Neuralink – The Brain’s Sixth Sense

AI generated illustration of neurons connecting to a cell phone

Lucy Has Arrived!

In 2014, the sci-fi thriller “Lucy” was released in theaters across the country. It starred Scarlett Johanson whose brain became so powerful that she was able to move objects with nothing but a thought.

This may sound far out, but it is actually much closer than you may think. Enter the ‘Link’. A computer chip that is implanted inside the human brain. It can read our thoughts and convert them into digital signals that a computer will understand and respond to.

Although the Link is in its fetal stages, the results are so promising that we can say with confidence that Lucy is here to stay. No more is it a thought of the future (pun intended 🙂)

One example would be a person who wants to browse the web on their iPhone, he/she would control the device by simply thinking about it. This can be particularly useful for those who have paralysis, neurological disorders, or prosthetic limbs, as well as assisting with a range of other disorders where a person is medically incapacitated. 

The Makers of the Link 

Elon Musk discussing the NeuralinkElon Musk discussing the Neuralink

Neuralink is an advanced neurotechnology company. Elon Musk is the founder. They specialize in developing brain-computer interfaces (BCIs).  These interfaces allow communication to exist between the human brain and external devices by translating neural activity (movement of brain cells) into digital signals (the electrical impulses (1s and 0s) that computer systems use, called “bits”. 

The Neuralink Device

The Link is a tiny, flexible device about the size of a small coin that is surgically embedded into the human skull. It contains thousands of hair-thin electrodes that interface directly with the brain cells. These electrodes read the neural activity and translate them into digital data (the 1s and 0s mentioned above). 

This is quite fascinating because there are roughly 86 billion cells in the brain, each cell measuring about 680 microns, which is extremely small. One micron is equal to 0.000039 inches or 1/100 the size of a human hair.

Groundbreaking Medical Features

Illustration of thoughts coming out of the brain

Wireless Charging

From cell phones to earbuds to EV cars, we all have some device that needs routine charging, maybe twice a day depending upon its use. With the Link, it gets its charge from the skin.   

A Robotic Miracle

If you think AI is cool, imagine a robot that surgically implants the device in the brain! That might sound scary but has been proven to work more efficiently than what any human can do, no matter how skilled the surgeon might be.

How Does It Work?

The process involves several steps.

  1. Recording Neural Activity: The Link has thousands of thin, flexible electrodes that are embedded in the brain tissue. These terminals capture the electrical pulses of nearby neurons and their voltage fluctuations. The fluctuations are in analog format, meaning that they act like a sine wave. Digital data is in the form of whether a signal is on (represented by a computer bit of 1) or off (represented by a computer bit of 0). The size of the voltage fluctuations determines which instance it is and is subsequently converted to the appropriate computer bit format.

    Ilustration of two neurons communicating with each other
    Neuron cells send electrical chemical signals. 3d illustration
  2. Analog-to-Digital Conversion: This is a common practice for many devices we use every day, and the Neuralink device is not any different, with the exception that the translation process occurs within the tiny Link chip. The captured analog signals are changed into digital data via the chip’s electronics, which involves amplifying the weak signals, filtering out the noise, and then converting the voltage changes into a series of digital bits.
  3. Feature Extraction: Not all neural activity is converted. The Link’s processing unit analyzes the digital data stream and extracts specific features that are known to be associated with the desired output, such as movement, speech, or sensory perception. This could involve identifying patterns in the timing and frequency of the electrical spikes, or the activity of specific groups of neurons.
  4. Machine Learning Algorithms: Now the AI part. The extracted data is fed into machine learning algorithms that are trained on a large dataset of brain activity. These algorithms map the neural patterns to specific commands, thoughts, or sensations; in other words, they decode the brain’s messages. 
  5. Output Generation: Based on the decoded information, the Link can either trigger specific actions (e.g., controlling a computer cursor or prosthetic limb) or generate external signals (e.g., synthetic speech or electrical stimulation for sensory restoration).

How the Link Will Be Applied 

Neuralink’s technology has the potential to transform medical technology into the 24th century and beyond.

