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‘Hyperloop’ Transportation Idea Being Tested.

The AP (1/26, Pritchard) reports three Southern California companies “are building separate test tracks to see how well the ‘hyperloop’ transportation concept works in the real world.” Elon Musk in 2013 “proposed a network of elevated tubes to transport specially designed capsules over long distances” with a top speed of about 750 mph. The capsules wold allow travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco in approximately a half-hour. “Musk has said that while he does not plan to develop the hyperloop commercially, he wants to accelerate its development,” the AP reports. His firm, SpaceX “said global infrastructure firm AECOM would build a one-mile track at SpaceX headquarters near Los Angeles International Airport,” the AP adds. Once ready, the track will then test prototype capsules “half the size of the system that Musk envisioned and would not carry people,” according to the article. Fortune (1/26) reports that infrastructure firm Aecom “said it will partner with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to build a test track for the Hyperloop transportation system.” Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring, and “the newly-built track will be the site of the second round of the SpaceX-run Hyperloop Pod Competition some time this summer.”

Article posted: 01/27/2016

Politicians, Nobel Laureates Celebrate Launch Of The Zuckerman Scholars Program In STEM Leadership

US News & World Report (1/25, Neuhauser) reports New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, four Nobel Prize laureates and the Israeli consul general were present to welcome the Zuckerman Scholars Program in STEM Leadership at a ceremony at the Harvard Club in New York City. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provided a video message and Mort Zuckerman, the scholarship’s sponsor, delivered the keynote address. The program will provide $100 million in scholarships and related educational activities to “postdoctoral researchers and graduate students in the U.S., fostering collaboration with researchers at Israel’s most prestigious research institutions.” In his speech, Zuckerman said, “At a time when collaboration is essential to advanced scientific research, this program gives the next generations of leading American and Israeli academics the ability to work together on cutting-edge research in ways that stand to benefit their fields for years to come.”

Article posted: 01/26/2016

White House Adviser Urges Florida To Advance Solar.

The Miami Herald (1/20, Nehamas) reports that White House adviser Robert Simon told a group that flooding and coastal erosion as a result of climate change could threaten global supply chains as well as Miami’s tourism and real estate sectors. He said Florida has made more progress than many states in cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions, “but there was still room for improvement. Florida has the third largest potential for rooftop solar but only the 13th most solar production.” The Herald reports that the economics of some solar projects are unfavorable “because of the hostility of Florida’s big utilities to solar power.”

Article posted: 01/21/2016

Edison Buys 500 Megawatts From First Solar.

Bloomberg News (1/19, Martin) reports that First Solar has signed contracts to supply 500 megawatts of capacity from four new projects to Southern California Edison. In a statement, First Solar said it expects to complete the projects by the end of 2019. “When completed, the power plants will make Southern California Edison First Solar’s largest single buyer of solar power,” Bloomberg reports.

Article posted: 01/20/2016

Report: World Economic Forum Predicts Robots Will Cause Net Loss Of 5.1 Million Jobs.

CBS News (1/19, Picchi) highlights “The Future of Jobs” report released by the World Economic Forum currently being held in Davos. Based on surveys of international companies with large workforces, the report predicts that the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” led by advancements in robotics will result in the net loss of up to 5.1 million jobs over the next five years. The report predicts office and administrative roles will be affected the most, but increased automation will also replace jobs in manufacturing, construction, maintenance, and entertainment. The report says, “As entire industries adjust, most occupations are undergoing a fundamental transformation. While some jobs are threatened by redundancy and others grow rapidly, existing jobs are also going through a change in the skill sets required to do them.” The article mentions that the report’s predicted changes could increase income inequality and also have a disproportionate impact on women because they are overrepresented in some industries that would experience large job losses. Bloomberg News  (1/18, Ward) also covered the World Economic Forum report and explained that robotics and other technological developments are predicted to replace around 7 million jobs, but also create 2 million new ones. The report’s authors urge world leaders and employers to take action now to retrain the current workforce with new skills, rather than waiting for a new generation to replace them, because the changes have already started. World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab and managing board member Richard Samans co-authored the report and say, “It is simply not possible to weather the current technological revolution by waiting for the next generation’s workforce to become better prepared.

Article posted: 01/19/2016