Paying for Solar Power

The rail cars that once carried iron ore around Republic Steel’s sprawling plant at the edge of downtown Buffalo, New York, were plowed under when the steel company abandoned the location in 1984. They were recently discovered when excavation began for the so-called gigafactory to be operated by...
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The Coming Wave of Bionic Hearing Gadgets

In a windowless office on a tiny San Francisco side street, Noah Kraft is making me hear things in a way I’ve never heard them before. I’m wearing a wireless earbud in each ear. The devices, which are white and look kind of like big Altoids mints, are...
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How Tiny Ribbons of Graphene Could Power a Faster Transistor

High-quality graphene nanoribbons can now be grown directly on a conventional germanium wafer. A new way to make ultrathin ribbons of graphene could give the promising electronic material the edge it needs to finally become practical for use in digital processing on computer chips. Researchers have shown that...
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Bitcoin’s Dark Side Could Get Darker

Some of the earliest adopters of the digital currency Bitcoin were criminals, who have found it invaluable in online marketplaces for contraband and as payment extorted through lucrative “ransomware” that holds personal data hostage. A new Bitcoin-inspired technology that some investors believe will be much more useful and...
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Surgeons Smash Records with Pig-to-Primate Organ Transplants

With the financial aid of a biotechnology executive whose daughter may need a lung transplant, U.S. researchers have been shattering records in xenotransplantation, or between-species organ transplants. The researchers say they have kept a pig heart alive in a baboon for 945 days and also reported the longest-ever...
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The Next Great GMO Debate

The Colorado potato beetle is a voracious eater. The insect can chew through 10 square centimeters of leaf a day, and left unchecked it will strip a plant bare. But the beetles I was looking at were doomed. The plant they were feeding on—bright green and carefully netted...
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Where’s the Affordable Carbon Fiber Automobile?

The chassis of the BMW 7-series combines steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber reinforced plastic. In the image above, the black parts around the door frames and across the roof are carbon fiber. Car parts made of carbon fiber have been used for decades in $1 million-plus European supercars,...
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A Quicker Way to Pair Smartphones: Shake Them

Pairing two smartphones to swap photos or documents or anything else, is an annoyingly complex process. Via Bluetooth, for example, this usually require one user to manually enter a unique key supplied by one of the devices. That’s time consuming, fiddly and a significant barrier to quick connections....
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India, Solar Technology, and the Monkey Problem

In central Karnataka state, 120 miles north of Bangalore, the lush jungle of India’s west coast gives way to dry scrubland. Sunflowers, onions, chilis, and groundnuts grow in parched fields. In scattered, populous villages, concrete buildings alternate with ramshackle thatched huts. Cows nose through the garbage, and wooden...
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