Technology Tuesday: June 12th

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: The fastest super computer in the world, organic material on Mars, livable 3d printed houses, a floating research station on Venus, and cheaper carbon capture tech.


AMERICA NOW HAS THE WORLD’S FASTEST SUPER COMPUTER

Nations are constantly jockeying to have fastest supercomputer in the world. After an era of Chinese dominance in the field, the United States has a new entrant, the Summit, that has already blown the competition away.

Summit is truly a remarkable piece of engineering. Located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, Summit holds the world record of 200 quadrillion calculations per second — that’s about 100 million times more than a typical computer. It is now, officially, the fastest supercomputer in the world. That means its processors can go through more cycles per second (measured in FLOPS), which allows it to make a given computation more quickly than any other.

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NASA FOUND EVIDENCE OF ORGANIC MATERIAL ON MARS

What a beautiful day to blow away everything you thought you knew about Mars.

Today, NASA has released the results of two major studies about the inner-workings of the Red Planet. In the first, researchers discover why Mars has seasonal variations of the gas methane; in the second, they determine that rock on the Martian surface contains organic molecules that may be evidence of ancient life. Both were published today in the journal Science.

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A DUTCH CITY IS 3D PRINTING THE FIRST HABITABLE HOUSES

As a kid, you probably heard the story of the three little pigs. To recap the tale: Three pigs build homes out of straw, sticks, and bricks respectively. In the end, only the brick house is able to withstand the huffing and puffing of the hungry neighborhood wolf. The moral here? Hard work pays off.

But, in our future-oriented fable, there was a fourth pig. A pig that went all out, and built his house using a state-of-the-art 3D concrete printer – preserving a ton of energy, and reducing overall waste in the process. No amount of huffing or puffing could flatten it. And he barely had to lift a hoof.

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NASA SCIENTISTS IMAGINE STUDYING VENUS FROM A FLOATING RESEARCH COLONY

Venus is not a hospitable place for humans. The planet is covered in thick, billowing sulfuric acid clouds, underneath which temperatures reach nearly a thousand degrees Fahrenheit. If you were unfortunate enough to stand on Venus’ volcano-spotted surface, you would feel 100 times more pressure than you would standing on the surface of our own planet, in large part due to its atmosphere.

Naturally, NASA scientists have a lot of questions. A team of them recently announced Project HAVOC, which stands for “High Altitude Venus Operational Concept.” The project details how a 30-day, manned mission to Venus might go down.

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CHEAP CARBON CAPTURE TECH COULD MAKE OUR CLIMATE GOALS POSSIBLE

So, let’s just say it: we are not on track to meet the ambitious goals of the Paris Accord, the ambitious international agreement intended to limit global warming.

If we are to reach our goals — and perhaps to limit the seemingly inevitable devastation — we need to do something to reduce the greenhouse gases we’ve pumped (and are pumping) into the atmosphere.

For decades, carbon capture has seemed like a promising solution. Why not just take all the carbon dioxide that’s baking the planet and put it somewhere else? The short answer: the technology was way too expensive and energy-intensive to be practical at scale.

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