AI generated image showing a man's brainwaves connecting to his body

  • Human-Computer Interaction: The ability to control devices directly through thought is closer now than ever before.
  • Medical Applications: Restoring lost sensory and motor functions in individuals with paralysis or neurological disorders.
  • Cognitive Enhancement: Humans may be able to retain information at an exceptional level, called Augmenting Memory. The possibility of one having extremely long-term memory can have significant advantages for everyone, from students to the elderly who would gain the most benefits.

The Future of Neuralink

The Neuralink technology holds immense potential to reshape our understanding of the brain and its interaction with technology.  While challenges remain, ongoing research and development efforts are bringing us closer to a future where brain-computer interfaces will become a reality and the potential for advanced human abilities and our interaction with the world around us will be within our reach!

 

 

 

One More Step to Mars!

The Next Step!

The world watched in awe as Neil Armstrong put his foot on the surface of the moon on July 21, 1969, and his famous words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” resonated across the globe.

Now, 50 years later, we begin our lunar quest again. This time with advanced technology only dreamed of in the mid-20th century. A sci-fi fantasy then, but not anymore. Let’s take a look at what’s in store for this new exciting journey!

Artemis

The Orion rocket. Part of the Artemis System
The Orion rocket. Part of the Artemis System

Unlike Neil Armstrong’s day, the Artemis project is led by NASA but includes a collaboration of international partners and is a project designed for greater ventures beyond the moon. A stepping stone if you will, with the final destination – Mars.

Named after the twin sister of Apollo, Artemis is a fitting name for this venture as one of its plans is to put the first woman on the moon. The moon will act as a testing ground for the new technologies put forward and if successful, will pave the way for these systems for deep space exploration.

Another difference from the moon landing of 1969, the new spaceship will drop down on the lunar’s south pole. This is of particular interest to scientists since there exists water and ice in this region. Water is a critical resource for sustaining life and can also be converted into oxygen for breathing and hydrogen for rocket fuel.

This research will lead to the establishment of a sustainable infrastructure that can support a long-term human presence.

The Programs Supported by the Artemis Project

The development of the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft are two of the major developments being developed now. Let’s take a closer look.

The Space Launch System

Artemis 1 Moon Rocket on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Florida photograph taken March 2022
Artemis 1 Moon Rocket on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Florida March 2022. iStock

In a nutshell, the SLS is the super heavy rocket that will propel the Orion spacecraft and its crew into deep space. This is the first of the two main components of the Artemis project. The SLS consists of a rocket and its boosters that will blast the astronauts to the moon and later to deep space.

It will lift off with 8.8 million pounds of thrust and is equipped with four RS-25 core engines in two boosters, as well as an upper-stage booster, They will be using liquid hydrogen and oxygen as their fuel.

No other rocket in history is going to have the advancements of the SLS. With its ambitious design for deep space, it will contain life support technology for long journeys, as well as advancements in navigation and communications, and will also contain a powerful radiation shield for re-entry.

The Orion Spacecraft

The Orion Spacecraft
Orion spacecraft. Elements of this image furnished by NASA. iStock

The Orion Spacecraft is the reusable capsule located at the upper component of the SLS where the astronauts will reside and will contain the modules that will land on the moon. Similar to the lunar module that landed on the lunar surface in 1969.

It can provide life support for up to six crew members for up to 21 days. Orion is a critical part of NASA’s Artemis program and will be the rocket used to land on the lunar surface and to prepare for the mission to move on to Mars.

 

What are White Dwarf Stars?

White Dwarf Star
White Dwarf Stars. Remnant of a dead star in space. The core of a sun after his death. iStock

Stars Can Die in Many Forms

At the end of a star’s life cycle, a star may morph into a white dwarf, a red giant, a neutron star, or a black hole. It all depends upon the amount of mass that is contained in the star’s central core, along with the mass’s gravity.

