Future of Engineering

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Terrorist Robots Likely Soon, Warn British Experts

British experts raise prospect of terrorist robots

It is only a matter of time before terrorists use deadly robots to launch attacks on heavily populated urban areas, experts say. The know-how and materials for manufacturing lethal, improvised robots are easily available, said experts gathered Wednesday at a British military think-tank.

"Sooner or later, we're going to see a Cessna programmed to fly into a building," said Rear Admiral Chris Parry, who formed the Ministry of Defence's Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre in 2005. He said small, remotely piloted planes or even converted model aircraft are "ideal weapons" for terrorists because they are easy to build and could evade radar.

Full story here

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Top Wireless Trends for 2008 - Mobile Broadband, Environmental Sustainability

Top wireless industry trends for 2008

A delegate to the 2008 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona says that the key themes focused on by industry leaders are faster mobile broadband speeds and the environmental sustainability of the mobile industry.

"This year many keynote speakers at the Mobile World Congress are pointing to the need to green the industry and to maximise on the opportunities of increased mobile broadband speeds. Both trends are good for business and the consumer," says Richard Simpson, director at BulkSMS.com, a global mobile messaging company headquartered in Cape Town.

More from here

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12 ideas to help shape a healthier energy future

12 ideas to help shape a healthier energy future

Every second of every day, the United States consumes 10,000 gallons of oil — enough to fill 60 backyard swimming pools every minute. It uses 20 railroad cars of coal a minute and enough cubic feet of natural gas each day to build a tower to the moon and back 25 times. It's balanced on a razor's edge of growing demand and tightening supply, and the harsh reality is that there is no single solution.

By the year 2100, USA's energy mix will be radically different. But getting there will require all the energy it can develop from all sources — conventional and alternative. To help get there, Shell advocates a 12-point plan...

Read more about the plan from here

'Green Mobility' Tops Agenda for Siemens at Rail 2008

'Green Mobility' Tops the Agenda for Siemens at Rail 2008

Siemens today underlined its commitment to creating greener railways, with the launch of a major initiative at today's RAIL 2008 conference.

Green Mobility is part of a global approach under the banner of Complete Mobility. Siemens is a leading international supplier to the railways industry and as a single source supplier and system integrator combines all the expertise necessary to cover all areas of rail transportation.

Full story here

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NASA's Newest Concept Vehicles - Lunar Truck & Rover

NASA's Newest Concept Vehicles Take Off-Roading Out Of This World

NASA's latest concept vehicle is meant to go way, way off-road -- as in 240,000 miles from the nearest pavement, driving on the moon. NASA is working to send astronauts to the moon by 2020 to set up a lunar outpost, where they will do scientific research and prepare for journeys to destinations like Mars.

NASA is testing many technologies needed for research on the moon. Two examples are a lunar truck for astronauts and a rover equipped with a drill designed to dig into the moon's soil.

Full story here

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How green is your airplane?


No, this is not an aircraft on fire. This is just an aircraft firing up!

From its current contribution of less than 3%, aircraft pollution is set to grow so rapidly that all homeowners, car drivers and businesses will have to reduce their carbon dioxide output to zero for levels to remain safe, a recent UK study warned. The study says that even if the growth in air travel were halved, the rest of the economy would need to cut greenhouse gas emissions far beyond the UK government's target of 60% by 2050.

One of the biggest environmental issues with jet airliners is the nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx ) spewed into the atmosphere during takeoff and landing procedures. The emission of NOx at cruise altitudes may promote enhanced greenhouse effect, photochemical smog formation, and also depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer. But it is not just NOx. The emissions from air traffic can change the atmospheric composition – (a) Directly: by emitting CO2, water vapour, unburnt hydrocarbons, soot, sulfate particles and of course NOx, and (b) Indirectly: by chemical reactions that contribute to ozone formation.

The goal for most airlines is to reduce NOx emissions during landing and takeoff to 70 percent below the international standards created in 1996. While experts admit that we're not there yet, some feel that airlines are making good progress.

Aircraft also emit the notorious global warming villain CO2. Like most others in the transportation industry, the aircraft industry has been talking smooth about and making plans for reducing CO2 emissions. EasyJet for instance last year unveiled the prototype for an aircraft that could slash carbon dioxide emissions by half. But most of these have remained just at the planning and prototype stages.

In sum, their grand pronouncements and prototypes aside, not too many are convinced that airlines have done enough to reduce NOx and CO2 emissions.

Grade for Emission Control: B-

Alternative Fuel & Fuel Efficiency



Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic has been talking big about biofuel powered Virgin flights, and his company actually flew one last week.

This first flight by a biofuel powered commercial airline took place on 24 Feb 2008, amindst much fanfare, when a Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet flew between London's Heathrow and Amsterdam using fuel derived from a mixture of Brazilian babassu nuts and coconuts. Earlier this month, Airbus tested a synthetic mix of gas-to-liquid.

If these news make you look forward to travelling on a biofuel powered airplane anytime soon, you will be disappointed. Most of these alt energy / fuel efforts have really been a lot of show. All research work being carried out are in their very initial stages. (by the way, here’s a nice Q&A on alt fuels in airplanes, from Airlines.org)

Grade for Alternative Energy Use: B-

Fuel Efficiency

Airlines' record in fuel efficiency is not exactly bad – a 103 percent improvement between 1978 and today. Fuel efficient aircraft designs and less-fuel-guzzling aircraft engines have been on the radars of the aircraft engineers for many years now, and some of their earlier research has started to bear fruit.

Boeing in 2007 launched what it says is the most environmentally-friendly aircraft ever built. The Boeing 787 achieves fuel efficiency by having a significant percentage of aircraft made from composites, making it lighter and more fuel efficient than traditional aircraft. While environmental groups say the aircraft is far from green, some do admit that its lighter weight will enable it to use 20 per cent less fuel than its aluminium predecessors.

