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The Hunt for the Invisible Axion

One team goes it alone in the quest for the dark horse in the dark matter race

17 min read
The Hunt for the Invisible Axion
Lights, Camera, Axion: Physicists Leslie Rosenberg (left) and Gray Rybka examine the Axion Dark Matter eXperiment insert in October 2013.
Photo: Mary Levin/University of Washington

Dark matter, the most abundant form of matter in the universe, is invisible and intangible. But that doesn’t keep Leslie Rosenberg from seeing it nearly everywhere he looks. Like most physicists, he finds ample evidence of it written on the sky. It’s there in the swirling of galaxies, the aftermath of cosmic collisions, and the vast, weblike scaffolding that the universe’s luminous matter seems to hang upon.

It’s also, he hopes, near at hand. Dark matter almost certainly sweeps through Earth like water through cheesecloth. But Rosenberg, a professor at the University of Washington, in Seattle, thinks he might have just the thing to coax it out of hiding.

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Home Heating With Hydrogen: Ill-Advised as it Sounds

Several studies reveal serious drawbacks

3 min read
Two white boilers mounted on a wood wall, with pipes and tubes.

An old central heating boiler (L) and a hydrogen boiler inside the Hydrogen Experience Center in the Netherlands.

Sem van der Wal/ANP/Getty Images

Hydrogen, if it comes from splitting water with renewable electricity, has its role as a climate-friendly energy source. It could help decarbonize challenging sectors like heavy industry, shipping, and aviation.

But hydrogen makes absolutely no sense for heating homes and buildings, according to a new review of several international studies. It is simply much too expensive and inefficient for that purpose, says Jan Rosenow, Europe director at the Regulatory Assistance Project, an energy think tank in Brussels, who authored the commentary published in the journal Joule.

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What Robotics Experts Think of Tesla’s Optimus Robot

Roboticists from industry and academia share their perspectives on Tesla’s new humanoid

11 min read
Tesla's Optimus robot waves at audience from the stage.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Optimus humanoid robot at AI Day on 30 September. In a brief demo, the robot walked, waved, and danced on stage. While robotics experts praised the Tesla team for putting the prototype together so quickly, most were unimpressed by its design.

Tesla

Last Friday, 30 September, Tesla introduced several prototypes of its new humanoid robot, Optimus. After a year of speculation based on little more than a person in a robot suit combined with some optimistic assertions made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, many roboticists tuned in to the event livestream (or attended in person) to see what Tesla’s approach to humanoid robotics would turn out to be.

Reactions across the robotics community were diverse. Because robotics requires expertise in many different aspects of both software and hardware, getting a good sense of the present context of Tesla’s robot as well as its future potential means finding perspectives from a multitude of robotics experts, including people working in industry and academia and everywhere in between. And by scouring the Internet over the weekend, we found as many expert commenters as we could. Together, they offer the most detailed and nuanced understanding of Optimus we’re likely to get outside of Tesla itself.

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Take the Lead on Satellite Design Using Digital Engineering

Learn how to accelerate your satellite design process and reduce risk and costs with model-based engineering methods

1 min read
Keysight
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