Is it feasible to throw a rocket from the surface? NASA to test SpinLaunch launch system

Half a year ago, SpinLaunch showed a prototype of a suborbital accelerator that “throws the rocket into the sky”. Later this year, the system will try to fly a NASA payload into the sky at 1,000mph to test whether this amazing technology is feasible.

With the advent of the new space age, more and more space startups are investing in the development of new rocket launch alternative systems. SpinLaunch, an aerospace technology development company in the United States, has developed a suborbital accelerator prototype in recent years, which is about 90 meters in diameter and looks like a turbine. A supercharger works like a washing machine.

First, the rocket is grasped by the rotating arm in the vacuum disk chamber, and then the electric centrifuge, which can generate centrifugal force thousands of times more than gravity, starts to spin the rocket wildly, accelerates to hypersonic speed, and then throws the rocket from the launch tube into the sky at a speed of 5,000mph. Finally, the rocket continued to ignite and propel in the air, sending the payload into the predetermined orbit.

SpinLaunch hopes that the new system will reduce the amount of fuel and hardware needed to launch a rocket into space (forgetting the first booster), at one-tenth the cost of a conventional rocket.

In October 2021, this 50-meter-tall suborbital accelerator prototype successfully flew for the first time, spraying a 3-meter object to tens of thousands of feet above the ground within 1 millisecond, at a speed comparable to that of traditional chemical fuel rockets.

However, as soon as the news came out, the outside world questioned whether this system had commercial value. After all, the rocket caught at the end of the carbon fiber arm would withstand more than 10,000 G forces. Whether the payload (satellite/probe) could withstand the centrifugal force test is a problem The question (astronauts don’t have to think about it at all, they will only be dumped into meat sauce when they get on this rocket), can it really be developed successfully?

NASA recently signed a contract with the company.

Under the terms of the agreement, SpinLaunch will develop and integrate NASA payloads for the suborbital accelerator system, and will launch a test flight at Spaceport America later this year and attempt recovery, albeit at a slower speed of about 1,000mph (Mach 1.3).

SpinLaunch says that the suborbital accelerator can eventually take on small launch vehicles weighing no more than 200 kilograms (but the satellites in the cabin must also be super-sturdy), and the goal is to be ready to launch a system three times larger than the prototype by 2025. The official launch of orbital flight.


UC Berkeley discovers new transistor design to help chips reduce computing power

According to foreign reports, in a recent study published in the journal Nature, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley said they have made a major breakthrough in the design of transistors on chips. That is to say, by improving its key role in the switching of the transistor, called the gate oxide layer, the power consumption can be greatly reduced without sacrificing the computing speed and the size of the chip.

According to Sayeef Salahuddin, a distinguished professor of foundry leader TSMC and a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, who is the author of the paper, it is currently necessary to pass trillions of dollars worth of semiconductor industry talent. The progress achieved, basically our research has been able to make breakthroughs. It is understood that such an increase in energy consumption is achieved through a so-called negative capacitance effect, which helps reduce the voltage required to store charge in the material. In the past, Sayeef Salahuddin predicted the existence of negative capacitance in a theoretical study in 2008, and also demonstrated this effect in a ferroelectric crystal in 2011.

The new study shows how negative capacitance effects can be created in an engineered crystal composed of layered stacks of hafnium oxide and zirconium oxide. And because this crystal is so compatible with advanced silicon crystals, by incorporating this material, it can be incorporated into transistor models. The study also shows how the negative capacitance effect can greatly reduce the voltage required to control the transistor, and therefore reduce the power consumed by the chip. Salahuddin said that energy consumption for computing has grown exponentially over the past 10 years and now accounts for a single-digit percentage of world energy production. Moreover, this massive number will only grow, and there is no end to it. Therefore, our goal is to reduce this fundamental energy requirement for computing, as this will reduce the energy usage of the entire system.

