tech science

You’re looking at a real big deal.

Because in a nanotechnology lab, big deals come in smaller and smaller packages. What you see above is an extreme close-up of a 5 nanometer transistor. In an industry-first, the IBM Research Alliance developed nanosheet transistors that will enable a 5 nm chip. What’s so big about that? Well, by achieving a scale of 30 billion switches on a fingernail sized chip, it can deliver significant enhancements over today’s state-of-the-art 10 nm chips. This not only improves the performance of current technologies but also provides the fuel for the future demands of AI, VR, quantum and mobile technologies to run on. Plus, it could also make things like smartphone batteries last 2-3x longer between charges, so it may also be a real lifesaver too. 


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Can we teach computers how to smell?

Researchers from IBM and Rockefeller University are trying to sniff out the answer. Smell may be the least understood of the five senses, so the team trained software to identify scents in order to learn more about how our brains perceive them. Their results prove for the first time that a scent can be predicted based on its molecular structure. Ultimately, as their database of scents grows, the predictions will become even more on the nose.


Learn how they did it →

Contamination-seeking drones - IBM Patent 9447448.

Stay back and let the drones do the dirty work. Patent 9447448 makes cognitive drones able to inspect and decontaminate places so humans don’t have to. The drones’ on-board AI system can collect and analyze samples, so it can identify and clean up any bacteria or outbreak. Meanwhile you get to hang back, safely out of harm’s way.


This is just one of the record-breaking 8,000+ patents IBM received this year. Explore the latest IBM patents. →

nature.com
Seawater is the secret to long-lasting Roman concrete
Ancient recipe has lasted 2,000 years thanks to chemical reactions that result in a rare mineral.

Ancient Romans built concrete sea walls that have withstood pounding ocean waves for more than 2,000 years. Now, an international team has discovered a clue to the concrete’s longevity: a rare mineral forms during chemical reactions between the concrete and seawater that strengthen the material.

Structural engineers might be able to use these insights to make stronger, more-sustainable concrete, says team leader Marie Jackson, a geologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She and her colleagues report their findings on 3 July in American Mineralogist1.

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The Mponeng Gold Mine in South Africa is the deepest gold mine on Earth.

That unholy mess of a pit runs up to 2.5 miles deep, and its 236 miles of tunnels house a ridiculously massive underground complex. Every day, 4,000 workers are lowered into the mine in giant, three-story, 120-person cage elevators. Due to geothermal heat, the temperatures in the lower levels of the mine can reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

This Mordor hellpit is already surreal enough, then you factor in the hordes of “ghost” miners – criminal miners who have managed to enter the pit and set up shop for their share of the gold. These illegal workers have created their own shadow economy deep within the confines of the earth, trading everything from bread to sex (add “underground hell-mine prostitute” to the list of most terrifying professions on Earth). They live there, eat there, and keep their own peace … with AK-47s and improvised beer-bottle grenades. As for the mining company’s security guards, they mostly leave the ghost miners be, because the place is far too vast to police efficiently, and also … well, we did mention the beer-bottle grenades, right?

This little shadow society is coming to an end, though: The mine is due to run out of gold in about 7-8 years. So there’s nothing left to do but return to the surface … right?

Nope.

6 Mind-Bending Places Where Humans Somehow Have To Work

But science isn’t a stuffy old set of rules to be followed dogmatically. In fact, being anti-dogma is science’s “thing.” Science is a set of methods for determining what’s likely to be true based on what’s repeatable. If you can reliably predict an outcome, you’re doing science, baby. We didn’t stop reading tea leaves because they clashed with our new Bunsen burner set, we stopped reading them because they didn’t have reproducible effects.

If someone could wave a stick, say some words in pseudo-Latin, and levitate a book from across the room, scientists wouldn’t be all, “I refuse to believe the overwhelming evidence that this is very clearly true. Now let’s stop talking about it and grab those beakers so we can confirm things we already know.”

They would be the people most psyched about it. Generally, people don’t become scientists because they hope we never discover anything new. They dream of discovering something a millionth as interesting as a stupid spell that waters your plants while you’re on vacation. Any scientist worth their salt would kill for the chance to understand this somehow completely undiscovered force. Plus, they could win every single Nobel Prize for the next hundred years.

5 Ways Movies Keep Getting Scientists Wrong

So where’s the fic where a young tech innovator Kara Danvers applies to attend a TEDConfrence in Metropolis, crowdfunds the $6,000 to attend, and then sits in on Lena’s talk on quantum technology. And then she manages to catch Lena afterward and piques Lena’s attention with her own knowledge and interest in quantum technology. And the two nerd out over sciencey stuff, exchange numbers if Kara ever needs assistance in her own work and the two work on science projects together that involves Lena throwing microscopes and the two nerds fall in love.