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‘Enemy of the State’ gets a timely TV series sequel

Jerry Bruckheimer has announced that he’s developing a TV sequel to his 1998 hit movie Enemy of the State. The series will be filmed with a view to airing on ABC and will be set 20 years after the original that starred Will Smith and Gene Hackman. Of course, back then, the notion of ubiquitous government surveillance that could examine every part of our lives seemed totally far-fetched. The film itself concerned a reckless NSA official who planned to erode traditional notions of privacy in modern day America. Yeah, about that.

In the intervening eighteen years, the US has proven to be exceptionally adept at building a wall-to-wall surveillance system that’s far more powerful than its fictional counterpart. Agents don’t even need to come into your house masquerading as repair people to use cameras to spy on you given the existence of the smartphone. The UK government has informally banned smartwatches from high-profile meetings out of concern that foreign powers could use them to eavesdrop. In a post-Snowden world, it seems almost quaint that people could attempt to rally against the police state that exists as the new normal.

Footage from a simpler, gentler time.

Speaking of which, the new series will focus on an NSA agent who is alleged to have leaked classified intelligence to the public. Maybe this person can be called Bedward Bowden or maybe Edward Manning or Chelsea Snowden, something like that. They’ll be working with an “idealistic female attorney” who teams up with a “hawkish FBI agent” to defeat a global conspiracy that threatens to expose “dark secrets.” It’s that last bit that seems the most fantastical, since in the real world, the dark secrets that Snowden exposed were pretty much ignored. After all, the NSA was cleared of abuses of power by an oversight committee and Section 702 of FISA remains in force and unchanged, at least until 2017.

Back in 1998, Enemy of the State was closer to sci-fi, but now we’re at a point where it’s a crushing reality that we all live with. Although, as with shows like Mr. Robot, there’s plenty of ways to make a show about arcane government surveillance engaging enough for a mainstream audience.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick