Not nominative determinism then...
...since good enough is not enough in engineering. That's reserved for geology :-)
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to three pioneers in the field of lithium ion batteries, which form the power storage unit of most modern technology. At 97-years-old, John Goodenough, an engineering professor at The University of Texas, is the oldest person to win the Nobel Prize yet. Goodenough is joined by M. …
He's working on a new version of the battery that's lighter, bendable, and can be punctured without any risk - and it continues working just fine. He's got it working in the lab, I think manufacturability was the next step. This was a couple years ago, so hopefully it is further along and we might see them in phones & laptops around not long after his 100th birthday!
They can already be recycled though apparently not the Lithium right now (or at least, people don't bother because it's cheaper to mine more).
So the down-votes seem a trifle harsh. Though at surface level a clean, wonderful way to improve the environment, there are a lot of negative impacts starting with the huge mining works required to fulfil a rampantly increasing demand for Lithium and other minerals.
Those who are really keen on the environment should be clamouring that the processes we use to replace older technologies are as good as possible. Unless you want to be protesting Lithium Fracking in your garden in 2040.
And believes those batteries will be used in the future since they can be made without anything toxic and with materials so common there would be no benefit from recycling the cells.
The only disadvantage to using sodium is a 0.3v reduction per cell which means designs would have to be changed to account for the differing voltage so that would take longer.
He went to work in Texas when Oxford Uni tried to force him to retire at 65. With year to go he packed up his lab and moved to Texas which doesn't have such laws. It is truly excellent that he is still both alive and working to receive this acknowledgement. It means he can bask in the adulation of his colleagues and the approbation of the university bigwigs who can market this Nobel to donors.
That is in addition to friends and family and other loved ones. Lang may his lum reek.
What's so special about Li Ion batteries other than power density?
Switched from one non-renewable resource to another. Unless you are re-charging off solar or a bicycle powered generator, the electricity has to come from somewhere, likely a plant using non-renewable combustible resources.
And lets not forget you are basically carrying around an IED in your pants, close to the family jewels.
Pumped storage is already installed in some hydro stations here in Scotland such as the 'hole in the mountain' one at the head of Loch Awe. More are being installed or planned as retrofitted installations.
Scotland also has far more renewable energy than England, enough to power domestic demand and more now. That is with only starting to exploit our extremely abundant tidal energy. There's an array now in the Pentland Firth generating power right now and proving both effective and wildlife friendly (the turbines are cowled).
A look at the map of Scotland especially of the West coast will reveal manifest tidal races between islands and the mainland and other islands etc. If you have a sailing map of the area this details the speed of them. Some are so powerfuly you cannot for eg paddle a kayak against the current.
The question will be which ones, other than at Corryvreckan, will we NOT exploit.
Note the tides run 24/7 regardless of the weather in an entirely predictable manner. The Pentland Firth acting as a conduit betwen the Atlantic and North Sea never stops flowing.
Well it might if Climate Change gets out of hand enough. At the end of the Permian it got so hot ocean circulation stopped and the oceans became stagnant ponds with only the top couple of metres oxygenated by wind, waves and diffusion. 90% of marin creatures (all the Trilobites!) died out as well as 30% or so of land animals ushering in the age of the Dinosaurs.
Isn't it a bit sad that Chemistry and Physics are still different sciences? That model of the atom ends with an unsatisfactory "its complicated", and Chemistry starts up with a mass of rules and tables and physical measurements turning the complexity into usable data. Apparently not so complex it cannot be modelled.
Between the two sciences is a gap.
One of these sciences makes batteries and the other makes extra dimensions.
Physics is particle engineering (and other fundamental stuff)
Chemistry is atomic engineering
Biology is molecular engineering
And they all overlap one another - e.g. molecules feature in Chemistry and electrons feature in Biology, and physicists are predominantly biological (all the ones I've met)
And we still don't have a definition of Lie which includes the viruses* and which distinguishes it from mere Chemistry. Which is of course evidence that no hard boundary between Biology and Chemistry exists. Remember RNA can be both information store and enzyme.
RNA strings replicating themselves in a pore in a black smoker. Are they just chemistry or are they life because they are replicating?
BTW if you take all the proteins and the later added rna's out of the ribosome so it is just made of ancient rna strings then it still works to make protein. It's slow and buggy but buggy can be good in terms of exploring morphospace.
So you see if you start with the chemistry of RNA you can bootstrap your way to proteins. DNA comes later as a more stable form of information store.
There's not a gap, sometimes we use physics stuff, sometimes use chemistry stuff. Mostly depends if the atoms are connected to each other or not. (stuff refers to equations, theories, et al.)
I work in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, the machine itself is in the chemistry department, while I'm paid (poorly) by the physics department.
It's great he was won this award, he can finally afford to retire. It's a great shame we work these barely paid scientists into their dotage just so we can enrich Youtube influencers and gamers. Whenever I see someone on a mobile phone from now on I'll tell them, "A 97 year old was forced to build that battery for you."
While I can't speak for the man in this specific case, I would doubt that he was "forced". My tutor at University was 82 and the uni kept trying to get him to retire. He refused, repeatedly. To him, his research was his life and being forced to give up his life's work and "retire" was a punishment.
