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Evening gowns with interwoven LEDs may look extravagant, but the light sources need a constant power supply from devices that are as well wearable, durable, and lightweight. Chinese scientists have manufactured fibrous electrodes for wearable devices that are flexible and excel by their high energy density. A microfluidic technology was key for the preparation of the electrode material was a microfluidic technology, as shown in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
Source: science daily

The aviation industry is committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by the middle of the century. But with those emissions already set to double over the next decade or so, it faces a daunting task.

At Rotterdam The Hague Airport, where a consortium of companies is testing the commercial viability of a new “no-carbon” jet fuel, help might be at hand.

“The new fuel will be non-polluting and limitless,” said Willem van Genugten of Urban Crossovers. (Urban Crossovers)

“We would like to kick start a fundamental change in aviation,” said Willem van Genugten, director of a Dutch company Urban Crossovers, part of the Rotterdam consortium.

“We want to facilitate synthetic fuel made from CO2, taken from the air,” van Genugten said.

By deriving its main component from the air, Van Genugten said, the new fuel would be “limitless”.

The fuel is a kind of kerosene, made from passing electricity through a mixture of carbon dioxide and water. So far, only small amounts of the liquid have been created in a lab, but the aim is to scale up production in a special facility to be built next to the airport. A Swiss environmental company, Climeworks, will supply the CO2.

A photo of CO2 extractor machines in the Swiss countryside. (Courtesy of Climeworks)

Climeworks claims to be the first to capture the gas from ambient air in order to sell it, or to remove it forever from the atmosphere by burying it.

At a site not far from its headquarters in Zurich, Climeworks operates dozens of  high-tech machines that suck in the air and then filter out and collect the carbon dioxide. Communications manager Louise Charles says  use of ambient carbon dioxide to fuel aircraft will ensure that in future the impact of aviation on climate change will be minimal.  

“By using CO2 that’s in the air already we do not release additional CO2 in the atmosphere. We’re using what’s there already,” she said.  

Oskar Meijerink, project lead at SkyNRG, another company in the Rotterdam consortium, added that no carbon needed to be emitted in the manufacture of the new fuel.

“If you produce the electricity in a sustainable manner using renewable energy sources, then the whole system can be carbon neutral,” he said.

Meijerink expects that the new fuel will initially be much more expensive than fossil fuels but that the cost will come down when production can be scaled up, which could take between five and seven years.    

 But according to one critic of the project, scaling up presents a major problem.

“Flying on air is not the solution,” said Jorien de Lege, Friends of the Earth campaigner. (Friends of the Earth)

Jorien de Lege of Friends of the Earth in the Netherlands says the plant the consortium is building will only make 1,000 liters of the new fuel a day — a laughably inadequate amount, she says, since a jet will consume 1,000 liters in five minutes of flying. More broadly, de Lege doubts the availability of sufficient supplies of sustainable electricity.

“We have 225,000 flights a day. This planet is not big enough to put all the extra wind and solar power in place to produce fuel for 225,000 flights a day,” she said. De Lege said she welcomes any innovation that aims to mitigate climate change but she does not consider “flying on air” a solution and believes the only feasible option is flying less.

The Rotterdam consortium insists that we can fly guilt-free, without causing climate change; that technology’s improving by leaps and bounds; and that the whole business of carbon reduction is becoming more viable by the day. 

Source: marketplace

Roughly 800,000 households and businesses in northern California could be without electricity for a day, or days, this week. State regulators, lawmakers and utilities agreed to “public safety power shutoffs” in areas where high fire conditions exist. The plan comes after California experienced six of the 10 most destructive fires in state history in just the last three years, and while climate change is a catalyst, downed power lines or other electrical issues have sparked most of the blazes.

While many affected customers have written to their utility providers and lawmakers or taken to Twitter to air complaints, low-income households face particular obstacles during power outages.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Source: marketplace

Social Security benefits will grow by 1.6% in 2020, thanks to the program’s annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).

That’s a smaller increase than in either of the past two years (this year’s increase was 2.8%; last year’s was 2%) but a bigger than average boost compared to the past decade.

The annual COLA is based on the Consumer Price Index for working-age residents of urban areas. But it’s widely accepted that this figure fails to account for seniors’ higher spending on health care and housing, which are experiencing significant inflation. Changing that would require an act of Congress.

Source: marketplace

Actress Drew Barrymore, best known for her movies roles, is heading to daytime TV. She’s going to host a new syndicated talk show for CBS next fall, the first new daytime show for CBS in years.

And she’s not the only personality getting in on the daytime TV scene. There are new shows this fall from Kelly Clarkson, Tamron Hall and Jerry Springer. Here’s a rundown.

