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Urgent crowdourcing: DIY respirator projects… and one costing $100


These are fast-moving, “interesting times.” In ten days, parts of the U.S. and Canada may experience a dire medical emergency, akin to what we see today in Italy. Hundreds of thousands may need respiratory support while their immune systems fight off the COVID-19 virus. Without that support, thousands could die.
I spent last week working with Peter Diamandis’s XPRIZE group to outline a “DIY Ventilator Challenge” – but events surged past as teams around the world are already leaping ahead, conjuring ways to amplify the number of ventilators available, or hacking emergency alternatives. Below you’ll find links to some of these projects, starting with an excellent 5-part tutorial on ventilators. 
Here let me draw your attention to one project. While at the low end in sophistication and medical capability, it is peerless in aspects like low-cost and ease of construction. Steve Harrington and his Flometrics team built a prototype do-it-yourself respiration assistance device (DIYRAD) made entirely out of parts obtainable from Lowes or Home Depot. This very basic CPAP-like apparatus is not meant as a substitute for hospital care, but as a cheap, easy-to-make backup for use in a dire pinch by those with relatively stable, mild-to-moderate respiratory distress who cannot get such care, or who get turned away from over-burdened, overwhelmed ICUs.
Here’s a short introductory video: https://tinyurl.com/breathassist1
… plus a 7 minute, detailed, how-to video: https://tinyurl.com/breathassist2
… plus a detailed write-up:  https://tinyurl.com/breathassist4   (With an appendix linking to other projects around the world.) (Note the disclaimer!)

And yes, all such efforts merit urgent support during the next, critical week or two! 
There is a GoFundMe page… https://www.gofundme.com/f/diy-ventilator … 
…though any of you with greater resources might approach Steve directly, via his email address given in the videos.
… and anyone with relevant contacts in Italy is especially welcome to pass all this along!
Late News: It may be hard to find a $10 painter’s filter mask, so 3D printing plans should be available shortly.
(For further news, I’ve set aside the address http://www.tinyurl.com/breathassistNEWS though that’ll be later.)
That’s enough to chew on. But I’ll append a few other items of interest – some of them cool – below the signature. 
Here’s wishing you all (and those you love) good health and good prospects for our world and civilization.
David Brin
Addenda:
1.  Among the resources listed for you in the appendix at https://tinyurl.com/breathassist4 is a fascinating and informative 5-part tutorial on ventilators:   plus links to other DIY ventilator projects at McGill University, at MunichRE and in Italy, as well as lists compiled by MAKE Magazine.
2. Discussion is welcome at the lively comment community right here, under my blog CONTRARY BRIN. http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/
3. Some of my past sci fi has been more pertinent than I’d want! My Hugo-nominated story “The Giving Plague” deals with our complex relationships with viruses and such, including the several paths a parasite can go down, in “negotiating” with us hosts
4. Final COVID notes. The latest somewhat supported rumor mill items fall into the ‘Can’t hurt” category.

 (i) avoid ibuprofen/advil… for now, till we know more… and

 (ii) sniff a lemon (or anything strong) several times a day! At minimum a lemon-sniff will cheer you up a bit, I promise! But there are preliminary signs that the earliest-onset symptom is loss of smell. It’s not proved! But in this case we have one of those anecdotes that are absolutely harmless to try! (If you get sick, report how many days earlier you had smell failure. It’s scientific data! But above all, get well soon.)

5. Remind me to talk later about the SOLUTION TO SAVE THE ECONOMY AND GET PEOPLE BACK TO WORK! Yes, I have one.

 Oh, need cheering up? See my new sci fi comedy novel “The Ancient Ones.”



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A collection of key resources on corona-virus « Kurzweil



Dear readers,

Here’s a quick reference guide to the key pages on corona-virus from official agencies, leading news providers, and best reference material — at your finger-tips. Also included: some recent episodes of top shows focused on the outbreak.


— current statistics on corona-virus —

kk


special sections: corona-virus
from: government agencies + organizations


Johns Hopkins Univ. | home
Johns Hopkins Univ. | map: real-time tracking of corona-virus

motto: The truth will set you free.


CDC | home
CDC | corona-virus section

tag line: 24 / 7 — saving lives • protecting people


EPA | home
EPA | corona-virus section

tag line: Our mission is to protect human health and the environment.


FEMA | home
FEMA | corona-virus section


WHO | home
WHO | corona-virus section

tag line: Achieving better health for everyone, everywhere.


NIH | home
NIH | corona-virus section

tag line: Turning discovery into health.

the White House | home
the White House | corona-virus section


USAgov • by GSA | home
USAgov • by GSA | corna-virus section

tag line: Official guide to government information + services.


T


IMAGE


special sections: corona-virus
from: domestic broadcast news


ABC • Walt Disney Company | home
ABC • Walt Disney Company | corona-virus section

tag line: T


CBS • ViacomCBS | home
CBS • ViacomCBS | corona-virus section

tag line: America’s most-watched network.
tag line: A leading, global, premium content company.


CNN • WarnerMedia | home
CNN • WarnerMedia | corona-virus section

CNN • WarnerMedia | video: “corona-virus explained”

tag line: The most trusted name in news.
tag line: A leader in innovation for more than 100 years.


Fox • Fox Corporation | home
Fox • Fox Corporation | corona-virus section

tag line: most-watched • most-trusted
tag line: fair + balanced


NBC • Comcast | home
NBC • Comcast | corona-virus section

tag line: T


IMAGE


special sections: corona-virus
from: overseas broadcast news


ABC | home
ABC | corona-virus: section

tag line: T


BBC | home
BBC | corona-virus section

BBC | video: “corona-virus explained”

tag line: Inform, educate, and entertain.


CBC | home
CBC | corona-virus section

tag line: T


IMAGE


featurettes: about corona-virus
from: broadcast news


— show episodes —

group: CBS • ViacomCBS
show title: 60 Minutes • United States edition
show title: 60 MinutesAustralia edition

episode title: “World of pain”
watch | episode

— summary —

Public health authorities believes 60% of the world’s population could become infected with corona-virus and 45 million people might die. For this story, we travel overseas to find out the likely cause of the disease, and efforts to combat it.

episode title: “Stopping the virus”
watch | episode

— summary —

Scientists rush to develop a novel corona-virus vaccine. Then, officials are uncertain how the economy will fare during the corona-virus crisis.

episode title: ” A cure for corona-virus”
watch | episode

— summary —

There’s a glimmer of hope right now for a drug that has cured corona-virus in a test tube. Across the world, teams are working on a cure for corona-virus. One possibility is an existing HIV medication that’s shown great promise in the lab.

 

IMAGE


— notes —

CDC = Centers for Disease Control + Prevention • United States
DDHS = Department of Health + Human Services • United States
DHS = Department of Homeland Security • United States
EPA = Environmental Protection Agency • United States
FEMA = Federal Emergency Management Agency • United States
GSA = Government Services Administration • United States
NIH = National Institutes of Health • United States

WHO = World Health Organization

ABC = American Broadcasting Company
ABC = Australian Broadcasting Corporation
BBC = British Broadcasting Corporation
CBC = Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
CBS = Columbia Broadcasting System
CNN = Cable News Network
NBC = National Broadcasting Company

HIV = human immuno-deficiency viruses

* NIH is under DHHS
* FEMA is under DHS


[ post file ]

post title: bulletin | A collection of key resources on corona-virus
deck: T
folder: bulletin board

[ end of file ]





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Tesla Shanghai Production for the Rest of 2020 – NextBigFuture.com


Tesla Shanghai factory experts and key investors exchanged conference calls and the production level information from the call from Shengang Securities was obtained by Ranjing Finance, on March 1, 2020.

Current production capacity of the first phase of the Tesla Shanghai plant is 2,000 units per week, with single shifts per day and overtime on Saturdays to extend the single shift time without affecting production capacity; the two shifts in March are expected to reach 3500 units/week; The entire first half of the production of 50,000 to 60,000.

Capacity increase is expected to start in July and can reach a capacity of 5,000 vehicles per week, that is, 20,000 vehicles per month.

In the first and second half of this year, the combined production capacity is expected to be about 170,000 vehicles.

Tesla is increasing localization of the supply chain for the Shanghai factory and this will lower their vehicle costs. The domestic production rate is around 40%. The mid-year is 70% localization and the end of the year is 100%. Tesla’s Chinese factory experts expect localization will ramp faster than the goals.

A video indicates that Tesla Shanghai has already reached 3000 cars per week.

SOURCES – David Lee on Investing, Ranjing Finance on Weixin QQ
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com. Note: Brian owns shares of Tesla



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16 Ways Coronavirus May Change the Way We Look at the World


Crisis. A situation where danger and opportunity intersect. In the last several weeks, we’ve heard and learned a lot about the danger and suffering caused by Covid-19. But opportunities are here too, and not only for soap producers and bitcoin holders. This is not to downplay the gravity of the situation, but rather go back to the root of the word crisis, and its original meaning of “choice.” This brutal challenge to our existing systems may open new windows of opportunity for long-awaited change.

Here’s a list of 16 positive changes to the collective mindset this era of emergency may bring.

1. A new appreciation for the benefits of self-sufficiency.

From aquaponics to vertical urban gardens, plant-based diets, and desktop 3D printers, this situation will make many of us see the benefits of relying on locally sourced food and goods—instead of products demanding long and distant supply chains. These practices have been widely advocated for from a sustainability point of view, but this kind of self-sufficiency is ultimately about power. About how independence brings you to a position where, instead of just crossing your fingers and hoping government leaders will do a good enough job protecting you, you can maintain some influence over your own destiny and that of your loved ones.

2. Faster adoption of solar panels.

As yet, no region has experienced a power outage due to the systemic consequences of this pandemic. It would, however, be naive to think that it will not happen in certain places. Whether you end up personally affected currently depends on the border lottery—where you happened to be born and where you happened to be stranded during the outbreak. Solar panels mark the move away from a more or less centralized system supplying the juicy electricity we all love. The benefit of decentralized systems is, simply put, that they don’t have central points of failure. Again, solar panels have been sold as a morally superior option, a way to do the right thing for the planet—but the Covid times will reveal how much they can also be a matter of personal agency.

3. Fast-tracked innovation and adoption of drone technology.

Our species now has the technology to deliver all sorts of products to the doors of any self- or forcefully quarantined person. So far, drones have largely been known as a way to deliver violence and conduct surveillance. But as with any technology, they function like muscles, helping us realize our desires, constructive or destructive. In the case of Covid, this could mean automating many systems at scale, delivery drones and disinfecting robots marking a mere humble beginning. There are already examples of NGOs using drones to carry medicines to remote locations with impressive precision. Now that the ability to get goods without human touch is a more appealing value proposition than ever, mainstream adoption could be driven forward by an immense increase in drone delivery demand.

4. Universal basic income.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Bertrand Russell, Milton Friedman, and many others agreed that a civilized society ought to provide its citizens with money for basic needs to ensure no one ever has to live in a state of indecent desperation.

Automation has made this topic steaming hot, with US presidential hopeful Andrew Yang running on the policy, before suspending his campaign. During the current (or impending) lockdown, many jobs will, and have already, vanished overnight. Stock market losses reflect a concern for just how big a change in consumption this could bring.

In light of this, Hong Kong already approved a kind of emergency UBI, giving each citizen 10,000 Hong Kong dollars (about $1,290). Proposals to grant a monthly cash transfer to all citizens over the course of the pandemic have been supported by liberals and conservatives alike in many other states too. Learnings from these experiments, others already underway, and those very likely to follow, will yield considerable new knowledge and help complete the picture Rutger Bregman skillfully depicted on previous UBI experiments in his book Utopia for Realists (2017).

