Has our hydrogen future arrived?

Hydrogen has been discussed as the fuel of the future in recent times, with state and federal governments aiming to see renewable hydrogen at a competitive price by 2030. But some companies – most notably Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), an offshoot of mining giant Fortescue Metals Group – have more ambitious dates in mind. FFI … Continue reading Has our hydrogen future arrived?

Microscopic device harvests power from heat

US scientists have designed the most efficient “optical rectenna” yet. This tiny device, too small to be seen with the naked eye, can turn excess heat from the environment into usable electricity – and might be a game-changer for renewable energy. Rectennas (“rectifying antennas”) have been around for over 50 years – in 1964, they … Continue reading Microscopic device harvests power from heat

Shining light on the Sun’s source of power

Scientists working with $AU60 million instrument in Italy have found a new class of neutrinos coming from the Sun that confirms, as has long been theorised, that the Sun burns its nuclear fuel via two different thermonuclear pathways.  “We have completed a chapter of physics which started more than 80 years ago,” says nuclear physicist Gioacchino … Continue reading Shining light on the Sun’s source of power

Producing hydrogen, not oxygen

The search for alternative energy sources is as wide-ranging as it is important. In a new chapter, scientists from the UK and China report that they have built tiny droplet-based microbial factories that produce hydrogen, rather than oxygen, when exposed to daylight in air. Hydrogen is potentially a climate-neutral fuel but making it usually involves … Continue reading Producing hydrogen, not oxygen

A new kind of power walking

Scientists are constantly searching for new and clever ways to make electricity. Earlier this year, for example, Cosmos reported on a new device powered by a microbe that, the US creators say, can generate it from moisture in the air. Others are working on clothes that can produce electricity, offering the enticing promise of plugging … Continue reading A new kind of power walking

Shining bright without light

In the world of microscopy, fluorescence is king, but chemiluminescence is snapping at its heels. The ability to analyse samples by making them glow in the dark using chemically luminescent molecules has great potential, if for no other reason than it has fewer drawbacks. If you don’t need to use direct light, there is no … Continue reading Shining bright without light

Teaching physics to monks

Leslie Atkins Elliott: My plan was to organise instruction around a series of questions – a thought experiment or a brief observation – hoping for discussion among the monks (that I may or may not be able to understand), and then a mini-lecture that says “So here is how Western science answers that question…”. For … Continue reading Teaching physics to monks

The biggest engineering challenge

I want you to imagine a highway exclusively devoted to delivering the world’s energy. Each lane is restricted to trucks that carry one of the world’s seven large-scale sources of primary energy: coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, solar and wind. Our current energy security comes at a price, the carbon dioxide emissions from the … Continue reading The biggest engineering challenge