The largest battery in the world has arrived, and you likely won't be surprised where it landed: Hebei Province, China. The State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) and electric car maker BYD--the company that most recently made big headlines a few years back when Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway took a 10 percent stake--have teamed to create a massive battery array capable of storing 36 megawatt-hours of electricity.
China is already doing plenty of things to the atmosphere above it, but most changes are byproducts of the country’s marathon industrial revolution. Now China plans to make some purposeful atmospheric changes — namely making it rain, for the purpose of growing crops.
Bill Gates recently confirmed during a talk at China's Ministry of Science and Technology that a company in which he is a primary investor, Terrapower, will be collaborating with Chinese scientists on a next-generation nuclear reactor. It's still in the early stages, but there are a lot of impressive superlatives being thrown around, and we have to wonder: Why not bring it Stateside, Mr. Gates?
Generally we would shy away from "New Cold War" rhetoric, but sometimes it's hard not to draw comparisons. The ongoing cyber defense arms race and the establishment of an official cyber warfare strategy by the U.S.--and we all know specifically who that is aimed at--more or less smack of the old days when the U.S. and U.S.S.R. were trapped in that tenuous relationship held fast by the threat of mutually assured destruction. And now there's this: China Daily, in an editorial dated last week, is calling for a Sino-American cyber "red phone." All that's missing is cyber duck-and-cover drills.
Today, the six crew members of the Mars 500 mission have "returned." The six, comprised of three Russians (a surgeon, engineer, and physiologist), an Italian Colombian engineer, a Chinese astronaut instructor, and a French engineer, have lived in a sealed chamber in a Moscow parking lot. Over the course of the 520 day "mission," the crew simulated a trip to Mars, even conducting a mock landing on a artificial Mars landscape, and researchers were able to study the effects of isolation on the human body and mind (the crew broke the record for longest isolation on day 438 in August, besting Mir's Valeri Polyakov).
Stealing information can be just as lucrative--and destructive--as stealing anything else. Our look at the history of data theft touches on some of the major (or just really interesting) crimes in history. The father of the American Industrial Revolution? A glorified data thief. That tea you're drinking (let's say just for the duration of this sentence, you are drinking tea)? That's a stolen secret recipe, the theft of which involved a Scotsman dressed up in "traditional mandarin garb." And if you're a PlayStation Network user or a Gawker commenter, you'll be familiar with some of the latter items on our list. And don't forget to check out the rest of Data Week, our exploration of all things data.
The journey toward a Chinese space station has taken a huge step forward. Yesterday China’s Shenzou 8 spacecraft, which launched earlier this week, successfully docked with the country’s Tiangong-1 space module, which was placed in orbit by an earlier launch. The successful docking maneuver demonstrated a leap forward for China’s manned space program, and the first in a series of missions designed to test technologies that China hopes to cultivate into a manned space station by decade’s end.
China may only have 30 percent of the rare earths in the world, but they essentially have a monopoly--which the rest of the world has been tirelessly trying to work around. (To wit: Japan looks to Vietnam, the U.S.
Robert Bigelow is not a small name in the space world. His company Bigelow Aerospace is a pioneer of inflatable spacecraft, and the company has made waves with its plans for an inflatable, orbiting space hotel (not coincidentally, Bigelow's fortunes come from his ownership of the Budget Suites motel chain). So when he says something about the future of space travel, we listen. On the other hand, when he says that China is planning to take over the moon circa 2025, we listen, but with skepticism.
At 9:16 p.m. local time--that was at 9:16 a.m. eastern time here in the U.S.--China successfully lofted its first inhabitable space station module into orbit on the back of a Long March 2F launch vehicle, marking a milestone for both the People's space program and for the Party's geopolitical ambitions. China--the third nation (behind the U.S.A. and Russia) to independently launch manned missions into space aboard homegrown technology--now joins the old Cold War powers as the third nation to put a space station into orbit.