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Archive for the ‘economics’ category

Aug 14, 2018

Renewable Energy Could Basically Be Free by 2030, According to New Analysis

Posted by in categories: economics, energy, sustainability

A research analyst at Swiss investment bank UBS believes the cost of energy renewables could be so near to zero by 2030 “it will effectively be free,” according to a projections published on Monday. If renewables could soon be cheaper than all the alternative energy sources, and that this “is great news for the planet, and probably also for the economy.”

The analysis, published in the Financial Times, explains that solar and wind farms are getting bigger, and that the potential of this sort of cheap, green energy is far-reaching and will only get cheaper. “In 2010, using solar power to boil your kettle would have cost you about £0.03,” the analyst writes in FT. “By 2020, according to estimates by our research team at UBS, the cost will have fallen to half a penny.” And just ten years later, the costs will be so minuscule, it will practically be free.

See also: 7 Massive Corporations Going Green to Boost Their Bottom Lines.

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Aug 14, 2018

The assembly line of the future: Automation, DNA construction, and synthetic biology

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, economics, genetics, robotics/AI, sustainability

This story is brought to you by SynbiCITE, which is accelerating the commercialization of synthetic biology applications. To learn how SynbiCITE is nucleating a sustainable UK economy, visit www.synbicite.com.

Just as Henry Ford’s assembly line revolutionized the automobile industry, synthetic biology is being revolutionized by automated DNA assembly (see SynBioBetaLive! with Opentrons). The key features of an assembly line translate well into the field of synthetic biology – speed, accuracy, reproducibility and validation. Instead of welding chassis together, small robotic arms are lifting delicate plates holding dozens of samples, adding and removing miniscule amounts of fluid.

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Aug 10, 2018

Risks for Life on Habitable Planets from Superflares of Their Host Stars

Posted by in categories: alien life, economics, evolution, existential risks

We explore some of the ramifications arising from superflares on the evolutionary history of Earth, other planets in the solar system, and exoplanets. We propose that the most powerful superflares can serve as plausible drivers of extinction events, and that their periodicity corresponds to certain patterns in the terrestrial fossil diversity record. On the other hand, weaker superflares may play a positive role in enabling the origin of life through the formation of key organic compounds. Superflares could also prove to be quite detrimental to the evolution of complex life on present-day Mars and exoplanets in the habitable zone of M- and K-dwarfs. We conclude that the risk posed by superflares has not been sufficiently appreciated, and that humanity might potentially witness a superflare event in the next $\sim {10}^{3}$ years, leading to devastating economic and technological losses. In light of the many uncertainties and assumptions associated with our analysis, we recommend that these results should be viewed with due caution.

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Aug 9, 2018

Made in Space believes its on-orbit manufactured power supply can save militaries money

Posted by in categories: economics, satellites, solar power, sustainability

By allowing them to launch higher-power small satellites on smaller rockets, as opposed to the larger, and more expensive rockets that current technology requires.

Made in Space is developing power systems for small satellites that can provide up to 5 kW of solar power and is enabled by the company’s Archinaut on-orbit manufacturing and assembly technology. Current small satellites are typically constrained to 1 kW of power or less.

Made in Space CEO Andrew Rush pictured next to a subscale version of a solar array that the company can produce in space. The golden Mylar pieces are physical mockups of what would be solar blankets. This solar array is over 3 m tall. (Made in Space) Made in Space CEO Andrew Rush pictured next to a subscale version of a solar array that the company can produce in space. The golden Mylar pieces are physical mockups of what would be solar blankets. This solar array is over 3 m tall. (Made in Space)

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Aug 4, 2018

How will Bitcoin Work When Mining Rewards Run Out?

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, internet

Let us frame the question, by reviewing what miners really do…

Miners play a critical role in the Bitcoin network. Their activity (searching for a nonce) results in assembling an immutable string of blocks that corroborate and log the universal transaction record. They are the distributed bookkeepers that replace old-school banks in recording and vouching for everyone’s purchase or savings.

From the perspective of a miner, there is no obvious connection between their activity and the worldwide network of bitcoin transactions and record keeping. They are simply playing an online game and competing against thousands of other miners in an effort to solve a complex and ongoing math problem. As they arrive at answers to small pieces of the problem, they are rewarded with bitcoin, which can be easily translated into any currency.

What is the Problem?

