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Week in tech: World has crossed ‘tipping point’ on solar power

According to a new study, solar power is set to dominate global electricity markets within the next few decades

An aerial photograph taken on October 4, 2023 shows a view of the Voltalia photovoltaic camp in Karavasta, near the city of Lushnje, about 120 km southwest of the capital Tirana.(AFP)

By Nitin Sreedhar

LAST PUBLISHED 21.10.2023  |  12:00 PM IST

Here's a look at what made news in the world of science and technology this week.

India aims to send astronaut to the Moon by 2040

Ambitious goals have been set for the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), with Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging the space agency to build on its recent success with the Chandrayaan-3 and Aditya-L1 missions and plan on sending an astronaut to the Moon by 2040, and set up an Indian space station by 2035. According to the Press Trust of India, the Prime Minister’s directions came during a briefing by Isro chairman S. Somanath on the progress of Gaganyaan, India’s first human spaceflight mission. During the meeting, the Modi outlined the future of India’s space exploration endeavours and urged scientists to work towards interplanetary missions, including a Venus Orbiter Mission and a Mars Lander, and explore the Moon in greater detail, the report says. Isro is also working on another lunar mission, in collaboration with Japan’s JAXA space agency.


The preparations for the Flight Test Vehicle Abort Mission-1 (TV-D1) is underway as Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is about to commence unmanned flight tests for the Gaganyaan Mission, in Sriharikota. (ISRO Twitter)

G20 countries are falling short on air quality goals

The world’s biggest carbon-emitting economies—countries like India, China and the US—are failing when it comes to integrating air quality into their national climate plans, a new global scorecard on air quality revealed this week. Meanwhile, countries suffering the worst impacts of air pollution, like Chile and Nigeria, are taking the most action. According to the Clean Air NDC Scorecard, published on 18 October by the Global Climate and Health Alliance, a leading global convenor of more than 150 health professionals and health civil society organisations addressing climate change, low- and middle-income countries—which suffer from the highest exposure to air pollution—are demonstrating far more attention and ambition to combat air pollution, with Colombia and Mali emerging as joint global leaders on the issue.

Apple launches new, cheaper Apple Pencil

Apple introduced a more affordable version of its Apple Pencil for iPad users on 17 October. The company said that with pixel-perfect accuracy, low latency, and tilt sensitivity, the Pencil is ideal for note-taking, sketching, annotating, journaling, and more. The Pencil, which will cost 7,900, also has a USB-C port, hidden behind a sliding cap, that will allow users to use a USB-C cable to connect to the device for pairing and charging. When magnetically attached to the iPad for storage, the Pencil enters a sleep state to preserve battery life. The product will be available from early November, Apple said in a news release.

Visitors view Rio Tinto?s 34 megawatt solar farm which supplies power to Rio Tinto?s Gudai-Darri iron ore operations, 1,120 kilometres (695 miles) north east of Perth, Australia, October 19, 2023. REUTERS/Melanie Burton (REUTERS)

World has crossed ‘tipping point’ on solar power: Study

Solar power is set to dominate global electricity markets within the next few decades, a new study said on 17 October. In the journal Nature Communications, researchers from the University of Exeter, UK, said solar power is set to overpower fossil fuels as the dominant electricity source globally by 2050. According to a Bloomberg report on the study, researchers plugged data from 70 regions globally into an energy-simulation model to forecast how 22 different technologies, from geothermal energy to coal, are likely to be deployed till 2060. In 72% of the simulations, they found that solar would make up the majority of global power generation in 2050. Solar energy is the most widely available energy resource on Earth, and its economic attractiveness is improving fast in a cycle of increasing investments, the researchers said in the paper.

FILE PHOTO: Anthropic logo is seen in this illustration taken March 31, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo (REUTERS)

Music publishers sue AI company over song lyrics

On 18 October, music publishers Universal Music, ABKCO and Concord Publishing sued Artificial Intelligence (AI) company Anthropic in a federal court in Tennessee, US, accusing it of misusing an “innumerable" amount of copyrighted song lyrics to train its chatbot, Claude. According to a Reuters report, the lawsuit said Anthropic violated the publishers’ rights through its use of lyrics from at least 500 songs.

(With inputs from agencies)

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