Technology Tuesday: September 5

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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: The US Congress is voting to support autonomous car development, a company is investing $100 billion in the “Information Revolution”, the world’s largest x-ray laser s going online, a new inexpensive cancer treatment shows promise, and scientists have produced hydrogen fuel using only light and fats.


US CONGRESS TO VOTE ON FIRST EVER AUTONOMOUS CAR LAW

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Next week, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on and hopefully pass a bill that would make it easier for car makers to test autonomous vehicle technologies. The historic piece of would-be legislation has been aptly named the SELF DRIVE Act, which is short for “Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research In Vehicle Evolution Act,” was approved by congress’ Energy and Commerce Committee this past July.

The bi-partisan bill proposes to allow car manufacturers to road-test as many as 25,000 autonomous vehicles within their first year of deployment. The car makers would then be allowed to increase this number over a period of three years, up to a maximum cap of 100,00 each year. Furthermore, the SELF DRIVE Act won’t require self-driving vehicles to meet current car safety standards.

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BY 2022, SOFTBANK GROUP PLANS TO INVEST $100 BILLION IN THE “INFORMATION REVOLUTION”

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To say Japan’s SoftBank Group is set to make a considerable investment into the information revolution over the next five years is a bit of an understatement — by 2022, the company plans to pump $100 billion into projects that they believe use technology to contribute to the “betterment of humanity.”

The SoftBank Vision Fund is a pet project for Masayoshi Son, the company’s CEO and Japan’s richest man. Son is no stranger to the potential for both profits and pitfalls associated with investing in technology — he lost around $70 billion of his own personal fortune when the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s.

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THE WORLD’S LARGEST AND MOST POWERFUL X-RAY JUST WENT ONLINE

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The latest combined project by European nations is now online. It’s called the European X-Ray Free Electron Laser, or XFEL for short, and it’s now the largest and most powerful x-ray laser imaging instrument in the world, stretching some 3.4 kilometers (2.11 miles) long and 40 meters (11.15 feet) underneath the German city of Hamburg and a nearby town called Schenefeld.

The XFEL project began in 2007, with 11 nations partnering to make it a reality. After almost a decade of work and more than a billion euros spent, it’s now ready to contribute to the world of scientific research

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A NEW CANCER TREATMENT POTENTIALLY MORE EFFECTIVE THAN CHEMOTHERAPY

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Scientists have discovered a new process to kill cancer cells, called Caspase Independent Cell Death (CICD), that can get rid of tumors, and decrease the risk of both side effects and recurrence. In experimental models, CICD removed tumors completely — killing all cancer cells.

Current treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation all carry risks of side effects, and they frequently fail to kill all cancer cells, which leads to recurrence. These treatments all work through apoptosis, the process of activating proteins called caspases to cause cell death.

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SCIENTISTS DISCOVER A NEW WAY TO PRODUCE HYDROGEN

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Perhaps among all clean energy alternatives, nothing can be as clean as hydrogen. Burning hydrogen in fuel cells produces only water as a byproduct. In that sense, it’s also truly renewable. Yet, manufacturing hydrogen fuel cells on a larger scale hasn’t been that easy, primarily because fuel cells require rather complex and, until recently, expensive materials.

A team of researchers working at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, together with scientists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), have discovered an alternative way of producing hydrogen as fuel. The key is to produce hydrogen from water using a combination of sunlight and photosensitive lipids. Their work was published in the journal ACS Nano.

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