“The Kelly Clarkson Show”

Kelly Clarkson attends the 2018 Warner Music Group Pre-Grammy Party. (Jared Siskin/Getty Images for Warner Music Group)

About the host: Singer, first winner of “American Idol,” coach on “The Voice”

Network: NBC

First week Nielsen ratings: 1.6

About the show: Clarkson had the best debut for a syndicated talk show since Katie Couric’s 2012 talk show (though Couric’s show ended after just two years). Clarkson’s show has a mix of celebrity interviews and feel-good profiles. But she’s also using her vocal talent, singing covers every episode. Paige Albiniak, an editor at trade publication Broadcasting Cable, says there’s a lot of opportunities for Clarkson to promote “The Voice,” which also airs on NBC. 

“They can amortize the cost of Kelly Clarkson across the whole company,” she said.

“Tamron Hall”

Tamron Hall speaking at an event last year. (Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for National CARES Mentoring Movement)

About the host: Journalist, former “Today” co-host and MSNBC anchor

Network: ABC

First week ratings: 1.0

What it’s about: Hall’s decades of experience as a reporter and news anchor are evident in the content. She starts episodes with a roundup of headlines; a recent episode featured an interview with a journalist who covered the Las Vegas shooting about MGM’s recent $800 million settlement with victims and their families. There will also be lifestyle segments, focusing on issues like “mommy shaming” and fertility, Hall told “USA Today.” Her four-month-old son was conceived through in vitro fertilization.

“Judge Jerry”

Jerry Springer speaks at the Comedy Central Roast Of David Hasselhoff. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

About the host: Jerry Springer hosted “The Jerry Springer Show” for 27 years and nearly 4,000 episodes. Springer earned his J.D. from Northwestern University and worked at two law firms before moving into television.

Network: NBC

First week Nielsen ratings: 1.1

What it’s about: In the same vein as “Judge Judy,” Springer’s courtroom show features him adjudicating a range of legal issues.

“Not only are they real cases, [the contestants] are not allowed to appeal my judgement to a Court of Common Pleas, and people when they file the cases have no idea they’re going to be on television,” Springer told “Deadline.”

Source: marketplace

Researchers have figured out how to add more conductivity into functional fabric devices, by coating yarns with a 2-dimensional carbon-based material called MXene, to make conductive threads. The group has developed a dip-coating method, similar to the dyeing process, that can produce a conductive yarn strong enough for use in industrial knitting machines and durable enough to make it through wash cycles without degrading.
Source: science daily

While benefiting some, the GOP’s massive 2017 tax overhaul also took away some key deductions for state taxes and capped the property tax deduction. This hit people in so-called “blue states,” parts of the country with high property taxes and higher home prices.

A new report from ProPublica and Fortune Magazine calculates that the tax law is making house values lower in some parts of the country than they’d otherwise be.

It’s the work of two voices that will be familiar to Marketplace: Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, and the story’s author, ProPublica editor at large Allan Sloan.

Marketplace’s David Brancaccio spoke to Sloan about his piece,”Trump’s Trillion-Dollar Hit to Homeowners.” The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

David Brancaccio: Nationwide, how much home value in the aggregate has been lost, according to this analysis?

Allan Sloan: $1.04 trillion, which I round to $1 trillion.

Brancaccio: Now, we should be clear, it’s not that the tax law dropped the prices of homes in America by 4%. It’s that they might have been 4% higher had it not been for the tax law, according to you.

Sloan: Zandi says, on average, they would be 4% higher. In addition, a second source, a fellow named Hugh Lamle, his numbers were different, but he had a similar methodology. When these two people who don’t know each other and have never talked come up with the same methodology, you can be sure I’m going to listen.

Brancaccio: Mr. Lamle is a retired Wall Street guy. Your piece examines a house in suburban New York. It’s actually West Orange, New Jersey, an $800,000 house, which sounds like a lot in many parts of the country. It’s really more upper-middle class in the New York Metro area. This effect of the 2017 tax overhaul really puts a dent into that home’s value.

Sloan: Right. This house has property taxes of just under $29,000 a year. And they used to be fully tax-deductible. Now I’m assuming they’re not tax-deductible. And when you go through the math, you end up with a hit to value of somewhere between $138,000 and $173,000.

Brancaccio: That range depending on what mortgage rate that they’re paying. OK.

Sloan: So if you bought the house in, say, the middle of 2017, having no idea this tax bill was coming, and you were going to lose your tax deductions and you put up a 25% down payment, which is $200,000, your loss of value is more than half of what you put into the house. This is an extreme example, but it’s very telling.

Brancaccio: Now what about the argument that the 2017 tax overhaul spurred economic growth? I mean, that presumably might create extra demand for houses, and that could drive prices up a little bit?

Sloan: I suppose, but I don’t think that happened, any more than the average first person got the $4,000 pay increase that the White House was talking about being a result of the new tax law.

