Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 3, 2020 | °F in Baltimore

New compound has big implications for clean energy

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland discovered a new type of chemical compound that has the potential to make ceramic fuel cells a practical clean energy solution. Ceramic fuel cells have long been suggested as an alternative to fossil fuels but have not been widely implemented because of their high operating temperature, which results in a short life span. These fuel cells are a promising avenue for emissions reduction as they emit very low amounts of emissions and can convert chemical energy into electrical energy with high efficiency. 

The newly discovered compound is a type of hexagonal perovskite, which is a specific crystalline structure important in the fields of microelectronics and telecommunications. The compound has the potential to work well in ceramic fuel cells because it is a dual proton and oxide ion conductor that can operate at much lower temperatures than is typical of these fuel cells. 

Amazon’s Ring doorbell tracks user data

A data request submitted by the BBC revealed the information that Amazon’s Ring smart doorbells log every movement they detect in detail, recording the time of motion to the millisecond. This means that Amazon has information on every time a doorbell is rung, which could be used to gain insights into the daily lives and habits of their customers. One possible way this data could be used is to determine when customers are at home or away. 

In addition to storing information on from the doorbell directly, Amazon also divulged that usage of the Ring app is tracked, including the model of device used and what network it was accessed from. Amazon explained that they use this data to analyze and improve their products and services, but many experts and consumers alike have expressed concern over the privacy and security of their information. 

Boosted skateboard company lays off majority of employees

Boosted, the company famous for electric-powered skateboards, announced that they would be laying off a “significant portion” of their employees due to a lack of funding. The news was delivered in a blog post written by Boosted CEO Jeff Russakow and CTO and Co-Founder John Ulmen, on the company’s website. Prior to the layoffs, Boosted employed around 130 people. 

In the blog post, Ulmen and Russakow placed some of the blame for the financial issues of the company on unexpected expenses that resulted from the U.S.-China trade war. Since their products are manufactured in China, they were subject to a 25-percent tariff imposed by President Donald Trump. Late last year, the company was granted an exemption from the tariffs but has yet to be reimbursed. 

YouTube will demonetize videos about coronavirus

YouTube has recently clashed with content creators over their policy of demonetizing videos that mention the coronavirus. Tom Leung, director of product management at YouTube, explained in a recent video that the company now considered coronavirus to be a “sensitive topic.” YouTube’s advertising guidelines explain that videos about “sensitive topics” are not eligible to be monetized using the company’s ad service. 

Some YouTubers have reported that their videos have been demonetized for even alluding to the coronavirus. They have also expressed frustration about not being able to discuss the outbreak in videos where it is relevant, such as those about travel or gaming conferences in Asia that were canceled as a result of coronavirus. 

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