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IBM is using seawater to make its new batteries

IBM has revealed that it has created a new battery design that uses materials extracted from seawater as opposed to cobalt as the mineral is in now in high demand from the electric vehicle market.

The software giant partnered with the research wing of Mercedes-Benz, the battery electrolyte supplier Central Glass and the battery manufacturer Sidus to help with the commercial development of the new design.

However, according to vice president at IBM Research, Jeff Welser, the first working prototype of the new battery won’t arrive for at least a year or so and the company may not necessarily end up making a product using the design.
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TikTok hits 1.5 billion downloads, ranks third globally

According to a new report by SensorTower analytics, TikTok has managed quite a remarkable feat, surpassing the 1.5 billion downloads mark and claiming the third spot in the most downloaded non-gaming category for 2019. The Chinese social media app managed to break through Facebook’s hegemony in the top charts on both the App Store and Google Play and only trails WhatsApp and Messenger while surpassing long-standing titans like Facebook and Instagram.

What’s even more remarkable is that TikTok was launched just three years ago in 2016. The data shows that in Q3 2019 alone, the app managed a combined 176.5 million downloads across Android and iOS which doesn’t take into account the downloads from third-party app stores in China where TikTok is very popular.
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Tesla Cybertruck electrifies the truck segment

What started off as a casual comment by Elon Musk in 2012 about wanting to build a truck has evolved into what you see here, Tesla’s first production pickup truck. Called the Cybertruck (or “Cybrtrk” if you’re of the dark trench coat persuasion), it’s built to fulfill a lot of familiar tasks but, beyond that, is anything but familiar.

Let’s start with the basic stuff. The Cybertruck is 231.7 inches long, 79.8 inches wide and 75.0 inches tall, with seating for six. Let’s compare that to the Ford F-150, which measures between 209 and 250 inches long, 80 and 86 inches wide and between 75 and 78.5 inches tall. That puts it in pretty much the same company as every other pickup out there.
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Screen Use Tied to Children’s Brain Development

A new study using sophisticated brain scans found an association between screen use and the development of young children’s brains, especially in areas related to language development, reinforcing the messages about minimizing screen time for preschoolers.

Let’s start with full disclosure: I know some of the authors of the research, which was published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. The lead author is Dr. John S. Hutton, the director of the Reading and Literacy Discovery Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. I wrote about some of his research a few years ago, when he looked at how young children’s brains react to hearing stories, and have even collaborated with him in writing about children and reading, one of my favorite topics (the world of pediatricians obsessed with picture books is small and closely, well, networked).
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Google is reportedly gathering health data on millions of Americans

Google is gathering detailed health record information from millions of Americans — and it has not informed patients or doctors, The Wall Street Journal reports. According to WSJ, St. Louis-based Ascension, the second-largest health system in the US, is sharing lab results, diagnoses and hospitalization records, as well as health histories complete with patient names and dates of birth, with Google.

The effort has been dubbed “Project Nightingale,” and a person familiar with the matter told WSJ that at least 150 Google employees have access to data on tens of millions of patients. Google is reportedly using the data to design new, AI-driven software.
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Google says it’s achieved quantum supremacy

Google is standing by its claim that it’s achieved quantum supremacy — marking a major milestone in computing research. The company first made the claim back in September, and while disputed by competitors, Google’s research paper has now been published in the scientific journal Nature.

Quantum supremacy is a big deal, because it encapsulates the ability of quantum computers to solve problems that current technology couldn’t even begin to attempt. Google’s paper explains how its 53-bit quantum computer — named Sycamore — took just 200 seconds to perform a calculation that would have taken the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years.

In theory, this capability opens a lot of doors to future technologies, such as designing better batteries and medicine, or minimizing emissions from farming chemicals. It could also help to advance existing technologies such as machine learning. However, Sycamore’s feat has almost no practical use at this stage — it was designed simply to show that a quantum computer could perform as expected.
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Apple CEO Tim Cook slams Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency as a power grab

Apple CEO Tim Cook had some choice words when asked about Facebook’s controversial blockchain project Libra, with the chief executive openly characterizing the company’s plans to launch a cryptocurrency as a blatant power grab. Speaking with the French newspaper Les Echos, Cook shot down any notion that Apple might be considering launching a digital currency of its own, given its recent investments in digital wallets, mobile payments, and consumer credit with the new Goldman Sachs-backed Apple Card.

“No. I really think that a currency should stay in the hands of countries. I’m not comfortable with the idea of a private group setting up a competing currency,” Cook told the publication in an interview published today. “A private company shouldn’t be looking to gain power this way.”

Cook’s comments were published just prior to PayPal announcing today that it was backing out of the Libra Association, the 28-member nonprofit group (of which Facebook is a part) that was formed to oversee the currency’s creation and the technical, financial, and regulatory hurdles it faces. The two events are unrelated, but PayPal’s withdrawal and its aftereffects will no doubt deal a significant blow to Libra’s ongoing development and the prospects of its regulatory approval.
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Volkswagen unveils the ID.3, its first ‘electric car for the masses’

Volkswagen has rolled out the final version of its first affordable long-range electric car, the ID.3, at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. Coming in at “under €30,000” (about $33,180, currently), the ID.3 will come in three variants that offer between roughly 205 and 340 miles of range. The EV is slated to be delivered in mid-2020.

That “under €30,000” price tag VW is promoting applies to the base model of the ID.3, which has a 45kWh battery and offers 330 kilometers, or 205 miles of range. The company declined to provide pricing information for the two larger capacity variants of the car, which will feature 58kWh and 77kWh batteries, and will respectively offer around 420 and 550 kilometers (or 261 and 340 miles) per charge.
“That “under €30,000” price tag VW is promoting applies to the base model of the ID.3”

VW says the base version of the ID.3 will only charge at up to 50kW, and owners who want to charge faster (up to 100kW) will have to pay extra; 100kW charging will come standard on the midrange 58kWh version, while even faster 125kW charging will be available on the top-tier ID.3. The company is also offering an eight year / 160,000 kilometer warranty on the ID.3’s battery pack.

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Now Facebook says it may remove Like counts

Facebook could soon start hiding the Like counter on News Feed posts to protect users’ from envy and dissuade them from self-censorship. Instagram is already testing this in 7 countries including Canada and Brazil, showing a post’s audience just a few names of mutual friends who’ve Liked it instead of the total number. The idea is to prevent users from destructively comparing themselves to others and possibly feeling inadequate if their posts don’t get as many Likes. It could also stop users from deleting posts they think aren’t getting enough Likes or not sharing in the first place.

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