I'm going to hazard a guess that Professor Goodenough will carry on working on this thing until the day he dies, and he'd have it no other way.
A significant fraction of academics don't really retire even when they're "retired", they stay on as emeritus or visitors (assuming their institution is friendly to such things) and they keep going; albeit often with their research output slowly fading away, depending on health &etc.
I think it is *just* possible that the OP was being ironic. My assumption is that if you want to get the Prof out of the lab you will need a team of wild horses. I know that Cambridge stops paying academics at the end of the (academic) year they turn 67, but they are still allowed to do research or supervise students if they want - and many do.
He was on the four-strong team that spearheaded the Li-ion ... yet only three of them won. Anybody knows why?
In 2014 Rachid Yazami, John Goodenough, Yoshio Nishi and Akira Yoshino were awarded the Draper Prize by The National Academy of Engineering for pioneering and leading the groundwork for today’s lithium ion battery. The prize, which was then in its 25th year, includes a $500,000 award.
"Nobel Prizes are never awarded to more than three people."
Yes, and that was the basic premise of the storyline of the last half dozen episodes of The Big Bang Theory, leading to Sheldon and Amy getting the Nobel Prize. I thought everyone here watched that show? It's very educational :-)
Tastes will differ - my mother, who is well-educated, widely read, and quite discerning, loves BBT - but I found the couple of episodes I've seen of that show agonizingly unwatchable. This is one of those cases where I'm largely in agreement (and not just amused by) the relevant episode of Pitch Meeting.
Of course it's possible to enjoy a show with horrible characters; I often laughed at Friends, even though the protagonists were all dreadful, selfish, privileged narcissists.1 But BBT didn't work for me.
1And even though it was distinctly inferior to its closest ancestor, Coupling). The original, obviously. The short-lived US remake was an utter failure.
We often see awards given years or decades after the work involved - in Physics often because it is waiting on someone to figure out how to do the experiment to prove the theory for instance.
But these have been in mass production for a long time now so why is 2019 the year they get the nod? Is it just political alignment with the Crusties?!
No mention of the fact that he was working at Oxford University when he did this work, and that Whittingham was an Oxford graduate (having done both his undergraduate degree and post graduate degrees.
I know jingoistic behaviour is bad, but some times in what it basically a UK based website it would be nice to get the positives.
More powerful rechargeable batteries have also made it possible to develop electric cars or store cleaner energy from solar and wind power.
Electric cars would realistically be better off being mostly powered by a third rail or trolleybus type system on motorways and A roads to give an unlimited range on major national infrastructure, combined with a smaller battery for the first and last few miles where the cost of electrifying the road would be out of proportion to the benefits gained from the number of users using them. Full size batteries that everybody plugs in overnight is daft, since it means no demand for most of the day, followed by epicly huge demands at the same time when everybody arrives home and plugs in to charge the battery on every car in the country overnight. This is a bit of a problem and is already proving unworkable since there isin't the infrastructure for >70% of the population to get near a power point at home to charge their cars. (and that's before considering the lacking infrastructure like sufficient power generation to roll out on a large scale!)
Storing clean energy is better done by using the power to pump water into a dam, which is then recovered by releasing the water to turn a turbine as this is vastly higher capacity in both power generated and also the length of time you can supply power for before exhausting what is stored. It also doesn't require lots of scarce materials that do lots of ecological damage mining, and dams last longer than a thousand charge/discharge cycles before requiring replacement. Battery storage has been, is and will remain the worst storage method available for the main grid.
So what powerful rechargeable batteries have done is let mostly allow IT equipment to be developed into lighter portable bits of fashion equipment (iPhone etc) rather than mildly luggable laptops as they were with NiCad batteries.
"Electric cars would realistically be better off being mostly powered by a third rail or trolleybus type system"
One of the ideas on the Discovery Channel was a type of monorail that you would enter with your vehicle, and it would start recharging through it, elevating it a few feet off regular roads, and proceed to destinatioin as if it was a monorail, over regular highways.
The obvious problem was how to "merge" into a 4-inch thick rail capable of holding the weight of a 2-ton vehicle at highway speeds, true and straight, and the infrastructure to pull it off. No semi-autonomous systems existed back then to help with the aiming. And the car had this ugly SLOT underneath it, dead center.
That idea can always be revisited with modern solutions.
" It also doesn't require lots of scarce materials that do lots of ecological damage mining, and dams last longer than a thousand charge/discharge"
It does require a mountain and at least two lakes so if mountains (or at least big hills), space or water are scarce materials (which they are in a lot of places) you're out of luck.
It also involves thousands of tons of steel, hundreds of thousands of tons of cement and probably millions of tons of concrete which requires a lot of mining and releases a lot of co2.
So you can only drive a few miles from the nearest "official" road? That isn't going to work well in much of the US. What happens during a power outage, everyone gets out and pushes? What happens during heavy rain when water will short circuit it? Nevermind the hazards to human and animal life from electrocution.
This has to be the stupidest idea I've seen posted on El Reg in some time.
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