5. A healthy wake up call to never blindly trust a leader.

Citizens of the world right now have a front-row seat to watch how differently leaders around the world are handling the very same disease. Once the dust settles and figures can be studied, we’ll be able to see what worked and what didn’t. But more than that, we’ll have a strong example of how arbitrary the choices that leaders make can be. People have already died because a certain leader took the wrong approach at the wrong time. This doesn’t have to mean citizens no longer trust anyone. Rather, we should demand that more than success at the polls or holding an office be treated as sufficient authority in questions where there is science to consider.

6. Learning and loving to do the least.

What do we need? Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (2019) ignited a lot of excitement last year. It questioned how many of the activities we’re involved in every day actually benefit us. Doing less has its perks, for the climate and the environment as a whole, as well as for our stress levels and peace of mind. Covid-19 will, at least for a time, bring an extreme decrease in productivity. This will also give us a new baseline to compare with our “normal” lives. When we find ourselves forced to stop for a while, what will we end up really missing—and what won’t we miss at all? Hitting the pause button will give us an opportunity to take stock of what really deserves the glory in our glorification of being “busy.”

7. Wider adoption of decentralized internet protocols.

Quarantine can be an introvert’s dream—until the internet stops working. Hopefully, this won’t happen. But if we were running decentralized internet protocols, we could move from hoping to knowing. The internet was built to be resilient in times of crisis. Over time, however, a small number of companies have come to own a large number of the servers directing traffic. This undercuts the internet’s celebrated design feature of decentralization. Amazon Web Services, for example, operates a whopping third of the servers running the cloud. The Interplanetary File System (IPFS) is a new protocol we could adopt to make the internet properly peer-to-peer again—meaning, it might give us an internet more equipped for a crisis.

8. A post-post-truth world.

And just like that, accuracy mattered. As we face a range of possible scenarios, from the mild to the frankly catastrophic, we can feel it collectively now: We want to know the facts. How much should we fear a sneeze? A handshake? Is everything under control, or should we stock up on food and water at home? We want to know. Not guess, but know. And even though doubt in science has grown ever greater in recent years, you don’t see hordes of people turning down the thought of a vaccine now.

9. Telepresence bonanza.

Social distancing is luckily happening in a time when we already love to be social far, far away from one another. The meetings that could have been emails have quickly turned into emails. For the rest, there’s telepresence, video conferencing, and even digital avatars and virtual stages. The longer the quarantine, the more we’ll see whatever brings us our loved ones and colleagues in high definition as the best thing since stock crackers. That summits and concerts are finding digital iterations is all great news for a world that’s been relying on air travel far more than carbon budgets allow. In terms of aviation, what is a state of emergency now, great telepresence services could help make far more normal after the virus.

10. Corona-boom babies.

Blackouts and snow-ins result in baby bumps: this has been commonly observed. Is it that when you’re stuck at home, sex is the next best option? Or is it that in times of despair, the prospect of bringing a new life into the world is a bulwark against the sense of impending doom? Whatever it is, you might look forward to some lustful pleasures during the quarantine. And if you don’t feel like this is the right time for you to conceive the next generation, you might consider stocking up on contraceptives while (or if) you can. Suggested names of this generation to come: Quaranteens or Coronials.

11. Paying our heroes with more than just applause.

The true value of the labor that keeps society—and our sanity—afloat, is now being keenly felt. People homeschooling their children are expressing new appreciation for teachers’ day-to-day. Garbage collectors and delivery people are receiving proper thank-yous for usually thankless services. And the health care providers risking their own health for the sake of others are now receiving a measure of gratitude. We’re learning what’s essential. Now, instead of paying the heroes of this crisis with nothing but applause, could this sudden appreciation instead take a monetary form and translate into better pay for our most crucial professions?

12. All the great books, movies, jokes, and memes to come.

And just like that, you did get the time to finish your novel. The same is true for a myriad of artists, currently in lockdown, many of them likely creating their most inspired pieces yet. Shakespeare famously wrote King Lear during his time in quarantine. From the existential motives of serious filmmakers to the escapist hedonism and meme extraordinaires—a pandemic, in all its brutality, can be quite the muse.

13. Updated emergency protocols.

As bad as Covid-19 is, those of us in the global catastrophic risk community know there are far worse scenarios, and we can get far better at preparing and de-risking our lives. Books like Feeding Everyone No Matter What (2014) by David Denkenberger has never before gotten the attention they deserve. We could use this situation to change that, making us wiser and more resilient in the face of vaster issues. Proposals like Denkenberger’s to develop large-scale storage, underground mushroom farms, or even bacteria-based foods to survive a potential nuclear winter or supervolcanic eruption no longer seem as eccentric as they once did. Rather, they seem wise and considered, as the words “hope for the best, plan for the worst” are beginning to more widely resonate.

14. Longevity reimagined.

The status and suffering of the elderly is generally scarcely covered. Before this pandemic, 100,000 people died from illnesses directly related to the underlying condition of an aged body—every single day. As Covid-19 is disproportionately affecting the older part of the population and medical professionals are making calls based on age, this issue ought to see serious momentum. Intergenerational solidarity could become more of a thing as we come to fully realize that an able-bodied condition is ever so temporary. Healthspan—and lifespan—extension is a problem we might more seriously use our collective talent to combat, as we give more weight to the argument often put forward by those in the field that aging ought to be classified as a disease.

15. An understanding of what is possible through collective belief.

Particularly when it comes to debt. The Federal Reserve is offering $1.5 trillion in short-term loans (and a whole lot more is on the way) to stabilize the market due to Covid-19. In a world where fiat currencies are only backed by belief, a lot can be done once there is sufficient support. By comparison, the total amount of student loan debt in the US is $1.6 trillion. If you want to study a concept during all your in-house downtime, maybe look up “debt jubilee.” Or, if you’re looking for a longer read, there’s David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2011). A lot of time in your house means a lot of time to learn and organize for change with people who share your beliefs and could amplify them. Whether in relation to debt, or something else.

16. A shared enemy.

In the ’90s, some thinkers focused on globalization argued that our shared global village was turning into a “McWorld,” with consumer culture as its common denominator. Arguably, there is something far more wholesome all humans have in common: We all want a safe tomorrow. In Covid-19, we’ve found a common enemy, attacking people regardless of their appearance or passport.

This takes us back to that original meaning of crisis: the present situation offers a choice. Either we try to piece the world back together as it was before this catastrophic occurrence, or we can use this shared event as the founding moment of a unifying global narrative. One acknowledging that underneath our badges of belonging we are all vulnerable bodies, very much dependent on each other and on systems of governance.

We’ve been aware of our global interconnectedness for some time, every second TED talk makes reference to it. But we’ve never felt it as much as we do now. We’ve already witnessed the lack of global coordination to control the spread of the virus early on. We are now witnessing how the government of each state is turning this shared global event into so many singular, nationally defined experiences.

All this tells the tale of a world that has become interlinked, yet holds on to a governance model pretending we’re not. This can change. We can tell another story. One that demands global risks receive a global response and proclaims that certain issues are so important they stand above all partisanship. A virus can spread quickly and change us profoundly. So can an idea. Stuck, alone in our houses, there has never been a better time to come together.

Image Credit: Ahmed ZayanUnsplash



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2021 Future Timeline | Timeline | Technology | Singularity | 2020 | 2050 | 2100 | 2150 | 2200 | 21st century | 22nd century | 23rd century | Humanity | Predictions


 

 

2021

Exascale computers are deployed

An exaFLOP is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (a million trillion, or one quintillion) floating point operations per second. The world’s top supercomputers are now reaching this speed, which is a 1,000-fold improvement over a petaFLOP machine.

The growth of computing power had followed an exponential trend for many years. However, a slowdown in the rate of progress was observed during the second half of the 2010s. It had earlier been predicted that exaFLOP machines would arrive by the end of the decade, but this schedule appeared to slip as technical and funding issues were encountered.

IBM unveiled “Summit” – featuring a peak performance of 200 petaFLOPS – which became the world’s fastest supercomputer in June 2018, a title it would retain into 2019 and 2020. Several challengers were waiting in the wings, including three exaFLOP machines being developed by China, three by the USA and others by the European Union, India, Japan and Taiwan. These would be deployed during the early and mid-2020s.

China was the first country to achieve a “peak” exaFLOP machine, but there were ongoing delays in reaching a sustained exaFLOP performance. By 2021, this is finally demonstrated, using processors designed and manufactured domestically. Among the new machines is Tianhe-3, successor to the Tianhe-2.* After China, the next countries to demonstrate a sustained exaFLOP performance are the United States and Japan.*

Exascale computing leads to revolutionary advances in a number of fields – allowing simulations of greater scale, complexity and duration than ever before. Neuroscience is one area of particular note, as it becomes possible to simulate the entire human brain in real-time, down to the level of individual neurons. Subsequent upgrades to existing machines, along with entirely new machines, enable further orders of magnitude gains in performance and pave the way to zettaFLOP supercomputers in the 2030s.

 

exascale computing 2021 future timeline

 

 

The ExoMars rover touches down on Mars

ExoMars is a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). Divided into two parts, the first phase of the mission was launched in 2016, arriving nine months later. This consisted of an orbiter – ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter – for mapping sources of methane and other gases on Mars, to determine the best location for a rover to study. It also contained a static demonstration module to prove the landing site was viable.

The second phase is launched in 2020, arriving in 2021 with the ExoMars rover built by ESA. This lands on Mars using a “sky crane” system, in which four rockets slow the descent once the main parachute has been deployed. The landing site is near the equator to maximise available solar power.

The rover’s primary objective is to determine any signs of microbial life on Mars, past or present. It is equipped with a drill that bores down two metres below the surface to retrieve samples. These are transferred to a miniature laboratory inside the rover. This contains a sensor for biological molecules, infrared and X-ray spectroscopes that catalogue the mineralogical makeup of the sample, together with imaging devices.

Located in the drill structure is another infrared spectrometer that studies the inside surface of the bore hole. ExoMars uses ground-penetrating radar to search for ideal locations at which to drill. The mission is almost entirely automated, as the rover uses imaging cameras to create a 3D map of the terrain in order to avoid obstacles. It has a lifespan of six months, travelling approximately 100 metres each day and testing dozens of different samples.

The spacecraft was scheduled to launch in 2018 and land on Mars in early 2019, but due to delays in European and Russian industrial activities and deliveries of the scientific payload, it was moved to the launch window in July 2020. With a journey time of nine months, it arrives in March 2021.*

 

exomars rover 2021 future timeline technology
Credit: ESA

 

 

 

 

The James Webb Space Telescope is launched

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the long-awaited successor to the aging Hubble Space Telescope. Named after James E. Webb – the NASA administrator from 1961 to 1968 – it is developed as a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency.

The JWST is located near Earth–Sun Lagrangian point L2 with an orbital distance that varies from 374,000 km (232,000 mi) to as far away as 1,500,000 km (930,000 mi). It is designed to offer unprecedented resolution and sensitivity from long-wavelength visible light through the mid-infrared range. While the Hubble Space Telescope had a 4.5 m2 (48 sq ft) primary mirror, the JWST’s collecting area is nearly six times larger at 25 m2 (270 sq ft). This is composed of 18 hexagonal mirror segments working in unison. In terms of magnification, it is 100 times more powerful than Hubble, making it capable of seeing the very first generation of stars that ignited less than 200 million years after the Big Bang – a time when the universe was only 1.4% of its current age. If a bumblebee was placed on the Moon’s surface, the JWST would be able to spot the insect both in reflected light, and from its body heat.* A large sunshield keeps the telescope’s instruments below 50 K (−220 °C; −370 °F).