For now, the most advanced laptops and smartphones contain tens of billions of tiny silicon transistors, each of which must be controlled by applying a voltage. The gate oxide is a thin layer of material that controls the transistor by converting the applied voltage into electric charge, then switching the transistor on and off. In this case, the negative capacitance effect can improve the performance of the gate oxide by reducing the amount of voltage required for a particular charge, but this effect cannot be achieved in any material. So, creating the negative capacitance effect requires careful manipulation of a material property called ferroelectricity, which occurs when a material exhibits a spontaneous electric field. Previously, this effect was only achieved in the ferroelectric material of peroxide, but the crystal structure of peroxide is incompatible with silicon, making it difficult to apply it to the silicon transistors used in current wafers.

In addition, the team noted that by combining hafnium oxide and zirconium oxide in an engineered crystal structure called a superlattice, experiments have also demonstrated that negative capacitance effects can be achieved, and that ferroelectric and antiferroelectric properties can also be achieved. Sex exists at the same time. “This combination actually gives us a better negative capacitance effect, which means this phenomenon is more widespread than originally thought,” said Suraj Cheema, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, who was a member of the research team. Much more than just happens in the traditional basis of ferroelectrics and dielectrics. In fact, antiferroelectricity and ferroelectricity can also be exploited by designing these crystal structures to make them more effective.

The report further states that the researchers also found that the total thickness of the superlattice structure consisting of three atomic layers of zirconia sandwiched between two single atomic layers of hafnium oxide is less than two nanometers, which provides the best negative capacitance effect environment. Since most state-of-the-art silicon transistors have used two-nanometer zirconium dioxide consisting of hafnium oxide on top of silicon dioxide, and zirconium oxide is also used in silicon technology, superlattice structures can be easily integrated into advanced transistors. To test the performance of the superlattice structure as zirconium dioxide, the research team also fabricated short-channel transistors and further tested its capabilities. Xie Guo shows that these transistors will require about 30% less voltage than existing transistors, while maintaining the benchmark in the semiconductor industry without compromising reliability.

Meta adds new features to allow its platform Horizon Worlds to pilot a “virtual economy”

Meta began testing a new feature on Monday (11th) to sell virtual items and experiences within its VR platform Horizon Worlds, which is currently only available to a small group of creators.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that if you imagine the virtual world of the future, the ability to sell virtual goods and be able to bring them from one world to another is going to be an important component.

Meta said in a statement that the tools will initially be available to select users of Horizon Worlds who create virtual courses, games and fashion accessories, allowing them to sell their accessories or set up digital spaces for a fee. According to reports, all users who can enter Horizon Worlds can make virtual world in-app purchases.

In addition, Meta also provides a “Creator Bonus” program to some Horizon Worlds users in the United States. As a test, Meta will provide monthly compensation to participants who try out new features after they are launched.

At present, Meta is aggressively attacking the metaverse. Although its Quest headset sold quite well during the Christmas holiday, the VR business has accumulated more than $10 billion in losses. Additionally, as community platforms such as Horizon Worlds grow, Meta must learn to keep virtual communities safe, as too many users report being harassed in virtual worlds, and other users report that the platform is filled with too many young kids.

Honda invests $40 billion to launch 30 electric cars by 2030

Honda Motor today released an electrification strategy blueprint, with an estimated investment of $40 billion to launch as many as 30 pure electric vehicles in the next few years, and to achieve a full electrification transition by 2040.

The electrification of Japanese carmakers has been troubled enough for a long time. Honda finally made up its mind to fully invest in electric vehicles, announcing a total amount of 5 trillion yen (about NT$1.2 trillion), hoping to launch 30 pure electric vehicles by 2030. The banner of full electrification in 2040.

Not only are there many models of cars, Honda will promote the pure electric vehicle market with an annual production capacity of 2 million units. At the same time, they are also building a pilot production line for the production of solid-state batteries, which is expected to start production in 2024.

