Heat-storing bricks, and using AI to understand history

Heat-storing bricks, and using AI to understand history

Heavy industries generate about a quarter of worldwide emissions, and alternative power sources can’t consistently generate the amount of heat that factories need to create their wares.

Enter heat batteries. A growing number of companies are working on systems that can capture heat generated by clean electricity and store it for later in stacks of bricks. They think these bricks could be the key to bringing renewable energy to some of the world’s biggest polluters.

Many of these heat storage systems use simple designs and commercially available materials, meaning they could be built quickly, anywhere they’re needed. Although it’s in early stages, the technology could be one building block of a new, climate-friendly industrial sector. Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart

How AI is helping historians better understand our past

Historians have started using machine learning to examine historical documents, including astronomical tables like those produced in Venice and other early modern cities.

Proponents claim that the application of modern computer science to the past helps draw connections across a broader swath of the historical record than would otherwise be possible, correcting distortions that come from analyzing history one document at a time. 

But it introduces distortions of its own, including the risk that machine learning will slip bias or outright falsifications into the historical record. Read the full story.

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