Source: marketplace

A new round of trade talks started in Washington on Monday between the United States and China. If the talks don’t go well, President Donald Trump has plans to increase tariffs yet again next week, bumping up the tax on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods from 25% to 30%.

China’s retaliatory tariffs on agriculture products have hit U.S. farmers particularly hard.

If you’ve lost track of which tariffs are going into effect when and who’s retaliating for what, you are not alone, especially when new data about the trade war is coming out all the time. A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds car sales in rural areas most affected by China’s retaliatory tariffs aren’t growing as quickly as other areas.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Source: marketplace

Retiring feels a lot differently if you know you’re set financially — say, if you have a guaranteed amount of money coming in every month, for life, from a pension — than if you don’t. 

But fewer and fewer people these days have pensions than once did. And even those who do now live with the risk that their former employer might run out of money and freeze or cut their benefits. 

If you’re in that situation — retired, or close to it, and have had your pension benefits frozen, cut or otherwise changed — we want to hear from you. What happened? How has it affected your life?

One of our reporters might reach out to you for a story.

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Source: marketplace

The New York Stock Exchange is under fire for constructing a pair of antennas on the roof of its data center in Mahwah, New Jersey.

According to critics, these antennas would transmit trades and other market information faster than those currently used by private firms. Those firms are afraid that the NYSE will charge high fees for use of the faster antennas — and that one company could get the exclusive right to use them, thereby limiting competition.

“This is blatantly anti-competitive,” according to market-making firm Virtu Financial in a letter of complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Virtu complained the antennas would give NYSE a monopoly over speedy access to data and that the exchange could “charge exorbitant fees for access to its antenna, while potentially lower-cost wireless providers that could provide competition to the NYSE vendor are arbitrarily blocked from participating in the market.”

The NYSE antennas are, according to critics, two-millionths of a second faster than private antennas used by market makers and trading firms.

“Everything happens in two-millionths of a second,” said Larry Tabb, founder of Tabb Group, an advisory firm focusing on infrastructure. “You know, Trump tweets something and people react, whether it’s starting a trade war with China or resolving a trade war with China. But the first person to see that and react, that reaction can occur two-millionths of a second after that tweet is launched.”

On Wall Street, it’s usually an algorithm that’s reacting rather than a person. What matters is being first to snag a price before it changes or unload a stock before it tanks. It doesn’t matter if that’s by two-millionths of a second or five minutes.

“It’s a zero sum game, so there’s only one first person,” Tabb said.

As a result, Wall Street banks, brokers and traders will do a lot — and pay a lot — for the chance to be first. One way they do that is by installing equipment as physically close as possible to where stock trades happen. They pay significant fees to keep servers inside stock exchanges’ data centers, where computers match buyers and sellers.

The New York Stock Exchange’s data center is in Mahwah, New Jersey, roughly 25 miles from the exchange floor on Wall Street. Firms that pay to locate their servers inside the data center run data through fiber-optic cables underneath a street to a grassy median and then up a tower to microwave antennas that distribute that data. An antenna on that pole can cost a company $15,000 per month.

“The bottom line is it’s a speed race,” said Joe Saluzzi, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading.

The New York Stock Exchange has upset that race by building its own antennas on the roof of the data center. The data doesn’t have to go from the NYSE computers through a fiber-optic cable under the street and up a pole. Instead, it goes straight to the roof and comes out of the antennas two-millionths of a second faster than from the antennas across the road.

“The New York Stock Exchange, they figured out that, ‘We know we’re the provider of the data they need it, and they have to come to us to get it.’ And essentially, they’re holding [Wall Street firms] hostage,” Saluzzi said.

According to Chester Spatt, professor of finance at Carnegie Mellon and former chief economist at the SEC, “The real fear is whether that then undercuts competition in the trading process.”

At a minimum, Spatt said, the race for speed may benefit individual firms, but it doesn’t leave the public better off.

“Even high-frequency [trading] firms are saying this technological race is wasteful,” he said.

Not all stock exchanges cash in on their monopoly power to control speed. The Investors Exchange or IEX, for example, slows down its data.

“We purposely injected 350 microseconds of delay so that we didn’t have to play into this arms race,” said Ronan Ryan, president of IEX (350 microseconds is 175 times longer than the two-millionths of a second that’s roiling the NYSE).

Ryan said stock exchanges should make money by enabling stock trades, not selling access to data.

“It’s like a referee in the NFL making more money selling sticking gloves to one of the teams then he’s being paid to referee the game,” he said.

Last year, the SEC started reviewing fees charged by stock exchanges. It wouldn’t comment for this story, nor would the NYSE or Virtu Financial, the firm that complained to the SEC.

Source: marketplace