China Is 3D Printing a Massive 590-Foot-Tall Dam, And Constructing It With Without Humans

Chinese engineers will take the ideas of a research paper and turn it into the world’s largest 3D-printed project. Popular Mechanics: Within two years, officials behind this project want to fully automate the unmanned construction of a 590-foot-tall dam on the Tibetan Plateau to build the Yangqu hydropower plant — completely with robots. The paper, published last month in the Journal of Tsinghua University (Science and Technology), laid out the plans for the dam, as first reported in the South China Morning Post. Researchers from the State Key Laboratory of Hydroscience and Engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing explain the backbone of automation for the planned Yellow River dam that will eventually offer nearly five billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. (It’s worth noting that China’s Three Gorges Dam — a hydroelectric gravity dam spanning the Yangtze River — is the world’s largest power station in terms of energy output.) But it’s hard to tell what’s more ambitious: the fact that the researchers plan to turn a dam site into effectively a massive 3D-printing project, or that through every step of the process the project eliminates human workers as they go fully robotic.

In the dam-“printing” process, machinery will deliver construction materials to the worksite — the exact location needed, eliminating human error, they say — and then unmanned bulldozers, pavers, and rollers will form the dam layer by layer. Sensors on the rollers will keep the artificial intelligence (AI) system informed about the firmness and stability of each of the 3D-printed layers until it reaches 590 feet in height, about the same height as the Shasta Dam in California and shorter than the Hoover Dam’s 726 feet. With the largest existing 3D-printed structures rising about 20 feet tall — from houses in China to an office building in Dubai — the exploration of 3D-printed projects continues to expand. Already we’ve seen a 1,640-foot-long retention wall in China, housing and office buildings across the globe, and now the U.S. Army has plans for barracks at Fort Bliss in Texas.

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China Wants Its Youth To Stop Giving Livestreamers Money

China’s internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), has published guidelines that aim to stop minors from giving tips or other forms of payment to livestreamers, watching after 10pm, or livestreaming themselves. The Register reports: “Website platforms must not develop functional applications that attract minors to tip or induce minors to give ‘gifts.’ If it is found that the website platform violates the aforementioned requirements, measures such as suspending the tipping function and shutting down the live broadcast business will be implemented,” said the recently published Opinions on Regulating Online Live Rewards and Strengthening the Protection of Minors (in Chinese). The opinions were issued jointly by China’s Central Civilization Office, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, and State Internet Information Office. The focus was to “persist in taking the socialist core values as the guide.”

If minors try to circumvent the rules and use adult accounts, the platforms may be responsible for providing refunds. […] Beijing’s qualm with livestreaming and its tech is that the practice can result in physical and mental health issues, as well as create “social problems.” […] There is also concern that teenagers will spend their evenings staying up late online and therefore not have sufficient rest time, hence the 10pm curfew.

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EU Accuses China of ‘Power Grab’ Over Smartphone Technology Licensing

The EU is taking China to the World Trade Organization for alleged patent infringements that are costing companies billions of euros, as part of what officials in Brussels claim is a “power grab” by Beijing [Editor’s note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source] to set smartphone technology licensing rates. Financial Times reports: Businesses, including Sweden’s Ericsson, Finland’s Nokia and Sharp of Japan, have lost money after China’s supreme court banned them from protecting their patents by securing licensing deals in foreign courts, the European Commission said. Chinese courts set licence fees at around half the market rate previously agreed between western technology providers and manufacturers such as Oppo, Xiaomi, ZTE and Huawei, it added.

The lower licensing fees set by Beijing deprive smartphone makers and other mobile telecommunications businesses of a crucial source of revenue to reinvest in research and development. “It is part of a global power grab by the Chinese government by legal means,” said a European Commission official. “It is a means to push Europe out.” Smartphone makers have agreed global standards for telecommunications networks. In return, technology manufacturers must license their patents to others. If they cannot agree on a price, they go to court to set it. Chinese courts generally set prices at half the level of those in the west, meaning their companies pay less for the technology from overseas providers. In August 2020, China’s Supreme People’s Court decided that Chinese courts can impose “anti-suit injunctions,” which forbid a company taking a case to a court outside the country. Those that do are liable for a â147,000 daily fine and the judgments of courts elsewhere are ignored.

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China ‘Modified’ the Weather To Create Clear Skies For Political Celebration, Study Finds

Chinese weather authorities successfully controlled the weather ahead of a major political celebration earlier this year, according to a Beijing university study. The Guardian reports: On 1 July the Chinese Communist party marked its centenary with major celebrations including tens of thousands of people at a ceremony in Tiananmen Square, and a research paper from Tsinghua University has said an extensive cloud-seeding operation in the hours prior ensured clear skies and low air pollution. […] On Monday the South China Morning Post reported a recent research paper which found definitive signs that a cloud-seeding operation on the eve of the centenary had produced a marked drop in air pollution.

The centenary celebration faced what the paper reportedly termed unprecedented challenges, including an unexpected increase in air pollutants and an overcast sky during one of the wettest summers on record. Factories and other polluting activities had been halted in the days ahead of the event but low airflow meant the pollution hadn’t dissipated, it said. The paper, published in the peer-reviewed Environmental Science journal and led by environmental science professor, Wang Can, said a two-hour cloud-seeding operation was launched on the eve of the ceremony, and residents in nearby mountain regions reported seeing rockets shot into the sky on 30 June. The paper said the rockets were carrying silver iodine into the sky to stimulate rainfall.

The researchers said the resulting artificial rain reduced the level of PM2.5 air pollutants by more than two-thirds, and shifted the air quality index reading, based on World Health Organization standards, from “moderate” to “good.” The team said the artificial rain “was the only disruptive event in this period,” so it was unlikely the drop in pollution had a natural cause.

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China’s New Space Reactor ‘Will Be 100 Times More Powerful Than a Similar Device NASA Plans To Put on the Surface of the Moon by 2030’

Hmmmmmm writes: China is developing a powerful nuclear reactor for its moon and Mars missions, according to researchers involved in the project. The reactor can generate one megawatt of electric power, 100 times more powerful than a similar device Nasa plans to put on the surface of the moon by 2030. The project was launched with funding from the central government in 2019. Although technical details and the launch date were not revealed, the engineering design of a prototype machine was completed recently and some critical components have been built, two scientists who took part in the project confirmed to the South China Morning Post this week.

To China, this is an ambitious project with unprecedented challenges. The only publicly known nuclear device it has sent into space is a tiny radioactive battery on Yutu 2, the first rover to land on the far side of the moon in 2019. That device could only generate a few watts of heat to help the rover during long lunar nights. Chemical fuel and solar panels will no longer be enough to meet the demands of human space exploration, which is expected to expand significantly with human settlements on the moon or Mars on the agenda, according to the Chinese researchers. “Nuclear power is the most hopeful solution. Other nations have launched some ambitious plans. China cannot afford the cost of losing this race,” said one researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences who asked not to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

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