If you’ve ever doubted the power of social media, consider this: a series of tweets sent by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in March 2017 led to the creation of the world’s largest battery.

That 100-megawatt capacity Powerpack battery storage system was officially turned on in South Australia on December 1, 2017, after a speedy 100-day build. Now, AFR is reporting that Tesla has been tapped by the Australian state of Victoria to build another massive battery system Down Under.

The new project won’t be quite as robust as the last, nor will it adhere to Musk’s previously “100 days or it’s free” guarantee. This 20 MW battery system will be designed to support the yet-to-be-built Bulgana Green Power Hub, a 204-MW wind farm in Western Victoria, and won’t come online until mid-2019.

Developing the Bulgana Wind Farm is French renewable energy company Neoen. They were also responsible for the development of the Hornsdale Wind Farm paired with Tesla’s battery in South Australia, so a relationship with Musk’s company is already established.

The battery in South Australia was built specifically for the purpose of addressing the state’s unreliable power grid and ensuring that its citizens are never without electricity.

The one in Bulgana, however, will primarily support the 40-hectare Nectar Farms glasshouse in Stawell, though Neoen’s managing director Franck Woitiez did tell Electrek it could eventually be connected to the state’s grid.

As we’ve seen recently in Puerto Rico, Australia, and other parts of the globe, energy insecurity is a major issue facing the modern world.

By transitioning to renewable sources of energy, we can avoid the power outages caused by natural disasters and warming temperatures while simultaneously addressing the carbon emissions at the root of climate change. That’s something worth tweeting about.



The central process unit (CPU) is essentially the “brains” of any computer. Whenever you run a program, type a command, or click a link, you’re sending instructions to the CPU. Project Zero, a team of security analysts assembled by Google in 2014, has revealed their discovery of two major security flaws in the design of CPUs and microprocessors found in the majority of computers, smartphones, and tablets released over the last 20 years.

The researchers dubbed the first hardware bug Spectre. It gives attackers a way to trick otherwise error-free programs into sharing information by breaking the isolation between various applications.

The researchers say Spectre affects almost every computing system (desktops, laptops, cloud servers, and smartphones) and has been verified on CPUs manufactured by Intel, AMD, and ARM.

The other bug, which the researchers named Meltdown, cracks the divide between user applications and an operating system (OS). By exploiting Meltdown, a hacker can use one program to access the memory of another program or a device’s OS. Meltdown affects desktop, laptop, and cloud computers. So far, Project Zero researchers have only verified it on Intel CPUs.

The Project Zero team first discovered these security flaws in June 2017, and the plan was for the tech community to disclose them to the public on January 9, 2018.

The purpose behind the secrecy was to give companies time to address the issues before news about them spread, but rumors and early reports pushed the reveal up to January 3, 2018.

Security flaws in CPUs leave them vulnerable to hackers.

According to the Project Zero team’s report, Spectre and Meltdown give hackers a way to steal a device’s entire memory contents. That means they have access to a user’s photo library, emails, instant messages, passwords, and more. To avoid the chaos that such breaches could cause, tech companies are rushing to address the vulnerabilities.

Right now, the best known fix for the Meltdown bug is Kaiser, a software patch devised by researchers at the Graz University of Technology in Austria to address a different issue. However, the patch might come with a catch: It reportedly causes systems to run up to 30 percent slower.

Spectre is proving to be even more formidable, and the only fix may be redesigning the processors. “As it is not easy to fix, it will haunt us for quite some time,” the researchers wrote in their report.

As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow, hackers have a growing number of avenues by which to access our personal information, meaning securing that information will only become more and more vital.

So far, the Project Zero team says it hasn’t found conclusive proof that anyone has used Spectre or Meltdown to access vulnerable systems. But now that information about these flaws is widely known, that could change.

Linux, Android, Apple’s MacOS, and Microsoft’s Windows 10 have already pushed fixes to address these new security issues. So the best course of action is to ensure all of your devices are using the most up-to-date version of their operating system.


Cyanobacteria have been around for billions of years. They manufacture their own food through photosynthesis, absorbing solar light and turning it into energy. Much like plants, they release oxygen in the process, and their presence may have changed our atmosphere so much that bigger creatures could eventually breathe and thrive on Earth. Now, they’re being used to create tiny bio solar panels.

These tiny creatures have been used to create a living ink that can be printed on paper and work as bio-solar panels. Researchers at Imperial College London, the University of Cambridge and Central Saint Martins used an inkjet printer to draw precise patterns onto electrically conductive carbon nanotubes, which were also printed on the same surface.