The JWST has four main scientific goals:

• To search for light from the first stars and galaxies that formed in the Universe after the Big Bang
• To study the formation and evolution of galaxies
• To understand the formation of stars and planetary systems
• To study planetary systems and the origins of life

The JWST was first proposed in 1996, at which time its cost was estimated at $0.5 billion, with a launch date of 2007. Over the years, however, the costs began to spiral upwards and the schedule faced major delays. By 2018, the project had mushroomed to $9.7 billion, with a launch date of March 2021.*

 

james webb space telescope future timeline 2019
Credit: NASA

 

 

First uncrewed maiden flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS)

The Space Launch System (SLS) is an expendable launch vehicle in the “super heavy-lift” class, developed from 2011 onwards and intended to supersede the retired Space Shuttle as NASA’s flagship vehicle.

Initially designed to carry 70 metric tons (150,000 lb) into low Earth orbit (LEO), the SLS later exceeded that requirement by a significant margin, with a rated payload capacity of 95 metric tons (209,000 lb). Future versions, known as Block 2, would have upgrades including advanced boosters, with an even greater LEO capability of more than 130 metric tons (290,000 lb). For comparison, the earlier Space Shuttle program of 1981 to 2011 had a maximum payload capacity of only 27.5 tons (60,600 lb), or about 21% of the SLS Block 2.

The SLS was to become the primary launch vehicle of NASA’s deep space exploration plans – including crewed lunar flights of the Artemis program and a subsequent follow-on human mission to Mars. It would also be used for constructing a new space station in orbit around the Moon.

A first uncrewed maiden flight occurs in 2021,* which is followed by a crewed lunar flyby in 2022. Additional launches include a Block 1 Cargo flight that delivers the Europa Clipper probe to Jupiter via a direct Hohmann transfer orbit. The human missions to lunar orbit and beyond make use of a partially reusable module atop the SLS, known as the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion MPCV), which can support a crew of six on long-duration missions.

While the SLS is extremely powerful (featuring the highest ever total thrust at launch), the project is criticised for its cost, in comparison to new and emerging commercial rockets, which can also provide greater reusability – such as those developed by SpaceX and Blue Origin. This forces a rethink of NASA’s funding as the private sector takes on an increasingly large role in spaceflight, contributing to an industry worth $1 trillion by the late 2030s.

 

 

 

First flight of the New Glenn reusable rocket

New Glenn (named after the late U.S. astronaut, John Glenn) is a heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle developed by Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos. The booster stage is designed to be reusable, cutting launch costs and making it a competitor to SpaceX.

Previously, Blue Origin had developed the New Shepard – a vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing (VTVL), crew-capable rocket. Prototype testing in 2006, followed by full-scale engine development in the early 2010s, led to a first flight in 2015. Reaching an altitude of 93 km (58 miles), this uncrewed demonstration was deemed partially successful, as the onboard capsule was recovered via parachute landing, while the booster stage crashed, and was not recovered. By 2019, a further 11 test flights had taken place, all successfully landing and recovering the booster stage.

The New Shepard, with a height of 18 m (59 ft) and only a tiny payload,* fell into the sub-orbital class of rockets. By contrast, its successor would be more than five times as tall on the launch platform. New Glenn, standing 95 m (313 ft), dwarfed the earlier New Shepard and was designed to carry 45,000 kg (99,000 lb) to low-Earth orbit (LEO) and 13,000 kg (29,000 lb) to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).

Blue Origin began working on the New Glenn in 2012, and publicly revealed its design and specifications in 2016. The vehicle, described as a two-stage rocket with a diameter of 7 m (23 ft), would be powered by seven BE-4 engines (equivalent to 21 Boeing 747s). Bezos now reportedly sold $1 billion worth of Amazon.com stock annually – a figure that doubled by the end of the decade – in order to fund Blue Origin.

By 2019, Blue Origin had gained five customers for New Glenn flights, including a multi-launch contract with Telesat for its broadband constellation. All of these launches would feature a reusable first stage, meaning the booster would return to Earth and land vertically,* just like the New Shepard sub-orbital launch vehicle that preceded it.

A first launch of the New Glenn occurs in 2021, from a reconstructed and improved Launch Complex 36 (LC-36) in Florida.* Following stage separation, the first stage flies back to Earth and lands nearly 1,000 km downrange on a moving ship. The second stage engines ignite and the 7-metre fairing separates. The mission is complete when the payload is delivered safely to orbit.

Alongside the New Glenn, Jeff Bezos had even greater ambitions. In 2019, he unveiled Blue Origin’s longer-term vision for space, which included a lunar lander known as Blue Moon. This could deliver up to 4,500 kg (9,900 lb) to the Moon’s surface and potentially astronauts too, using a New Glenn as the launch vehicle – in combination with ascent and transfer stages developed by other companies.**

 

new glenn 2021

 

 

Crossrail
opens in London

Crossrail is a major new rail line built for London and southeast England. In
development since 1974, it is one of Europe’s largest ever transport projects – designed to boost London’s subway capacity
by over 10% and bringing widespread regenerative benefits.

The line
has a total length of 118 km (73 miles), which includes 42 km (26 miles) of tunnels. It runs from the county of Berkshire
in the west, through to Essex in the east, linking together all the main
economic hubs in the UK capital: Heathrow Airport, the West End, the City
of London and Canary Wharf. Nine-coach trains – each 200 metres (660 ft) long and carrying up to 1,500 people – run at
frequencies of 24 per hour at peak periods. These brand new, longer trains feature walk-through air-conditioned carriages, live travel information and free Wi-Fi.

The original
planned schedule was for the first trains to run during 2017. A Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010 – saving over £1bn of the estimated £16bn
projected costs – meant that the first trains to run on the central
section would be delayed until December 2018. This timeline was further delayed until the Autumn of 2019 and then again until 2021.* Crossrail is also named as the Elizabeth Line in honour of Queen Elizabeth II. In addition to the rail line itself, the project includes ten new state-of-the-art stations.

 

Click to enlarge

crossrail december 2021 timeline

 

 

Water
crisis in southwest USA

Southwestern
parts of the USA – including Nevada, Arizona and southern California
– are now faced with crippling water shortages. Lake Mead,
a key source of water for over 25 million people (about 8% of
the US population), is running dry as a result of climate change. Increased population growth and associated demand for water resources
have also played a part. Once the
largest reservoir in the country, its capacity has declined substantially, due to the Colorado River’s net deficit of nearly 1 million
acre-feet of water per year. As well
as providing fresh water, Lake Mead has been a major source of hydroelectric
power, via the Hoover Dam. Blackouts are now increasingly common. Authorities have been attempting to stabilise the situation by constructing
solar power facilities, as well as laying
groundwater pipelines from elsewhere in Nevada.

 

lake mead bathtub ring hoover dam future 2020
Lake Mead as seen from the Hoover Dam, clearly showing
the “bathtub ring”. Credit: Cmpxchg8b

 

 

Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games

The Olympic Games are held in the summer of 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. The other candidate cities had been Madrid and Istanbul. Prior to Tokyo’s selection by the Japanese Olympic Committee, Hiroshima expressed an interest in hosting, but later withdrew their plans to bid. Tokyo had hosted the games 50 years previously and its National Olympic Stadium is once again used for the main venue.

In August 2013, the Governor of Tokyo, Naoki Inose, stated that the 2011 nuclear accident at Fukushima would not pose a threat to Tokyo’s ability to host the Games. He stated that “the water in Tokyo is safe, and we have released this data on our website” and that “radiation levels are no different than in London or Paris.” A letter of assurance over the issue was later sent to the IOC members.

The Olympics were originally scheduled to take place from 24th July to 9th August 2020, with preliminary events starting on 22nd July. On 24th March 2020, however, the IOC and the Tokyo Organising Committee officially announced that due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics would be delayed to 2021 (marking the first time that an entire Olympics had ever been postponed). The Games are still publicly branded and marketed as “Tokyo 2020”, even with the change in scheduling.

Tokyo becomes the first Asian city to host the Olympic Games twice. The previous occasion was in 1964. Its slogan for the 2021 event is “Discover Tomorrow” and robots are featured during the games in reflection of this.

 

tokyo 2020 olympic games

 

 

The world’s largest insect swarm re-emerges

Brood X is the largest of 15 groups of 17-year cicadas. Its members, all of the genus Magicicada, tunnel to the surface en masse, mate and lay eggs, then die. This is the biggest swarm of insects in the world. The area covered stretches from New York, down the East Coast to Georgia and west to Illinois.

The last time Brood X emerged was in 2004.* Countless billions of the insects infest the Eastern USA, with any existing tranquillity ruined by their incessant buzzing during the mating ritual, which is audible from a mile away. Despite the nuisance it causes, the emergence of this swarm is relatively short-lived. It also delivers vital nutrients to the topsoil, leaving the native environment noticeably better in the weeks after the ensuing die-off.

 

brood x cicada map 2004 2021 2038

 

 

Five-year survival rates for breast cancer are approaching 100%

Worldwide, breast cancer accounts for nearly 23% of all cancers in women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers). In 2008, it caused 458,000 deaths, 13.7% of cancer deaths in women. It is over 100 times more common in women than in men, although men tend to have poorer outcomes due to delays in diagnosis.

In 2011, advances in genetics led researchers to identify 10 subtypes of breast cancer, each with its own unique genetic fingerprint.* In that same year, three genes linked to the most common form of breast cancer were found, including one responsible for driving the growth of tumours.*

Combined with personalised genomics, this paved the way for a new generation of drugs and other treatments that were precisely customisable for a particular individual. In many Western countries, five-year survival rates are now approaching 100%,** with 10-year survival likely to meet this level in the mid-2030s.*

 

breast cancer five year survival rate

 

 

Male birth control pills are entering the market

Early in this decade, the first male birth control pills are available for mass consumption.** Methods of chemical male birth control had been around for a few decades. Early efforts focused on using testosterone and synthetic hormones to limit sperm production, in a similar way to female birth control’s effect on egg production. However, these proved to have too many negative side effects and were subsequently abandoned.

Other, non-hormonal methods were tried. Among the most successful was a compound known as JQ1, developed by US researchers in 2012.* This worked by targeting a testis-specific protein called BRDT that is essential for fertility. When mice were given the BRDT-inhibiting molecule, they began producing fewer sperm and those they did produce were unable to swim properly. Mating studies confirmed that JQ1 indeed worked as an effective male contraception. Even better, the effects were completely reversible, without adverse consequences for the animals’ testosterone levels or behaviour. The molecule also left no apparent side effects on the males’ future offspring.

The success of this new compound and the strong similarity between mouse and human BRDT proteins allowed JQ1 to proceed to clinical trials, beginning in 2013.* Following an eight year period,* it is available in pill form by 2021. This becomes the first new reversible contraceptive for men since the development of the condom, centuries ago.

 

male birth control pill release date 2020 2021 2022 future

 

 

The world’s first artificial kidney

Kidneys perform a vital role in the human body: filtering blood, removing excess fluid and eliminating waste products. They are essential to the urinary system, the regulation of blood pressure (via salt and water balance) and the production of various hormones.

Kidney diseases are diverse, but their primary causes over the long-term are diabetes and high blood pressure. Among the most serious clinical conditions is end-stage renal disease (ESRD), affecting 2 million people worldwide. This can lead to complete failure of the kidneys to work at a level needed for day-to-day life. In the later stages of the illness, the only treatment options are dialysis or transplant. Although dialysis can be life-saving, it lasts for only a short time and then the procedure must be repeated. Organ transplants can help patients to regain their strength and mobility, allowing a return to more normal activities; but there is often a shortage of donors, plus the risk of rejection by their immune system. Stem cell treatments are beginning to emerge,* but have yet to include a complete replacement for kidneys.

