The Download: cattle’s deadly tick-borne disease, and molten salt batteries

The Download: cattle’s deadly tick-borne disease, and molten salt batteries

In the spring of 2021, Cynthia and John Grano, who own a cattle operation in Culpeper County, Virginia, started noticing some of their cows slowing down and acting “spacey.” They figured the animals were suffering from a common infectious disease that causes anemia in cattle. Their veterinarian warned them that a parasite was spreading quickly in the area.

After a third cow died the Granos decided that they would test their blood. The test was positive for the disease, and the Granos were not surprised. The cows died without any treatment.

Cattle-owners like the Granos aren’t alone. This new disease is affecting livestock producers across the US. Even though the disease is rapidly spreading west, researchers aren’t sure how it will develop. If the disease is not controlled in the states, it could cause massive production losses across the country. This could have a significant impact on individual operations as well as the entire industry. Read the complete story .

–Britta Lokting

Super-hot salt could be coming to a battery near you

The world is building more capacity for renewables, especially solar and wind power that come and go with the weather. We need better options for storing our energy in order for renewables to be effective. Batteries are the answer. There are a lot of other chemistries that are slowly entering the energy storage market. Some of these new players may eventually be cheaper than the industry-standard lithium ion batteries. Among the most promising is molten salt technology, which Ambri, a Boston-area startup, is convinced could be up to 50% cheaper over its lifetime than an equivalent lithium-ion system.

But, like other energy storage startups, Ambri faces real obstacles to adoption. Scaling is the biggest hurdle. Read full story .

–Casey Crownhart

Casey’s story is from The Spark, her weekly newsletter covering battery breakthroughs and other climate news. Sign up and receive it in your email every Wednesday.

The must-reads

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

1 What comes after Twitter?
Whatever the answer, downloading data and contacts is a smart move. (NYT $)
It’s unlikely, however, that you’ll be able to save everything. (Wired $)
A load of fired contractors aren’t planning on going quietly. (Bloomberg $)
One of its former data scientists is extremely worried. (Rest of World)
Twitter’s potential collapse could wipe out vast records of recent human history. (MIT Technology Review)

2 The ripple effects of FTX’s collapse
The crypto exchange’s poor practices are triggering fears about the industry’s future–and its employees are furious. (WSJ $)
Sam Bankman-Fried had an ill-advised chat with a journalist over Twitter. (Vox)
A class action has been filed against FTX in the US. (The Guardian)

3 The US’s bioweapon detection system is unreliable
20 years after its introduction, it still costs $80 million a year. (The Verge)

4 Telehealth sites are riddled with data trackers
They could reveal sensitive addiction information that’s ripe for abuse. (Wired $)

5 Activision Blizzard’s games are being pulled offline in China
It’s been unable to strike a deal with its Chinese distributor. (FT $)

6 Intel thinks it can catch deepfakes with 96% accuracy
By tracking the “blood flow” of video pixels to detect living humans. (VentureBeat)
A horrifying AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click. (MIT Technology Review)

7 We’ve ignored concrete’s carbon footprint for too long
It’s not as big a polluter as transport or energy, but it’s in urgent need of a greener overhaul. (Knowable Magazine)
How Joe Biden got away with passing the IRA. (The Atlantic $)
How hydrogen and electricity can clean up heavy industry. (MIT Technology Review)

8 Lab-grown meat is safe to eat
The FDA has green lit lab-grown chicken–but it needs to pass other tests before it can be sold. (NBC News)
Will lab-grown meat reach our plates? (MIT Technology Review)

9 Why NASA’s astronauts aren’t allowed to TikTok from space
Even though their European counterparts are. (Vox)
NASA’s Artemis 1 launch was an oddly muted affair. (The Atlantic $)
Here’s everything the mission is taking with it to the moon. (IEEE Spectrum)

10 We could hitch a ride on a flying taxi one day
By the end of the decade, apparently. Let’s see. (Economist $)

Quote of the day

“Ireland really bet the farm on the future of tech . . . almost at the expense of everything else.”

–Mark O’Connell, executive chair and founder of OCO Global, a trade and investment focused advisory firm, tells the Financial Times why the tech sector’s mass job cuts will hit Ireland particularly hard.

The big story

Bright LEDs could spell the end of dark skies

A view of Milky Way from the Grand Canyon

August 2022

Scientists have known for years that light pollution is growing and can harm both humans and wildlife. Increased light exposure at night can disrupt sleep cycles, which can lead to cancer and cardiovascular disease. Wildlife suffers from disruptions in their reproductive patterns, increased danger, and loss of stealth.

Policymakers, lighting professionals, and astronomers are all trying to reduce light pollution. Many of them recommend installing light-emitting devices, or LEDs in outdoor fixtures like city streetlights. This is mainly because they can direct light to a specific area. The high initial investment and durability required for modern LEDs means cities must make the right transition or face decades of negative consequences. Read the full story.

–Shel Evergreen

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. )

A luxurious train journey looks like the perfect way to unwind to me.
Nothing can replace the joy of picking out a great read from a bookstore.
It’s never too early to start planning for your next great adventure.
Olive oil? Good. Cake? Good. An olive oil cake? GOOD!
The oldest known sentence written in the first alphabet is entertainingly domestic.

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