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Air Power

Wireless data connections are common--now scientists are working on wireless power

4 min read

Wish you didn’t have to plug in your laptop and cellphone? A team of researchers from MIT may have just the thing for you. Yesterday, at the American Institute of Physics’ Industrial Physics Forum in San Francisco, Marin Soljacic, Aristeidis Karalis, and J.D. Joannopoulos described a scheme that would let devices get their power the same way they get their data: through the air.

Of course, transferring energy wirelessly is nothing new in itself. Electricity is routinely transferred in this way in transformers using induction; radio frequency identification chips are energized by radio waves emitted from RFID readers; and for years, researchers have worked on transferring energy over long distances using microwaves. But there are obvious limits. Although a lot of power can be passed through a transformer, the energy typically can be transmitted only a few millimeters inside the transformer. RFID readers do have a longer range, but little power can be transmitted to the chips. Microwave systems can transmit fair amounts of power over long distances, but they are bulky and have to use a tightly focused beam that must be precisely pointed at the receiver to keep the energy from being hopelessly dissipated.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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