The Download

What's up in emerging technology

September 21, 2018 An engineer tinkers with a Bristlecone quantum chip

Why the US can’t afford to let politics derail its planned quantum strategy

A US national plan for quantum technologies could be delayed by the country’s midterm elections. At a meeting next week, the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) will stress the importance of getting a national strategy in place… Read more

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  • Google

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Fertilised human egg

IVF moonshot takes next step toward making human eggs from skin

Japanese scientists just took a new step toward a “game changing” way to make babies from skin cells.

The news: The Japanese team reports in the journal Science that they’re closer than ever. The team, led by Mitinori Saitou and colleagues from Kyoto… Read more

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  • Alan Handyside | Wellcome

Editor's Pick

Maybe we can afford to suck CO2 out of the sky after all

While avoiding the worst dangers of climate change will likely require sucking carbon dioxide out of the sky, prominent scientists have long dismissed such technologies as far too expensive.

But a detailed new analysis published today in the journal Joule...

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September 20, 2018 Image of rover landing on Ryugu asteroid.

Japan has just landed two rovers on the surface of an asteroid

The country is the first to successfully land rovers on an asteroid’s surface.

The journey: The Hayabusa-2 spacecraft set out on its mission to the 3,000-foot-wide Ryugu asteroid in 2014 and finaly arrived in June this year.

The news: Two of the the mission’s… Read more

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  • Jaxa
Alibaba's Jeff Zhang.

Alibaba’s “honey badger” AI chip company hopes to take on bigger beasts

China’s Alibaba has announced a subsidiary that that will develop computer chips specifically designed for artificial intelligence. 

The trade war between Washington and Beijing recently exposed how dependent Chinese manufacturers are on imported silicon… Read more

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  • Alibaba
Image of a Walmart worker using a VR headset.

Walmart will use VR headsets to train all its US employees

By the end of the year, it plans to have more than 17,000 Oculus Go headsets in use to help train workers.

By the numbers: Next month, the company will begin sending four headsets to every Walmart supercenter and two units to every Neighborhood Market… Read more

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  • Walmart
amazon boxes piled up

Amazon faces a probe from EU’s competition watchdog over sales data

The EU has launched an investigation into whether Amazon is violating competition law.

The news: The EU is conducting a preliminary inquiry into how Amazon uses data from sellers in its online marketplace. It will look at whether Amazon’s dual role as… Read more

Image credit:
  • Carl Malamud | Flickr

Editor's Pick

The world’s most powerful supercomputer is tailor made for the AI era

Since 2013, Chinese machines have occupied the number one slot in rankings of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. Now America is back on top again. Engineers at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee have just unveiled...

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September 19, 2018

Satellite uses giant net to trap spinning bit of space junk

The RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft captured a probe in a demonstration of space debris cleanup.

The space landfill: Earth’s orbit is full of space junk. Right now there are about 8,000 man-made objects floating around our planet being tracked by the US Department… Read more

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  • Surrey Nanosats SSC Mission Delivery Team
September 18, 2018 A man and a woman side-by-side with laptops

Facebook is being sued for hiding job ads from women

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Facebook, claiming it illegally runs ads that are shown only to men.

The news: The lawsuit, which is being filed on behalf of three women, says Facebook let 10 employers, including a police department, to run… Read more

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  • rawpixel | Unsplash