This Week in Tech

This Week in Tech – 11/26/2017

Spider Drinks Graphene, Spins Web That Can Hold the Weight of a Human

These are not your friendly neighborhood spiders: scientists have mixed a graphene solution that when fed to spiders allows them to spin super-strong webbing. How strong? Strong enough to carry the weight of a person. And these spiders might soon be enlisted to help manufacture enhanced ropes and cables, possibly even parachutes for skydivers, reports The Sydney Morning Herald

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Plans to Send the First of Its 4,425 Super-Fast Internet Satellites Into Space in 2019

Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to start launching satellites into orbit in 2019 to provide high-speed internet to Earth. However on Wednesday, Patricia Cooper, SpaceX’s vice president of satellite government affairs, said later this year, the company will start testing the satellites themselves, launch one prototype before the end of the year and another during the “early months” of 2018. Following that, SpaceX will begin its satellite launch campaign in 2019.In November, the company outlined plans to put 4,425 satellites into space in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing. But the document gave little detail on the timeline

Elon Musk’s Giant Lithium Ion Battery Completed by Tesla in SA’s Mid North

Tesla has completed construction of its giant lithium ion battery, described as the world’s most powerful, with testing expected in coming days ahead of a December 1 operation deadline. The array of Tesla Powerpack batteries has been installed alongside French company Neoen’s Hornsdale windfarm near Jamestown in South Australia’s Mid North region

Solar Cities of the Future Will Be Powered by Windows That Can Generate Electricity

“Smart windows” with the ability to generate electricity are the way of the future, and scientists are another step closer to making it a widespread reality. Dye-sensitized solar cells—which are thin, flexible materials that can create see-through electronic circuits—could equip buildings with windows that make electricity. One day, they could do it better than current solar panel technology. But a lack of understanding how the dye interacts with a semiconductor surface on a molecular level is holding the technology back from making it more efficient

Artificial Intelligence: World Is ‘’Astonishingly Pessimistic,’ Says EU Research Commissioner

Efforts to create thinking machines do not pose a threat to our existence, and alarmist views in the media on artificial intelligence risk confusing science with science fiction, according to EU Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas. “If you do any research on artificial intelligence these days, the results are astonishingly pessimistic. Nine articles out of ten on AI are negative,” the Commissioner said in a speech to the European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment group on Tuesday

Exoskeletons Won’t Turn Assembly Line Workers Into Iron Man, but They’ll Feel Better at the End of the Day

Drop the word “exoskeleton” into conversation, and you typically conjure up images from Aliens, or Iron Man foiling whoever it is he’s supposed to foil with augmented power. Fanciful as that may seem, exoskeletons are finding their way into everyday manufacturing. But they’re not being used to perform “feats of strength.” Reality is more mundane—and much more repetitive

DARPA Is Engineering Plants to Act as Biohazard Sensors

Researchers at DARPA, the DoD’s arm that focuses on developing new technology for military application, have long been trying to figure out the best way to transmit timely information, focusing on electronic and mechanical sensors to do the job. After all, it’s crucial to any military action. But it turns out that the Defense Department might have been barking up the wrong tree. DARPA’s new Advanced Plant Technologies (APT) program is aimed at growing plants that can function as spies