First electric helicopter to go between two cities


An electric helicopter made a historic flight being the first to go between two cities and airports.

The helicopter was a third-generation e-R44, a fully electric conversion of the Robinson R44 helicopter.  Since its first flight in 2016, its technology has improved significantly, and it is getting closer to commercial competitiveness.

The electric aircraft flew from Jacqueline Cochran Airport to Palm Springs International Airport in California, USA.  That’s 24 miles (39 kilometers), which took 20 minutes to cover.  They also loaded the helicopter with 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of faux storage to simulate a transplant organ care system in the rear cabin.

The electric helicopter can be a practical and eco-friendly solution for short-duration rotorcraft flights such as organ deliveries, pilot training, scenic tours, and other inner-city trips.  

Will we be seeing more electric helicopters in our skies anytime soon?  Please share your thoughts with us.  

Sustainable salt-based cement alternative

An exhibition called Wetland Lab proposes a cement alternative made from salt.

The proposal led by the waiwai research and design agency offered up a prototype of a salt-based cement material made from recycled industrial waste salt solutions.  The material uses salt as a binding agent.  Then, it relies on a crystallization process inspired by the sabkhas or crystalline salt formations found in the wetlands of the United Arab Emirates.

This cement alternative could reduce the construction industry’s carbon footprint and environmental impact.  Moreover, Portland, Oregon cement used in construction is responsible for 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions.  So sustainable architecture has been looking for ways to reduce traditional cement use in new builds.

Will this innovation make its way to the construction industry worldwide?  Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.  

California farmers make drinking water from tomatoes

California farmers make drinking water from tomatoes

Raw tomatoes are typically processed into various products, including tomato paste, ketchup, and sauce.  In the process, tomatoes give out about 95% water, which is drained as waste.   Now, a tomato processing company has turned to technology to harvest and purify water for drinking.

The process involves collecting water from the fruit and purifying it.  Water is then stored in a cargo shipping container, transported, and connected to pipes ready for supply in case there is a need in the local area.  

Although the units are costly, the company is optimistic that they will yield returns soon.   They hope to expand their footprint in this technology and start a trend with facilities around the world where this potential is currently untapped.    They aim to impact millions of vulnerable people worldwide by 2025.

Are you hopeful about this technology?

Detecting wormholes

Bulgarian physicists say wormholes may already have been detected, and there’s a way to tell them apart from black holes.

Wormholes are hypothetical bridges connecting distant regions of space and time.  It could be possible for matter to ride this cosmic tube and come out the other end with its information nearly intact.  Wormholes could more or less look like black holes.  To tell them apart, the team developed a simplified model of a wormhole’s ‘throat’ as a magnetized fluid ring.  Particles caught up in the swirl would produce powerful electromagnetic fields that would roll and snap in predictable patterns, polarizing any light emitted by the heated material with a clear signature, differentiating it from black holes.  

Further modeling could reveal other characteristics of light waves that help sift wormholes out of the night sky.

Are you excited about this advancement?  Let us know your thoughts. 

CO2 battery by Energy Dome

The first CO2 battery in the world developed by an Italian start-up, Energy Dome, enters the US market.  

The battery can store huge amounts of energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar by using condensed CO2.  When there is a need for energy, the CO2 is heated and converted into gas to power turbines.

The first plant launched in Sardinia earlier this year proved that the battery could solve storage problems for large amounts of renewable energy.  Current batteries like lithium and lead batteries are expensive and only ideal for small-scale storage.  The CO2 battery, on the other hand, is sustainable, cheaper, and less prone to degradation.  It can be quickly deployed anywhere at lesser costs.  The battery also uses readily available materials.    

Will the CO2 battery be the missing link that could supercharge the transition to renewable energy?  Let us know your thoughts.  

Lab-grown blood on its first clinical trial

British scientists grew human red blood cells in a lab for the first time and conducted a clinical trial to give them to patients.

The blood is grown by encouraging stem cells in a blood donor’s sample to become new red blood cells.  In the new trial, tiny spoonfuls of lab-grown blood containing radioactive particles were given to ten healthy patients.  The particles will help them track how long the blood remains in the patient’s bloodstream.  A red blood cell typically lasts 120 days, after which the body replaces them.  With lab-grown blood, however, it could be possible for smaller and less frequent transplants to be undertaken.

While British hospitals will still rely on blood donations for most blood transfusions, lab-grown blood opens the door to transfusion treatments for those with ultra-rare blood types. 

Are you excited about this development? Let us know your thoughts.

Tuvalu to create digital twin in the metaverse

The Pacific nation of Tuvalu plans to create a version of itself in the metaverse in response to the threat of rising sea levels.

This will replicate its beautiful islands, preserve its rich culture, and fully function as a sovereign state, as its people are forced to live elsewhere if terrestrial land is lost.  The idea may be feasible, but there are technological and social challenges.  These include bandwidth issues, computing power, and the fact that many users have an aversion to headsets or suffer nausea. 

Tuvalu’s proposal to create its digital twin in the metaverse is a message in a bottle – a desperate response to a tragic situation.  It is not really about creating metaverse nations.  It is a plea to support communal living systems, take shared responsibility, and be good neighbors.

What is your opinion on metaverse nations?  Let us know your thoughts.  

3D-printed metals made more durable with heat treatment

MIT researchers developed a new heat treatment that makes 3D-printed materials more durable.

The heating treatment is a type of recrystallization that moves a substance through a heated zone at a precisely regulated pace to combine the substance’s numerous small grains into larger, more stable crystals.  The team tested the technology on 3D-printed nickel-based superalloys used in gas turbines, which are generally cast.  The materials begin as small grains with defects and mangle like spaghetti.  When heated, the defects annihilate and reconfigure, allowing the material to grow.  In the recrystallization process, the grains continuously elongate by consuming the defective material and smaller grains.  

Soon, high-performance blades and vanes for jet engines and gas turbines could be 3D-printed using the process.  This could open the door to new designs with reduced fuel consumption and increased energy efficiency.

What do you think of this new technology?

The Volkswagen all-electric office chair

Volkswagen creates an all-electric office chair that gives you a vibe of sitting in a Volkswagen vehicle.

The electric office chair has headlights, a horn, heated seats, a USB charger, storage space, and a trailer hitch.  It features five rolling wheels finished with solid aluminum rims.  The chair can cruise at 12.4 mph with an estimated range of 7.5 miles (12km) on a single charge.  It also has a “work party” function to make office hours livelier.  That’s not all; the chair has an infotainment system that informs you of what’s happening with the chair.  It includes a rearview camera and 360-degree sensors for safer maneuvering.   

Unfortunately, the chair isn’t for sale.  It is only an exhibition model designed to show off the brilliant features of Volkswagen commercial vehicles, with limited test drive opportunities in Norway.

Do you want to try sitting on this cool chair?

“Neuroprosthesis” lets patients with speech paralysis talk

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, created an intelligent spelling device that allows people with speech disorders to communicate.

They developed a spelling-based neuroprosthesis, a brain-computer interface (BCI) device that translates the brain signals into single letters and spells sentences on a screen.  The new technology can process over 1000 words, a significant upgrade to a previously developed version, with a limit of 50 words.  The device employs language modeling and deep learning to process the signals in real-time.  Eventually, sentences are created on the screen, and now anybody can read what the user wants to say.

For now, more research and trials with more participants are needed to confirm the effectiveness of the speech device.  However, the current experiment shows a promising approach for patients with speech disorders to speak their minds.  

Are you excited about this technology?  Let us know your thoughts.