Can Technology Reverse Climate Change?

IEEE Spectrum’s editors and writers investigate a dozen of the world’s most promising projects to cut greenhouse gases

2 min read
Opening illustration for this feature article.
Illustration: Francesco Muzzi/StoryTK

Do you believe that climate change is a vast left-wing conspiracy that does little more than create jobs for scientists while crippling businesses with pointless regulation? Or, quite the contrary, are you convinced that climate change is the biggest crisis confronting the planet, uniquely capable of wreaking havoc on a scale not seen in recorded history?

Many of you are probably in one camp or the other. No doubt some of you will tell us how disappointed/angry/outraged you are that we (a) gave credence to this nonsense or (b) failed to convey the true urgency of the situation. We welcome your thoughts.

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Landsat Proved the Power of Remote Sensing

The Earth-imaging satellites have amassed a half-century of data on crops, borders, and war zones

6 min read
A satellite image shows vegetation in red tones and urban and rocky areas in grays and whites.

The first image captured on 25 July 1972 by the first Landsat satellite shows the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Robert Simmon/USGS/NASA

On 18 September 1969, U.S. President Richard Nixon addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. It was a difficult time in global politics, and much of his speech focused on the war in Vietnam, disputes in the Middle East, and strategic arms control. Toward the end, though, the speech took a curious and hopeful turn, as Nixon rhapsodized about the unifying potential of international cooperation in space exploration. As an example, he noted the United States was in the process of developing new satellites to survey Earth’s natural resources.

Three years later, on 23 July 1972, NASA launched what would be the first Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS). It gave scientists, land managers, policymakers, and others an unprecedented view of their planet. The program has since launched eight more satellites. Renamed the Landsat program in 1975, it is now celebrating its 50th anniversary of imaging the Earth.

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Graphene Tattoos Measure Blood Pressure Continually

Ultralight sensors could work for days

3 min read
photo illustration of forearm and hand with graphene tattoos inked on the forearm and a traditional blood-pressure monitor with armband cuff is in the image background

Graphene tattoos placed over the two major arteries in the wrist monitor blood pressure nonstop by measuring the impedance of electrical current through tissue.

University of Texas at Austin

Blood pressure measurement hasn’t changed much since the invention of the inflatable cuff-based sphygmomanometer in 1881. People can use the device to give readings a few times a day, but that’s not enough to give a holistic view of cardiovascular health.

New electronic tattoos made of graphene continuously read blood pressure for days. The ultrathin, light sensors could allow monitoring of a patient’s blood pressure while they go about their daily activities.

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A Multiphysics Approach to Designing Fuel Cells for Electric Vehicles

White paper on fuel cell modeling and simulation

1 min read
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Comsol

Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) often reach higher energy density and exhibit greater efficiency than battery EVs; however, they also have high manufacturing costs, limited service life, and relatively low power density.

Modeling and simulation can improve fuel cell design and optimize EV performance. Learn more in this white paper.