The more mass that a body contains, the more gravity that is produced, so the more mass an object has, the more gravity that is sustained, and consequently, the more pressure on the object because of its gravitational pull.

llustration of the CNO Cycle of the fusion process.
Illustration of the fusion process. Wikipedia CC

It is this pressure that provides the extreme heat that is generated and subsequently, the fusion of atoms. The types of elements and the density that are fused determine if the dying star will be a dwarf, giant, neutron, or black hole. These rules of physics are universal.

Death Begins

Stars die when the fusion process ceases. Then, depending on its size, it will change into one of the types mentioned above.

Photo of the Sun by NASA
Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Our sun, which is in the category called the main sequence, is not an extraordinary star by any means, although we may feel that is not the case here on Earth, as we mortals cannot even set our eyes on it for very long.

The fact remains that in comparison to other stars in our Milky Way Galaxy and other galaxies, our sun is a mere pea when equated to some of the giants in the universe.

With that said, when our sun dies, it will expand to become a red giant.

How AI is Changing Traffic

Artists conception of AI traffic control along a highwat
iStock

We have all been inundated with newscasts about artificial intelligence and how it is changing our lifestyles, and traffic control is no exception. From the Belt Parkway to the Long Island Expressway and from Brooklyn to Montauk, AI is coming to a town near you.

Here are some ways in which AI is contributing to traffic reduction:

  • Traffic Prediction and Management:
    AI algorithms analyze historical traffic patterns, real-time data, and other sources to predict traffic congestion. This information allows authorities to proactively manage traffic flow and implement measures to avoid potential congestion problems.
  • Smart Traffic Lights: How many times have you been stuck at a light and yelled “Why is this light taking so long? It’s 3:00 am and no one is on the road”? AI-powered traffic light control systems can adjust signal timings based on real-time traffic conditions. These systems are designed to keep traffic moving as optimum as possible.
  • Route Optimization:
    Navigation systems use AI algorithms to provide drivers with real-time route recommendations that consider current traffic conditions. This helps distribute traffic across different routes, reducing congestion on commonly used paths.
  • Autonomous Vehicles:
    The development and integration of autonomous vehicles can potentially reduce traffic by improving overall traffic efficiency. AI-driven self-driving cars can communicate with each other to optimize spacing and speed, reducing stop-and-go traffic patterns.
  • Parking Solutions:
    AI can assist in finding parking spaces efficiently. Smart parking systems use sensors and AI algorithms to guide drivers to available parking spaces, reducing the time spent circling for parking, which contributes to traffic congestion.
  • Public Transportation Optimization:
    AI is used to optimize public transportation routes and schedules based on demand and real-time data. This helps ensure that public transportation systems are efficient and can serve more people, potentially reducing the number of individual vehicles on the road.
  • Traffic Incident Detection:
    AI systems can analyze data from various sources, such as surveillance cameras and social media, to quickly detect and respond to traffic incidents. Timely management of accidents or road closures can prevent the buildup of congestion.
  • Dynamic Toll Pricing:
    AI is utilized to implement dynamic toll pricing based on traffic conditions. Higher tolls during peak hours can encourage the use of alternative transportation or off-peak travel, helping to smooth out traffic flow.

Summary

Artist conception of an AI traffic monitoring system
iStock

By combining these AI-driven solutions, cities and transportation authorities can work towards creating more efficient and sustainable transportation systems, ultimately contributing to the reduction of traffic congestion. However, it’s important to note that the effectiveness of these measures depends on their implementation, infrastructure, and public acceptance.

 

What is a Nebula?

The Nurseries of Life

Photo of a nebula
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Take a telescope, any telescope, or even binoculars and on a clear day you can see some of the most colorful and beautiful objects in space. These objects are nebulas. The birthplace of stars. It is where it all begins.

Planting the Seeds

When we say seeds, what do we mean exactly? Well, these seeds are actually vast clouds of gas and dust that are floating in space. They come from stars that have previously exploded and left their remnants to roam the universe around like lost soles.

Think of dropping seeds into a pond and watching them float around in the water. Some will collide and some will be pulled away from the other seeds but if that is all there is, we would have these particles floating around arbitrarily for infinity.