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Aug 3, 2018

Why the world should adopt a basic income

Posted by in categories: economics, employment, law, robotics/AI, security

A BASIC income (BI) is defined as a modest, regular payment to every legal resident in the community, paid unconditionally as a right, regardless of income, employment or relationship status.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the case for BI does not rest on the assumption that robots and artificial intelligence will cause mass unemployment or that it would be a more efficient way of relieving poverty than present welfare systems (although it would). The main arguments are ethical and relate to social justice, individual freedom and the need for basic security.

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Aug 3, 2018

Scientists present concept for the elimination of traffic jams

Posted by in categories: economics, sustainability, transportation

A team of researchers from Cologne and New York has presented proposals for future traffic management. A dynamic, fair toll for road use could reduce congestion.

In the current issue of Nature, the economists Peter Cramton, Axel Ockenfels (both University of Cologne) and Richard Geddes (Cornell University) describe a concept in which drivers would have to pay a dynamic fee for the use of roads. This would contribute to avoiding traffic jams and protecting the environment, the researchers argue. Fees that respond to traffic volumes in and with site precision, taking into account factors such as vehicle type and exhaust emissions, can significantly improve and contribute to reducing air pollution.

Traffic jams are not only annoying and time-consuming, they are also costly. In Germany, the economic damage caused by congested roads in 2017 totaled approximately €80 billion. “Currently, who cause , while damaging the environment and even incurring costs, are paying just as much as those who are not involved,” says Ockenfels. “Without a toll, this means that the general public is subsidizing these users. That’s unfair.” A toll for road use would bring these costs to light and reduce congestion. “If the fee adapts to the volume of traffic and the situation on the road in real time, i.e., is more expensive at rush hour than around noon, everyone can choose the route that suits them best. This already works for navigation systems,” explains Cramton. “Ultimately, this would reduce the load on main traffic arteries, improve traffic flow and reduce CO2 emissions.

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Jul 31, 2018

Is Bitcoin Erasing 300 years of Monetary Evolution?

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, finance, government, innovation

Today, economist and Nobel laureate, Paul Krugman, wrote in the New York Times, that Bitcoin is taking us back 300 years in monetary evolution. As a result, he predicts all sorts of bad things.

A significant basis for Mr. Krugman’s argument is that the US dollar has value because men with guns say it does.

Is Bitcoin erasing 300 years of monetary evolution?

Running with the metaphor that fundamental change to an economic mechanism represents ‘evolution’, I think a more accurate statement is that Bitcoin is not erasing the lessons of history. Rather, it is the current step in the evolution of money. Of course, with living species, evolution is a gradual process based on natural selection and adaptation. With Bitcoin, change is coming up in the rear view mirror at lightning speed.

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Jul 31, 2018

Yes, humans are depleting Earth’s resources, but ‘footprint’ estimates don’t tell the full story

Posted by in category: economics

Experts widely agree that human activities are harming the global environment. Since the Industrial Revolution, the world economy has grown dramatically. Overall this is a success story, since rising incomes have lifted millions of people out of poverty. But it has been fueled by population growth and increasing consumption of natural resources.

Rising demand to meet the needs of more than 7 billion people has transformed land use and generated unprecedented levels of pollution, affecting biodiversity, forests, wetlands, water bodies, soils and air quality.

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Jul 30, 2018

Research finds silicon-based, tandem photovoltaic modules can compete in solar market

Posted by in categories: business, economics, solar power, sustainability

New solar energy research from Arizona State University demonstrates that silicon-based, tandem photovoltaic modules, which convert sunlight to electricity with higher efficiency than present modules, will become increasingly attractive in the U.S.

A paper that explores the vs. enhanced efficiency of a new solar technology, titled “Techno-economic viability of silicon-based, tandem modules in the United States,” appears in Nature Energy this week. The paper is authored by ASU Fulton Schools of Engineering, Assistant Research Professor Zhengshan J. Yu, Graduate Student Joe V. Carpenter and Assistant Professor Zachary Holman.

The Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative was launched in 2011 with a goal of making solar cost-competitive with conventional energy sources by 2020. The program attained its goal of $0.06 per kilowatt-hour three years early and a new target of $0.03 per kilowatt-hour by 2030 has been set. Increasing the efficiency of photovoltaic modules is one route to reducing the cost of the solar electricity to this new target. If reached, the goal is expected to triple the amount of solar installed in the U.S. in 2030 compared to the business-as-usual scenario.

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