The Download: Longer-lasting electric car batteries, and Big Tech’s fightback

The Download: Longer-lasting electric car batteries, and Big Tech’s fightback thumbnail

Fully charged: Electric vehicles are becoming more popular, but they’re still constrained by how far they’re able to travel on a single charge–a Tesla Model 3 can go for about 350 miles before it needs to be recharged. Solid Power, a startup, is trying to create solid-state batteries that pack more energy in a smaller space.

Battery powered: The company makes battery cells that replace the liquid used as the electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries with ceramic layers. This could open up new possibilities for battery chemistry and allow solid batteries to be swapped in. It has begun a pilot manufacturing line to test the technology in vehicles.

A caution: Questions remain as to whether companies that make solid electrolytes will have the ability to produce them on large scale. Inorganic materials may be fragile and difficult to transport during manufacturing. Solid batteries are also subject to degradation over time. Read the complete story .

–Casey Crownhart

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Big Tech is spooked by Congress’ proposed crackdown
Tech giants are pulling out all the stops to try to avert efforts to curb their market power. (FT $)
Advocates are racing to get it over the line before the midterm elections. (CNBC)
What does breaking up Big Tech really mean? (MIT Technology Review)

2 The biggest NFT marketplace is facing a reckoning
OpenSea is having to pay out vast sums of money to settle claims of theft and plagiarism. (NYT $)
The voice of the crypto naysayers is getting louder. (WP $)
Why this crypto crash feels different to those before it. (The Guardian)
Japan has become one of the first countries to introduce a legal framework around stablecoins. (Bloomberg $)
The obsession with web3 is not without casualties. (Motherboard)

3 One of America’s biggest baby formula plants has restarted production
Good news for parents and caregivers grappling with widespread shortages. (BBC)
The FDA is facing an investigation into its handling of the shortage. (NPR)
The baby formula shortage has birthed a shady online marketplace. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Migrants are documenting dangerous journeys to Europe on TikTok
Social media platforms and EU lawmakers are at loggerheads over illegal migration content. (Rest of World)

5 You can expect to to get reinfected with covid
It’s likely we’ll need more, and better, vaccines. (Wired $)

6 The quest to end the menopause is complicated
Mainly because research into women’s health is so underfunded. (Neo.Life)
Fatherless sons have higher levels of testosterone. (Economist $)
Trans men’s eggs have been matured in the lab–and could help them have children. (MIT Technology Review)

7 We are remarkably ignorant about social media’s true impact
Particularly when it comes to our perceptions of trustworthiness. (New Yorker $)

8 Charging electric cars is easier said than done
Which is far from ideal on a time-pressed road trip. (WSJ $)

9 Vision-enhancing glasses are helping color-blind wearers see the world in a new light
By increasing their perceivable range of colors and hue difference. (The Guardian)

10 The secret life of killer cats
Loving our pets doesn’t mean loving their murderous instincts. (Hakai Magazine)

Quote of the day

“Lots of luck on his trip to the moon, I guess.”

–President Joe Biden reacts to the news that Elon Musk is planning on cutting Tesla’s workforce by 10% on account of his “super bad feeling about the economy”, reports the BBC.

The big story

Why do you feel lonely? Neuroscience is beginning to provide answers.
September 2020

Long before the world had ever heard of covid-19, Kay Tye set out to answer a question that has taken on new resonance in the age of social distancing: When people feel lonely, do they crave social interactions in the same way a hungry person craves food? Kay Tye and her colleagues were able to measure the “hunger” in the brain’s neural circuits.

Loneliness is universal. If I were to ask people on the street, ‘Do you know what it means to be lonely?’ probably 99 or 100% of people would say yes,” explains Tye, a neuroscientist at the Salk Institute of Biological Sciences. It seems reasonable to suggest that it should be a concept within neuroscience. It’s just that no one has ever been able to test it and pinpoint it to specific cells. This is what we are trying .” If Tye succeeds, it may lead to new tools to identify and monitor those at risk of loneliness-related illnesses. It could also yield better ways to handle what could be a looming public health crisis triggered by covid-19. Read the full story.

Adam Piore

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. Have any other ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me. )

I couldn’t help but wonder–if birds had mustaches, would they go above or below their beaks? (Thanks Will! )
Chinatown’s seniors are the slickest dressers around.
Did you know the newly-discovered world’s largest plant is also a clone?
Truffles the glasses-wearing cat is the little friend we all need in our lives.
The making of this butter box is totally hypnotic.

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