Fortunately, there is more than just this particle chaos.  A force is involved that will put all these disorganized fragments to converge into something meaningful.

Helix Nebula
Helix Nebula. Photo: NASA Via Wikipedia CC

What is This Force that Pulls the Particals Together?

The easy answer – gravity. Yes, gravity pulls these particles together. So let’s imagine the nebula as a giant, fluffy cloud in space. Deep inside this cloud, there are regions where the gas and dust are getting squished together. The pressure and temperature rise in these squeezed spots, and eventually, a new star is born from the material in that region.

So, in a way, a nebula is like the starting point for a star’s life. It’s where the ingredients for making a star come together, and as they collapse under their gravity, a bright new star is born, lighting up the cosmic neighborhood.

The Helix Nebula above, which some call “The Eye of God” or “Eye in the Sky” because it resembles a cosmic eye, is located  700 light-years away from Earth. A mere speck of a distance when speaking about the vastness of the universe and is 2.5 light-years in diameter.

The nebula was formed because of the death of a star similar to our Sun. As the star depleted its nuclear fuel, it expanded into a red giant, shedding its outer layers into space.

To learn more about the different types of nebulas there are in space,  Wikipedia gives a complete list of these fascinating and beautiful clouds of life-forming stars.

The Birth of a Star

This phenomenon is the result of gravity pulling gas and dust together. It is a process that is multiplied millions of times within the nebula and the beautiful objects that are forming are the fetal stages of stars being created.

Specifically, the gas is a combination of hydrogen and helium which clump together to form larger masses and since gravity gets stronger as the mass of the object gets bigger, additional matter is attracted to the object, which eventually becomes massive enough to form a star. In other words, it is the gravitational force of an object that is directly proportional to the object’s mass.

Nebula’s Molecular Breakdown

Illustration of an atom's valence electrons
Photo: Pixaby

Unbeknownst to many, most of the universe is not a complete void. There is much (loose) matter floating around between the stars. And this matter is not visible to the naked eye, as it is in its atomic form; such as the atoms of hydrogen and helium, as well as plasma and other materials. This sub-atomic matter is called the interstellar medium (ISM). More specifically, the interstellar medium is composed primarily of hydrogen, followed by helium with trace amounts of carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen.

In areas of the ISM where the atomic particles are densely populated, the formation of molecules begins most commonly hydrogen (H2). The more the molecular masses clump together, the greater their gravitational attraction will be to other bodies and particles in their vicinity. As the particles clump further to form larger and more massive structures, they attract more dust and gas.

The Nuclear Element

Enter nuclear fusion, since the gravitational pressure becomes so high that the fusion of hydrogen atoms occurs. This results in the emission of high-energy electromagnetic radiation, which in turn ionizes the outer layers of gas. Ionization is the process by which an atom or a molecule acquires a negative or positive charge by gaining or losing electrons to form ions.

Ionized gas is known as plasma, and plasma along with electromagnetic radiation is now added to this mixture. This then materializes into the early stages of star formation.

Hence, the formation of stars occurs exclusively within these molecular clouds. This is a natural result of their low temperatures and high densities because the gravitational force acting to collapse the cloud must surpass the forces that are working to push the particles outward and the molecular cloud is now a nebula.

Gem Hunting – The Details

Rose Quartz Healing Gemstone
Rose Quartz Healing Gemstone. Photo: Maxpixel

We have previously talked about gem hunting, but we have not discussed the steps as to how to approach the prospecting for gemstones, so let’s get right into how you start your gem-hunting adventure:

Research Your Locations

Different types of gemstones are found in a variety of regions, so it’s important to identify areas where the stones you’re interested in are found.

Start with the Ineternal Gem Society. They can provide you with some of the top locations around the country where you can dig for gemstones.

Make Sure You Have the Right Equipment for Your Gem Search

Depending upon the location you select, they should be able to provide you with the necessary tools for your hunt, most probably for a fee, but you could bring your own equipment as well. That would consist of a pair of gloves, a shovel, a bucket, a screen or sifter, and a magnifying glass. Additionally, when you are there, ask for a gemstone identification guide.

