Loser: Algae Bloom Climate-Change Scheme Doomed

Planktos’s ploy to combat global warming by sequestering carbon in the oceans holds no water

5 min read
Loser: Algae Bloom Climate-Change Scheme Doomed
Green Machines: Phytoplankton, a type of algae, are at the base of most aquatic food chains. If the organisms die without being eaten, they sink to the ocean bottom. In the Southern Ocean, their growth is limited by the availability of iron.
Photo: Steve Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library

Climate Engineering

As the 20th century waned and dot-com fever went criti­cal, the flow of hallucinatory business plans became a mad torrent. Shortly before it all went down the drain, observers pointed with alarm at the millions of dollars thrown at plans for using a plastic cat to track people while they surfed the Internet, for offering virtual “sticky notes” to be attached to Web sites, and for selling a USB device that emitted odors corresponding to whatever was on the ­computer monitor.

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The EV Transition Explained: Battery Challenges

Batteries expose supply chain and skills gaps

6 min read
A General Motors Hummer EV chassis sits in front of an Hummer EV outside of an event

A General Motors Hummer EV chassis sits in front of an Hummer EV outside an event where GM CEO Mary Barra announced ta $7 billion investment in EV and battery production in Michigan in January 2022.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

“Energy and information are two basic currencies of organic and social systems," the economics Nobelist Herb Simon once observed. "A new technology that alters the terms on which one or the other of these is available to a system can work on it the most profound changes.”

Electric vehicles at scale alter the terms of both basic currencies concurrently. Reliable, secure supplies of minerals and software are core elements for EVs, which represent a “shift from a fuel-intensive to a material-intensive energy system,” according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). For example, the mineral requirements for an EV’s batteries and electric motors are six times that of an ICE vehicle, which can increase the average weight of an EV by 340 kgs (750 pounds). For something like the Ford Lightning, the weight can be more than twice that amount.

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Ownership of AI-Generated Code Hotly Disputed

A copyright storm may be brewing for GitHub Copilot

4 min read
An illustration of a pixilated person on a ladder placing code.
Edmon De Haro

GitHub Copilot dubs itself as an “AI pair programmer” for software developers, automatically suggesting code in real time. According to GitHub, Copilot is “powered by Codex, a generative pretrained AI model created by OpenAI” and has been trained on “natural language text and source code from publicly available sources, including code in public repositories on GitHub.”

However, a class-action lawsuit filed against GitHub Copilot, its parent company Microsoft, and OpenAI claims open-source software piracy and violations of open-source licenses. Specifically, the lawsuit states that code generated by Copilot does not include any attribution of the original author of the code, copyright notices, and a copy of the license, which most open-source licenses require.

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Accelerate Battery Development with Unified Design, Modeling and Simulation

Our world is becoming more dependent on batteries. The value chain from material suppliers to battery makers to automotive and industrial vehicle developers is under pressure to optimize battery performance for a wide range of conditions while ensuring safety.

However, batteries are high in mass and require rare materials, life between charges needs increased, and questions remain about long-term recyclability. Meeting these challenges requires advanced engineering methods: including chemistry, cell engineering, module and pack engineering.

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