Technology Tuesday: June 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: China begins construction on an all-green “Forest City”, keeping quantum computing cool, new fast charging batteries, quantum computer breakthroughs from Google, and a nationally supported cryptocurrency.


CHINA BEGINS CONSTRUCTION ON “FOREST CITY”

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The world’s first “Forest City,” created to fight pollution, is now under construction in Liuzhou, Guangxi Province, China. Designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti, a team that develops green projects all around the world, the futuristic Forest City will be home to a community of about 30,000 people. It will be covered in greenery, including nearly 1 million plants of more than 100 species and 40,000 trees that together absorb almost 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide and 57 tons of pollutants, and produce approximately 900 tons of oxygen annually. As a result, Forest City will help to decrease the average air temperature, improve local air quality, create noise barriers, generate habitats, and improve local biodiversity in the region.

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SCIENTISTS MAY HAVE AN ANSWER TO OVERHEATING QUANTUM COMPUTERS

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We’re all familiar with the occasional heating from our gadgets and devices, especially when we ramp up usage. Usually, in the case of desktop and laptop computers, there’s a fan somewhere to keep the temperature inside from frying circuits. More modern computers have dropped the fans and now rely instead on materials that dissipate heat or batteries that don’t heat up that much.

This necessity to keep things cool is a similarity that quantum computers share with their classical cousins. The difference is, quantum computers need cooling at the nanoscale level — keeping the temperatures of quantum bits (“qubits”) from rising uncontrollably. The solve this, researchers from the Aalto University in Finland have designed the first standalone refrigeration device for quantum circuits.

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NEW ULTRA-FAST CHARGING TECH COULD LEAD TO NEW AGE IN ENERGY

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A team of engineers led by 94-year-old John Goodenough, professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, has developed the first all-solid-state battery cells that could lead to safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting rechargeable batteries for handheld mobile devices, electric cars and stationary energy storage.

Goodenough’s latest breakthrough, completed with Cockrell School senior research fellow Maria Helena Braga, is a low-cost all-solid-state battery that is noncombustible and has a long cycle life (battery life) with a high volumetric energy density and fast rates of charge and discharge. The engineers describe their new technology in a recent paper published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.

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GOOGLE IS CLOSER THAN EVER TO A QUANTUM COMPUTING BREAKTHROUGH

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Google is maintaining its edge in the world of quantum computing. Its 20-qubit processor is currently undergoing tests, and the company appears to be on schedule to have its working 49-qubit chip ready by the end of 2017 as promised. Until it began trialing the 20-qubit chip, Google’s most powerful quantum chip was the 9-qubit effort from 2015.

Traditional computer bits are binary, only existing as either 0 or 1; they’re like light switches that are either on or off. Qubits, on the other hand, can be 0 or 1 like regular bits, but can also have quantum properties that allow them to exist in a superposition where they are both 0 and 1 simultaneously. This makes qubits potentially far more powerful, because instead of figuring something out by trying each option one by one, they can simultaneously compute more than one possibility.

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CHINA BECOMES FIRST NATION TO TEST NATIONAL CRYPTOCURRENCY

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At eMerge 2017, Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz gave a number of updates concerning his company’s first product, which is currently in production. He revealed in his speech that the technology is “up and running and live” — it is hands free, does not require looking through a video display, and introduces an entirely new class to the technology which he coined as “spatial computing.”

Another exciting piece of news is that it is being priced for “affordability” — Abovitz stated “if you’re willing to pay for a premium mass consumer device, you’ll be happy with us.” He also said the “launch is not that far away,” and will focus on the “U.S. first, but definitely not U.S. only.”

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