In Nov 2007, Boeing said it was developing a new single-aisle aircraft made of composite materials to replace the 737, its most popular aircraft ever. According to the planemaker, the 737-RS would also incorporate new engine types that achieve greater fuel efficiency. The advanced materials, comprising ceramic matrix composites and such, also allow engines to burn at higher temperatures. When engines operate at these high temperatures, they are more efficient. Other lightweight materials like Titanium Aluminide and other superalloys are also being researched for potential engine material.

Relatively speaking, the airlines have done reasonably well in their efforts for fuel efficiency.

Grade for Fuel Efficiency: A-

Noise Pollution



Researchers found the sound of planes taking off and landing while people sleep increases blood pressure, and those living closest to airports were almost 50 per cent more likely to suffer from hypertension..

So what are airlines and aircraft companies doing about this?

Thanks to technology, today's aircraft are 50% quieter than those 10 years ago. Research initiatives target a further 50% reduction by 2020, according to IATA. Further, in January 2006, a more stringent noise certification standard was introduced by IATA for new aircraft designs. These aircraft should be at least one third quieter than those currently certified.

Specific efforts have been underway in reducing the noise from two main components – engines and the airframe, especially the engine.

Much of the noise from gas turbine engines comes from air flowing back through the rapidly spinning fan blades at the front of the engine. Behind each blade is a wake, or an area of lower-speed air. When these wakes move over stationary blades they produce strong, unsteady pressures, and consequently most of the sound.

Most noise-control measures, such as acoustic liners in the engines, had traditionally focused on reducing the amplitude of the sound after it is produced, and these have had only limited success. But scientists are now working on a method of cutting down on noise at the source. Their idea is to "fill in" the wake behind each rotor blade by pushing air through the trailing edges of the rotating blades, where it mixes with the air flowing around the blade and makes the flow into the stator more uniform.

Another recent approach to noise reduction is the active noise control effort. The primary principle of active noise control is to sense the noise disturbances in the engine and cancel them before they leave the engine. In effect, negative noise is made to cancel out the engine's sound waves so that no noise is heard.

On noise control, one wishes to give the airlines and aircraft industry a good grade for all their efforts, but until our friends and folks living near airports are able to have a good night's sleep in their houses near airports, we have no choice but to give it a rather mediocre grade.

Grade for Noise Control: B

Plane Deicing



De-icing is the process of removing ice from an airplane's surface.

The chemicals normally used to deice aircraft - ethylene glycol and propylene glycol – are both deadly substances even in small quantities. Ethylene glycol causes central nervous depression and kidney and liver damage and propylene glycol is just as toxic. While no studies have been done on its effects on humans, each winter large amounts of fish and wildlife are poisoned to death by aircraft deicing chemicals.

Additional pollutants, including fuels and other toxic substances, are also washed off the planes during deicing procedures.

Compared to the rest of components of aircraft pollution, this is a minor one, though it could have harmful effects on those few who perform this activity, and on some unfortunate fish and fowl. This aspect of aircraft pollution has not received much attention so far.

Grade for Deicing Pollution Control: B


Not There Yet, But Hopeful

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Monday, February 25, 2008

A Lollipop that Prevents Tooth Decay

A Lollipop that Prevents Tooth Decay

A lollipop sweet that actively prevents tooth decay has hit the shops in America. It is the brainchild of Wenyuan Shi, a microbiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The orange-flavoured, sugar-free lollipop that Shi and his team at the university’s school of dentistry have devised is infused with a natural ingredient found in liquorice. It kills Streptococcus mutans, which is the primary cavity-causing bacterium.

More from here

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How water is becoming the next coveted commodity

Traditionally, water bills have been ridiculously low in Canada, representing a fraction of a family's monthly expenses. But as municipalities struggle to fix crumbling pipes and waste-water facilities, cheap water is becoming a thing of the past.

For consumers, that means another assault on the pocketbook. For engineering firms and investors, it's a brave new world of opportunities, from reconstructing old treatment systems to construction of new residential subdivisions & desalination plants.

The UN estimates that 1.1 billion people lack access to potable water and that by 2050 that figure will double to more than two billion. Add climate change to the mix and the predictions of water shortage become more dire.

Full story here

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Quiet Crisis in the future of U.S. engineering

Shirley Ann Jackson, the 2004 president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute since 1999was quoted by Thomas Friedman in his book "The World is Flat", as follows: "The sky is not falling, nothing horrible is going to happen today" says Jackson. "The U.S. is still the leading engine for innovation in the world. It has the best graduate programs, the best scientific infrastructure, and the capital markets to exploit it. But there is a quiet crisis in U.S. science and technology that we have to wake up to. The U.S. today is in a truly global environment, and those competitor countries are not only wide awake, they are running a marathon while we are running sprints. If left unchecked, this could challenge our preeminence and capacity to innovate."

A roadmap project on the future of engineering in the U.S. is coming pretty much to the same conclusion.

Full analysis from here

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Nano-alumina: Future metal for automobile, aerospace engineering

Nano-alumina: Future metal for automobile, aerospace engineering

From nano-fabric to nano-drugs — the new technology has become a major field of research worldwide and its applications have tremendous impact on our day-to-day life.

But an Indian scientist has discovered a new method to solidify nano-alumina composites in laboratory- scale for the first time and claims to have created "nanoalumina with uniform strength" which could be three times stronger than steel.

More from here

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Shared work spaces a wave of the future

Shared work spaces a wave of the future

Working at home was too lonely for Summer Powell, a 35-year-old freelance graphic designer who had recently moved to San Francisco. She tried working in cafes but found it too distracting. So Powell called a friend and together they joined a communal drop-in office space called Sandbox Suites - an example of a new and growing work arrangement called co-working.

In co-working, a group of freelancers or other solo entrepreneurs share one big office space with perks that they might not get at home, such as conference rooms, espresso machines and opportunities for socializing. Co-working sites usually give members the option of renting a desk that becomes their own reserved space. But most also provide a drop-in option, where people can stop by and work in an unreserved common area for a lower fee...

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Future of Human Beings?

Is this the future of humanity?






Site credit: U of Arizona Animal Care & Use Committee

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Technology's Grand Challenges for Engineering

Humans will learn to halt and reverse the effects of ageing, collect all the energy they need from the sun, and develop fully realistic virtual reality during the 21st century, a leading technologist has predicted.

