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MIT Scientists Develop Device That Generates Electricity From Thin Air 

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Did you know? Though it seems like the atmosphere around us maintains a constant temperature, it actually fluctuates minute-to-minute, every day. Using a thermal resonator, it is possible to harness energy from these fluctuations. In fact, this is what scientists with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been doing for the past year.

In a study published in Nature Communications, senior author Michael Strano explains that the “untapped energy source” is derived from the natural ebbs and flows of temperatures. The largest amount of energy is generated when day turns to night. But, even minute temperature changes can generate electricity.

“We’re actually surrounded by temperature fluctuations,” said Strano. “Sometimes the temperature changes slowly, like outside—it changes over a 24-hour cycle. But even around the human body, if you were to carry a thermometer in your pocket, you would find it fluctuating every few seconds.”

“These temperature changes are constant and surround us everywhere we go. We sit in a giant temperature bath, and when that bath fluctuates, you basically can generate electrical power,” Strano added.

Credit: MIT

Newsweek reports, “The thermal resonator, which appears like a black box, can use those constant temperature changes to generate electricity through a special material created at MIT. The material is made from metal foam coated in graphene and combined with a wax called octadecane. The thermal resonator is filled with this material, which can both absorb and store heat.”

After months of testing the device on the roof of an MIT building, the team discovered that enough electricity could be generated to power everything from LED lights to small computers to batteries. The invention’s ability to work regardless of the weather gives it an advantage over solar. The researchers have even considered installing the device beneath a solar panel to boost its energy potential.

Credit: MIT

Because the box is durable and is not made from fragile parts, it could be buried underground or even incorporated into a building’s structure. The scientists have even speculated sending the thermal resonator device to other planets or the moon; there, it could power up landers and rovers and last enough for space missions.

Strano and his team have been researching the power source for approximately one year. Though it will be some time before the thermal resonator can be commercialized and sold on the market, they are already considering starting a company for this purpose. Said Strano, the device is “more than just an invention. It’s a new mechanism for generating electrical power.”

Credit: Pixabay

Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, a distinguished professor of engineering at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, applauded the development. He said the approach “is a novel development with a great future” and “can potentially play an unexpected role in complementary energy harvesting units.”

Kalantar-zadeh added,

“To compete with other energy harvesting technologies, always higher voltages and powers are demanded. However, I personally feel that it is quite possible to gain a lot more out of this by investing more into the concept. … It is an attractive technology which will be potentially followed by many others in the near future.”

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!


h/t Newsweek, MIT News

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter

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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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