Technology Tuesday: September 27

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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: A driverless highway, Elon Musk unveils a new rocket to take us to Mars, graphine was used to restore almost perfect motor control to rats, physicists are close to creating metallic hydrogen, and Mansanto gets permission to use CRISPR on crops.


Tech Entrepreneurs Propose a Driverless Highway Between Seattle and Vancouver

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Vancouver and Seattle should be connected by a driverless highway, according to some high-tech entrepreneurs.

The proposal, which involves dedicating at least one lane on the I-5 from Seattle to Highway 99 in Richmond, B.C., is a pitch that comes from Tom Alberg, a board member of Amazon, Craig Mundie, a former Microsoft executive, along with two other high tech industry experts.

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Elon Musk’s Raptor Rocket Could Take Us to Mars

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Here’s what we know so far about Elon Musk’s plan for getting humanity to Mars—he believes a million people must colonize Mars so that the human race will survive, and to make that possible, he continues to invest his time (and his money) in his aerospace company SpaceX.

Elon Musk’s efforts to make an Interplanetary Transport System a reality starts with SpaceX creating a powerful and lean rocket. The tech billionaire took to Twitter to give the world its first glimpse of this Raptor.

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Graphene Repairs Spinal Damage in Rats

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Graphene seems to have almost limitless potential, from making better batteries to night-vision windshields and microscopic sensors. And now, a team at Rice University has shown the material could be key to a promising new treatment for severe spinal cord injuries.

Previous work has shown graphene can stimulate the growth of neurons, while polyethylene glycol (PEG) has been used with limited success to heal damaged spinal cords in animals. Building on this, researchers at the university used their chemistry knowhow to combine graphene nanoribbons (stripped from larger carbon nanotubes) with PEG to produce Texas-PEG. The amazing thing about this new material is that it acts as a much more potent “conductive scaffold,” promoting the two ends of a severed spinal cord to repair and reconnect. Importantly, this isn’t just theoretical.

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Metallic Hydrogen Could Change Everything

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In a few highly specialized laboratories, scientists bombard matter with the world’s most powerful electrical pulses or zap it with sophisticated lasers. Other labs squeeze heavy-duty diamonds together hard enough to crack them.

All this is in pursuit of a priceless metal. It’s not gold, silver or platinum. The scientists’ quarry is hydrogen in its most elusive of forms.

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Monsanto Given First CRISPR License to Modify Crops

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Agriculture giant Monsanto has licensed CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing technology from the Broad Institute for use in seed development, the company announced on Thursday, a step that will likely accelerate and simplify the creation of crops that are resistant to drought or have consumer-pleasing properties such as soybean oil with fats as healthy as those in olive oil.

But the deal comes with restrictions that speak to the startling power of CRISPR, as well as widespread public anxiety about genetically modified crops: Monsanto cannot use it for gene drive, the controversial technique that can spread a trait through an entire population, with unknown consequences.

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Know any interesting stories we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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