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New solar powered car developed in Germany

A solar-powered saloon car that charges as it drives is being tested in Germany.

Munich-based manufacturer Sono Motors has built the new prototype, dubbed Sion, to help Germany hit its national target of 1 million electric cars on the road by 2020.

Sion has solar cells integrated into its bodywork, with a total of 330 solar cells built into the roof, bonnet and sides of the vehicle.

These enable the vehicle to recharge its battery when sunlight is hitting the solar cells, whether it is on the road, or parked in the sunny spot in a car park.

Sono Motors have also included support for conventional power outlets — so car owners aren’t left stranded on overcast days.

The Sion also features moss integrated into the dashboard to naturally filter out dust particles and regulate the humidity inside the cabin.

The solar panel-packed vehicle is set to launch in Germany in late 2019.

Sono Motors, which was founded in 2016, wants the Sion to be versatile and hopes to allow the car to be charged using solar energy as well as conventional outlets.

The firm has earmarked a 2019 date for mass production at one of its German plants.

Some 5,000 people have already placed orders for the electric vehicle, it claims.

Prices for the Sion are tipped to start from €16,000 ($18,540/£14,320) next year.

The all-electric vehicle will offer a range of around 155 miles (250 km) before the battery depletes completely and it needs to recharge either via solar power or using a wall plug, the company said.

Sion was designed originally as an environmentally conscious car, but will also feature a number of feature designed around comfort to help it compete with other modern vehicles.

‘We have a seat heater, there is air conditioning, there is a large infotainment system where I can also connect my phone interactively, which means I really have a full vehicle which is very simple, has no frills,’ Laurin Hahn, co-founder and chief executive of the startup told Reuters.

The solar-powered saloon car that charges as it drives is being tested in Germany. The firm, based in Munich, has built the prototype ‘Sion’ in order to help Germany hit its target of 1 million electric cars on the road by 2020

Sion also uses moss to ventilate the vehicle.

The Icelandic strain of moss is claimed to have air-cleaning capabilities that can filter dust particles and act as a natural air filter.

Sono Motors says the moss, which is visible on the dashboard to those inside the vehicle, does not need water or other special care to maintain.

The firm originally crowdfunded the project, raising more than $200,000 (£154,000) to build the first prototype vehicle.

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Science & Technology

Physicists Create Quantum-Scale “Mona Lisa,” Just for Funsies

Artwork for Ants

A research experiment at the University of Queensland started as an attempt to better understand how fluids flow.

But somewhere along the way the team got sidetracked — by an art project.

“We were hoping to gain new insights into how our everyday world arises out of the microscopic quantum world, helping us create new quantum-enhanced technologies,” researcher Tyler Neely explained in a press release. “But, while we were at it, we just happened to create some of the world’s smallest masterpieces.”

Superfine Art

To create the tiny works of art, Neely said he and his team took a gas made of rubidium atoms and cooled it the coldest possible temperature — -273.15 degrees Celsius (-459 degrees Fahrenheit) — to create a substance that acts like a “blob of gaseous quantum matter.”

The researchers then projected images of the “Mona Lisa,” “Starry Night,” and even their own headshots backwards through a projector illuminated by a laser — so they’d get smaller instead of larger — and onto the blob.

“This light ‘stamps’ the image on an area around about 100 microns wide — more or less the width of human hair, which can range from between 17 to 181 microns wide,” Neely explained. “We can then take the image, which is only in black and white, and produce color shots by producing a ‘red,’ ‘blue,’ and ‘green’ image, and then combine them on a computer.”

READ MORE: Scientists ‘paint’ Mona Lisa on a quantum canvas [The University of Queensland]

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Students Taking the SAT Will Now Get a Secret “Adversity Score”

Fair Shot

The SAT is adding another score alongside Verbal and Math — and it’s one students won’t be able to raise with a little extra test prep.

Every year, about two million students take the SAT as part of the college admissions process, and students’ scores tend to reflect their socio-economic backgrounds — those raised in upper-income families often score higher than those from lower-income families, for example.

In an effort to ensure colleges are aware of those background factors when considering prospective students, the College Board, which is the nonprofit that oversees the SAT, has announced plans to give each test-taker an “adversity score” — a bold move that has the potential to level the educational playing field for America’s youth.

Fifteen Factors

The College Board told The Wall Street Journal it takes 15 factors into account when producing each student’s adversity score, which the students themselves won’t be able to see. These include the crime and poverty rates in the student’s neighborhood and whether they come from a single-parent family.

The nonprofit already tested the adversity scores with 50 colleges, and it plans to expand to 150 schools this fall before a widespread rollout.

“There are a number of amazing students who may have scored less [on the SAT] but have accomplished more,” College Board chief executive David Coleman told the WSJ. “We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.”

READ MORE: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ to Capture Social and Economic Background [The Wall Street Journal]

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Now You Can Experiment With OpenAI’s “Dangerous” Fake News AI

ChatBot

When OpenAI, the AI research organization founded by Elon Musk, created a text-generating AI system called GPT-2, the group said it was too dangerous to be released lest it be used to create propaganda or fake news.

Now, thanks to a website called “TalkToTransformer.com,” you can use a watered-down version of the algorithm to write your to-do list, draft a new screenplay, or write rambling essays based on a prompt. The results aren’t perfect, but by making the algorithm publicly accessible, people could get a better understanding of what advanced AI is capable of and where it falters.

Short Term Memory

The stories that the algorithm tells are often incoherent, introducing and forgetting characters, props, and setting willy-nilly, reports The Verge after kicking the tires.

For example, when prompted with sample dialogue among characters from “The Avengers,” TalkToTransformer churned out a bizarre scene where “Tony,” “Steve,” and Thor fumbled over a door handle before Tony asked Steve if he’s “Tony the Iron Man.” Not exactly the most compelling addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The bold section is the prompt. The rest is, uh, not.

Fake Fake News

When prompted with “Futurism.com, best-known for,” the algorithm instead wrote a blurb for a book written by a “Mr. Wunderlich.”

Someday we’ll make it big.
We had some fun with the algorithm, but the real question is over whether the system could be dangerous or misleading. Based on our tests, almost every single result was clearly written by a computer that doesn’t quite grasp how language works — fake news-writing AI may be on the horizon, but it isn’t here yet.

READ MORE: Use this cutting-edge AI text generator to write stories, poems, news articles, and more [The Verge]

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