American inventor and futurologist Ray Kurzweil said mankind is on the brink of radical advances in computer science and medicine that will see tiny robots or "nanobots" embedded in people's bodies, fending off disease and boosting our intelligence.

Mr Kurzweil's predictions are just a small part of a vision of the future set out by a committee of 18 leading technology thinkers at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, held in Feb 2008.

Full report on the conference here

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European Supercomputing - the PRACE Project

Climate change research, genetics, material engineering – supercomputing power has become a core factor for success in both science and engineering as it enables researchers to test their theories and models by simulation. Supercomputers, however, are still largely funded and operated at national level, separately, and not as a much more powerful grid. The Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) project is determined to change that by creating a permanent European supercomputing infrastructure

The European Commission will invest more than EUR 20 million in PRACE under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) over the next two years. And by mid-2009 or the end of that year at the latest, the project partners from Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK hope to be able to build a petaflop/s system: a machine that is capable of one quadrillion operations per second.

Full report here

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Exaflop Computers - One Million Trillion 'Flops' Per Second Comps Targeted

Preparing groundwork for an exascale computer is the mission of the new Institute for Advanced Architectures, launched jointly at Sandia and Oak Ridge national laboratories.

An exaflop is a thousand times faster than a petaflop, itself a thousand times faster than a teraflop. Teraflop computers —the first was developed 10 years ago at Sandia — currently are the state of the art. They do trillions of calculations a second. Exaflop computers would perform a million trillion calculations per second.

The idea behind the institute is “to close critical gaps between theoretical peak performance and actual performance on current supercomputers.

Ultrafast supercomputers improve detection of real-world conditions by helping researchers more closely examine the interactions of larger numbers of particles over time periods divided into smaller segments.

Full report here

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How Pesticides, Insecticides Helped Biological, Chemical Warfare

In this article, the author takes a closer look at biological and chemical warfare from a global perspective as well as the use of pesticides and insecticides and how they helped pioneer these deadly toxins used in modern warfare and bio-terrorism as we know it today. He discusses the different types of diseases and viruses that are commonly used and researched today and of the past. The article also discusses what kind of chemical weapons are used in modern warfare., and takes a quick look at the science of genetic modification and engineering to create a virus from scratch using the most rudimentary tactics and the diseases that pose the largest threat to man-kind.

Russian Space Interferometry Project Launch Delayed

Some 40 years ago, Russian scientists Nikolai Kardashev, Leonid Matveyenko, and Gennady Sholomitsky came up with the idea of a space interferometer. It is based on the phenomenon of interferometry - a capacity of different waves (sound, light, or radio waves) that have the same phase to add to each other, or subtract if the phase is opposite. If we position two or more telescopes far away from each other and start watching the same celestial object, the combination of their signals causes interference that may sharply enhance the resolution capacity of the whole system. It becomes as high as if the observations were conducted by a telescope with an antenna diameter equal to the distance between the telescopes.

This idea was first tested on Earth with the participation of the world's major radio observatories. It was like using a radio telescope close to the Earth's diameter in size. A decision was made to launch a radio telescope into space. Radical changes in the Soviet Union delayed the project's implementation by two decades.

Under the project, a 10 meter-long radiotelescope will be put into a high-elliptical orbit with an apogee of about 350,000 km (220,000 miles). Together with ground-based instruments, it is supposed to form a giant interferometer with a diameter almost equal to the distance between the Earth and the moon. Its angular resolution will be 40 times greater than that of a ground-based radio interferometer, and 20 million times greater that that of the human eye.

The project is designed to study super-massive black holes in the nuclei of close and remote galaxies, black holes in the stellar masses in our galaxy, neutron and probably quark stars, star and planet formation areas, and clouds of inter-stellar plasma.

Regrettably, the launch testing did not start in January 2008 as announced. There is every indication that its launch will be rescheduled for 2009.

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SMART Whiteboards - Boards that Make Learning Interactive

When second-grader Kyle Wendt goes to the board, he simply uses his finger to tap, pull and drag items. Or sometimes he uses an inkless pen to write. Or sometimes he just erases it all with a virtual eraser. Kyle is smart; the board he's using is too.

"These boards certainly have a wow factor, but beyond that, they allow learning to be interactive," said his dad, Jeremy Wendt, a TTU department of curriculum and instruction professor who is showing future teachers how the technology can change their classrooms.
SMART Board interactive whiteboards are scattered throughout area school systems, but are becoming more and more desirable as the number of teachers learning to effectively use them increases. The boards cost between $1,000 and $2,100, depending on size. The touch-sensitive board is connected to a computer and digital projector to show the computer image. Teachers and students can control computer applications directly from the board, write notes in digital ink and save their work.

Wendt points to a lesson plan created by an education student to help elementary students learn to count money. The virtual cash register displays the amount of money to collect and asks the student to make change. The register contains virtual paper money and coins that the students can put their fingers on and pull from the drawer.


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Microchips with Antennas, Electronic Sniffers, Smart Homes - Future of RFID?

The following are some of the "visions" offered for the uses and applications of RFID.

• Microchips with antennas will be embedded in virtually everything people buy, wear, drive and read, enabling retailers and law enforcement agencies to track consumer items—and, by extension, consumers—wherever they go, from a distance.

• A seamless, global network of electronic "sniffers" will scan radio tags in myriad public settings, identifying people and their tastes instantly so that customized ads—"live spam"—will be able to be beamed at them.

• In "Smart Homes," sensors built into walls, floors and appliances will inventory possessions, record eating habits and monitor medicine cabinets—all the while, silently reporting data to marketers eager for a peek into the occupants' private lives.

More from here

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Flexible Carbon Nanotube (CNT) Battery From “Nanotube Ink”

Professor George Gruner and a group of scientists at the University of California in Los Angeles have recently fabricated a flexible Carbon Nanotube (CNT) based battery architecture from “nanotube ink”, using cheap and highly scalable materials. Possible applications include powering disposable electronic devices like long-range RFID tags or small displays. The scientists are hoping that the batteries will be able to generate more power in the future, so that they will be able to power a wider range of devices. Currently, industrial-scale printing processes can deposit electronics onto a variety of flexible substrates cheaply and speedily. The printed electronics require cheap printed power sources. For this reason, the new CNT batteries may potentially be an important advancement in battery technology.