Where to Look for Gems?

Bunch of gemstones
Image by Emilian Robert Vicol from Pixabay

Ever gone bird watching?

If yes, then you know that you have to travel to a certain spot of a particular destination to view a specific species of bird. To find the right destination for bird watching, one has to find out the species’ habitat, migration patterns, food choices, etc.

Knowing these things will help you figure out the location where a particular species of bird is likely to be found. You cannot simply wander around the forest in the hope of finding the types you are looking for; it would be nothing more than wasting time.

Experts say that gem hunting is much like bird watching. You most likely will not find minerals dug in the soil outside your home; however, the practical approach is to first research the areas where the gems are naturally found and then use the right technique to access the deposits.

For example, since diamonds are formed as a result of extreme pressure, they are either found deep inside the earth, in areas where various geological processes have pushed the mantle rocks from the depths of the earth to the surface, or alongside the rivers that flow from such areas.

Similarly, if you are looking for malachite, you have to look for it near copper and limestone deposits.

The occurrence of gemstones may also vary across countries, depending upon their geological processes, volcanoes, storms, and earthquakes, as they cause shifts in the tectonic plates and bring the buried bedrock to the surface of the earth.

Methods for Gemstones Mining

From basic to advanced, there are various mining methods. They include:

  • Underground Mining

When hunting for your stones is done within the pipe and alluvial deposits, it is called underground mining. The methods used for underground mining are:

  • Block caving
  • Tunneling
  • Chambering
  • Open Cast Mining

Open-cast mining uses different techniques. Here removal of the upper layer of rocks is required in order to reach the bedrock, which is buried deep inside the earth that contains the gems. Any of the following methods are used to excavate gems from the deepest layers of the earth:

  • Terrace Mining
  • Pit Mining

Open-cast mining methods are widely used in various parts of the world including the United States, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Myanmar. etc.

  • Sea Mining

Sea mining, marine or undersea mining, as they are alternatively called, is used in areas where marine deposits are present.

  • River Digging

As evident from the name, river digging is performed in and around rivers and lakes to excavate the gems that have been buried in the river soil and rocks naturally, by the water current or geological processes over time. It can further be classified into two types:

  • Wet Digging
  • Dry Digging

Gem Hunting Tools

Sorting and picking of valuable stones from the excavations debris of swat emerald mine in swat valley, Pakistan.
Photo: iStock

As with any other specialized task, you cannot expect to have a successful gem-hunting experience if you don’t have the right tools and equipment.

For example, there is no point in going fishing without a fishing tackle and/or bait. It is highly unlikely to catch a fish with your hands. Similarly, searching for gemstones without the proper gem-hunting tools is nothing more than wasting your time. Tools for gem hunting are easily available at affordable prices, which means that even occasional hunters can easily buy them without exceeding their budgets.

Hammer used for gem hunting
Image by arodsje from Pixabay

For gem hunting, you would need the following basic tools:

  • Shovel
  • Rock Hammer
  • Magnifying lens
  • Bucket and collection bags
  • You may need some specialized equipment to excavate some particular types of gems, such as a metal grid frame for screening, a pan for gold, etc
  • Permanent markers for labeling

For your safety and comfort:

  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes
  • Apply insect repellent and sunblock
  • Wear goggles
  • A GPS device or map to find your way
  • Water
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Walkie-Talkies for communication

There is More Than One Method for Gem Hunting

You should research the different methods employed when looking for your precious stones. Some of the most popular are: 

  • Hydraulic Mining, where jets of water are used to loose the rocks from the dirt, 
  • River Panning is where you essentially wash away the gravel to find the minerals, 
  • Open Pit Mining, where you physically remove rocks, possibly in a quarry to search for the gems.

But this just scratches the surface (pun intended). Do some research to find the best method you prefer.

Learn Gemstone Identification

Familiarize yourself with the characteristics and properties of the gemstones you’re hunting for. Look for distinguishing features like color, luster, hardness, and crystal structure. Using a mineral identification guide or app can help determine the gemstones you find.