A third option has been explored, however, which is now becoming available for the first time: fully artificial kidneys. This idea was researched at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), leading to a prototype model in 2010* and clinical trials beginning in 2017.* As part of a government innovation programme, the development process for this particular project was accelerated, cutting the time required for approval.*

Using nanotechnology, the device can mimic almost all the vital functions of the kidney, while a bioreactor performs other renal activities. This is done without the need for pumps or electrical power – filtration is pushed along by the body’s own blood pressure. Furthermore, the device has an indefinite lifespan, unlike real transplanted kidneys which typically last for 10 to 12 years.

 

 

 

Launch of the Terrafugia TF-X flying car

The Terrafugia TF-X is a plug-in hybrid tilt-rotor vehicle and the first fully autonomous flying car. It can avoid other air traffic, bad weather and restricted air space and navigate its way to pre-specified landing zones. Manual controls and overrides also exist in case of emergencies or unexpected situations. The TF-X has a range of 500 miles per flight and batteries are rechargeable by the engine. Launched in 2021, it has a starting price of about $280,000 putting it beyond the reach of most consumers.* However, cheaper flying and hovering vehicles become more widely available later this century and into the 22nd century.*

 

 

 

China’s first mission to Mars

During the first two decades of the 21st century, China’s National Space Administration had focused heavily on the Moon. Its Chang’e series of lunar probes achieved great success.

China began a Mars program in 2009 in partnership with Russia. However, the Russian spacecraft Fobos-Grunt, carrying a Chinese orbiter called Yinghuo-1, crashed in January 2012, days after lift-off. China subsequently began its own independent Mars project, with a mission approved by authorities in 2016.

The new Chinese Mars probe would consist of an orbiter, lander and a rover deployed on the surface of Mars, with scientific objectives being to search for evidence of both current and past life, and to assess the planet’s environment. It was named Mars Global Remote Sensing Orbiter and Small Rover mission, designated by a shorter name of Huoxing-1, abbreviated to HX-1 (Huoxing simply means “Mars” in Chinese).

The spacecraft is launched aboard a Long March 5 heavy lift rocket in July 2020, with a total payload mass of 5,000 kg (11,000 lb). Orbital insertion at Mars is scheduled for February 2021, with a surface landing date of 23rd April 2021.* The lander carrying the rover is designed to use a parachute, retrorockets, and an airbag to achieve a soft landing, which is planned to occur in Utopia Planitia – a region known to contain a large amount of underground water ice.

The rover is powered by solar panels, and is fitted with Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR), to scan as deep as 100 m (330 ft) below the surface. It can also perform chemical analyses on Martian soil, and look for biomolecules and biosignatures. The six-wheeled, 200 kg vehicle is designed to last three months.*

The orbiter and rover together carry a total of 12 instruments. In addition to its powerful ground radar, the rover includes a Multi-Spectrum Camera (MSC) and a Navigation and Topography Camera (NTC). The orbiter, meanwhile, is equipped with a High Resolution Camera (HRC) to obtain images with a resolution down to just 2 m from a 400 km orbit. The surface rover includes a demonstration of technology needed for a Mars sample return mission proposed for the 2030s.

 

chinas first mars mission 2021

 

 

The first Arabian mission to Mars

This year sees the first mission to Mars by an Arabian country – in this case, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which sends an unmanned probe. The Arab League nations have established a pan-Arab space agency by now, headed by the UAE. This functions in a similar way to the European Space Agency.

The UAE had already invested more than 20 billion dirham (US$5.4 billion) in the space sector by 2014. This further expansion was aimed at diversifying its economy away from reliance on hydrocarbons and fostering new talent in technology and aerospace fields. It was also motivated by concerns over national security and the growing importance of satellite data, mobile communications, Earth mapping and observation. Thanks to its hi-tech facilities, Dubai is now a regional hub for satellite design and construction.* The Mars mission coincides with the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s formation. It is helped by the fact that space projects are becoming increasingly cheap, easy and reliable, through a new generation of rockets and fuels.

In 2014, ruler of the UAE’s emirate of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said the mission would prove the Arab world was still capable of delivering scientific contributions to humanity, despite the many conflicts across the Middle East: “Our region is a region of civilization. Our destiny is – once again – to explore, to create, to build and to civilize.”*

 

united arab emirates mars 2021 future timeline space

 

 

India’s first manned space flight

India becomes only the fourth nation – after Russia, the US and China – to independently launch humans into space. The rocket used is a variant of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).* This carries a largely autonomous 3.7-ton capsule with a three-person crew on board. They remain in orbit around the Earth at 248 miles (400 km) altitude for seven days, before splashing down in the Bay of Bengal. The total cost of the project is about 124 billion rupees ($2.67 billion). Originally planned for 2016, the mission faced delays, but is eventually launched in 2021.* Subsequent versions of the craft enable longer missions, including rendezvous and docking capabilities with space stations and other orbital platforms.*

 

 

 

 

 



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Method turns back the clock on old human cells


After researchers induced old human cells to express a panel of proteins called Yamanaka factors, they returned to a more youthful and vigorous state, according to a new study.

The researchers also found that elderly mice regained youthful strength after subjecting their existing muscle stem cells to the rejuvenating protein treatment and transplanting them back into their bodies.

Researchers commonly use the proteins, involved in embryonic development, to transform an adult cell into induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells.

Induced pluripotent stem cells can become nearly any type of cell in the body, regardless of the cell from which they originated. They’ve become important in regenerative medicine and drug discovery.

The study found that inducing old human cells in a lab dish to briefly express these proteins rewinds many of the molecular hallmarks of aging and renders the treated cells nearly indistinguishable from their younger counterparts.

“When iPS cells are made from adult cells, they become both youthful and pluripotent,” says Vittorio Sebastiano, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University and senior author of the paper, published in Nature Communications.

“We’ve wondered for some time if it might be possible to simply rewind the aging clock without inducing pluripotency. Now we’ve found that, by tightly controlling the duration of the exposure to these protein factors, we can promote rejuvenation in multiple human cell types.”

“We are very excited about these findings,” says coauthor Thomas Rando, professor of neurology and neurological sciences and the director of Stanford’s Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging.

“My colleagues and I have been pursuing the rejuvenation of tissues since our studies in the early 2000s revealed that systemic factors can make old tissues younger. In 2012, Howard Chang and I proposed the concept of using reprogramming factors to rejuvenate cells and tissues, and it is gratifying to see evidence of success with this approach.” Chang is a Stanford professor of dermatology and of genetics.

Exposure to Yamanaka proteins

To make iPS cells from adult cells, such as those that compose skin, researchers repeatedly expose them over a period of about two weeks to a panel of proteins important to early embryonic development. They do so by introducing daily, short-lived RNA messages into the adult cells.

The RNA messages encode the instructions for making the Yamanaka proteins. Over time, these proteins rewind the cells’ fate—pushing them backward along the developmental timeline until they resemble the young, embryonic-like pluripotent cells from which they originated.

During this process the cells not only shed any memories of their previous identities, but they revert to a younger state. They accomplish this transformation by wiping their DNA clean of the molecular tags that not only differentiate, say, a skin cell from a heart muscle cell, but of other tags that accumulate as a cell ages.

Recently researchers have begun to wonder whether exposing the adult cells to Yamanaka proteins for days rather than weeks could trigger this youthful reversion without inducing full-on pluripotency.

In fact, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found in 2016 that briefly expressing the four Yamanaka factors in mice with a form of premature aging extended the animals’ life span about 20%. But it wasn’t clear whether this approach would work in humans.

Sarkar and Sebastiano wondered whether old human cells would respond in a similar fashion, and whether the response would limit to just a few cell types or generalizable for many tissues.

They devised a way to use genetic material called messenger RNA to temporarily express six reprogramming factors—the four Yamanaka factors plus two additional proteins—in human skin and blood vessel cells. Messenger RNA rapidly degrades in cells, allowing the researchers to tightly control the duration of the signal.

The researchers then compared the gene-expression patterns of treated cells and control cells, both obtained from elderly adults, with those of untreated cells from younger people.

They found that cells from elderly people exhibited signs of aging reversal after just four days of exposure to the reprogramming factors. Whereas untreated elderly cells expressed higher levels of genes associated with known aging pathways, treated elderly cells more closely resembled younger cells in their patterns of gene expression.

When the researchers studied the patterns of aging-associated chemical tags called methyl groups, which serve as an indicator of a cell’s chronological age, they found that the treated cells appeared to be about 1½ to 3½ years younger on average than untreated cells from elderly people, with peaks of 3½ years (in skin cells) and 7½ years (in cells that line blood vessels).

Hallmarks of aging

Next, they compared several hallmarks of aging—including how cells sense nutrients, metabolize compounds to create energy, and dispose of cellular trash—among cells from young people, treated cells from old people and untreated cells from old people.

“We saw a dramatic rejuvenation across all hallmarks but one in all the cell types tested,” Sebastiano says. “But our last and most important experiment was done on muscle stem cells. Although they are naturally endowed with the ability to self-renew, this capacity wanes with age. We wondered, ‘Can we also rejuvenate stem cells and have a long-term effect?’”

When the researchers transplanted old mouse muscle stem cells that had been treated back into elderly mice, the animals regained the muscle strength of younger mice, they found.

Finally, the researchers isolated cells from the cartilage of people with and without osteoarthritis. They found that the temporary exposure of the osteoarthritic cells to the reprogramming factors reduced the secretion of inflammatory molecules and improved the cells’ ability to divide and function.

The researchers are now optimizing the panel of reprogramming proteins needed to rejuvenate human cells and are exploring the possibility of treating cells or tissues without removing them from the body.

“Although much more work needs to be done, we are hopeful that we may one day have the opportunity to reboot entire tissues,” Sebastiano says. “But first we want to make sure that this is rigorously tested in the lab and found to be safe.”

Additional coauthors are from the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System; the University of California, Los Angeles; the Molecular Medicine Research Institute; and Stanford. The National Institutes of Health, the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research, the American Federation for Aging Research, and the Department of Veterans Affairs funded the work.

Sarkar, Quarta and Sebastiano are co-founders of the startup Turn Biotechnologies, a company applying the technology described in the paper to treat aging-associated conditions. Rando is a member of the scientific advisory board.

Source: Stanford University



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Scientists Say There Could Be Life on Mercury


Mercurious

According to a study published last week in the journal Scientific Reports, there’s a minuscule chance that Mercury, our Sun’s closest neighbor, has all it needs to host life.

“It is possible that as long as there was water, the temperatures would be appropriate for the survival and possibly the origin of life,” co-author Jeffrey Kargel from the Planetary Science Institute told The New York Times.

Bubbling Up

In the study, the team of researchers suggest that the Mercury’s chaotic surface isn’t the result of earthquakes, as the prevailing theory holds. Instead, they argue, cracks in the surface are rather caused by volatiles — elements that can quickly switch from one state to another such as a liquid turning into a gas — bubbling up from below.

Volatiles such as water could provide an environment friendly to life underground — the surface itself is far too hot, heating up to around 800 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

Not Completely Nuts

The idea of life on Mercury is still a long shot, but the researchers are hopeful.

“I thought [co-author] Alexis [Rodriguez] had lost it at some point,” Kargel told the Times. “But the more I dug into the geologic evidence and the more I thought about the chemistry and physical conditions there, the more I realized that this idea — well it might be nuts, but it’s not completely nuts.”

READ MORE: Life on the Planet Mercury? ‘It’s Not Completely Nuts’ [The New York Times]

More on Mercury: Mercury Is Every Planet in the Solar System’s Closest Neighbor





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Expect low oil prices in 2020; tendency toward recession


Energy Forecast for 2020

Overall, I expect that oil and other commodity prices will remain low in 2020. These low oil prices will adversely affect oil production and several other parts of the economy. As a result, a strong tendency toward recession can be expected. The extent of recessionary influences will vary from country to country. Financial factors, not discussed in these forecasts, are likely also to play a role.