The new batteries are deposited layer-by-layer in an all solution-phase approach amenable to large-scale production, similarly to roll-to-roll printing

Besides the clear benefits of the solution-phase room-temperature process, there are even better news for future devices

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RFID Security Expert Shows How to Steal Credit Cards Hands-free

Adam Laurie, an RFID security expert, used the Black Hat DC 2008 conference to demonstrate a new Python script he's working on to read the contents of smart-chip-enabled credit cards.

As part of his presentation Wednesday, Laurie asked for someone from the audience to volunteer a smart card. Without taking the card out of the volunteer's wallet, Laurie both read and displayed its contents on the presentation screen--the person's name, account number, and expiration clearly visible.

Demonstrations like that show the potential misuse of RFID technology in the near future. Without touching someone, a thief could sniff the contents of an RFID-enabled credit card just in passing. The same is true for embedded RFID chips in the human body, work access badges, some public transit cards, and even the new passports in use in more than 45 countries.

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GaAs, GaN, SiGe, InP - RF Semiconductors Take Various Forms

As wireless technologies push semiconductors to integrate more features in smaller packages, government and satellite research is testing novel processes in extreme temperatures and performance scenarios.

At the roots of almost all of today’s electronic devices lie semiconductors. These integrated circuits (ICs) stem from a variety of semiconductor technologies, which have evolved to satisfy requirements like lower power, less noise, more broadband coverage, or simply the need to squeeze higher integration into smaller, cheaper packages. In reaction to these trends, high-frequency engineers have found new ways to leverage gallium arsenide (GaAs), gallium nitride (GaN), silicon germanium (SiGe), indium phosphide (InP), and other semiconductor process technologies. As these technologies have evolved, however, they have not eliminated the more standard technologies like complementary-metaloxide- semiconductor (CMOS) processes. Instead, process enhancements and advances in optolithography are enabling smaller feature sizes and making CMOS and other technologies capable of tackling new and more demanding applications. The result is a myriad of semiconductors that can serve all aspects of the high-frequency market ranging from the most demanding military and satellite applications to access points for IEEE 802.11x wireless local-area networks (WLANs).

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Cleanability - Hygienic Design for Food, Processing Industries

Cleanability is what Jürgen Hofmann is working towards. It is his watchword. He wants the design of machines involved in hygiene-critical operations to facilitate easy and efficient cleaning. Hoffman is about to take over a project run by the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging in Germany. It comprises an Internet portal called hygienicprocessing.com, which will be a complete information source with regard to hygienic design, with tips, links, a database of literature and a network of experts.

Hofmann is one of the experts involved in this. For the past nine years, he has been teaching as an academic assistant with the Department of Process Engineering at the Technical University of Munich’s Weihenstephan campus in Germany, which specializes in all food-related matters.
“Hygienic design is relevant in all areas where it is important to keep equipment clean. This includes pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and even paint,” he says.

In a way, the aim is simple – cleaning is carried out with liquids. These must be able to flow smoothly through all the piping, valves, taps and pumps of a machine. Hofmann’s job is to ensure that there are no gaps, holes, grooves or “dead areas” that the liquid cannot reach. This requires smooth surfaces, curves that direct liquids in the right direction, and seals and gaskets that fit perfectly.

Trelleborg Sealing Solutions works closely with the University of Munich’s Department of Process Engineering and has focused research on sealing designs to meet Hofmann’s hygienic principles.

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Nano-alumina with Uniform Strength Created - Metal for Automobile, Aerospace Engineering

An Indian scientist has discovered a new method to solidify nano-alumina composites in laboratory- scale for the first time and claims to have created "nanoalumina with uniform strength" which could be three times stronger than steel.

But what could be the use of this new finding? According to Prof. Payodhar Padhi, HoD, Mechanical Engineering of Orissa Engineering College, Bhubaneswar, the new material can have wide-ranging applications in automobile and aerospace designs to increase fuel efficiency.
The invention consists of an assembly for producing metal matrix nano-composite (metal having nano-sized particulate) through solidification route, which was earlier never possible, claims Padhi. The 'nano-alumina' with its peculiar properties can have applications in biomedical engineering like structural applications, abrasive polishing, optical polishing, rapid memory polishing, silicon wafer polishing, catalytic support for precious metals, electronic circuits, porous membranes for making gas filters, net shaped wear resistant parts and translucent ceramics for tube envelops.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lab-on-a-chip Looks to Mimic Brain Chemistry

Lab-on-a-chip looks inside the brain

A lab on a chip method has been developed to mimic brain chemistry and so give a greater understanding of how neurons in the brain interact in the formation of a nervous system. The chip was developed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering and the School of Medicine in Baltimore, US.

The device has a system of channels and wells that allows different chemical signals to be flowed around nerve cells and then allows an observation of their behaviour. The direction a nerve cell decides to grow in is very much influenced by its immediate chemical environment. Dr Andre Levchenko, associate professor of biomedical engineering at the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering and faculty affiliate of the Institute for NanoBioTechnology commented: "The chip we've developed will make experiments on nerve cells more simple to conduct and to control".

Full story here

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Multimodal Sensing Molecule Sensor Advances Lab-on-a-chip Tech

Single molecule sensor could advance on lab-on-a-chip tech

For the first time, US scientists have found a way of simultaneously performing optical and electrical measurements on the same single molecule, known as multimodal sensing. The study by researchers at Rice University could pave the way for mass produced single molecule sensors and could have significant applications in pharmaceutical lab-on-a-chip technologies.

The experiment consisted of making measurements on a nanoelectronic device constructed from two small gold electrodes separated by a tiny gap. The researchers then used an electric current and measured conduction through the gap, which was built in such a way as to only allow one or two molecules to contribute to the conduction. When this occurs, an "optical fingerprint" is associated with the molecule and the type of molecule can be identified. Other properties such as changes in position and rotation can also be measured.

