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Scanning electron microscope image of the ellipsoidal colloids with — Image Credit: University of Konstanz

DISCOVERY

Science is an interesting subject. Just like my personal preference, it involves lifelong learning. New discoveries and inventions enhance your understanding of the complex world out there. The basic understanding of science revolves around four fundamental states of matter — Solids, Liquids, Gases & Plasma, where each state of matter is also characterized by phase transitions.

Then came the idea of “Bose-Einstein condensate” (BEC) by Albert Einstein and Satyendra Nath Bose in 1924, which proposed in BEC, matter stops behaving as independent particles & collapses into a single quantum state that can be described with a single, uniform wavefunction. It wasn’t until 1995 that researchers produced the first such condensate experimentally — at temperatures very close to absolute zero, −273.15 °C (−459.67 …


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WEEKLY BUSINESS ROUNDUP

Traders in the U.S will have a lot to reflect on this long weekend. After a choppy week that saw the Nasdaq and S&P 500 post their worst weekly returns since the end of October, investors will face a shortened, but busy week ahead. This past week, earnings season kicked off with the initial releases showing big banks posting disappointing revenues. Also in focus was the weak retail sales data in December and a spike in weekly jobless claims. The unveiling of the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan by the incoming U.S administration offered a ray of hope.

Despite this, the U.S. equities struggled to make new highs this week. In fact, they posted the worst week since October — major benchmarks notched weekly declines, with the Dow off 0.9%, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both down 1.5%. However, the data however showed the money is not leaving the stock market. According to EPFR Global, $26.8 billion went into equities, while $9.3 billion came out of cash. …


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FACIAL RECOGNITION TECH

Despite the fact that facial recognition technology has come under intense scrutiny over the past year as protesters and tech companies called out the racial bias in many of its algorithms, the futuristic tech has seen increasing use in various countries of the world. The issue of racial bias was highlighted in the 2019 NIST report — showing higher rates of false positives for Asian, African American, and Indigenous faces relative to images of white faces.

Many jurisdictions in the U.S have banned the use of facial recognition citing privacy concerns and the racial bias built into these automated systems. Back in 2019, the tech hub of San Francisco became the first city in the U.S …


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CRYPTO VOLATILITY

It’s been a roller coaster ride for the past week or so in the Cryptoverse. And although this is something that we have to come to expect from the digital assets, there is always an underlying theme when the volatility picks up in any digital financial asset. The recent bout of volatility comes at the back of the recent Bitcoin high of $41,965. It wasn’t long after that BTC fell to a low in the region of $30k. No wonder it is often argued that crypto investing is not for the faint of heart.

Taking advantage of the 25%+ dip, Big bitcoin investors or the ‘Whales’ swooped in to add to their already huge positions. The dip-demand from institutional investors suggests that large investors expect the pullback to be short-lived. Whale address numbers have increased by nearly 25% year on year and have risen by 200 in the past two weeks. Data suggests that weak hands and/or retail traders liquidated their holdings. …


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SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY

Birds and other animals are known to navigate their way using the Earth’s magnetic field (geomagnetic field). The so-called sixth sense for these animals is actually a process called magnetoreception. However, the exact functioning of the phenomenon was somewhat of a mystery until now. The leading theory explaining the process involves chemical reactions taking place at a cellular level through what’s called the radical pair mechanism.

Just like magnets can attract and repel electrons, the geomagnetic field influences animal behavior by inciting chemical reactions at the cellular level. When some molecules are excited by light, an electron can jump from one molecule to another and create two molecules with single electrons, known as a radical pair. …


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MESSAGING PRIVACY

Last week, the most popular messaging platform in the World, WhatsApp, announced that it would be introducing new terms, beginning February 8, obliging users to share personal data with parent company Facebook — including phone number and location. The timing of the privacy update couldn’t have come at a worse time from the social media giant, which is already facing antitrust lawsuits filed by the US Federal Trade Commission and 40 U.S states.

With over 2 billion users around the World, WhatsApp pretty much controls the messaging platform arena, although other apps have begun to gain traction recently. The messaging app is now scrambling to do damage control as millions of users started dumping the platform for rivals like Signal and Telegram. …


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Illustration of tensile straining of microfabricated diamond bridge samples — Image Credit: Dang Chaoqun/ City University of Hong Kong)

ELASTIC DIAMONDS

Although the precious metal is known for its high monetary value, diamond is also the hardest material found in nature. In other words, it does not have elastic properties at all… well almost — considering the stretchiest materials can reach tensile elastic strains of a few hundred percent, bulk diamond tops out at less than 0.4%.

A team of researchers led by the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) has now demonstrated for the first time that the nanoscale diamonds can be stretched to limits not possible before. …


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UNUSUAL STAR

This recent discovery just highlights the fact that space is full of surprises and we will probably never be able to say that we know everything that’s out there. Stars are constantly undergoing the process of creation and destruction in the universe. The journey begins from the star-forming nurseries called the Nebulae to their ultimate destruction via supernovae to become a white dwarf, neutron star, or even a black hole.

A new discovery has now thrown another curveball at us with regards to this process. Astronomers from the University of Potsdam have now discovered a strange celestial object while studying the system called IRAS 00500+6713 — which first caught the attention of researchers, back in 2019. …


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Instruments of high-fidelity quantum teleportation. Fiber optics cables connect off-the-shelf devices (shown above), as well as those of state-of-the-art R&D (e.g SNSPD’s not shown above) that perform the experiment — Image Credit: Caltech (INQNET)

QUANTUM TELEPORTATION RECORD

Although practical quantum computers might still be some way off in the future, researchers have been hard at work to make that possible — by solving one problem at a time. Back in 2019, I wrote about how quantum computers offer a clear edge in efficiency over the traditional transistor-based computer systems, and how this could eventually lead to a super-secure quantum internet in the future. And with the mounting Cybersecurity issues in recent years, it is extremely important that we do.

What makes this futuristic tech so intriguing is its ability to process information using Qubits, existing simultaneously in both states 0 and 1, unlike the traditional computer chips. This gives rise to the phenomenon of entanglement — a process where two fundamental particles are joined together in such a way that nothing else can share their information. But there is a major hurdle in developing practical quantum networks since they require very expensive exotic materials like superconducting metals. …


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NUCLEAR FUSION

Almost one year ago, I wrote about how China was endeavoring to make 2020 the year when it achieves nuclear fusion via its artificial sun — called the HL-2M Tokamak. The production of stable nuclear fusion energy has been a pipe dream for scientists. This complex process takes place naturally on our sun, which produces limitless amounts of sustainable energy. However, the process of joining two lighter atomic nuclei to form a heavier nucleus releases massive amounts of energy and the process is unstable and difficult to control.

Earlier in 2019 summer, Physicists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison created a “Mini Sun” to better understand the processes going on on our star. While projects like the HL-2M Tokamak project are trying to generate nuclear fusion energy by heating deuterium-tritium (two types of hydrogen) to insanely hot temperatures like 100 million degrees, others like HB-11 energy intend to create an unlimited source of clean, safe & reliable energy by using fuels that are abundant in nature, without producing radioactive waste. …

About

Faisal Khan

A devout futurist keeping a keen eye on the latest in Emerging Tech, Global Economy, Space, Science, Cryptocurrencies & more

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