 

Kepler-186f: Is This an Earth Clone?

Discovery

Drawing of astronomer Joannes Kelper
Artists drawing of astronomer Joannes Kelper. Wikipedia (Public Domain)

Johannes Kepler was a 17th-century German astronomer who discovered the systematic rotation of planets around stars, called the Laws of Planetary Motion, it states the following:

  • All planets revolve around the Sun in elliptical orbits.
  • A radius of the planets moves out in equal areas and in equal lengths of time.
  • The squares of the sidereal periods (of revolution) of the planets are directly proportional to the cubes of their mean distances from the Sun. (You don’t have to concern yourself with this law for our article here).

Being that Kepler was a cosmologist who focused his studies on planets, it is fitting that NASA named a spacecraft after him which looks for planets outside of our solar system, called exoplanets.

Specifically, the Kepler Space Telescope is designed to locate exoplanets that exist in the habitable zones, also called the Goldilocks Zone, where conditions are not too hot and not too cold for life as we know it, and which subsequently provides the ingredients for the possibility of liquid water on the planet’s surface. Liquid water is the ingredient that sets the stage for life to cultivate. Water can be found on many planets, some in the form of solid ice, but without water, the possibility of life to develop is minute. 

A Perfect Find!

The Kepler spacecraft has not disappointed us. It has located numerous planets that fit this habitual category. Not the least is Kelper-186f, which not only contains an abundance of water but is also similar to Earth in significant ways.

Artist interpertation of the Kepler exoplanet and its solar system
Wikipedia (NASA) Public Domain

It is an exoplanet that orbits the star Kepler-186 in the constellation Cygnus and is only 500 light-years away from Earth. A mere ‘drop of the bucket’ in distance when considering how incomprehensibly large the universe is.

Kepler’s Sun

Numerous methods are employed to locate these planets. The Kepler telescope uses the transit method which finds celestial objects by observing the periodic dimming of their star’s light as the planet passes in front of it. In other words, it measures changes in the lightness of stars where periodic dips in brightness occur. 

Kepler-186f’s star is an M dwarf, which is a red dwarf. Red dwarfs are smaller and cooler than our Sun, and this star is about half the size and half the temperature of our Sun.

The Planet 

This orbital body is approximately the same size as Earth, making it one of the first Earth-size, habitable-zoned planets discovered outside of our solar system.

The time it takes Kepler-186f to complete one orbit around its star is approximately 130 Earth days. This is shorter than Earth’s orbit around our sun, which is 365 days, but this does not diminish the possibility of life existing there.

Future Research

Due to the current limitations of technology at this time, the Kepler-186f’s distance, although only 500 light years away, our ability to obtain more detailed information remains a significant challenge. 

So further advancements in observational planetary technology are needed to acquire the specifics of distant worlds such as Kepler-186f, but we should look forward to obtaining more information about this exoplanet as it has so much to offer considering its close resemblance to our planet and other physical factors that exist there. 

Conclusion

Kepler-186f may not be a perfect match to Earth, but we should not expect it to be. The existence of life is still a good possibility and if we expand our horizons a bit more, we can consider the potential of intelligent life as well; although these beings might not look exactly as we do.

Despite the planet’s location in the habitable zone, several factors could affect a being’s habitability there. One circumstance refers to the planet’s closeness to its red dwarf sun, which might expose it to increased stellar activity (sun spots, solar flares, plasma eruptions) that are greater than from our sun.

This could impact the planet’s atmosphere and surface conditions, resulting in life forms that could have much thicker skin than us, in order to avoid the dangers associated with ultraviolet radiation and x-rays common from stellar actions.

AI Image Generator extraterrestrial alien with thick skin fotor
AI Image Generator extraterrestrial alien with thick skin. Fotor.com

Even a slight change in any external factor on the planet (temperature, light exposure, gravitational pull, etc) may make their appearance look different from us in one way or another. But does it matter? We should welcome them anyway, or should we? 