Full story here

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Photo-switchable Nanofibers - Smart at the Flip of a Light Switch

Materials are made 'smart' when they are engineered to have properties that change in a controlled manner under the influence of external stimuli such as mechanical stress, temperature, humidity, electric charge, magnetic fields etc. Emerging nanotechnologies are now about to give scientists the tools to take smart materials to the next performance level. Another small building block towards smart materials was recently reported by Italian researchers who demonstrated photo-switchable nanofibers based on the reversible transformation between two molecular photochemical states, exhibiting different chemico-physical characteristics.

Full report here

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Smart Textiles, Wearable Devices - Sensors Make Clothes Clever

Clever clothes in a smart world

Pretty soon your gym gear will be more high tech than the groaning treadmill beneath you. Smart textiles and wearable devices can monitor your vital signs as you go about daily life. These clever clothes already exist and look set to find a market niche especially in elite sport and healthcare, say European researchers.

Tiny sensors woven into the fabric collect information about the wearer’s vital signs (respiration, heart rate, surface and core temperature) and movement, which can be monitored remotely using embedded GPRS transmitters.

Full story here

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AirPatrol New Wireless Intrusion Detection Sniffs Out Wi-Fi, Cellular Networks

AirPatrol sniffs out trouble on Wi-Fi, cellular networks

AirPatrol is a company that made its name in wireless intrusion detection. Now the company is introducing its own branded product line, called WiVision, openly competing with enterprise network rivals. AirPatrol's new wireless intrusion detection/prevention systems adds two features intended to mark it out. One is software algorithms for location tracking, to identify where a radio is. The other, new with this product release, is integration with Check Point Software's firewalls at the network's edge and core, to block traffic from that radio based on its IP address.

Full story here

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New Brain-Computer Interface May Lead to Mind-Control Game Play

New Tech May Lead to Mind-Control Game Play

"The use of [brain-computer interface] technology represents a potential breakthrough in human-machine interfaces, changing the realm of possibilities not only for games, but in the way that humans and computer interact," said Paul Ledak, vice president of IBM's Digital Convergence.

Full story here

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Brain blanket boosts mind control

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Neural input devices could bring thought control to hardware - Computerworld

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Intel Pours 8 Cores Into New Skulltrail Dual Socket Extreme Desktop

Intel Pours 8 Cores Into New Skulltrail Platform

Intel has packed eight processor cores into its latest platform, the Dual Socket Extreme Desktop, a.k.a. "Skulltrail." Skulltrail's powerful profile could see Intel lengthen its lead over arch rival AMD, which has a similar offering, called "Spider." Though Skulltrail may top Spider in terms of horsepower, it will be a while before consumer applications using the power found in either offering are common.

Full story here

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Gaming on a Mac: Status, Trends, Challenges

Gaming on a Mac: Technically Speaking

20 Feb 2008

"The PC market is like the Wild West, and the console space is like living in the domed city in 'Logan's Run.' The Mac is sort of a hybrid. You can try new things on the Mac, but you get a more structured environment with hardware and software libraries. It's the best of both worlds," said Freeverse's Bruce Morrison.

What's the status of gaming on the Apple Mac? And what are the issues and challenges Apple engineers face in this regard? This article takes a look

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Drinking Water from Sewage - Australian Tech in California

Australian-developed technology is at the heart of a bold water-supply project in California

Three tanks of water stand alongside and above a hive of quietly humming machinery. They could be labelled "before", "during" and "after", with a moderate dare factor attached to the "after".

One is an early stage of recycled water, as dark as Guinness but with an unmistakable whiff of its origins. The second is clear, but still with a certain aroma. The third is crystalline.

This is purified water, cleared of the "solids", strained and sifted, then cleansed by UV light. And it tastes like … water.

As well it should. It cost $US480 million ($530 million) to put it there, performing the latter-day technological miracle of transforming human waste back into water. It is a triumph of technology, ingenuity and salesmanship.

Full story here

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World's Refineries Need Flexibility - Cambridge Energy Research Associates

World's refineries need flexibility, firm's report says

The world's refineries must adapt to a plethora of raw materials to avoid shortfalls in meeting global demand for diesel and jet fuel, a leading energy consulting firm is reporting today.

Cambridge Energy Research Associates says its analysis of global refining capacity shows that increased ability to process a greater variety of raw materials is key to the industry's future

Full story here

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LED Adds 'Cool Factor' in Car Design - Light Emitting Diodes Have Bright Future

Glowing appeal: In car design, energy use, LEDs add 'cool factor'

February 18, 2008

Bright little lights, known as Light Emitting Diodes, are changing the face of autos, inside and out, designers and engineers say.

Once a beacon for the plush interiors of Lexus, Mercedes and Cadillac, LEDs have made their way into daily drivers such as the Ford Focus and Chevy Malibu, and certainly will make their way into more. Interior and exterior designers love the little light bulbs and are finding new ways to use them.

Recent advances in LED technology and continued price drops mean LEDs will play a more important role in future designs. Consumers will reap the benefits, finding more extravagant light shows inside future vehicles and flashier exteriors as the luxury lighting source goes mainstream.

Full story here

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Most Intense Laser Beam in the Universe Lasts 30 Femtoseconds

Most intense laser beam in the universe created

February 16th, 2008

Scientists at the University of Michigan say that they have devised a way to produce a laser beam about as intense as a concentrated ray of the entire sunlight shining towards Earth would be if it were focussed onto one grain of sand.

The pulsed laser beam lasts just 30 femtoseconds (a millionth of a billionth of a second). The Michigan team believes that such intense lasers may be helpful in developing better proton and electron beams for radiation treatment of cancer, among other applications

Full story here

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All New FG Falcon - Kinetic Design that Reflects the Car

All New FG Falcon-Design that Reflects the Car

The all-new exterior and interior design of the FG Falcon embodies the vehicle's core attributes of performance, comfort and fun-to-drive characteristics.

With three distinct faces providing greater series differentiation, a new interior designed around the driver, and the first Australian application of European kinetic design influences, the FG Falcon represents the most design intensive Falcon program since the introduction of the AU Falcon in 1998.

