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December 13th, 2019 at 1:03 pm

AI judges and verdicts via chat app: the brave new world of China’s digital courts

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Inside the Hangzhou Internet Court, litigants appear by video chat as an AI judge – complete with on-screen avatar – prompts them to present their cases

A ‘mobile court’ offered on popular Chinese social media platform WeChat has handled more than three million legal cases or other judicial procedures since its launch in March

Artificial-intelligence judges, cyber-courts, and verdicts delivered on chat apps — welcome to China’s brave new world of justice spotlighted by authorities this week.

China is encouraging digitisation to streamline case-handling within its sprawling court system using cyberspace and technologies like blockchain and cloud computing, China’s Supreme People’s Court said in a policy paper.

The efforts include a “mobile court” offered on popular social media platform WeChat that has already handled more than three million legal cases or other judicial procedures since its launch in March, according to the Supreme People’s Court.

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December 13th, 2019 at 12:58 pm

Jet-powered VTOL drone is like a quadcopter on steroids

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The current AB5 JetQuad prototype has a claimed top speed of 250 mph (402 km/h)FusionFlight

While propeller planes certainly do have their place, sometimes the extra speed and thrust of a jet engine is what’s really needed. Dallas, Texas-based FusionFlight has applied that sort of thinking to quadcopter-style drones, resulting in the AB5 JetQuad.

According to the company, the AB5 is “the world’s smallest and most powerful jet-powered drone with vertical take-off and landing [VTOL] capabilities.”

Instead of the usual four electric motors and propellers, the current prototype has four diesel-powered microturbine jet engines which produce a combined 200 horsepower (149 kW) at full throttle. Thanks to a proprietary vectoring system known as the H-Configuration, the thrust from these engines can be directed either to move the drone vertically when taking off and landing, or horizontally while in flight.

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December 13th, 2019 at 12:53 pm

SLAC scientists invent a way to see attosecond electron motions with an X-ray laser

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Called XLEAP, the new method will provide sharp views of electrons in chemical processes that take place in billionths of a billionth of a second and drive crucial aspects of life.

Menlo Park, Calif. — Researchers at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have invented a way to observe the movements of electrons with powerful X-ray laser bursts just 280 attoseconds, or billionths of a billionth of a second, long.

A SLAC-led team has invented a method, called XLEAP, that generates powerful low-energy X-ray laser pulses that are only 280 attoseconds, or billionths of a billionth of a second, long and that can reveal for the first time the fastest motions of electrons that drive chemistry. This illustration shows how the scientists use a series of magnets to transform an electron bunch (blue shape at left) at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source into a narrow current spike (blue shape at right), which then produces a very intense attosecond X-ray flash (yellow). (Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

The technology, called X-ray laser-enhanced attosecond pulse generation (XLEAP), is a big advance that scientists have been working toward for years, and it paves the way for breakthrough studies of how electrons speeding around molecules initiate crucial processes in biology, chemistry, materials science and more.

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December 12th, 2019 at 12:22 pm

5 emerging energy technologies to watch out for in 2020

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2019 was a year of consolidation rather than breakthroughs for clean energy technologies. Will 2020 be different?

This year will likely be remembered as a period of technology consolidation rather than breakthrough innovation in the energy industry. Emerging industries such as offshore wind and lithium-ion battery storage have gone from strength to strength.

Meanwhile, more novel technologies such as energy blockchains and flow batteries have been relatively quiet this year.

In some respects, this is no bad thing. It signals that many low-carbon grid technologies are maturing and achieving the scale needed to compete with fossil-fuel generation. And there is still plenty of scope for innovation in maturing sectors.

In the battery market, for example, “the supply chain is constantly battling disruptions resulting from limited mineral supply,” said Lindsay Gorrill, CEO at the energy storage firm Kore Power.

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December 12th, 2019 at 12:17 pm

Israeli scientists find way to treat pancreatic cancer in 14 days

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Cancerous cells forming a lump in the pancreatic tissue

The tumor in one mouse that was injected with human cancer cells completely disappeared.

A new treatment developed by Tel Aviv University could induce the destruction of pancreatic cancer cells, eradicating the number of cancerous cells by up to 90% after two weeks of daily injections of a small molecule known as PJ34.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the hardest cancers to treat. Most people who are diagnosed with the disease do not even live five years after being diagnosed.

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