Why do Lithium (EV) Batteries Decrease in Capacity in Winter?

Illustration of an EV being charged
Photo iStock, Credit: Golden Sikorka

The Summer of EV Love 

It’s August and you just bought an electric car. You charged it up to 80% capacity (that is the recommended maximum charging) and your dashboard shows 230 miles of available for your car. 

Now it is December and your car still shows 230 miles when charged to 80%, but when you start to drive, you notice that the mileage diminishes faster than when you were driving it during the summer. Why is that? Let’s take a look.

Why Do EV (Lithium) Batteries Decrease in Capacity Faster in Winter? 

Car driving in winter snow
Photo: Pixaby
    • Ion Depletion: Cold weather reduces the chemical activity of the lithium ions. Ions are atoms that have either gained or lost electrons, allowing them the ability to bond with other atoms. This is the normal process in battery charging, but when cold weather comes, the amount of ions in the atoms decreases, thereby reducing the charging process. In other words, the battery can’t store as much energy as it would normally do when in warmer weather. 
      Illustration of an atom's valence electrons
      Photo: Pixaby

       

  • Viscosity: Cold weather increases the thickness of the electrolyte, known as viscosity. This makes it harder for the ions to move around within the battery, which reduces the battery’s energy, e.g. its ability to deliver power.
  • Plating: Over repeated charge and discharge cycles, some of the ions can stick onto the surface of the anode, known as lithium plating, which forms a solid layer of lithium metal.

    This can reduce the capacity of the battery and potentially lead to short circuits and is more likely to occur at low temperatures or when the battery is charged or discharged too quickly.

 Note: At temperatures below freezing, some lithium batteries can lose up to 50% of their juice.

What Can I Do to Compensate for This Loss of Energy?

  • If you have a garage, use it. Even if the garage is not heated, it would still be a bit warmer than if the car was in your driveway or on the street.
  • Charge your batteries regularly. This will help to prevent them from discharging too deeply.
  • Avoid fast charging. Fast charging can generate heat, which can damage the battery and reduce its capacity. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use a fast EV charger, but be cognitive about how often you use one. Maybe in the future, as this technology advances, this won’t be as much of a problem as it is now.

Summary

Lithium batteries, whether in a car or for any device diminish in capacity when in winter time.  This is because of the decrease in ion capabilities when in cold weather. There are however a number of things you can do to circumvent this decrease, but they are not 100% reliable after you take the vehicle out for a drive. 

Best bet would be to move to a warm climate. Then you never have this problem ????.

Just What is a Supernova?

Man in backyard looking at night sky
Photo: iStock

Picture yourself lying in your backyard on a warm June evening and all of a sudden, a bright flash begins to show up in the sky! No doubt it is an explosion of some kind and your hope is that it is nothing where any lives were lost. On the contrary, it is where life begins as you have just witnessed a supernova explosion! 

So What Exactly is a Supernova?

A supernova explosion
Is this a galaxy? No, it is a supernova explosion!

A supernova, also called supernovea, represents the explosion of a star after it has exhausted all of its energy.  This loss of energy occurs when the star is no able to longer withstand the force of its gravity, thereby causing the star’s core to collapse and subsequently, unleashing an extraordinary burst of energy.

This explosion is a powerful stellar explosion that occurs at the end of a star’s life cycle and is one of the most dramatic events in the universe. Its explosion is so powerful that it outshines entire galaxies, at least for a short time.

According to NASA, a supernova is the largest known explosion in space. The last recorded supernova in the Milky Way occurred in 1604, known as Kepler’s Supernova, and remained visible to the naked eye for an astounding 18 months.

The Seeds of Life

At the time of a supernova explosion, the energy that is released is so extraordinary that, for a short time period, the star will outshine entire galaxies, which is equivalent to a combination of billions of stars combined into one.

This outburst is not just that of light, rather it contains elements like carbon, iron, calcium, and gold, which are the seeds of life via the creation of new planets and stars, called stellar nurseries or nebulas as the term used mostly when referring to the beginning of life in the universe.

