National / International News

Boarding schools issue Ebola advice

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 09:37
The Boarding Schools Association has issued guidance on Ebola after some heads asked how to deal with students returning from affected countries.

Weekendish: The best of the week's reads

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 09:23
Some of the best reads from the BBC News website this week, with your comments.

Huge fake dental equipment haul

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 09:15
Thousands of pieces of counterfeit or sub-standard dental equipment imported from China have been seized by regulators.

VIDEO: Will thumbprint tech mean end of PIN?

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 09:12
Credit and debit cards with thumb print sensors built in could one day do away with the need to use codes, PINs and passwords.

Minecraft city built in two years

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 09:00
A student from Delaware has spent two years constructing Titan City from 4.5 million Minecraft building blocks.

10 things we didn't know last week

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 08:39
Why Bono always wears shades, and other topical nuggets

Pistorius sentencing: Two interpretations of justice

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 08:29
Two interpretations of justice on show

Soldier denies testicle squeeze lie

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 08:24
A soldier denies helping a comrade accused of murder by lying to a jury about an unusual Army medical technique.

Trafficking harms 30,000 in EU

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 08:21
The EU says 30,146 human trafficking victims were detected in Europe over three years - most of them exploited for sex.

Life sentence in 'loud music' murder

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 08:16
The Florida man who shot and killed a teenager in an argument over his loud music is sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole.

Asghar daughter in Number 10 plea

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 08:13
The daughter of an Edinburgh man who is on death row in Pakistan meets with the Foreign Office and presents a petition signed by 70,000 people.

VIDEO: The secret lives of mannequins

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 08:01
The secret lives of artists' mannequins

Many dead at South Korea concert

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 07:59
At least 16 people die and 11 are injured in an accident at a concert by the pop band 4Minute in Seongnam, South Korea, local media say.

AUDIO: Will Downey Jr play Iron Man again?

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 07:37
Robert Downey Jr spoke to Front Row to discuss his latest film The Judge and why he is keeping tight lipped about whether or not he will resume the role of Iron Man

Go Figure: The week in numbers

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 07:30
The week in numbers

The numbers for October 17, 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-10-17 07:27

Of all the countries that have pledged money to the UN's $1 billion fund to fight Ebola, only Colombia has paid, the BBC reported, bringing the fund total to $100,000. There has been $20 million pledged to the fund, and $400 million given to other UN-affiliated organizations, but the main UN trust fund is bare. 

There was a flurry of other Ebola news Friday morning: President Barack Obama appointed an "Ebola Czar," a Pentagon parking lot was shut down after a woman who had recently traveled to Africa began vomiting and the State Department announced that a healthcare worker who may have come in contact with the virus is on a cruise ship in Belize. We'll have more later today.

Here are some other stories we're reading - and numbers we're watching - Friday.

$200 million

The valuation of anonymous messaging app Whisper, which transmits up to 2.6 million posts each day. In an exploration of deeper journalistic partnership with the company, the Guardian reported that Whisper tracks users' location data, even if they had specifically opted out. The company also reportedly zeros in on potentially "newsworthy" users, following their posts closely and tracking their movements.

10

That's how many new movies based on DC Comics Warner Bros. announced this week, to be released between 2016 and 2020. That's an insane amount of movies, and a very bold bid to out-Marvel Marvel. Grantland has an informative but scathing breakdown of all the characters Warner will be adapting in pursuit of some sweet, sweet "Avengers" money.

120,000 people

That's how many people are currently waiting for an organ transplant—only 8,200 people donated organs between January and July 2014. Bioethicist Sigrid Fry-Revere argues that the current law, which contains strict guidelines about how donors can be compensated for expenses related to their donation, is preventing patients from getting the treatment they need.

Oscar Pistorius 'has no money'

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 07:17
Oscar Pistorius has no money left after his seven-month trial for killing his girlfriend, his lawyer says as legal arguments end.

Philippine militants release Germans

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 07:14
The Philippines-based militant group, Abu Sayyaf, releases two German hostages captured in April, local officials say.

Week in pictures: 11-17 October 2014

BBC - Fri, 2014-10-17 07:11
A selection of the best news photographs from around the world

A better battery is hard to invent

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-10-17 07:11

A Michigan battery start-up has been garnering lots of attention lately for a breakthrough. It addresses a key question on many people's minds: why do computer chips in our phones improve exponentially – under what is called Moore's Law – but our batteries die by lunchtime?

"You know, there are actually very few technology areas whose key performance index follows Moore's law," says Ann Marie Sastry, founder of the battery start-up Sakti3. "Do your clothes follow Moore's law in terms of how they last? Does interior paint?"

Building the battery of tomorrow is hard. It's up against certain limits of chemistry.

Sastry quit her engineering professor job at the University of Michigan to take it on. The company produces what are called solid-state batteries. There are no liquids inside to hog valuable space and weight. Just the essentials.

"In a liquid system, the liquid in your battery, or the gel in your battery, is only a highway for the ions to move to the active material," Sastry says. "And that is actually penalizing your energy density."

Energy density is the key concept – how much oomph can you pack in a light, tiny battery package. Sakti3's big moment came when it announced it smashed a key technical barrier: packing 1,000 units of energy – or kilowatt hours -- into one liter of volume.

"We were pretty thrilled because today's battery technologies are hovering around 600," Sastry says.

The upshot: a power source that can last almost twice as long, for half the price or less. Or in car terms, it pushes toward the goal of an electric vehicle with no range issues, at a price of about $25,000.

Right now, it's all potential. Sakti3 has to figure out large-scale production, which could take two years to market. Or more.

"Scientific discovery does not respect your timeline," says clean energy investor Matt Nordan, co-founder and managing partner at MNL Partners in Boston.

Nordan has seen many exciting lab announcements end up in the technology graveyard.

"You can sit down and lay out 'I'm going to do these experiments in this order with this many people over this many months, and I'm going to get to this answer,'" says Nordan. "And you know what, you might get it tomorrow morning, you might get it five years from now. You might get it never."

The notion of tomorrow, as in almost there, has been a tease of electric vehicles for decades.

Sakti3 founder Ann Marie Sastry

Scott Tong/Marketplace

"The EV has been the car of tomorrow for 100 years," says business professor David Kirsch of the University of Maryland, author of "The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History." "It's always been a day away. There have been predictions even in the modern era since the late 1960s about what the coming golden area of electric vehicles."

The key is a more competitive battery, but it's more than that. The incumbent liquid fuel – gasoline – is far more energy dense and some argue always will be. It's a liquid that's easy to transport down a pipeline and pour in your car. For all the carbon pollution minuses, gasoline has lots of everyday pluses.

Still, the challenge is not insurmountable, Sastry argues. She reads history more optimistically.

"When better technology becomes available, it can be adopted with breathtaking speed," Sastry says. "If you just look at the computing revolution, that's clear. Now we're in the cloud and that is revolutionary, and that's clear. Does portable high energy density power change everything? Yes. It changes everything."

Scott Tong/Marketplace

She says her breakthrough battery may first show up in consumer electronics and wearable devices like smart watches.

But automaker GM has already invested in her ideas. And there are whispers Sakti3 is testing a "next-next-generation" product: a new material with even better properties than today's lithium.

 

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