The following are pieces of my energy forecast for 2020:

[1] Oil prices can be expected to remain generally low in 2020. There may be an occasional spike to $80 or $90 per barrel, but average prices in 2020 are likely to be at or below the 2019 level. 

Figure 1. Average annual inflation-adjusted Brent equivalent oil prices in 2018 US$. 2018 and prior are as shown in BP’s 2019 Statistical Review of World Energy. Value for 2019 estimated by author based on EIA Brent daily oil prices and 2% expected inflation.

Figure 2 shows in more detail how peaks in oil prices have been falling since 2008. While it doesn’t include early January 2020 oil prices, even these prices would be below the dotted line.

Figure 2. Inflation adjusted weekly average Brent Oil price, based on EIA oil spot prices and US CPI-urban inflation.

Oil prices can temporarily spike because of inadequate supply or fear of war. However, to keep oil prices up, there needs to be an increase in “demand” for finished goods and services made with commodities. Workers need to be able to afford to purchase more goods such as new homes, cars, and cell phones. Governments need to be able to afford to purchase new goods such as paved roads and school buildings.

At this point, the world economy is struggling with a lack of affordability in finished goods and services. This lack of affordability is what causes oil and other commodity prices to tend to fall, rather than to rise. Lack of affordability comes when too many would-be buyers have low wages or no income at all. Wage disparity tends to rise with globalization. It also tends to rise with increased specialization. A few highly trained workers earn high wages, but many others are left with low wages or no job at all.

It is the fact that we do not have a way of making the affordability of finished goods rise that leads me to believe that oil prices will remain low. Raising minimum wages tends to encourage more mechanization of processes and thus tends to lower total employment. Interest rates cannot be brought much lower, nor can the terms of loans be extended much longer. If such changes were available, they would enhance affordability and thus help prevent low commodity prices and recession.

[2] World oil production seems likely to fall by 1% or more in 2020 because of low oil prices.

Quarterly oil production data of the US Energy Information Administration shows the following pattern:

Figure 3. Quarterly World Crude Oil and Natural Gas Liquids production, based on EIA international data through September 2019. This is a fairly broad definition of oil. It does not include biofuels because their production tends to be seasonal.

The highest single quarter of world oil production was the fourth quarter of 2018. Oil production has been falling since this peak quarter.

To examine what is happening, the production shown in Figure 3 can be divided into that by the United States, OPEC, and “All Other.”

Figure 4. Quarterly world crude oil and natural gas liquids production by part of the world, based on international data of the US Energy Information Agency through September 30, 2019.

Figure 4 shows that the production of All Other seems to be steady to slightly rising, more or less regardless of oil prices.

OPEC’s oil production bobs up and down. In general, its production is lower when oil prices are low, and higher when oil prices are high. (This shouldn’t be a surprise.) Recently, its production has been lower in response to low prices. Effective January 1, 2020, OPEC plans to reduce its production by another 500,000 barrels per day.

Figure 4 shows that oil production of the United States rose in response to high prices in the 2010 to 2013 period. It dipped in response to low oil prices in 2015 and 2016. When oil prices rose in 2017 and 2018, its production again rose. Production in 2019 seems to have risen less rapidly. Recent monthly and weekly EIA data confirm the flatter US oil production growth pattern in 2019.

Putting the pieces together, I estimate that world oil production (including natural gas liquids) for 2019 will be about 0.5% lower than that of 2018. Since world population is rising by about 1.1% per year, per capita oil production is falling faster, about 1.6% per year.

A self-organizing networked economy seems to distribute oil shortages through lack of affordability. Thus, for example, they might be expected to affect the economy through lower auto sales and through less international trade related to automobile production. International trade, of course, requires the use of oil, since ships and airplanes use oil products for fuel.

If prices stay low in 2020, both the oil production of the United States and OPEC will likely be adversely affected, bringing 2020 oil production down even further. I would expect that even without a major recession, world oil supply might be expected to fall by 1% in 2020, relative to 2019. If a major recession occurs, oil prices could fall further (perhaps to $30 per barrel), and oil production would likely fall lower. Laid off workers don’t need to drive to work!

[3] In theory, the 2019 and 2020 decreases in world oil production might be the beginning of “world peak oil.” 

If oil prices cannot be brought back up again after 2020, world oil production is likely to drop precipitously. Even the “All Other” group in Figure 4 would be likely to reduce their production, if there is no chance of making a profit.

The big question is whether the affordability of finished goods and services can be raised in the future. Such an increase would tend to raise the price of all commodities, including oil.

[4] The implosion of the recycling business is part of what is causing today’s low oil prices. The effects of the recycling implosion can be expected to continue into 2020.

With the rise in oil prices in the 2002-2008 period, there came the opportunity for a new growth industry: recycling. Unfortunately, as oil prices started to fall from their lofty heights, the business model behind recycling started to make less and less sense. Effective January 1, 2018, China stopped nearly all of its paper and plastic recycling. Other Asian nations, including India, have been following suit.

When recycling efforts were reduced, many people working in the recycling industry lost their jobs. By coincidence or not, auto purchases in China began to fall at exactly the same time as recycling stopped. Of course, when fewer automobiles are sold, demand for oil to make and operate automobiles tends to fall. This has been part of what is pushing world oil prices down.

Sending materials to Asia for recycling made economic sense when oil prices were high. Once prices dropped, China was faced with dismantling a fairly large, no longer economic, industry. Other countries have followed suit, and their automobile sales have also fallen.

Companies operating ships that transport manufactured goods to high income countries were adversely affected by the loss of recycling. When material for recycling was available, it could be used to fill otherwise-empty containers returning from high income countries. Fees for transporting materials to be recycled indirectly made the cost of shipping goods manufactured in China and India a little lower than they otherwise would be, if containers needed to be shipped back empty. All of these effects have helped reduce demand for oil. Indirectly, these effects tend to reduce oil prices.

The recycling industry has not yet shrunk back to the size that the economics would suggest is needed if oil prices remain low. There may be a few kinds of recycling that work (well sorted materials, recycled near where the materials have been gathered, for example), but it probably does not make sense to send separate trucks through neighborhoods to pick up poorly sorted materials. Some materials may better be burned or placed in landfills.

We are not yet through winding down the recycling effort. Even the recycling of materials such as aluminum cans is affected by oil prices. A March, 2019, WSJ article talks about a “glut of used cans” because some markets now prefer to use newly produced aluminum.

[5] The growth of the electric car industry can be expected to slow substantially in 2020, as it becomes increasingly apparent that oil prices are likely to stay low for a long period. 

Electric cars are expensive in two ways:

  1. In building the cars initially, and
  2. In building and maintaining all of the charging stations required if more than a few elite workers with charging facilities in their garages are to use the vehicles.

Once it is clear that oil prices cannot rise indefinitely, the need for all of the extra costs of electric vehicles becomes very iffy. In light of the changing view of the economics of the situation, China has discontinued its electric vehicle (EV) subsidies, as of January 1, 2020. Prior to the change, China was the world’s largest seller of electric vehicles. Year over year EV sales in China dropped by 45.6% in October 2019 and 45.7% in November 2019. The big drop in China’s EV sales has had a follow-on effect of sharply lower lithium prices.

In the US, Tesla has recently been the largest seller of EVs. The subsidy for the Tesla is disappearing in 2020 because it has sold over 200,000 vehicles. This is likely to adversely affect the growth of EV sales in the US in 2020.

The area of the world that seems to have a significant chance of a major uptick in EV sales in 2020 is Europe. This increase is possible because governments there are still giving sizable subsidies to buyers of such cars. If, in future years, these subsidies become too great a burden for European governments, EV sales are likely to lag there as well.

[6] Oceangoing ships are required to use fuels that cause less pollution as of January 2020. This change will have a positive environmental impact, but it will lead to additional costs which are impossible to pass on to buyers of shipping services. The net impact will be to push the world economy in the direction of recession.

If oceangoing ships use less polluting fuels, this will raise costs somewhere along the line. In the simplest cases, oceangoing vessels will purchase diesel fuel rather than lower, more polluting, grades of fuel. Refineries will need to charge more for the diesel fuel, if they are to cover the cost of removing sulfur and other pollutants.

The “catch” is that the buyers of finished goods and services cannot really afford more expensive finished goods. They cut back in their demand for automobiles, homes, cell phones and paved roads if oil prices rise. This reduction in demand is what pushes commodity prices, including oil prices, down.

Evidence that ship owners cannot really pass the higher refining costs along comes from the fact that the prices that shippers are able to charge for shipping seems to be falling, rather than rising. One January article says, “The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index touched its lowest level in eight months on Friday, weighed down by weak demand across all segments. . .The Index posted its biggest one day percentage drop since January 2014, in the previous session.”

So higher costs for shippers have been greeted by lower prices for the cost of shipping. It will partly be ship owners who suffer from the lower sales margin. They will operate fewer ships and lay off workers. But part of the problem will be passed on to the rest of the economy, pushing it toward recession and lower oil prices.

[7] Expect increasingly warlike behavior by governments in 2020, for the primary purpose of increasing oil prices.

Oil producers around the world need higher prices than recently have been available. This is why the US seems to be tapering its growth in shale oil production. Middle Eastern countries need higher oil prices in order to be able to collect enough taxes on oil revenue to provide jobs and to subsidize food purchases for citizens.

With the US, as well as Middle Eastern countries, wanting higher oil prices, it is no wonder that warlike behavior takes place. If, somehow, a country can get control of more oil, that is simply an added benefit.

[8] The year 2020 is likely to bring transmission line concerns to the wind and solar industries. In some areas, this will lead to cutbacks in added wind and solar.

A recent industry news item was titled Renewables ‘hit a wall’ in saturated Upper Midwest grid. Most of the material that is published regarding the cost of wind and solar omits the cost of new transmission lines to support wind and solar. In some cases, additional transmission lines are not really required for the first additions of wind and solar generation; it is only when more wind and solar are added that it becomes a problem. The linked article talks about projects being withdrawn until new transmission lines can be added in an area that includes Minnesota, Iowa, parts of the Dakotas and western Wisconsin. Adding transmission lines may take several years.

A related issue that has come up recently is the awareness that, at least in dry areas, transmission lines cause fires. Getting permission to site new transmission lines has been a longstanding problem. When the problem of fires is added to the list of concerns, delays in getting the approval of new transmission lines are likely to be longer, and the cost of new transmission lines is likely to rise higher.

The overlooked transmission line issue, once it is understood, is likely to reduce the interest in replacing other generation with wind and solar.

[9] Countries that are exporters of crude oil are likely to find themselves in increasingly dire financial straits in 2020, as oil prices stay low for longer. Rebellions may arise. Governments may even be overthrown.

Oil exporters often obtain the vast majority of their revenue from the taxation of receipts related to oil exports. If prices stay low in 2020, exporters will find their tax revenues inadequate to maintain current programs for the welfare of their people, such as programs providing jobs and food subsidies. Some of this lost revenue may be offset by increased borrowing. In many cases, programs will need to be cut back. Needless to say, cutbacks are likely to lead to unhappiness and rebellions by citizens.

The problem of rebellions and overthrown governments also can be expected to occur when exporters of other commodities find their prices too low. An example is Chile, an exporter of copper and lithium. Both of these products have recently suffered from low export prices. These low prices no doubt play a major part in the protests taking place in Chile. If more tax revenue from the sales of exports were available, there would be no difficulty in satisfying protesters’ demands related to poverty, inequality, and an overly high cost of living.

We can expect more of these kinds of rebellions and uprisings, the longer oil and other commodity prices stay too low for commodity producers.

Conclusion

I have not tried to tell the whole economic story for 2020; even the energy portion is concerning. A networked self-organizing system, such as the world economy, operates in ways that are far different from what simple “common sense” would suggest. Things that seem to be wonderful in the eyes of consumers, such as low oil prices and low commodity prices, may have dark sides that are recessionary in nature. Producers need high prices to produce commodities, but these high commodity prices lead to finished goods and services that are too expensive for many consumers to afford.

