Technology Tuesday: September 26

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: Venezuela may adopt bitcoin as its national currency, using evaporation as a power source, 3D printing NASA rocket parts, supercomputers that run on “magic dust”, and open source machine learning.


VENEZUELA MAY BE SWITCHING FROM BOLIVARS TO BITCOIN

In order to deal with ever-growing issues with hyperinflation, the country of Venezuela may soon decide to adopt a new currency: Bitcoin.

As explained by CoinTelegraph, Bitcoin has been the subject of a massive amount of mining and purchasing over the last few months, leading to a number of rumors regarding the country’s desire to incorporate it into their financial structure

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EVAPORATION HAS THE POTENTIAL TO POWER 70% OF U.S. ENERGY NEEDS

Researchers investigating the potential for evaporation to be used as a source of renewable energy have found that the United States’ reservoirs and lakes could produce 325 gigawatts of power. That’s equivalent to almost 70 percent of the energy that the country currently generates.

“We have the technology to harness energy from wind, water, and the Sun, but evaporation is just as powerful,” senior author Ozgur Sahin, a biophysicist at Columbia University, stated in a press release. “We can now put a number on its potential.

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NASA’S FIRST 3D PRINTED SPACE PARTS COULD REVOLUTIONIZE THE SPACE PROGRAM

Our collective 3D printing capabilities just got a major upgrade. Working with a commercial vendor, NASA has 3D printed a key part of a rocket using two distinct metal alloys for the first time ever. There have been other rocket components created with 3D printing, but until now, they have all been composed of a single metal. This new capability has the potential to decrease the cost of building rockets while at the same time making them safer.

NASA’s team was able to print a rocket engine igniter using the new process. The method — known as automated blown powder laser deposition — allows for a part to be created in a single piece, instead of several pieces which must then be assembled by welding or brazing. The traditional process takes much more time and manpower to complete, which means the new method could cut costs by a third and allow rockets to be built in half the time. When put the test (functionality tests, that is) the part created with this new process passed.

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NEW “MAGIC DUST” MATERIAL COULD POWER THE WORLD’S FUTURE SUPERCOMPUTERS

For years, supercomputers have provided hope for insight into some of science’s most mysterious and seemingly unanswerable problems. The continued advancement of quantum computing has given scientists renewed hope, but a recent study from UK and Russian researchers takes the potential one step further by combining light and matter to form what is known as “magic dust.”

Based in Cambridge, Southampton, and Cardiff Universities in the UK and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Russia, these researchers have demonstrated that this magical combination could potentially allow us to surpass the capabilities of even the most advanced supercomputers. Quantum particles known as polaritons, which are half light and half matter, were shown to “light the way” to simple solutions when given complicated problems. The results of this study, as reported in the journal Nature Materials, could eventually lead scientists to solve the currently unsolvable.

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MICROSOFT ANNOUNCES THAT ITS MACHINE LEARNING TOOL SET WILL BE OPEN SOURCE

On Monday, Microsoft unveiled some new machine learning tools at the Ignite conference in Orlando. The software giant announced the release of the Azure Machine Learning Experimentation service, the Azure Machine Learning Workbench, and the Azure Machine Learning Model Management service. Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing service, the platform which will host the new tools. The tools will help developers both build new artificial intelligence (AI) models and use existing ones built by Microsoft or third parties.

According to TechCrunch, the Experimentation Sevice will help developers to “quickly train and deploy machine learning experiments.” Microsoft notes that the Machine Learning Workbench will be a “control panel for your development lifecycle and a great way to get started using machine learning.” The Workbench will also be able to automatically convert all data, making it easier for the machine learning algorithms to handle it. Finally, the Model Management service will allow for the easy deployment and management of models.


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