Full story here

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Luxury + Sustainability = Entermodal Leather Bags, Accessories

Luxury + Sustainability. Entermodal

The Entermodal philosophy originates from the idea that design can be a force for positive and meaningful change.” — Entermodal

Entermodal makes modern handcrafted leather bags, wallets, and accessories carried at Fred Segal and All Purpose in LA, Japan’s luxury emporium, Takashimaya, and Odin in New York, among others and featured in magazines like Details and Good.

Its designs are way too cool

See here for more

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Clean Sky Project Boosts Europe Green Aircraft Research

New initiative gives green aircraft research a boost

Plans for a new generation of green aircraft took a step closer to becoming reality today with the launch of a €1.6bn (£1.19bn) Europe-wide research programme. The Clean Sky project, a joint technology initiative (JTI), is a public-private partnership involving universities and research centres, and small and large industry. The aim of the programme is to make air travel more environmentally sustainable by developing greener technologies.

Aircraft produce around 3% of all EU carbon emissions and experts forecast that they will account for 5% of global warming in 2050.

Full story here

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12 Crackpot Tech Ideas that Could Transform the Enterprise

12 crackpot tech ideas that could transform the enterprise

Tinkering along the fringe of possibility, hoping to solve the impossible or apply another's discovery to a real-world problem, these free thinkers navigate a razor-thin edge between crackpot and visionary. They transform our suspicion into admiration when their ideas are authenticated with technical advances that reshape how we view and interact with the world.

IT is no stranger to this spirit of experimentation. An industry in constant flux, IT is pushed forward by innovative ideas that yield advantage when applied to real-world scenarios. Sure, not every revolutionary pose sets the IT world afire. But for every dozen paper-based storage clunkers, there's an ARPAnet to rewrite IT history -- itself a time line of what-were-they-thinkings and who-would-have-thoughts.

It's in that tenor that this article takes a look at 12 technologies that have a history of raising eyebrows and suspicions. We assess the potential each has for transforming the future of the enterprise.

Full story here

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Silicon Alternatives - Carbon Nanotunes, Quantum Computing, Multicore Computers

Scientists Ponder the Successor to Moore's Law

The National Science Foundation will fund projects that push computing power beyond silicon.

In anticipation of Moore's Law becoming irrelevant in the next 10 to 20 years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) wants funding for research that could lead to a replacement for current silicon technology.

The NSF last week requested US$20 million from the U.S. government for fiscal 2009 to start the "Science and Engineering Beyond Moore's Law" effort, which would fund academic research on technologies, including carbon nanotubes, quantum computing and massively multicore computers, that could improve and replace current transistor technology.

Full story here

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Coal Gasification to be More Attractive - Utah Scientist

Utah scientist predicts coal gasification will become increasingly attractive

Coal gasification, an expensive but cleaner way to convert coal into energy, will likely become more widespread, potentially offering breakthroughs in curbing emissions that exacerbate global warming and weaning the U.S. from foreign energy, predicted a Utah chemical engineering professor at a major scientific conference in Boston today.

As regulatory frameworks evolve to address growing alarm over greenhouse emissions associated with coal combustion, gasification will become increasingly attractive on economic grounds, according to Brigham Young University's Larry Baxter, who spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual gathering.

Full story here

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A More Secure Internet Envisioned by Princeton Researchers

Princeton researchers envision a more secure Internet

Like human society itself, the world's Internet is wondrously complex, both spectacularly fertile, deeply flawed & highly insecure.

Just how can such a complex a system be made more secure? Some of the most influential thinkers on this question sit just a few dozen steps away from each other in the engineering complex on the Princeton campus: Edward Felten, director of the Center for Information Technology Policy, focuses on software and policy; Ruby Lee heads the Princeton Architecture Lab for Multimedia and Security; and Larry Peterson and Jennifer Rexford are key players in the Global Environment for Network Innovation.

While these researchers may be physically proximate, their unique visions on how to best ensure cybersecurity can seem worlds apart. What follows in this article are portraits of these pathfinders at the frontiers of security research.

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Nokia N95 phone with GPS Turns People into Traffic Sensors

Nokia turns people into traffic sensors

With media and VIPs from companies like Nokia, Navteq, General Motors, BMW, and CalTrans looking on, wave after wave of students left a parking lot to drive a 10-mile stretch of the nearby 880 freeway as part of a large-scale experiment to test how cell phones can monitor and predict traffic. The test, conducted recently, was put on by the California Center for Innovative Transportation (CCIT) as a joint project between Nokia, CalTrans, and Berkeley's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Each student car was issued a Nokia N95 phone with GPS and special traffic-monitoring software developed by Nokia's Palo Alto, Calif.-based research lab--plus a Bluetooth headset. As the students drove the freeway, the phone sent data about each car's speed and position back to the company's research facility. The data is compiled and used to predict traffic patterns and help drivers get where they need to be quickly. Nokia hopes that one day the system could be a significantly cheaper way to track traffic than the permanent sensors installed in roadways or next to them because it uses equipment most people already own: cell phones.

Full story here

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Robotic Vehicle that Won the Darpa Urban Challenge Race

Robotic Vehicle that Won the Race

Whittaker, the Fredkin professor of robotics, director of the Field Robotics Center and founder of the National Robotics Engineering Consortium, all at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, is a big name in the robotics field. He's credited with liberating robots from repetitive assembly line work and setting them loose in the field.

Most recently, Whittaker led a Carnegie Mellon team that won a robotic vehicle race called the Darpa Urban Challenge. The race was overseen by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The goal of the race was to show that self-driving vehicles could conduct military missions without human assistance. The U.S. wants to use robotic supply trucks soon to keep soldiers out of harm's way. Whittaker's vehicle zipped through the 60-mile course in a mock urban setting in Victorville, Calif. The robot car had to merge into traffic, deal with busy intersections, avoid obstacles and follow California driving rules.

Full story here

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Greatest Technological Research Challenges of the 21st Century

Panel identifies greatest technological research challenges of the 21st century

A panel of 18 maverick thinkers, convened by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), today identified what they consider to be the greatest technological research challenges facing society in the coming century.

