- Humanity witnesses its first birth of a ‘submarine’ volcano close to the island of Mayotte, which apparently is a “department of France” just off the Madagascar coast.
- An incredibly fun, interactive explorative demo on what ground conditions are necessary for ideas or germs to spread.
- Japan sets export controls of semiconductor materials to South Korea which notably may affect DRAM production by S. Korean manufacturers; this tweet has more detail. The reason for the export restrictions wasn’t made clear. There’s speculation that a leaky S. Korean supply chain has been filtering up to N. Korea; my completely unfounded guess is that Japan is saving up its polyimide supply for another solar sail project.
- A fascinating twitter thread about how polymorphism (the ability of a solid material to exist in many different crystalline structures; cf. Kurt Vonnegut's fictional ice-nine) causes problems in chemical processing; the first few are about production difficulties with Ritonavir, an AIDS drug. Basically, the molecule for Ritonavir has two crystalline forms, and (the valuable) form I would convert to (the useless) form II anytime the two contacted each other. The supply line became contaminated and the drug was removed from the market while a fix was found. Related, note that chocolate has *six* polymorphic forms.
- The US supply of helium is low, again. Last time it was low, Congress authorized the Strategic Helium Reserve (video tour) to start selling off its supplies. Pundits then worried that cheap helium flooding the market would prevent businesses from developing their own supplies of it; turns out that might have been an accurate prediction. Related, here’s a favorite exploding helium balloon video.
- South Australia has been working to build a Virtual Power Plant composed of just residential solar + battery installations. Customers participating in the program have seen about a 20% reduction to their power bill. A more in depth report on Phase 2 of the project can be found here; the third phase aims to expand the project to 250MW. Of note, the trial phase focused on 1,100 state-sponsored homes.
- On the topic of batteries, flow batteries caught my eye a few weeks back. They require less maintenance and unlike lithium ion batteries, don’t lose capacity over charge cycles. I was so enamored that I went on Etsy and bought myself a vanadinite ring. Turns out vanadinite is, uh, fairly toxic though. Other fun uses of vanadium: Model-T parts.
- We actually featured a flow battery job at Lockheed Martin back in the February; they appear to be investing additional resources in the technology.
- Rumor has it that Apple’s next phone will contain a time of flight camera (video explainer), which gives very fine grain depth details about a scene. One Twitterer wants to know what mass-market TOF chips will enable - cheaper accelerometers and lithium ion batteries already gave us drones and hand-held power tools. What might be next?
- As a sequel to Hillary and Lee’s link to an article on how poorly understood tape is, check out this witchy “z-axis conductive tape”. Who needs solder when you can just…tape it.
- A quite dusty A/C current regulator that works by ferroresonance.
- A wearable multitool. The match holder use is my favorite.
- MachinePix facilitates a sale? As it happens, Kane from MachinePix will be guest editing next week - here’s hoping he weighs in on other commerce facilitation successes :)
- My new house is actually about 20 years old; I think the air filters were last replaced in 2014. I replaced them last week with some washable filters -- at 11, K&N’s new line of washable A/C filters had the highest MERV rating I could find (though Air-Care’s Electra Gold have an arrestance of 94% which would put them in the 14 range). The first time I heard the term “MERV” was last November when looking for filters to clean out the smoke in our house from Northern California wildfires; in those cases you really want a filter rated 17+. Higher MERV rated filters can have an impact on your A/C’s efficiency though, especially when loaded with dust. If I was in an area where smoke fires are a big risk, I’d probably invest in washable filters for normal usage and stockpile higher rated paper filters to swap in when needed (this listing of Filtrete filters has some good high MERV options).
- Flying humans seems to be in the news a lot lately. First there was the French Green Goblin on Bastille Day, then last week we featured a piece on a real life Iron Man. My dad reminded me about this human-powered helicopter that Aerovelo made in 2013 (technical details of how it was designed). I’m not sure we’ll see this in the wild anytime soon -- the final design was bigger than a Boeing 737.
- Speaking of altitude, see this alternative to an elevator that fits into tiny spaces and is human powered. These seem like they’d be really handy for multi-level homes with an aging population.
- Beautiful, unreviewed beach in North Korea.
- Man seeks to avoid wife, is partial cause of the Great Flood of ‘93.
Thanks as always to our recurring donors for supporting The Prepared. Thanks to my dad Steve and Twitter for links this week.
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