 

 

 

 

What’s Under the Hood of Your Car?

Car Engine
Image by F. Muhammad from Pixabay

Cars and trucks consist of a vast number of mechanical, electrical, and electronic components, all working in tandem to ensure that the vehicle moves smoothly and safely.

In this article, we will explore the various parts that make up a car and how they work together to power the vehicle.

Engine 

Aside from electronic vehicles (EVs) which don’t use gas engines, all other vehicles are gas or diesel-powered.  In this article, we will focus on the conventional gas engine that is in the majority of vehicles used in the United States and across most parts of the world at this time.

The engine is the heart of the car, and it is responsible for converting fuel into mechanical energy, meaning that the fuel is ignited and causes a piston to move up, pushing a bar (camshaft) to rotate. The camshaft is connected to the vehicle’s wheels and subsequently, causes the wheels to move.

There are usually six or eight pistons in the engine that are ignited simultaneously and moves the camshaft. The more pistons in the engine, the more power is applied to the camshaft and the faster the car can go. 

 A fuel injector sprays a precise amount of fuel into each cylinder, which mixes with air and ignites when the spark plug generates a spark.

Powertrain

Transmission

Cross section of a car transmission
Notice the size rations between the different gears. iStock

The transmission is responsible for transmitting the power generated by the engine to the wheels. It contains more parts than the entire car, and of these parts, it is the gears that are the most important component.

The gear ratios, which refer to the size proportions between one gear and another are what allow the vehicle to move at different speeds. The driver can select different gears using the gear selector or shift paddles, which changes the gear ratio and alters the car’s speed.

Besides choosing your desired speed, the transmission contains the standard PRD (Park, Reverse, and Drive) gears that we are all accustomed to.

Drivetrain

Drive shaft of car, bearing, wheel bolt and joint of steering rack
iStock

This component is another component of the car’s powertrain. It connects the transmission to the wheels and consists of several individual parts, such as the driveshaft, differential, and axles.

The driveshaft transfers the power from the transmission to the differential, which splits the power between the two wheels. The axles then transfer the power from the differential to the wheels, which allows the car to move forward.

Breaks

Phot of a car breaking system
Photo by Rendy Novantino on Unsplash

The brakes consist of a series of discs or drums that slow down the wheels when the driver presses the brake pedal.

When the brake pedal is pressed, brake fluid is forced into the brake caliper or wheel cylinder, which presses the brake pads or shoes against the brake discs, creating friction that slows down the wheels.

Suspension

The suspension system is responsible for keeping the car’s wheels in contact with the road and providing a smooth ride. It consists of several components such as the shocks, struts, springs, and control arms. The shocks and struts absorb the impact of bumps and potholes, while the springs support the weight of the car and allow it to absorb energy from uneven surfaces. The control arms connect the suspension to the chassis and allow for smooth movement of the wheels.

Steering

The steering system is responsible for controlling the direction of the car. It consists of several components such as the steering wheel, steering column, and steering rack. When the driver turns the steering wheel, it turns the steering column, which rotates the steering rack. The steering rack is connected to the front wheels and turns them in the desired direction.

The electrical system is responsible for providing power to the car’s various electronic components such as the lights, radio, and navigation system. It consists of several components such as the battery, alternator, and wiring harness. The battery provides the initial power to start the car and provides power to the car’s various systems when the engine is not running. The alternator generates electricity when the engine is running and charges the battery.

Finally, the body of the car is responsible for protecting the passengers and providing a comfortable environment. It consists of several components such as the frame, body panels, and interior. The frame provides structural support for the car and protects the passengers in the event of a collision. The body panels provide aerodynamic properties and protect the car from weather and other external elements. The interior provides a comfortable environment for the passengers and includes seats, air conditioning, and entertainment systems.

Conclusion

Automotive vehicles are complex machines consisting of various mechanical, electrical, and electronic components that work in tandem to provide power, safety, and comfort. Understanding the various parts that make up a car is essential for proper maintenance and troubleshooting. 

 

Howard Fensterman Minerals