Jim Lillie

Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018 00:00

A Battery Inspired by the Human Spine

As wearable electronics continue to grow in popularity, demand has grown for batteries that can bend, twist, and flex to meet the demands of the particular item -- whether a smart fabric or a transdermal patch. After all, no one wants to don a smart t-shirt that promises to adjust to the wearer's every move, only to have the item conk out because its battery pack split in half during a set of arm curls.

A team of researchers at Columbia University recently came up with a prototype that provides both the needed battery density and flexibility of movement for smart devices. The Li-ion battery, which resembles the human spine, permits high energy density, considerable flexibility, and steady, reliable voltage despite the ways in which it is flexed or twisted.

Researchers at UCLA have come up with a contraption that can use the rays of the sun to cheaply and efficiently make and stockpile energy that could be used to fire up hydrogen cars as well as to power electronic devices.

One key to the device is its cost-effectiveness, which would permit more people to afford hydrogen cars. It makes hydrogen from a mixture of cobalt, iron, and nickel -- all of which are more readily found and cheaper than other precious metals, such as platinum, that are currently used to provide fuel for hydrogen vehicles.

In a press release, Richard Kaner, the study’s senior author and a UCLA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and of materials science and engineering, said, “Hydrogen is a great fuel for vehicles: It is the cleanest fuel known, it’s cheap and it puts no pollutants into the air — just water. And this could dramatically lower the cost of hydrogen cars.”

The technology could be a boon to those in remote locations.

Monday, 12 February 2018 00:00

How Online Credentials Can Be Pilfered

Data Privacy Day happened on January 28 this year. It's an observation that's intended to encourage organizations and people to protect data, respect privacy, and grow trust.

When it comes to protecting data, though, it can sometimes prove difficult to know what, exactly, you're up against or dealing with -- because methods and techniques for stealing or compromising your data cover a broad spectrum.

According to data security company Yubico, slightly more than 8 in 10 instances of hacker-related breaches can be traced to the theft and misuse of credentials, the logins and passwords you use. And since the hackers can do that from halfway around the world, it's not so easy to catch them.

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