The dazzling history of solar power

PODCAST: Once fringe and futuristic, this renewable energy shines brightly today as a cheap and efficient source of energy. Still, it remains controversial — for much different reasons.

Adam Levy • knowable
Jan. 13, 2021 ~16 min

climate-change podcast technology food-environment

The heart of invention

PODCAST: Replacing or assisting the human heart with a machine would save countless lives. But the quest to build an artificial heart has had many gruesome missteps and caused researchers to reimagine how to keep our blood flowing.

Adam Levy • knowable
Jan. 12, 2021 ~24 min

podcast technology health-disease

Virtual agents of change: How computers are mapping Covid-19’s future

Traffic planners, securities traders and military strategists all use it. Simulating the behavior of millions of idiosyncratic individuals also may be the best way to understand complex phenomena like pandemics.

Bob Holmes • knowable
Dec. 15, 2020 ~23 min

public-health coronavirus society technology health-disease reset special-report-reset

Hi, robot: Why robotics and language need each other

Machines might better understand our commands if they experienced our physical worlds, researchers say. That enhanced perception could sharpen their listening skills and improve performance.

Matthew Hutson • knowable
Dec. 11, 2020 ~15 min

robotics society technology

AI’s next big leap

The unlikely marriage of two major artificial intelligence approaches has given rise to a new hybrid called neurosymbolic AI. It’s taking baby steps toward reasoning like humans and might one day take the wheel in self-driving cars.

Anil Ananthaswamy • knowable
Oct. 14, 2020 ~22 min

technology

Solving the growing plastics waste puzzle

When polymers prove resistant to recycling, new chemical techniques can do the job of breaking them down for reuse

M. Mitchell Waldrop • knowable
Oct. 1, 2020 ~7 min

technology food-environment

Recycling meets reality

Modern industry has made great strides in turning trash into tomorrow’s new products, but the process is still a long way from perfect. New technologies can help. Plus, updates on chemical recycling, design for recycling and dirty recycling.

M. Mitchell Waldrop • knowable
Oct. 1, 2020 ~27 min

climate-change technology food-environment

Why solar geoengineering should be part of the climate crisis solution

The controversial technology of reflecting sunlight away from the planet could help blunt the worst impacts of climate change

Betsy Mason • knowable
Sept. 16, 2020 ~15 min

climate-change technology qa food-environment physical-world

How algorithms discern our mood from what we write online

Researchers and companies are harnessing computers to identify the emotions behind our written words. While sentiment analysis is far from perfect, it manages to distill meaning from huge amounts of data — and could one day even monitor mental health.

Dana Mackenzie • knowable
Sept. 14, 2020 ~16 min

technology the-mind

Why some artificial intelligence is smart until it’s dumb

Machine learning has found uses in fields as diverse as particle physics and radiology, and its influence is growing. But so is the understanding of its limits.

Tom Siegfried • knowable
Aug. 27, 2020 ~14 min

robotics technology physical-world in-review

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