Honda, Japan’s second largest car manufacturer, has continued to accelerate its electrification after it announced last year that it would stop selling fuel vehicles in 2040. Currently, the most active layout is in China. They jointly launched the new Honda e:N brand with Dongfeng and SAIC. Ten pure electric vehicles will be launched.

In the Chinese market, all Honda models after 2030 will be pure electric versions.

The newly appointed Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibu boldly abandoned the previous Honda one-stop development strategy, but pragmatically adopted a multi-party cross-border alliance approach to face the complex and challenging era of electric vehicles. “Time is the essence of this competition,” said Toshihiro Mibu.

The most anticipated cooperation is definitely the super crossover between Honda and Sony. Will the joint efforts of these two Japanese companies make Toyota feel pressure? On the other hand, in the US market, Honda chose to cooperate with General Motors, in addition to car-making technology cooperation, more importantly, to obtain the general Ultium battery technology. At present, Honda is still looking for suitable battery partners to form a joint venture to produce lithium batteries for vehicles.

Although Taiwanese society holds the attitude that the sky is falling and it is none of our business towards electric vehicles, with the comprehensive promotion of low-carbon transportation in the United States, China, Europe and the ASEAN Electric products, I am afraid we will miss this crucial opportunity for transformation, then the dominance of the past few decades will be shaken within 5 years.

Finally want to say goodbye to bangs? Apple wins patent for under-screen Face ID

For many iPhone users, Face ID not only brings some trouble when wearing a mask to identify, but the bangs on the “top” of the screen also make people feel unsightly, which makes many users call for Touch ID. return. However, users who don’t like bangs may be able to look forward to future new iPhone models. According to documents released by the US Patent and Trademark Office on April 5, Apple has obtained a patent for under-screen face recognition technology.

And if you look closely at Apple’s filings, it also shows that the company has been planning this technology for a long time, because the patent application was first filed on September 24, 2019.

According to the “TechNave” report, Apple’s patent is to plug the front lens on the back of the display (inside the fuselage), which can be used to take photos without affecting the image quality captured by the front lens.

However, some people may guess that since Apple has obtained this patented technology, does it mean that the iPhone 14, which will be launched in the second half of this year, is expected to be equipped? In fact, because this patented technology has just been approved, it is unlikely that the iPhone 14 series will adopt this new technology, and may still maintain the rumored capsule-shaped front lens.

As for the iPhone 15 series, it may be difficult to see this feature configuration, because Apple is often planning for a long time when developing new products, so it will have to wait until the iPhone 16 at the earliest to have the opportunity to carry this new technology.

A new breakthrough in actives! Physicists drive new developments in next-generation shape-shifting robots

A team of physicists from the University of Bath in the UK recently published in the international scientific journal Science Advances a new method for coating soft robots with materials so that they can move and operate more efficiently. , which is tantamount to a new study that may lead to the emergence of the next generation of shape-shifting robots.

The most eye-catching aspect of this study is the major breakthrough made by the researchers in active substances, which will also become a key turning point in the design of future robots. Once such design concepts are further developed, experts can finally determine the shape, behavior and movement of soft objects through artificial control of the surface activity of the soft object (rather than the object’s innate elasticity).

Basically, the surface of most soft materials shrinks into spheres, like the condensation process of water droplets, because the surface of liquids and soft materials naturally shrink to the smallest surface area. What’s cool, though, is that, by design, actives can completely defy such natural properties. With such technologies and actives, experts expect the next generation of machines to be built from a combination of many individual active units that work together to determine how the machine moves and functions. These next-generation machines will be governed by a central controller that operates in the same way that our human tissues function.

Completely subvert the familiar laws of nature
Through the aforementioned design mechanisms, scientists will be able to create robotic arms composed of flexible materials, powered by robots on the surface of the material. Another possible breakthrough is that the size and shape of Drug Delivery Capsules can be changed by coating a layer of Responsive Materials and active materials on the surface of nanomolecules.