Notable panelists on the NAE committee include former director of the National Institutes of Health Bernadine Healy; Google co-founder Larry Page; geneticist and businessman J. Craig Venter, Nobel Laureate Mario Molina, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, and climate change expert Rob Socolow.

The list of the 14 Grand Challenges:

Engineering better medicines;
Advancing health informatics;
Providing access to clean water;
Providing energy from fusion;
Making solar energy economical;
Restoring and improving urban infrastructure;
Enhancing virtual reality;
Reverse engineering the brain;
Exploring natural frontiers;
Advancing personalized learning;
Developing carbon sequestration methods;
Managing the nitrogen cycle;
Securing cyberspace,
Preventing nuclear terror.

See the full interview here with Socolow, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University

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Future Aircraft Inspection Technologies

Future Aircraft Inspection Technologies

Feb 7, 2008

Imagine for a moment the airplane of the future, a flying machine all but freed from scheduled inspections, able to keep flying because of sets of sophisticated sensors imbedded within it.

In perhaps a decade or so, a mechanic might do a walk around inspection, much as the first officer does at pre-flight, just before departure. But this walkaround would be far more probing. Armed with a wireless ultrasound device, "your technician walks past the airplane and a little chip beeps at him," envisions Michael Moles, senior technology manager for Olympus NDT. "He knows then and there whether there's a problem." This, contends the veteran NDT executive, "will tend to be the future," a future predicated not so much on periodic inspection, as on structural health monitoring.

Full report here

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Concept Cars - Which Will Make it, Which Won't?

Concept Cars - Which Will Make it, Which Won't?

Feb 5, 2008

At the Chicago Auto Show, running until this Sunday, there are dozens of “concept cars” on display. But which ones are destined for production, and which ones will be banished to the “c” level auto show circuit next year? That is usually a closely kept secret -- but there are clues.

The biggest clue to production is the level of detail and accessibility to the concept. If the manufacturer lets the media or a spokesmodel working the display climb into the vehicle, open doors or hood, or demo a special feature it indicates the concept received heavy engineering and attention to detail. The use of durable materials and construction techniques means its more than a attractive display piece.

If the car was driven onto the stage during media previews (some were), or if there is B-roll footage running in the display showing the vehicle in operation, it means significant time and investment went into making the car road-ready. Fitting a production engine, electrical system, suspension and brakes to a concept is a very expensive and time-consuming.

Full report here

Quest, Ball Aerospace Win NASA Grant for Thermal Insulation for Next Gen Spacecraft

Colorado Engineering Firms Win NASA Grant to Develop Innovative Insulation for Next Generation Spacecraft - Super-Insulation May Allow Future Energy Efficient Appliances

Quest Product Development, teaming with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., has completed a NASA research program and successfully demonstrated a new thermal insulation. NASA has awarded the team a Small Business Innovation Research Phase II grant to develop and commercialize this advanced thermal insulation.

Integrated Multilayer Insulation ("IMLI"), vital for NASA's new spacecraft and exploration missions would preserve rocket fuels such as liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. These cryogenic propellants are high energy, "green" non-toxic fuels, but require insulation to reduce boiloff before launch and during missions.

According to Ball Aerospace Principal Engineer, Gary Mills, "The industry is in a transition of cryogenic propellant technology from launch vehicles that operate for 20 minutes to exploration spacecraft that operate for months and require propellant insulation that is lightweight with high thermal performance before launch and on-orbit." Quest uses micro-molding to create engineered polymer structures that form extremely effective thermal barriers.

IMLI technology may also find applications on Earth to insulate cryo-tanks storing liquid oxygen and nitrogen; to insulate shipping containers; and to insulate home appliances.

Full news report here

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Mining Automation Drives Rio Tinto 'Mine of the Future'

Automation Drives 'Mine of the Future'

Rio Tinto, a big mining and commodities company in North American and Australia, has found a way to eliminate the stresses and strains experienced by Australian miners: automated operations. The company's chief executive, Tom Albanese, announced these initiatives on Jan. 18:

* Mine operations in the Pilbara iron ore region will be controlled 1,300 kilometers away at a new center in Perth
* Driverless trains will carry iron ore on most of 1,200 kilometers of track
* A driverless "intelligent" truck fleet will be deployed
* Remotely controlled "intelligent" drills will be used

Full story here

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Robotics Expert Daniel Wilson Says Earth is Unprepared for Alien Invasion

Robotics Expert Daniel Wilson Says Earth is Unprepared for Alien Invasion

In his latest book, How to Build a Robot Army, robotics expert Daniel Wilson offers a humorous but scientifically-accurate account of how people would fight aliens, giant monsters, and more mundane enemies (like other humans) with robot armies. Unafraid to tackle science fictional questions with real science, Wilson is also the author of the award-winning How to Survive a Robot Uprising.

Check out the interview here

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A380 with a Casino On Board - Future of Gambling?

Casinos in the sky – is this the gambling of the future?

An Airbus executive has said that talks are underway in relation to an A380 being built with a fully-fitted casino on board. If the talks lead to a definite order, the “superjumbo” could be delivered between 2012 and 2017.

Although the identities of the potential buyers have not been revealed, it is reported that they are Asian.

François Chazelle, the Airbus executive, has admitted that talk of a flying casino is nothing new but with the growth of the gambling market in Asia it is looking more like become a reality.

Full story here

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Machines' Artificial Intel (AI) to Match Man's by 2029 - Ray Kurzweil

Machines' Artificial Intel to Match Man's by 2029

Machines will achieve human-level artificial intelligence by 2029, a leading US inventor has predicted. Tiny machines could roam the body curing diseases

Humanity is on the brink of advances that will see tiny robots implanted in people's brains to make them more intelligent said engineer Ray Kurzweil.

He said machines and humans would eventually merge through devices implanted in the body to boost intelligence and health.