There probably cannot be a “one-size-fits-all” forecast for the world economy. Some parts of the world will likely fare better than others. It is possible that a collapse of one or more parts of the world economy will allow other parts to continue. Such a situation occurred in 1991, when the central government of the Soviet Union collapsed after an extended period of low oil prices.

It is easy to think that the future is entirely bleak, but we cannot entirely understand the workings of a self-organizing networked economy. The economy tends to have more redundancy than we would expect. Furthermore, things that seem to be terrible often do not turn out as badly as expected. Things that seem to be wonderful often do not turn out as favorably as expected. Thus, we really don’t know what the future holds. We need to keep watching the signs and adjust our views as more information unfolds.



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Best Bluetooth Speakers to Buy 2020


Are you looking for the best Bluetooth speakers in 2020? Well, then you are in the right place. We have put together some of the best brands you will certainly love.

Though not in vogue like they were a couple of years ago, Bluetooth speakers still rock. Power, versatility, and rugged designs have defined these wireless speakers for a while now. And some are waterproof besides being very lightweight and portable. Smart speakers may have overtaken some models of Bluetooth speaker boxes, but not all of them.

In fact, a good number of these speakers are loaded with some impressive features that give them a clear edge above their smart counterparts. And not only that. Bluetooth speaker best have very impressive audio quality.

That said, this year we have a couple of new surprises. Stay tuned for a detailed description of some of the finest brands. We have made it very simple for you. All you are left to do is compare and contrast each of the Bluetooth speakers enlisted then choose what suits you best.


Top Picks – Bluetooth Speaker Reviews

Ultimate Ears Boom Bluetooth SpeakerIf you are looking for a small but powerful speaker, I recommend the Ultimate Ears Boom. The Bluetooth speaker box is equipped with dual neodymium drivers for impressive sound quality.

Its compact design makes it fit perfectly inside your travel backpack or college bag. It is powered by a high capacity rechargeable Li-ion battery capable of lasting up to 24 hours. So, the nest time you are on a road trip and want to listen to some soothing music hits, you know what to carry with you.

When it comes to variety, the Ultimate Ears Bluetooth speaker doesn’t disappoint. It comes in an array of color options. For instance, there’s the slick black, red, and the popular vibrant blue.

The unit is IPX5 waterproof rated. As such, it can withstand water, but only to some specified depth. Also, you can carry it along to the shower, swimming pool, or even when surfing.

Why We Like It:

  • It is powered by a durable Li-ion battery with a 24-hour lifespan.
  • It is available in three color options; slick black, vibrant blue, and red.
  • It is IPX5 waterproof rated.
  • The sound quality is impressive.
  • The speaker has a compact design that fits perfectly inside your travel backpack.

Why We Hate It:

  • It doesn’t support voice control

Doss Soundbox Bluetooth speakerAfter years of waiting, Doss Technologies has finally lived up to its promise. Doss Soundbox is a superb speaker with lots of features. Portable and lightweight, this speaker is a must-have travel companion. It has some really cool features. For instance, the inbuilt Li-ion battery is simply terrific.

It is capable of up to 10-hours non-stop entertainment. Its crisp sound quality is a mix of background stereo with an imposing bass. Another great feature is the speaker’s compatibility with both WiFi and Bluetooth.

It pairs seamlessly with the two wireless connectivity. And not just that.  It also pairs with Spotify, Apple Music, among other streaming services.

The speaker is waterproof, thanks to its IPX6 water resistance rating. As such, it is resistant to high humidity conditions and splashes. It also comes with a built-in Automatic TruePlay technology. The build is also great.

The Bluetooth speaker box is compact and durable. Its compact design accounts for its portability. It fits perfectly inside your routine travel bag or workout backpack.

Why We Like It:

  • Superior audio quality and matchless durability.
  • It supports a seamless transition between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • It is IPX6 waterproof rated and can be used inside the swimming pool.
  • It comes with an inbuilt Auto TruePlay technology that fine tunes the sound quality.
  • Compatible with Apple Music, Spotify, and other online music streaming services.

Why We Hate It:


Comiso waterproof Bluetooth speakerIf you love your music loud and immersive, Comiso Bluetooth speaker is worth checking out. The design is cool, attractive and travel-ready. It comes in a rugged frame for durability and drop-resistance. It weighs only 2 lbs.

So light you can carry it comfortably all day long. The 90dB super-loud audio quality makes a great entertainment at your small party at the beach, poolside, rooftop, or even family get together. The battery life is impressive. It is capable of up to 20 hours nonstop hits on a single charge.

The unit is IPX7 waterproof rated. It can withstand splashes, light showers, and a fall inside the pool without skipping a beat. The speaker comes in a signature large build. Well, that’s no good news for users looking for small but powerful speakers.

Besides, it is not compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa. As such, it doesn’t support voice control. That notwithstanding, Comiso Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker is great. You definitely want to check it out.

Why We Like It:

  • It has a rugged and attractive outlook.
  • It is IPX7 waterproof rated.
  • Impressive and powerful audio output
  • Superior crisp 90dB audio quality
  • An impressive 20-hour battery life

Why We Hate It:


Amazon Echo Bluetooth speakerOne of the best brands of all time. The Amazon Echo features an inviting outlook. It’s available in different fabric-covers which are readily swappable with colors that match your home decor. And talking of home, this Bluetooth speaker also doubles as a virtual assistant. It is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.

So, besides playing your favorite hits, this second-generation Echo can also provide real-time weather updates, read emails, among other functions.

Like most top-end brands, Amazon Echo delivers good sound quality. The volume is great and the bass is on point. On the flip side, this speaker is not waterproof. So, no pool parties for you. Furthermore, there’s no mention of the battery quality.

All that notwithstanding, Amazon Echo is a great speaker you definitely want to check out.

Why We Like It:

  • Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.
  • Attractive outlook featuring colorful fabric covers.
  • Superior sound quality.
  • A small and compact Bluetooth speaker.

Why We Hate It:


OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth speakerOontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth speaker is proudly manufactured by Cambridge Sound works. It comes in a triangular design with a signature black color. The design makes for its superior audio quality; deep bass with a soothing background stereo. OontZ Angle 3 makes otherwise ordinary tracks sound great.

The unit is waterproof. So, you can continue enjoying your favorite hits even when you are 3ft below the surface. Furthermore, it is dust resistant. That said, the speaker is powered by a high-performance battery. As such, it is capable of up to 13-hours of nonstop entertainment. The unit pairs with most devices compatible with Bluetooth 4.1+.

On the downside, the speaker does not support voice control. So, no Alexa or Google Assistant compatibility.

Why We Like It:

  • Compact design fits perfectly inside your travel bag.
  • It has a 13-hour battery life for an extended entertainment experience.
  • Waterproof and dust resistant Bluetooth speaker.
  • Compatible with devices supporting Bluetooth 4.1+.
  • Deep bass and crisp stereo sound quality.

Why We Hate It:

  • Not compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant

JBL Flip 4 Waterproof Bluetooth SpeakerIf you’ve never tried this showpiece, here’s your chance to get to know it more. Customizable and slick, Bluetooth speaker JBL Flip 4 features a signature aluminum design with a touch of vegan leather. The Bluetooth speaker best is equipped with a powerful 10-hour battery. This ensures uninterrupted listening of your favorite mixtapes. The sound quality is impressive.

It comes with an inbuilt amp. Together with its massive bass, the unit delivers the best audio quality. And when it comes to receiving calls, JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth Speaker best has an inbuilt microphone. It is available in different models. For instance, persons with a penchant for style may opt for varieties with a platinum or steel base.

The speaker weighs only 1.9lbs and has a compact design. These features ensure max portability. However, it is not compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. Moreover, the unit is rather expensive and is not waterproof. Even with the flipsides, Bluetooth speaker JBL Flip 4 is still worth giving a try.

Why We Like It:

  • The Bluetooth speaker is highly customizable.
  • Available in different finishes; steel, platinum, aluminum, or vegan.
  • It comes with an integrated headphone amp for unparalleled sound quality.
  • It supports high-quality audio with booming bass.
  • Lightweight and compact Bluetooth speaker

Why We Hate It:


Bugani Bluetooth speakerMore than just a smart sound equipment. Bugani Bluetooth speaker comes with a 10-hour battery for a matchless entertainment experience. And it is also compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa. It’s compact and weighs only 33.5 ounces; so light you can carry it wherever you go. Furthermore, the sound quality is also great. It delivers a cool mix of deep bass and balanced stereo audio.

For persons who love swimming and as such, frequent the beach, this speaker is a great companion. It is IPX7 waterproof rated. That implies it can withstand splashes and water to a significant depth.

The speaker supports Bluetooth 4.1+ for stable connectivity. It is rugged and tough. It can withstand accidental drops without any damages. What’s more, Bugani Bluetooth Speaker is affordably priced.

Why We Like It:

  • It delivers crisp audio quality.
  • It supports Bluetooth 4.1+ for stable connectivity
  • IPX7 waterproof rated means you can go surfing with it.
  • Compatible with Google Assistant
  • Lightweight and compact for unmatched portability

Why We Hate It:


JBL Clip 3 Portable Bluetooth SpeakerFor those who value their style, a small but powerful speaker makes a great choice. JBL Clip 3 portable Bluetooth speaker box is all you need. It comes in a trademark circular design with a clip for convenient attachment onto your garment backpack or garment. And because it’s lightweight, this speaker can be carried around comfortably.

It is IPX7 waterproof rated. Therefore, you can swim and even dive while listening to your favorite playlist. The portable speaker comes with a powerful battery with an 8-hour lifespan.

The sound quality is top-notch. The audio has a satisfying treble and a solid bass for the best listening experience. It is compatible with most devices supporting Bluetooth 4.1+. And when it comes to making and receiving calls, the speaker is equipped with an inbuilt speakerphone.

Why We Like It:

  • Unbeatable sound quality
  • IPX7 waterproof rating
  • It comes with an inbuilt speakerphone for making calls
  • Compact and circular design easily clips on to your sports pants.
  • High-performance battery with an 8-hour lifespan.

Why We Hate It:


Bose SoundLink Bluetooth speaker IIRugged design with an output power of 30W, this speaker is one of the loudest. Its crisp audio with deep bass combined with the loud volume is simply unbeatable. For a full range and vibrant audio quality, you can pair two or more Bluetooth Speaker Bose models. Not many models support this option though. It is one of a few models that can be paired together for a more immersive entertainment experience. This Bluetooth speaker box is a must-have for poolside or rooftop parties.

It is IPX7 waterproof rated. As such, it performs perfectly well even when immersed up to a meter deep. Water sprays, splashes, high humid surroundings, and showers do not impact its performance a bit.

Besides its water resistance, the unit is also built to withstand snow, dust, and shock. It is one Bluetooth speaker with durability and top-end audio quality you can trust.

Why We Like It:

  • 30-hour long battery life for unparalleled entertainment.
  • Bluetooth speaker Bose SoundLink paired with another for louder sound output.
  • Superior audio quality characterized by deep bass and full-range stereo.
  • Compact design fits inside your travels backpack.
  • IPX7 waterproof rated making suitable for use at the swimming pool.
  • Pairs with iOS and Android devices compatible with Bluetooth 4.2+.

Why We Hate It:


Xleader SoundAngel Bluetooth SpeakerOne of my favorite speakers with great audio output capacity. At 122 dB, there’s no doubting the speaker’s audio output potential. It comes with a powerful 40-hour battery for extended playtime. The battery requires only 4 hours to recharge. This guarantees an extended entertainment experience.

If you have some party coming up, this is one great speaker to consider. At 33 lbs., the unit is super lightweight and comes with a user manual for a fast and easy assembly process. The unit comes with a set of intuitive controls for smooth connectivity.