According to members of the research team, what is most interesting about the new study is that it completely upends the way we look at the “familiar laws of nature.” In other words, actives give us new insights into familiar laws of nature. All in all, the researchers see this study as an important and enlightening proof-of-concept, and they have developed a set of theories and simulations that can describe a 3D soft solid with a surface that is actively stressed.

The results show that active stress expands the surface of the material and exerts a pulling force on the solid below, which in turn causes the overall shape to change. The solid shape then changes as the elastic properties of the material change. The research team will now further apply this principle to design more specific robots, as well as to delve deeper into collective behavior and what happens when multiple active solids are stacked together.

Human-flavored nachos may have been made by kitchen robot Chippy

Going into Chipotle Mexican Grill and ordering nachos, if you can taste salty or slightly lighter or heavier orange juice, you may think that the chef is “playing on the spot”, but in fact, this is from the hands of a special chef-artificial intelligence kitchen assistant Chippy.

Chippy, Miso Robotics’ custom automated kitchen assistant for Chipotle, was recently tested at the Chipotle Cultivate Center in Irvine, California, and plans to work in a California restaurant later this year.

Chippy from Miso Robotics isn’t the first kitchen robot. Burger restaurant White Castle is using the kitchen robot Flippy to make mini burgers in 2020, and will take over frying in February 2022 with the new Flippy 2. Another restaurant chain, Buffalo Wild Wings, is testing Flippy Wings designed for fried chicken wings, and Chipotle employs a slightly different Chippy.

In keeping with branding requirements, Chipotle’s culinary team directed Miso Robotics to customize. “We couldn’t wait to showcase our engineering and design prowess when Chipotle challenged us to see if our technology met the high standards of culinary quality,” said Mike Bell, CEO of Miso Robotics.

Trained by artificial intelligence, Chippy can accurately replicate the Chipotle recipe—cook corn to perfection with cornmeal, water, and sunflower oil, season with salt, and finish with a dash of fresh orange juice. Technology must remain the same so customers can enjoy delicious nachos every time.

Not only does it replicate the recipe accurately, but Chippy also has a little more “human taste”. Chipotle writes a program for Chippy, and the taste will be slightly different each time to meet customers’ expectations for changes, such as a little more orange juice or a little more salt.

Some chains, like White Castle, Buffalo Wild Wings and Chipotle, have adopted or tested robotics for work, and there are concerns about job losses. In fact, the service industry has always had a labor shortage problem, and it is not easy to hire and retain employees. Technological innovations allow overworked workers to reduce workloads and make restaurants easier to operate.

Chipotle said: “We are always exploring opportunities to improve the employee and guest experience, with the goal of increasing efficiency through robotics, allowing Chipotle employees to focus on other services. People will still be involved in making most of the food such as burritos, Chippy’s role is to improve the experience, customers may Get food faster and with more consistent quality, especially during busy times.”

In this sense, kitchen robots are meant to make life easier for kitchen workers, not to replace chefs. At least that’s what Chipotle thinks so far.

Elon Musk assists Ukraine’s weapon, Starlink has a sudden interruption of communication in some areas

According to a number of foreign media reports, Starlink, a low-orbit satellite communication system operated by SpaceX, suddenly reported a communication interruption in some areas on the 9th Taipei time, and some users claimed to be affected.

The report pointed out that Starlink, which uses low-orbit satellites for communication links, has now expanded its service to many countries outside the United States. A few days ago, in response to the Russian-Ukrainian war, the founder Elon Musk also specially opened the service in the Ukrainian region and shipped Starlink’s ground receivers to Ukraine to solve the local communication interruption caused by the war.

However, it is understood that on the 9th Taipei time, several Starlink users left a message on the Reddit website pointing out that Starlink’s service was suddenly interrupted and stopped. According to the users themselves, the range includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium and Portugal and other places where Starlink communication services have been interrupted. However, fortunately, the related service interruptions were short-lived, and most areas returned to normal in less than half an hour.

