The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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A Critical Look at Claims for Green Technologies

Green technologies are not yet proved, affordable, or deployable—but even if they were, it would still take them generations to solve our environmental problems

6 min read
Illustration: Stuart Bradford
Illustration: Stuart Bradford

When a bright new idea comes along, it’s easy to imagine a fantastic future for it. Perhaps the best example of this is Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity, scheduled to arrive in 2045, which will supposedly bring “immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.” Not to be left behind, a former Google X senior executive says that “everything you see in sci-fi movies is going to happen.” Not just something, mind you, but everything.

Compared with such utterly ahistorical visions, unmoored from reality, the articles gathered in this issue are actually quite tame. They promise only a long-lasting supply of affordable and clean energy—either through nuclear fission or through electricity derived from burning (yes, burning) CO2—and a surfeit of food from a variety of sources: vertical farms based in cities, crops that will need almost no fertilizer, and environmentally friendly meat substitutes.

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Entangling Quantum Sensors Can Triple Accuracy

“Spooky sensing at a distance” via one combined device

3 min read
two pieces of light connected to each other
Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Using the strange quantum phenomenon known as entanglement, which Einstein dubbed “spooky action at a distance,” a new study reveals that scientists now can network multiple quantum sensors to form one united device. The findings could improve quantum sensors for a multitude of applications, such as helping detect hidden underground resources and structures for mining and the military, researchers say.

Quantum sensors are capable of performing tasks such as detecting the magnetic fields of thoughts with unprecedented levels of sensitivity. These devices rely on quantum effects such as entanglement, wherein multiple particles essentially act in sync regardless of how far apart they are. Quantum effects are incredibly vulnerable to outside interference, a fact that quantum sensors capitalize on to help detect the slightest disturbances in their surroundings.

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NYU Spearheads Project to Help Chemical Industry Go Green

NYU leads multi-year project to reduce carbon emissions in chemical manufacturing

5 min read
Renewable energy
NYU Tandon School of Engineering

A team at New York University's Tandon School of Engineering is playing a key role in forging a collaboration involving over a dozen US universities and national laboratories aimed at sparking — literally — a fundamental change in how the US chemical industry operates.

The goal is to address the most daunting task looming over the industry: how to make industrial chemistry — especially petrochemistry — greener and more sustainable, partly to meet the escalating demands of greenhouse emission regulations. The nascent, multi-institutional effort will be called “Decarbonizing Chemical Manufacturing Using Sustainable Electrification," or DC-MUSE.

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