Tech universe: Thursday, 5 August

By Miraz Jordan

A round-up of the latest technology news from around the globe.

HACKING YOU: DefCon attendees didn't need brute force to gain valuable network information from big companies such as Google, Apple and Microsoft — they did it with sweet-talk. Our willingness to help people is our strongest feature and our biggest vulnerability. More at SMH.

WIND AND SUN: Wind turbines turn wind into power and solar cells turn sunshine into power, but the Hawaii Science and Technology Institute has combined the two. Their turbine has seven retractable blades as well as solar cells, so it's it both mobile and adaptable, and handy for disaster-relief missions. That's using brain power.

LIGHT AND HEAT: We all love solar power but it's actually pretty inefficient. Until now. Photon Enhanced Thermionic Emission wouldn't just fit well in a Star Trek script, it's a new method of creating energy. It converts both light and heat, potentially doubling solar cell output. Yes, squeeze that sunshine. More from Stanford and video here.

WIND AND SEA: The Wind Lens could triple the output from offshore turbines with a shape that concentrates the flow of wind. A large hoop intensifies wind to spin the turbine in the centre. At a wind speed of 5 metres per second the 2.5 metre wide blades can power an average household. Now just add solar cells sucking in both heat and light. Details here.

COLD RUNNINGS: Some carefully designed materials melt, along with the silicon containing them, when they get cooler, not hotter. This could lead to cheaper silicon nanowires, computer chips and solar cells, as the melting process helps purify the material. This solar stuff's so hot right now.

- Miraz Jordan

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