The report pointed out that according to spacexstats statistics, SpaceX currently has 2,107 Starlink satellites operating in space, and another 196 deorbited, which can provide services covering most areas of the world. The sudden incident of the communication interruption occurred in the early morning of US Eastern Time, when most of the affected users were probably sleeping, and the interruption time was not long, so the overall impact should be small.

Enter text to generate high-resolution images! OpenAI releases new version of DALL·E 2 AI system

The development of AI artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly, and it has demonstrated the ability to surpass humans in many aspects. AI not only defeated the world chess king, but also defeated the e-sports champion team (for example, Open AI used its self-developed Bots to let the top players of the “Dota 2” game in a game. The first taste of defeat in an exhibition match). Not only that, AI will also write articles. The GPT-2 and GPT-3 texts launched by the OpenAI Research Laboratory generate pre-trained language models. Because they can write articles comparable to human writing, they have become a powerful tool for writing fake news. Now, OpenAI has launched a new generation of DALL·E 2 system, which can ask AI to generate various pictures for you as long as you pass a description text.

In January last year, Open AI launched DALL·E based on GPT-2/GPT-3 language model and CLIP image recognition system, which can convert user input text into vivid surreal pictures. For example, the user can ask DALL·E to generate a picture of an astronaut riding a horse in outer space through a text description, or a picture of two teddy bears working on new AI research on the moon, so the surreal level is even comparable to the super-realistic Realist painter Salvador Dalí. The word “DALL·E” is a combination of the names of Dali and the Disney movie “WALL-E” (WALL-E).

But the first-generation DALL·E picture pixel is only 256×256, and now the second-generation DALL·E 2 picture quality can reach 1024×1024, so the performance of resolution and low latency is better. Now DALL·E 2 has updated the CLIP system and renamed it unCLIP. The new system supports a process called diffusion, which starts with a pattern of random points and transitions asymptotically into a picture once a more specific focus is captured.

In addition to generating new images, users can also locally change part of the existing images through DALL·E 2, such as adding a duck to the pool or removing an object. The system also incorporates factors such as shadows, reflections, and materials. Consider. Users can also creatively generate additional variant pictures with different styles, contents or angles based on the original pictures.

Just as language models can be used to generate fake news, image generation tools like DALL·E 2 can be abused. In this regard, OpenAI provides some protection mechanisms in place, including that users cannot generate portrait photos based on names, nor can they generate or upload objectionable content. Furthermore, in addition to topics such as hatred, harassment, violence, self-harm, nudity, and illegal activities that are strictly prohibited, it is also prohibited to generate images related to fake news, political situations, medical care, and even diseases.

In the future, Open AI may not directly publicly launch DALL·E 2, but will provide it to third-party apps.

Chrome browser will add “Privacy Guide” to complete privacy settings step by step

Browsers have deeply influenced people’s activities on the web, including keeping users safe online. Audrey An, product manager of Google Chrome, recently wrote that the Chrome browser takes the responsibility of protecting security very seriously and regards it as a top priority. Therefore, in the past few years, the Chrome team has designed the privacy control options to be easier to understand and allow users to browse. Ensure privacy when website.

The “Privacy Guide” is now developed in Chrome by the Google Safety Engineering Center (GSEC), which will gradually guide users through Chrome’s existing security and privacy control options for centralized management and Choose the correct privacy settings.

The Privacy Guide in Chrome Settings covers controls such as cookies, history sync, Safe Browsing, and improved search and browsing experiences. It guides users through the benefits of enabling Chrome settings and the trade-offs that must be made to use them. and impact on privacy. This way, users can easily understand what it means to turn any setting on or off.

Over the next few weeks, users of Chrome 100+ will be able to see the new Privacy Guidelines feature in the Privacy & Security tab of Chrome Settings. In addition, don’t worry about not being able to browse all the content at once, Chrome will save the changes in real time, which means you can come back to the previous setting progress at any time. The Chrome team will also continue to solicit feedback from the user community and hope to add more settings to the Privacy Guidelines as Chrome develops.