Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.
This week: Self driving cars hitting the roads in London, scientists create a heat-sensing robot “skin”, a new theory have how life began on earth, China is shutting down 104 new coal plants, and SpaceX successfully launches and lands Falcon9 rocket again.
Self Driving Cars to Begin Testing in London
Nissan has been one of the United Kingdom’s top car producers for a while. As a response to the British government’s supportive regulatory environment for autonomous vehicle testing and development, Nissan will start testing its all-electric, self-piloted Leaf in London, with trials on public roads set to begin in February.
Scientists Create Heat-Sensing Robot “Skin”
Drawing inspiration from nature, scientists have created a heat-sensing film that would allow robots to detect temperature changes in their environment.
Developed by the team from ETH Zurich in Switzerland, the material mimics how the natural membrane of a snake works to help the animal identify nearby prey. Surprisingly, the researchers were able to achieve this using pectin — a low-cost substance that’s primarily used to thicken jam.
New Discovery Marks Potential Way Life Began On Earth
Modern science has advanced significantly over the last couple of decades. We’ve managed to answer several of the world’s most long-standing questions, but some answers have continued to elude today’s scientists, including how life first emerged from the Earth’s primordial soup. However, a collaboration of physicists and biologists in Germany may have just found an explanation to how living cells first evolved.
In 1924, Russian biochemist Alexander Oparin proposed the idea that the first living cells could have evolved from liquid droplet protocells. He believed these protocells could have acted as naturally forming, membrane-free containers that concentrated chemicals and fostered reactions.
China Takes Serious Action Against Climate Change
Almost three years ago, China declared their intentions to wage a war against pollution – a move in direct response to the dire state of the country’s air quality and worldwide efforts to address climate change. Even now, as the country announces plans to shut down the construction of more than one hundred coal-fired power plants, some of its major cities are still reeling from the toxic smog that blanketed the nation at the beginning of 2017. Around the globe, the very real consequences brought on by climate change continue to be felt.
But with China’s National Energy Administration cancelling a significant number of its planned coal-fired projects, it looks like China is going to make significant strides toward winning this war. According to The RAND Corporation, China is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, and shutting down 104 coal-fired projects across 13 provinces – which are expected to deliver a total of 120 gigawatts of power – will have a significant impact on their total volume of carbon emissions.
Space X Successfully Launches and Lands Falcon 9
SpaceX managed to successfully launch and land Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base to deliver a payload of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into low-Earth orbit.
This is the first batch of 81 satellites intended to upgrade the communication company’s global communication network.
It also marks the rocket’s first launch since its accident in September, which destroyed the rocket’s booster and satellite payload; and SpaceX’s first successful attempt at landing a booster in the Pacific Ocean.
Know any interesting stories we missed? Let us know in the comments!