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August 17th, 2019 at 2:12 am

How K-Beauty conquered the West

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Kimchi, K-pop, and K-dramas. Welcome to Hallyu 2.0, in which everyone in the West is losing their minds over all things Korean.

Playing a starring role is a glorious onslaught of Korean beauty products, with the K-Beauty market now valued at over $13 billion, and $7.2 billion of which is from facial skin care alone. Serums, acids, oils, cushion compacts, CC creams, BB creams, masks that bubble on your face, masks to sleep in, volcanic clay, and snail slime are seeing improbably explosive popularity, and they’ve done so with accessible pricing and cute packaging that has grown women reaching for panda face masks.

“What people don’t see is the amount of government support and PR that drives interest.”

Jude Chao, director of marketing for BeautyTap and somewhat of an oracle on K-Beauty (who also happens to have excellent skin) believes in empowering the masses with education on K-Beauty ingredients. (Her blog, Fifty Shades of Snail, is a solid starting point if you’re overwhelmed by the 12,000 active brands on the market, the proliferation of which Chao believes is no coincidence.)

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August 17th, 2019 at 2:09 am

Scientists cook up new recipes for taking salt out of seawater

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As populations boom and chronic droughts persist, coastal cities like Carlsbad in Southern California have increasingly turned to ocean desalination to supplement a dwindling fresh water supply. Now scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) investigating how to make desalination less expensive have hit on promising design rules for making so-called “thermally responsive” ionic liquids to separate water from salt.

Ionic liquids are a liquid salt that binds to water, making them useful in forward osmosis to separate contaminants from water. (See Berkeley Lab Q&A, “Moving Forward on Desalination”) Even better are thermally responsive ionic liquids as they use thermal energy rather than electricity, which is required by conventional reverse osmosis (RO) desalination for the separation. The new Berkeley Lab study, published recently in the journal Nature Communications Chemistry, studied the chemical structures of several types of ionic liquid/water to determine what “recipe” would work best.

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August 17th, 2019 at 2:06 am

AI is getting more in touch with your emotions

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EmoNet, a neural network model, was accurately able to pair images to 11 emotion categories.

The EmoNet research study demonstrates how AI can measure emotional significance.

Artificial intelligence might one day start communicating our emotions better than we do. EmoNet, neural network model developed by researchers at the University of Colorado and Duke University, was accurately able to classify images into 11 different emotion categories.

A neural network is a computer model that learns to map input signals to an output of interest by learning a series of filters, according to Philip Kragel, one of the researchers on the study. For example, a network trained to detect bananas would learn features unique to them, such as shape and color.

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August 16th, 2019 at 12:34 am

Brighter future for ag: Vertical underground farms, driverless tractors

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Futurist Thomas Frey of the DaVinci Institute told InfoAg attendees that agriculture is “soon to become the coolest profession on Earth.”

ST. LOUIS — Futurist Thomas Frey says we’re entering a period of unprecedented opportunity.

Why?

“Because humanity is going to change more in the next 20 years than in all history,” he told the audience at InfoAg, an agriculture technology conference in St. Louis.

Certainly, 2019 is a down economic year for agriculture, but the InfoAg organizers wanted to offer a glimpse into brighter future for the industry. That’s why they invited Frey of the DaVinci Institute to the conference.

“We want you to sit back, think about the future and maybe think about things a little bit differently than you have before — think about a brighter future and maybe some interesting things you haven’t thought of before, said Paul Schrimpf, PrecisionAg editor.

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August 16th, 2019 at 12:28 am

Tesla’s Megapack battery is big enough to help grids handle peak demand

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A new industrial storage product coming as the company’s lost its lead in home solar

Tesla announced a new massive battery today called Megapack that could replace so-called “peaker” power plants, which provide energy when a local electrical grid gets overloaded. Tesla says that Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) will deploy several Megapacks at Moss Landing on Monterrey Bay in California, which is one of four locations where the California utility plans to install more cost-effective energy storage solutions.

Each Megapack can store up to 3 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy at a time, and it’s possible to string enough Megapacks together to create a battery with more than 1 GWh of energy storage, Tesla says. The company says this would be enough energy to power “every home in San Francisco for six hours.” Telsa will deliver the Megapacks fully assembled, and they include “battery modules, bi-directional inverters, a thermal management system, an AC main breaker and controls.” Tesla says the Megapack takes up 40 percent less space, requires a tenth of the parts to build, and can be assembled 10 times as fast as alternative energy storage solutions.

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