The speaker is rugged and strong for durability. It is also water-resistant and dustproof so you can enjoy your beach parties worry-free. Its sound performance is superb. The audio quality features midrange and deep bass responses.

Why We Like It:

  • Water-resistant, shock-proof, and dustproof speaker.
  • It weighs 33 lbs. and is very portable.
  • Superior audio quality
  • It comes with a 40-hour Li-ion battery for extended playtime.
  • The speaker can be set up in under 30 seconds.
  • Rugged and durable Bluetooth speaker box.

Why We Hate It:


Philips Blue Bluetooth SpeakerLoud but immersive audio quality is what this speaker is best known for. Its 4500W audio potential is fit for entertaining large gatherings. For instance, you can use it at a beach party, a poolside party, etc. Its sound quality is characterized by deep bass, varying treble, and background stereo.

The volume performance is incredible. Be it at high midrange levels, you will certainly love it. The unit is built tough and rugged for durability and shock resistance. It is compatible with the latest versions of Bluetooth.

Moreover, the speaker also supports other forms of connectivity like WiFi, Airplay, Spotify Connect, etc. And you can pair 2 speakers for a louder audio experience. That is made possible with the help of the Smart Hub feature and dedicated mobile apps. What’s more, the Bluetooth speaker has an impressive audio frequency range of 14Hz to 27Hz.

Why We Like It:

  • Superior 4500W sound performance.
  • It comes with Deviater Spark app for convenient control
  • Water-resistant, dust-resistant, and shock-resistant speaker.
  • Rugged design for strength and durability.
  • It has an audio frequency range of 14Hz – 27Hz.
  • Supports multi-room connectivity, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Why We Hate It:


Doss Soundbox Wireless Bluetooth SpeakerDoss Soundbox Wireless Bluetooth speaker best has an attractive futuristic design.  The speaker features two passive bass radiators for superior sound performance. You also get to enjoy up to 22 hours of uninterrupted playback, thanks to its outstanding battery life.

When you have a party going down and want to really impress your buddies, this speaker is all you need. It has an inbuilt wireless stereo performance for a convenient pairing of two speakers. That makes for easy volume and audio quality enhancement.

The sound quality is top gear. No distortions. Furthermore, the unit has an inbuilt microphone. That comes in handy when making and receiving calls. Something else you may want to know is that the speaker is weatherproof. It can be used comfortably outdoor in rainy or sunny weather.

Why We Like It:

  • Inbuilt mic for receiving and making calls.
  • Comes with Wireless Stereo Technology for pairing 2 speakers.
  • Weatherproof Bluetooth speaker not affected by the elements.
  • High capacity Li-ion battery provides 22 hours of uninterrupted playback.
  • Superior audio quality, thanks to the Meridian sound technology.

Why We Hate It:


Seviz 4 Retro Bluetooth speakerIf you are on a budget and looking for a speaker with punchy bass, this is one option you definitely want to give a try. Its high-end audio process delivers unrivaled audio quality at mid and high volume ranges.

It comes with a 4 passive radiator and speakers with 25W audio output. The speaker is compatible with Bluetooth 5.0. And with a wireless sensitivity range of 10m, you get to enjoy convenient control from a distance.

The Bluetooth speaker box is powered by a 5000 mAh battery. This provides up to 15 hours of uninterrupted playback. The package includes a micro USB cable for recharging the inbuilt Li-ion battery pack.

It is IPX5 waterproof rated making resistant to splashes, rainy weather, and water sprays. It comes in a rugged and lightweight design for strength and portability. However, it is not compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.

So, you won’t have the luxury of playing your favorite songs with the help of voice command. Another downside is that the unit doesn’t have an inbuilt speakerphone. As such, you won’t be able to make or receive calls with it.

Why We Like It:

  • IPX5 waterproof rated.
  • Rugged shockproof design.
  • Dual stereo drivers and a pair of tweeter ensure unmatched audio quality.
  • Double passive radiator for deep bass at low, mid, and high frequencies.
  • Powered by a 5000 mAh Li-ion battery capable of up to 15 hours playback time.
  • Supports Bluetooth 5.0 for strong and stable connectivity.

Why We Hate It:

  • Not compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.
  • No warranty coverage

Anker Soundcore Motion speakerThe Anker Soundcore Motion is among a few Bluetooth speakers that support Qualcomm aptX for uninterrupted audio transmission. It features a set of tweeters, woofers, and passive bass radiators for quality audio with top-end bass response. It is equipped with the Anker BassUp technology for unparalleled bass performance.

It is IP67 waterproof rated. That means it can withstand rainy weather, water splashes, and high humidity. The rating also implies the speaker is watertight, but to a depth of 1m underwater.  And that’s not all. The unit is powered by a 6700 mAh battery with a 12-hour nonstop music playtime.

The Bluetooth speaker is compatible with Bluetooth 5.0. So it pairs readily with devices that support the same. The unit has a wide sound frequency range of 50 Hz-40 KHz. On the flip side though, the unit is not compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Why We Like It:

  • Supports a wide frequency range of 50 HZ-40 KHZ and comes w9ith DSP technology for the best audio experience.
  • IPX7 waterproof rating ensures top-end performance in rainy weather, poolside or at the beach party.
  • Features woofers, tweeters, and passive bass radiators for the best audio experience.
  • Supports aptX lossless Bluetooth for stable connectivity.
  • Anker BassUp technology provides a deep and punching bass experience.
  • Powered by a 6700 mAh Li-ion battery with a 12-hour lifespan.

Why We Hate It:

  • No dedicated app
  • No compatibility with Google Assistant and Alexa.

W-King Wireless Bluetooth SpeakerLightweight and compact, W-King Wireless Bluetooth Speaker is a typical traveler’s must-have companion. With a sound quality of up to 300W, the speaker delivers immense audio power ideal for party settings. A set of 12 multi-colored LED and strobe lights add to the rhythm of your soundtracks. And you can pair up any 2 speakers for a stunning audio experience.

The stereo performance is awesome. You get to feel the sound difference between the unit’s left and right speaker channels. The Bluetooth speaker box comes with a powerful battery with a 24-hour lifespan. That means you get entertained for a whole day with no interruptions. The unit supports low, midrange, beast, and high volume ranges.

The speaker is waterproof. Actually it is rated IPX7. It works fine even when immersed in water to a max depth of 1m. It is dustproof and comes in a rugged design that is durable and strong.

Why We Like It:

  • 12 multi-colored LED lights add to the party atmosphere.
  • Dual passive radiators and tweeter sets enhance the sound quality.
  • A 24-hour battery lifespan ensures uninterrupted entertainment experience all day long.
  • It makes a great audio companion for beach parties or pool parties.
  • IPX7 waterproof rated speaker works optimally even when immersed 1m deep.
  • Powerful Bluetooth speaker with an output of up to 300W.

Why We Hate It:


Vanzon Bluetooth SpeakerAnother great Bluetooth speaker with an inbuilt mic for making and receiving calls. The sound quality is rich and impressive. No distortion. And the volume is awesome. The speaker is small and compact for portability. It fits nicely inside your routine travel backpack.

The unit is powered by a high capacity battery with a 10-hour lifespan. That is a guarantee of extended entertainment experience. The package also includes a charging cradle for juicing up the battery. The unit is compatible with Bluetooth 5.0 with an impressive range of up to 30 m. You get to enjoy easy control even from a distance. Like most top brands in this compilation, Vanzone Bluetooth Speakers is waterproof. As such, it can be used in rainy weather and even inside the swimming pool.

The unit has an integrated speakerphone. That makes it easy to receive and make calls. However, it is not compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa.

You won’t be able to enjoy the comfort and convenience of voice control. That notwithstanding, this is still such a great Bluetooth speaker. If you are looking to enjoy some electric low, mid, and high rage boom sounds, then look no further.

Why We Like It:

  • Impressive 30ft wireless range for convenient control.
  • Inbuilt speakerphone allows for receiving and making calls.
  • It is IPX5 waterproof rated
  • It’s compatible with Bluetooth 5.0 and related devices.
  • It comes with a high capacity Li-ion battery capable of 10-hours of uninterrupted playback.

Why We Hate It:

  • Not compatible with Google Assistant.

Ultimate Ears Blast Bluetooth SpeakerOne of my favorite speakers of all time. For those who love their music soft and soothing, this 75dB speaker is worth checking out. And the audio performance is superb at low, mid, and high ranges.

Furthermore, if you have a party or a small family get together coming up, the speaker makes a great way to keep your guests wowed. Its wireless stereo performance allows for a seamless pairing of multiple speakers for even louder sound quality.

The speaker comes in an adorable rugged frame for strength and durability. Moreover, the design is also shockproof. And because it weighs only 5.4lbs, the Bluetooth speaker is very lightweight it will fit inside your travel back. The unit is powered by a 40-hour Li-ion battery. An extended entertainment experience doesn’t get any better than this. Ultimate Ears Blast Bluetooth speaker has a waterproof case. However, the speaker itself isn’t water-resistant.

It has a 30ft wireless range. That is impressive considering that it allows for convenience when it comes to controlling the speaker.

Its inbuilt dual stereo drivers and dual bass woofers deliver unbeatable audio quality. It is compatible with Bluetooth 4.2+ for stable connectivity. Besides its 2600 mAh battery, the package also includes a USB charger alongside other accessories.

The speaker is IPX7 waterproof rated. That means it can be used in rainy conditions, at the beach, and poolside without risking any damages.

Why We Like It:

  • Dual stereo drivers and bass woofers deliver top-end audio experience.
  • Weighs only 5.4lbs, so lightweight you can carry it around all day long.
  • Compatible with Bluetooth 4.2+ for stable connectivity.
  • It is IPX7 waterproof rated thus performs optimally even at a depth of 1m underwater.
  • It comes in a rugged and crushproof Pelican case for strength and durability.
  • It is powered by a high capacity 2600 mAh battery with a 40-hour lifespan.

Why We Hate It:

  • Doesn’t support Alexa and Google Assistant
  • No product warranty

Oraolo waterproof Bluetooth speakerDelivers an awesome audio power of up to 24W. And all that courtesy of its inbuilt 8-inch full-range drivers, woofers, and tweeter sets. The sound quality is impressive at all low, mid and high-frequency ranges. No distortions.

It supports Bluetooth 4.1+ and WiFi connectivity. You get to stream your favorite playlists 30ft away. That range is excellent. Not many speakers are capable of such feet. And for an even louder sound, you can pair two or more Oraolo Bluetooth speakers.

The Bluetooth speaker is built tough and rugged. There’s no doubting its shock resistance. Besides, it is also waterproof. So, you can use it to entertain buddies at pool parties and even at the beach.

The speaker has an inbuilt 20-hour Li-ion battery. So you can be sure to get quality playbacks for longer. However, the battery takes much longer to recharge.

Why We Like It:

  • It has an impressive audio power of 24W.
  • Waterproof Bluetooth speaker.
  • Compatible with devices supporting Bluetooth 4.1+ connectivity.
  • Tough and rugged frame for strength and durability.
  • Its inbuilt Li-ion battery is capable of up to 20 hours playback time.

Why We Hate It:


Scijoy Portable Bluetooth SpeakerIt comes in an elegant design with a powerful 16W bass output. It is lightweight and portable. The unit has an impressive Bluetooth range of 32ft. That gives you quality control of the speaker from a distance. The speaker supports Bluetooth 4.1+ and readily pairs with compatible devices.

It is IPX6 waterproof rating. The Bluetooth speaker can, therefore, be used in the swimming pool, shower, and even at the beach. The speaker also features a 3.5mm aux input with USB slots. These come in handy if you want to play your mp3 files directly without connecting via Bluetooth. The sound quality is great. No distortions. The ported design enhances the bass response.