Not only did the resilient bacteria survive the printing process, but produced a small amount of electricity that the team harvested over a period of 100 hours through photosynthesis.

This may seem to be a relatively short lifespan compared to the solar panels we install on our roofs, but “paper-based BPVs [microbial biophotoltaics] are not meant to replace conventional solar cell technology for large-scale power production,” Dr. Andrea Fantuzzi, co-author of the study (published in Nature) from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London, said in a statement.


Instead, he explained, they could be used for small devices that require a small and finite amount of energy, such as environmental sensing and wearable biosensors. They are disposable and biodegradable, and they also work in the dark, releasing electricity from molecules produced in the light.

“Imagine a paper-based, disposable environmental sensor disguised as wallpaper, which could monitor air quality in the home. When it has done its job it could be removed and left to biodegrade in the garden without any impact on the environment,” Dr. Marin Sawa, a co-author from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London, said in a statement.

According to Fantuzzi, the paper-based bio solar panels could be integrated with biosensor technology to monitor health indicators, such as blood glucose level in patients with diabetes. He said that because the new technology is so cost effective, it could “pave the way for its use in developing countries with limited healthcare budgets and strains on resources.”

Hazel Assender, Associate Professor at the Department of Materials with the University of Oxford in the UK, told Futurism: “Using bacteria opens up new possibilities [in the field of sensing], but the challenge, as so often, will be selectivity: what is it about the ‘atmosphere’ that such a sensor might monitor, and how will it react to all the other environmental changes?”

The team agrees that the discovery is, however exciting, just a proof of concept for now, and the next challenge is to make panels that are more powerful and long-lasting. The current bio solar panel unit is small, the size of a palm, and the researchers are confident that it could be scaled up to the size of an A4 sheet of paper.


For decades, fusion energy has been an impossible-seeming solution to our energy problems. But creating fusion energy, and doing so without radioactive fuel elements has seemed to many too good to be true, until now. Lead author Heinrich Hora, an emeritus professor of theoretical physics at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney and an international team of researchers has developed a laser-based technique that creates fusion without any radioactive waste.

As described in the researchers’ paper, which is published in the scientific journal Laser and Particle Beams, the team found that it is possible to create fusion through hydrogen-boron reactions using two powerful lasers in rapid bursts. These laser bursts apply precise non-linear forces which compresses the nuclei together. This technique is far different from previous attempts in which high-strength magnets were used in a toroidal chamber to heat radioactive fuel to the temperature of the Sun.

According to Hora, who predicted in the 1970’s that fusion might be possible with hydrogen and boron and without the need to reach thermal equilibrium, “I think this puts our approach ahead of all other fusion energy technologies.”

While fusion has not yet been achieved using this technique, international collaborators and experts have weighed in on the study and think that fusion is entirely possible using hydrogen-boron reactions.

One major positive aspect of creating fusion with hydrogen-boron reactions, besides that so far it is theoretically possible, is that it produces no neutrons in its primary reaction. This means that it doesn’t produce any radioactivity.

Fusion energy is often criticized, not only for its potential application as a realistic and viable source of energy, but because of its potential to cause enormous amounts of radioactive waste. Even if everything went according to plan, previous techniques could have amounted in dangerous, excessive, radioactive waste. So even if creating fusion with this technique turns out to be less than an ideal method, it will at least be much safer and less wasteful. Additionally, because of the materials used, this technique could be a lot easier to replicate, Hora explained, “From an engineering perspective, our approach will be a much simpler project because the fuels and waste are safe, the reactor won’t need a heat exchanger and steam turbine generator, and the lasers we need can be bought off the shelf.”

Hora was excited not only about the initial success of this research, but also the potential for this technique to create much more energy than previous methods, “It is a most exciting thing to see these reactions confirmed in recent experiments and simulations. Not just because it proves some of my earlier theoretical work, but they have also measured the laser-initiated chain reaction to create one billion-fold higher energy output than predicted under thermal equilibrium conditions.”

Hora and other researchers still have a long road ahead of them between the publication of this work and the creation of fusion energy. However, as the team moves forward with research it is important to note that this is a positive step forward in terms of our energy future. There doesn’t seem to be a possible future in which fossil fuel is still our primary fuel source. And so continued investment and exploration of alternative energy sources that are renewable and do not cause emissions will pull this movement and other such legitimate efforts to curb climate change.