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Best green tech bets for Bezos $10B, and more

☕ Happy Friday out there. I had that thing happen you only see happen to other people: a speedy truck went through a giant puddle and left me soaked last night. Honestly, I was mainly sad it wasn't on camera!

Also: I'm told mega-group BTS releases a new K-Pop album today, Map of the Soul: 7, and it's likely to break parts of the internet. It's already the most preordered South Korean album of all time.

Spending Bezos bucks to save the planet

Jeff Bezos’ new $10B Earth Fund has enough weight, theoretically, to not just make solar panels a little more efficient but really shake things up. Wired has a nice exploration of technologies that could change human history. 

Here are a few:

Space-Based Solar Power

  • Just like from Sim City! Facts: Right now 173,000 trillion watts of solar energy bathe the Earth. 
  • We need about 1 percent of that to meet the entire globe’s energy needs. It can be done from space: Isaac Asimov first floated the idea for space-based solar power in the 1940s. 
  • Wired notes “a handful of companies like Solaren and Solar Space Technologies have tried to build businesses around space-based solar energy, but lacked the capital needed to bring their technology to fruition.”
  • “Last year, the Air Force Research Lab announced a $100 million program to develop the hardware for a satellite that will beam solar power to Earth. If Bezos spent just 1 percent of the Earth Fund to develop space-based solar power, it would effectively double the available funding in the US.”

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

  • “Unlike the hulking nuclear power plants of yore, small modular reactors are tiny and can be daisy chained to meet energy needs that vary by region, time of day, or season. 
  • The design of small modular reactors reduces the risk of a meltdown, which means they can be placed closer to the cities and towns that need them. 
  • They can also be made on an assembly line, which drastically reduces their cost.”

Sustainable Hydrogen Production

  • “We can’t sustainably produce hydrogen at scale yet. To be sure, we know how to make lots of hydrogen. But typically the process involves consuming natural gas. If we’re going to use hydrogen to sustainably decarbonize the world, we need to take fossil fuels out of the equation.
  • “Yet right now, no one wants to buy a hydrogen-powered car because there isn’t a ready supply of hydrogen fuel.”

Round Up:

🚫 Google puts the hammer down, bans 600 apps from Play Store for disruptive ads (Android Authority).

🔜 Galaxy S20 phones are available to pre-order now, and anyone who pre-selected (or pre-pre ordered?) has been given $25 additional instant Samsung credit. (Android Authority).

📸 These Galaxy S20 Ultra Space Zoom camera samples are amazing and a bit creepy (Android Central).

🍎 Apple discussing allowing iPhone users to set third-party web browsers and email apps as defaults - meaning the likes of Outlook/Gmail/Chrome/Firefox/Google Maps could finally become your default instead of Apple’s often neglected apps (Bloomberg).

🍏 Coming soon: 13-Inch MacBook Pro models with the old-style scissor keyboard, and Intel's 10th-generation ‘Ice Lake’ chips. Pricing will be interesting. (MacRumors).

🐤 Twitter tests labeling and correcting misleading tweets from politicians (Engadget).

🗣 Facebook will now pay you for your voice recordings (The Verge).

😎 HTC takes its own magic leap, announces Vive Proton prototype headset - no specs, price, or release window yet (Ars Technica).

Nintendo has a cloud problem (Gizmodo).

🎮 PUBG will finally let PS4 and Xbox One players party up together - still nothing for PC players but a good step (EuroGamer).

🚷 Game Developer's Conference 2020 (GDC) is set for March 16-20, but Sony and Facebook (Oculus) have now withdrawn due to coronavirus concerns (Engadget).

🥀 Google is disappointing the Stadia community by focusing on the future, while the right now withers (Engadget).

🗃 Gretel: A group of ex-NSA and Amazon engineers are building a ‘GitHub for data’ (TechCrunch).

🛏 What happens to your mail-order mattress after you return it. Note this isn’t always the case -- I bought a refurbished mattress from an online store after someone had returned it, with the body of the mattress reused. Worked out well! (fivethirtyeight.com).

🎵 Behind that teenage TikTok star, there's probably a very confused parent (CNN).

😷 Awful online coronavirus hoaxes keep popping up (Recode).

💉 Powerful antibiotic discovered using machine learning for first time (The Guardian).

🤔 “What “old person” things do you do?” (r/askreddit) - this answer made me laugh: “My husband looked at me the other day and asked if I was ready to go to sleep....it was 5:30 PM.”

Friday Fun

'Tony Hawk's Pro Skater,' a video game that defined a generation, gets its own documentary!

  • Tony Hawk (who often posts on social medie funny interactions with people who don’t always understand Tony Hawk is a real living person), posted to Instagram that a documentary will be out in just over a week.
  • The Mammoth Film Festival will host Pretending I’m a Superman, a documentary about the immortal Tony Hawk Pro Skater video game series, on February 29.
  • Rodney Mullen, Steve Caballero, Chad Muska, and Neversoft developers feature in interviews, and Mullen be alongside Hawk for the premier.
  • With my teenage friends, we must’ve sunk weeks into Tony Hawk. Warehouse and School were some of the great levels.

Have a great weekend,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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