You Just Need to Change the Batteries

Lithium-oxygen batteries are thought to be the next generation of electrical energy storage. They could replace the lithium-ion batteries that power our phones, electric cars, and household items. Recent research into the use of liquid salts, heated to 150 degrees, to transfer electricity within lithium-oxygen batteries has offered promising results in increasing the energy storage and lifetime of these batteries. Practical Lithium-oxygen batteries have been sought after for nearly 50 years because of their theoretical potential for high energy storage and the number of times they can be discharged. However, previous attempts at Lithium-Oxygen batteries have suffered due to the battery by-products causing them to corrode from within. If recent research can be applied to the next generation of commercially available batteries it will lead us one step closer to a clean energy revolution.


Sympathetic AI

Current research into artificial intelligence is looking to use algorithms to decipher and predict human emotions. Whilst emotions are not typically associated with AI, being able to identify human feelings could improve everyday quality of life and even be used in psychiatric care. The applications of this technology range from using patient data to predict the likelihood of postpartum depression, to speech recognition that can tell how you’re feeling not only based on the words you are using but also on the way that you are saying them.

Currently the University of Swansea is investigating how informatics can be used to prevent suicides, and how this could be implemented in modern healthcare. This application of artificial intelligence and use of patient data could be employed to save thousands of lives through preventative measures. Artificial intelligence with emotion capabilities might not be as dystopian as I, Robot made it out to be.


An Alternative to Opioids

Opioids have been used as medicinal pain killers since the time of Hippocrates (sometimes referred to as the father of western medicine) so their usefulness is tried and tested. However, opioid compounds are highly addictive and can have some particularly harsh side effects. As a result, prescribing opioids for pain relief runs the risk of addiction, abuse, and subsequent overdose. The rates of opioid addiction in the USA has been labelled as a national crisis, putting pressure on doctors to reduce prescribing them. Unfortunately, once addicted patients may seek out illicit prescription drugs or alternative illegal forms of opioids such as heroin.

Research published in Science Translational Medicine reports on the creation of a compound that stimulates the same brain receptors as opioids, producing similar painkilling effects at a fraction of the dose. However, since the drug acts on two different receptors, experiments on monkeys have revealed it does not have the same addictive nature. The widespread use of non-addictive painkillers could alleviate the issues caused by opioid-based treatments and reduce the impact addiction has on healthcare services.


Written by Dave Ayland

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