Posts Tagged ‘Engineering’

Gadgets will work under your skin

August 14, 2012

Left your phone at home again? A solution is at hand: make sure it is with you at all times by having it implanted in your arm.

But given the opportunity, would you want your gadget to be a permanent part of you? It would make the upgrade path rather difficult but the question may need answering sooner than you think.

Researchers checked to see whether the methods we currently use to interface with our gadgets work when the device is implanted in human tissue. The answer was a resounding “yes”.

A button, an LED and a touch sensor all functioned appropriately when embedded under the skin of a cadaver’s arm. The team was even able to communicate transcutaneously using a Bluetooth connection and charge the electronics wirelessly.

That’s the bottom line. Traditional user interfaces work through the skin. Learn more here.


Curiosity rover lands on Mars

August 7, 2012

After executing a flawless landing sequence, NASA’s new Mars rover, Curiosity, has reached the surface of its new home.

“We are wheels down on Mars,” was the official word from mission control. Engineers immediately erupted into applause, hugs, and a few tears.

“That rocked! Seriously, was that not cool?” said the deputy project manager of the rover during a NASA press conference after the event.

Soon after the landing, the first images came from Curiosity’s cameras, showing pebbles, dust, and the shadow of the rover on the surface of Mars.

Now safely on the ground in the Gale Crater, Curiosity can begin its two-year mission: to find whether Mars has the crucial ingredients that could once have supported life. Learn more here, here, here, here, here or here.

How the Mantis Shrimp Can Revolutionize Body Armour

July 27, 2012

Mantis shrimp, which ironically is neither mantis nor shrimp, sure knows how to pack a punch. The bright orange fist-like club of the mantis-shrimp, which it uses to crack open clam shells, accelerates faster than a 22-caliber bullet underwater. But how does the Mantis shrimp club survive repeated high-velocity strikes without cracking?

Scientists found that the club is a highly complex structure, comprised of three specialized regions that work together to create a structure tougher than many engineered ceramics.

The first region, located at the impacting surface of the club, contains a high concentration of mineral, similar to that found in human bone, which supports the impact when the mantis shrimp strikes prey. Further inside, highly organized and rotated layers of chitin (a complex sugar) fibers dispersed in mineral act as a shock absorber, absorbing energy as stress waves pass through the club. Finally, the club is encapsulated on its sides by oriented chitin fibers, which wrap around the club, keeping it intact during these high velocity impacts.

This club is stiff, yet it’s light-weight and tough, making it incredibly impact tolerant and interestingly, shock resistant. Learn more here.

I wish the future would hurry up and get here!

July 21, 2012

Evacuated Tube Transport is an airless, frictionless, maglev-like form of transportation which is safer, cheaper and quieter than trains or airplanes. Six-person capsules travel in the tubes and can reach a maximum speed of 6,500 km/h, and provide 50 times more transportation per kwh. A tube can travel from New York to Beijing in two hours, and make a round-the-world trip in just six hours.

A Space Shuttle Launch

July 14, 2012

This video is awesome …..

Challenges of Getting to Mars

July 8, 2012

Team members share the challenges of Curiosity’s final minutes to landing on the surface of Mars.

A Must Watch … Never Fear Failure

May 19, 2012

Since we took to the sky, we have wanted to fly faster and farther. And to do so, we’ve had to believe in impossible things and we’ve had to refuse to fear failure.

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

An Air-Lubricated Ship

March 20, 2012

To reduce drag on the hull, a new design blows bubbles from holes positioned on the bottom of the ship. This change reduces fuel expenditure, and therefore CO2 emissions and cost.

Great idea! Learn more here.

Single atom transistor to offer billion times faster computer

February 26, 2012

Scientists have built the world’s tiniest transistor by precisely positioning a single phosphorus atom in a silicon crystal.

The nano device is an important step in the development of quantum computers – super-powerful devices that will use the weird quantum properties of atoms to perform calculations billions of times faster than today’s computers.

Learn more here, here or here.

Recycling oil and gas wells as geothermal electricity generators

January 10, 2012

Old oil and gas wells might soon be reborn as environmentally friendly geothermal power generators.

Geothermal energy holds promise as a low-carbon source of electricity because of its ubiquity – rock temperatures increase by between 25 and 50°C for every kilometre of depth due to heat from the Earth’s core. But as much as half the cost of geothermal power plants comes from drilling into the Earth.

Old oil and gas wells often plunge several kilometres deep to reach reserves. Refitting their shafts to circulate water could provide an easy way to extract this energy. A typical well could produce around 54 kilowatts of electricity – not much compared to a full-sized power plant running on coal, gas or nuclear energy. But with an estimated 2.5 million abandoned oil and gas wells in the US alone, huge stores of energy could be going untapped. Learn more here.