning.  Here’s hoping they can make it affordable too.

Rare and Superior Gene Variants

It turns out that there’s a rare variant of a gene involved in Alzheimer’s Disease that protects the carriers against age-related cognitive decline.  It even, apparently, protects against other known genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s.  This is totally the kind of thing I can imagine parents paying big bucks to have inserted into their kids — rare genes that already exist in the broader population, that confer disease resistance or other advantages, but which haven’t had time to become prevalent under natural selection, or which confer an advantage that won’t have obvious reproductive consequences.  We’re going to start accumulating a library of these potential genetic revisions and, I suspect, within a couple of decades, making sure that our descendants carry them disproportionately.

Twisted lights in the sky

Twisted light.  Polarized in a new and different way?  Or a way I just never heard of?  Really?  Or maybe it’s just a new application of circular polarization?  Not sure.  But anyway, 2.5 terabits of information a second would be nice to have for communicating in space, between probes and the homeworld.  Between homeworlds in the cosmic civilization-scale jetlag.