This week’s awesome tech stories on the web (until May 21)

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TRANSPORTATION

Drones turn into personal flying machines
Clive Thompson | Wired
“For eons, sci-fi illustrations have depicted people cruising through cities in little flying vehicles. says Chris Anderson, a longtime drone pioneer and COO of eVTOL Kittyhawk (and Cable former editor). Take this as a lesson in innovation: big breakthroughs don’t always come from where you expected.

VIRTUAL REALITY

The US military is building its own metaverse
Will Knight | Wired
“May 10, two fighter pilots performed a high-altitude proto-metaverse experiment. A few thousand feet above the California desert, in a pair of Berkut 540 jets, they donned custom AR headsets to connect to a system that overlaid a ghostly, glowing image of a supply plane flying at their sides in the sky. One of the pilots then performed a refueling maneuver with the virtual tanker while the other watched. Welcome to the nascent military metaverse.

HEALTH

First patient to receive experimental cancer-killing virus in new trial
Ed Cara | Gizmodo
“Vaxinia is advertised as an oncolytic virus, which means it prefers to target and infect tumor cells. Scientists have hoped to use these types of viruses to directly kill cancer cells for over a century, but with limited success so far. In recent years, some teams have decided to explore a slightly different plan of attack. This genetically modified virus not only infects and damages cancer cells, but also forces these cells to become more recognizable to the immune system.

ENERGY

Nuclear fusion is already facing a fuel crisis
Amit Katwala | Wired
“It doesn’t even work yet, but nuclear fusion has encountered a shortage of tritium, the main source of fuel for the most important experimental reactors. …Atmospheric levels peaked in the 1960s, before nuclear weapons testing was banned, and according to the latest estimates, there are less than 20 kg (44 pounds) of tritium on Earth right now.

IMPACT

Wingcopter Details plans to deploy 12,000 drones across Africa
Brian Driver | Tech Crunch
“Wingcopter announced this week a partnership with Continental Drones designed to establish a massive delivery network spanning 49 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. The agreement sets the lofty goal of deploying 12,000 of Wingcopter’s 198 drone systems over the next 5 years.

ENVIRONMENT

Graphene, a wondrous material, may have found its killer application
Editorial team | The Economist
“Concrete is as far from superconductivity on the sexy tech spectrum as you can get. inevitably carbon dioxide, and graphene could hold the key to drastically reducing this contribution.

SCIENCE

How to Build a Wormhole in Just 3 (Almost Impossible) Steps
Paul Sutter | Ars-Technica
“You’ve got a fancy new spacecraft and you want to start a five-year tour of the galaxy. But there’s a problem: Space is big. Really big. And even at the fastest speeds imaginable, it takes forever to crawl through interstellar voids to get to something interesting. The solution? It’s time to build a wormhole…. It’s a sci-fi staple, and it’s rooted in science-fact How hard could it be?Here’s a hint: incredibly difficult.”

FUTURE

Lavaforming: an architect’s crazy idea to build buildings from molten lava
Elissaveta M. Brandon | fast business
“[Arnhildur Pálmadóttir] unveiled three ideas for how lava would be mined: digging trenches for lava to flow when a volcano erupts, drilling into magma (before it erupts and turns into lava), and printing 3D rendering of bricks with molten lava. The proposal focuses on Iceland, but it could apply to the other 1,500 active volcanoes scattered around the world.

ENERGY

These materials were destined to revolutionize the solar industry. Why didn’t it happen?
Casey Crownhart | MIT Technology Review
“For many, compounds called perovskites have long held promise as potentially cheaper, lighter and more efficient solar materials. But despite the excitement — and a flurry of startups to commercialize the technology — some experts warn that perovskite-based solar cells could still be nearly a decade away from making a significant commercial impact, if it ever happens.

Image credit: Dynamic Wang / Unsplash

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