Unlike most Bluetooth speakers in this collection, the Scijoy Bluetooth speaker has an inbuilt FM radio. So, when you’ve had enough of your playlist, you can break the monotony with some cool hits from local radio stations.

Its inbuilt battery provides up to 10-hours of playtime. However, the speaker weighs up to 12.2 lbs. That is so heavy you might have a hard time carrying it around.

Why We Like It:

  • IPX6 waterproof rated.
  • Unparalleled audio performance.
  • It features a powerful Li-ion battery with a 10-hour lifespan.
  • Its ported design helps enhance its bass response.
  • It is compatible with devices supporting Bluetooth 4.2+ for stable connectivity.
  • It supports a wireless range of 32ft for convenient remote control.
  • Superior sound quality with an output power of up to 16W.

Why We Hate It:

  • It is not compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.

AYL Portable Outdoor and Shower Bluetooth 5.0 speakerCompact design that is also rugged for durability. The speaker comes in three distinct sizes. Be sure to choose your favorite size. In terms of audio quality, all three are exceptional. AYL Portable Bluetooth 5.0 speaker comes with inbuilt tweeters and bass drivers for the best sound performance.

It is IP67 waterproof rated. Meaning it can withstand immersion in water to a depth of 1m. And not just that. It is also dustproof and shock-proof. The speaker comes with an inbuilt battery capable of 10 hours of playback.

Furthermore, you get to enjoy crisp clear calls thanks to the inbuilt mic. So you won’t have to interrupt the connection every time you want to pick or make a phone call. What’s more, the speaker is affordable and very portable.

Why We Like It:

  • Its inbuilt mic allows for making and receiving phone calls.
  • Compatible with Bluetooth 4.2+ for stable connectivity.
  • Crisp audio quality with unrivaled bass output.
  • IP67 waterproof rated hence ideal for used while swimming.
  • Its inbuilt battery provides 10-hours of uninterrupted playback.
  • Stylish, compact, and lightweight speaker.

Why We Hate It:

  • No warranty
  • Not compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Monster S310 Portable Bluetooth SpeakerEnjoy crisp audio quality from a Bluetooth speaker that has full Alexa integration. Small and compact, this speaker easily fits into your travel backpack. Monster S310 Bluetooth speaker is IPX5 waterproof rated. The unit can withstand water splashes. Furthermore, it can be immersed in a meter deep water.

Next time you are heading to the beach or when having some fun time at the swimming pool, be sure to carry with you this sound powerhouse.

The unit is powered by an inbuilt battery with a 12-hour lifespan. You get to enjoy extended playtime like never before. The speaker is compatible with Bluetooth 5.0. And the range is also impressive. So you can enjoy convenient control from a distance.

Some models of this Bluetooth speaker come with an inbuilt speakerphone. That comes in handy when making or receiving calls. And because the audio quality is crisp clear, you are sure to get all the song details to precision.

However, the speaker has no warranty. And it’s not clear if 2 Monster S310 can be paired for louder sound output.

Why We Like It:

  • Compatible with Alexa for voice control.
  • An impressive wireless range for convenient remote control.
  • IPX5 waterproof rated
  • High-quality audio experience.
  • Supports Bluetooth 5.0 for stable connectivity
  • Powerful battery with a 12-hour lifespan.

Why We Hate It:


Braven BRV Bluetooth SpeakerIf you are looking for a speaker that is ready to rock, Braven BRV Bluetooth Speaker is all you need. Though a little pricey, the Bluetooth speaker does provide a bang for your bucks. Considering its compact size and the audio quality, this speaker is clearly in its own class. Balanced, smooth, and crisp clear, the sound quality from this Bluetooth speaker is superb.

The unit is powered by a high capacity battery with a 19-hour lifespan. You can be sure of uninterrupted mixes the whole day. And there’s a handy battery indicator for tracking the battery charge.

The audio options available on this speaker include treble and bass. You can always fine-tune these to your preferred levels. The performance is exemplary at low, mid, and high-frequency ranges. What’s more, the speaker weighs only 3.0 lbs. making it very portable.

Why We Like It:

  • Supports Bluetooth 4.2+ and is compatible with related devices.
  • IPX7 waterproof rated
  • Awesome sound quality.
  • It has a rugged and stylish outlook.
  • It comes with a high-performance rechargeable 19-hour battery.
  • A lightweight and portable Bluetooth speaker with a compact design.

Why We Hate It:

  • Not compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Bluetooth Speaker

When it comes to buying the best speaker, there are a couple of things to look out for. Without paying attention to the specifics, it is highly likely that you are going to end up with a substandard product. However, you have no more cause for worry. Here are some of the things to consider next time you go shopping for your favorite Bluetooth speaker.

Bluetooth speakers have varied audio outputs. The power for the same is often indicated in watts. Be sure to check for that in the product specs. The more power the better, especially if you intend to use the unit for outdoor entertainment. Some speaker brands have loud outputs rated at 400W while others deliver soft audio rated at 15W. Take your time to evaluate the audio quality and power before making a purchase.

  • Supported Bluetooth version

The supported Bluetooth version determines compatibility with different devices. You might want to go with a speaker that supports Bluetooth 4.1+, 4.2+, 5.0+, and other newer versions. The beauty with such is that they establish very stable connections between devices. The range is also impressive. Speakers supporting only earlier Bluetooth versions have the downside of unstable connectivity. Besides, they do not have the best connectivity ranges.

Bluetooth speaker with inbuilt mics makes it easy to make and receive calls. Moreover, the calls are crisp and sufficiently audible. If that’s something you like, then be sure to check and verify the same before placing your order.

If you intend to carry your Bluetooth speaker to the beach, swimming pool, or during rainy weather then you definitely want to pay attention here. The waterproof rating of the speaker is essentially a guarantee that it can withstand water splashes, sprays, and even immersions. I recommend IP65, IP67, and IP68. Alternatively, you may check out Bluetooth speakers rated as IPX5, IPX6, IPX7, etc.

Most Bluetooth speakers come with inbuilt battery packs. Brands with longer-lasting batteries definitely have larger capacities. When choosing, be sure to go for speakers with brands with the best battery life. Some batteries are capable of up to 100-hours playback time. On the other hand, some can hardly sustain an hour of uninterrupted mixtapes. So, before placing your order, double-check battery capacity and confirm that it’s the best.

  • Compactness and ruggedness

These aspects affect the portability and aesthetics of the speaker. Bluetooth speakers should be lightweight and easy to carry around if need be. Compact design takes care of that. You also want a unit that won’t break apart in the event of accidental drops. Ruggedness takes care of that.

Not many Bluetooth speakers support voice control. However, those that are compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant support voice control. If you are looking for a speaker that can play your favorite hits by simply issuing a simple voice command, then you might have fork out a few more bucks. Though not always. Some Bluetooth speakers with voice control support are insanely affordable.

Last in our list is affordability. Though good things often attract considerably high price tags, you can always find some budget varieties. However, if the plan is to spend less, you might have to wade through different brands and compare their specs before you can find what suits your budget.

A warranty is basically a quality guarantee. It is a commitment by the manufacturer to take responsibility for product damages and malfunctions within a specified period. Though most of the products in this listing have none, products with warranty coverage are the best.

That brings us to the very end of the review. In this compilation of the best Bluetooth speakers, we have provided a brief description of each of the products. Furthermore, we have also detailed a couple of pros and cons to help you make an informed purchase. All the best with your shopping.



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19 Startling Covid Trends and 19 Golden Covid Opportunities Emerging from the Chaos


7. The biggest job transition in all history.

Business interruptions are extremely messy, and layoffs are mounting. Some will view this as a great time to switch careers, while others will think about starting their own business. In general, companies launched during a downturn tend to be far more durable and resilient than those started in better economies. I think it’s safe to say that this round of job losses followed by reemployment trends will be far different than anything in the past.

8. Handicapped by the hiring process.

With HR departments mushrooming in size and countless new hiring laws taking effect over the past decade, most businesses are gun-shy about streamlining the process. This will be an ongoing impediment during a time of recovery.

9. Our increasing awareness of the world means we may have to play by someone else’s rules.

Once China got their teams focused on dealing with the coronavirus, they formulated a game-plan that would be replayed in every other country around the world. If the virus had started in Japan, Brazil, or India, we might be taking a radically different approach.

10. The coming reinvention of healthcare.

Just as the bubonic plague ushered in an era of labor reforms and improvements in medicine in the Middle Ages, the coronavirus will force a number of major improvements in healthcare. Since it’s still too early to accurately predict how post-coronavirus healthcare will differ from pre-coronavirus healthcare, this is an area I’m monitoring closely.

11. The entire airline industry is about to be reborn as something new.

For most companies moving forward, travel expenses will be dramatically lower. Once businesses realize they can survive with a lot fewer face-to-face interactions, any proposed travel expenses will receive far more scrutiny. Keep in mind, the original sales pitch for video conferencing was based on dramatic travel savings.

12. Education is about to undergo radical changes.

We are now seeing the digital classroom being implemented on a global scale. Every teacher that has resisted this approach in the past is being told to get over it because there are no other options. Remote and digital education is certainly not new. Programs like Khan Academy have been around for more than a decade. How long before we are constantly switching between digital and physical classrooms? As Peter Diamandis likes to say, this will be the perfect time to digitize, dematerialize, demonetize and democratize education.

13. Transformation of retail.

Large stores like Walmart, Target, and Costco have become panic zone central as shelves are wiped clean by people going into survival mode. On the other side of the equation, are stores that are either ghost towns or closed completely. Moving forward, traditional retail storefronts will be even more challenged in competing with their online counterparts.

14. Delivery business’s opportunity to shine.

Within just the past few weeks, virtually everyone in the country has had to learn how to use some new delivery app. Companies like DoorDash, Grubhub, Instacart, and Uber Eats are getting swamped with orders. Delivery people are in huge demand, and the entire delivery industry is one of the few bright spots in the freelance and employment world.

15. Rethinking storytelling on a global scale.

From here on out, all of Hollywood’s movie and television scripts will be separated into pre-corona and post-corona era material. Handshakes, hugs, and personal meetings are out. Washing hands, wearing masks, and buying toilet paper are in. And our lexicon is changing to include phrases like “flattening the cure,” “social distancing,” “self-quarantining,” and “shelter in place.”

16. Coming age of flexibility, adaptability, and resilience.

As we dip into survival mode, we will all need to hone our skills in the area of flexibility, adaptability, and resilience. No, they’re not easy to teach nor easy to learn! Future employers will prioritize them as some of the key skill sets their hiring for.

17. The coming baby boom.

Brace yourself for an explosion of Christmas and New Years babies. Many of us have wondered what we will call those who follow Gen-Z, and now it is clear that they’ll be called the Corona Generation.

18. Cocoon of isolation and the loneliness epidemic.

Virtual friends are not a substitute for human contact. While the implementation of social distancing is crucial to preventing the coronavirus pandemic from spreading, the practice is also causing a “social recession,” a collapse in social contact that especially affects populations who are most susceptible to loneliness and isolation. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to loneliness at a time where the CDC is basically placing seniors in solitary confinement. Even a week in solitary will cause muscles to atrophy and many to lose their health and mobility.

19. The unintended consequences of COVID-19 will be epic.

When dystopian thinking and transformational thinking collide, great things can happen.

We are about to enter the most innovative period in all history. When people have time to think and reflect, they also have time to innovate. Millions of new businesses will be created, millions of new products launched, millions of new services transformed.

But for those who cannot adapt to the new realities of life, the COVID-19 downside will manifest itself in many stress-related ways including a ramp up in things like domestic violence, child abuse, suicides, drugs, alcohol, and spousal abuse. We may also see protests, riots, and fighting, but it doesn’t have to be that way.



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