Full story here

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Qantas Rolls Out Amadeus Tech For Aircraft Loading Process

Qantas rolls out Amadeus next-generation technology to enhance aircraft loading process on popular Asia Pacific routes

Australia's national carrier Qantas has implemented the Amadeus Altéa Departure Control-Flight Management system, a next-generation load control system, for its Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo operations. The new phase follows the successful launch of the industry-first system at Qantas' Sydney and Melbourne load control centres in June of last year.

The Altéa Departure Control–Flight Management system, part of Amadeus Altéa Customer Management Solutions (CMS), ensures greater streamlined distribution of baggage and cargo. Its smart design is also able to ensure that the aircraft’s loading process optimises fuel efficiency of the aircraft.

Full report here

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Seatec Focused on Nautical Engineering, Design with Yacht Engineering Forum

Seatec focused on the future of nautical engineering and design with Yacht Engineering Forum

Seatec, the International Exhibition of technologies and subcontracting for boat and ship builders, is investing more and more in technical events and this year has hosted events that have centred on the future of the marine industry.

Good interest was shown in the workshop on “Innovative technology of propulsion systems” organised by ATENA, the Italian Association of Naval Techniques in Genoa, with the participation of designers and manufacturers of propulsion systems, where the most recent technological developments for producing propulsion systems (engines, transmission, hydrojets, propellers, etc.) were presented, with a complete show of all the most recent technology already in use or still being researched.

Some of the events and topics were: YEF – Yacht Engineering Forum – organised with the technical consultancy of Meccano Surveying from Livorno. The symposium on nautical engineering and design deals with six issues: Project and production: the reliability of a project in its complicated production process; Classification, design and production of giga-yachts. Yachts or passenger ships? ; Ergonomics and the nautical industry: a combination of form and function; Filling and painting: the big challenge; New frontiers in the design of electric, electronic, electrotechnical systems and nautical automation; The design of large size yachts.

Source: BYM Product & Industry News

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Airbus, CSIR South Africa Research Aircraft of the Future

Airbus, CSIR in R1.5m drive to research aircraft of the future

Airbus and South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will spend about R1.5 million on research into next-generation aircraft.

It will be the first time that Airbus makes use of the skills of CSIR researchers. The CSIR was excited and confident it would be a mutually beneficial research partnership. Airbus said it had joined forces with the CSIR to conduct research into new technologies and processes in the area of computational fluid dynamics (CFD). The one-year agreement between the leading commercial aircraft manufacturer and the CSIR aims to define and research technologies in numerical modelling that can contribute to the design of clean and efficient next-generation jetliners.

Full story here

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Magic Cube Heralds Future of Gaming and Human Interfaces

Magic Cube Heralds the Future of Gaming and Human Interfaces

Nobody really knows what the future of human interfaces and gaming will look like, but Andrew Fentem—who went from working on classified missile systems to developing multi-touch human interfaces, kinetic surfaces and motion sensing technologies before almost anyone else in the planet—gave us a fascinating vision on where we are headed in this exclusive interview. Work like his Fentix Cube, a motion- and touch-sensing cube which can play Pac-Man among other games, have all the big companies taking notes. The videos speak for themselves.

The Fentix Cube is just the tip of the iceberg of his stunning work. Many of his inventions are still ahead of current technology, things which we are only starting to get familiar with now.

Full story here

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Copper Pillars to Replace Solder Balls in Motherboards

Copper Pillars Poised to Replace Solders

As computers become more complex, the demand increases for more connections between computer chips and external circuitry such as a motherboard or wireless card. And as the integrated circuits become more advanced, maximizing their performance requires better connections that operate at higher frequencies with less loss.

Improving these two types of connections will increase the amount and speed of information that can be sent throughout a computer. The vertical connections between chips and boards are currently formed by melting tin solder between the two pieces and adding glue to hold everything together. Kohl’s research shows that replacing the solder ball connections with copper pillars creates stronger connections and the ability to create more connections.

Full story here

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Scientists Study Grow, Harvesting and Implanting Tissue

Akron-area scientists study how to grow, harvest and implant tissue. They also look for better ways to diagnose, treat

If you tore the meniscus cartilage in your knee today, the treatment would be limited to two options: Do nothing and live with the discomfort or have surgery to remove the cartilage, which would ease the pain now but probably set you up for arthritis a decade later.

Imagine, though, if there were a third choice: growing new knee cartilage under a flap of skin on your butt that could be harvested and implanted in your knee.

That could happen in the next 10 to 20 years, thanks to research taking place in the Akron area.

Full story here

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Robert Socolow Helps Identify Greatest Technological Challenges

Socolow helps identify greatest technological challenges

Princeton professor Robert Socolow is one of 18 leading thinkers who served on a National Academy of Engineering (NAE) panel that released a report Feb. 15 identifying the greatest technological challenges facing society in this century.

The panel's Grand Challenges of Engineering fall into four key categories: sustainability, health, vulnerability and joy of living.

"Engineering has delivered many successes: our electrified world, indoor plumbing, air travel -- we take these things for granted but we shouldn't," said Socolow, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. "Without investments made by previous generations, we would not enjoy the seemingly invisible infrastructure that makes our modern lives possible. We hope that by identifying these grand challenges we can help spur public debate about the appropriate future goals of humanity and how science and technology can best enable their realization."

More from here

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Spider Silk - Protein Engineering a Humble Spider to Nanotechnology Material Design

Protein engineering - from the humble spider to the nanotechnology future of material design

Much has been written about the fascinating properties of spider silk, a biopolymer that is stronger than steel and more elastic than rubber. The silken threads possess a unique combination of mechanical properties: strength (its tensile strength is about five times as strong a steel of the same density), extensibility (up to 30%) and toughness (its ability to absorb a large amount of energy without breaking). Of course this begs the obvious question: How is it possible that spider silk - produced by little creatures that evolved about 400 million years ago - can be as strong as steel - a modern alloy that plays a critical role in our infrastructure and which still attracts considerable R&D investments in its production technology?

New analysis performed at MIT’s Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Mechanics shows that the intriguing strength of spider silk may be made possible by precisely controlling the number and the geometry of H-bonds at a characteristic length scale. The physical concept is that by making many small elements work together cooperatively, the weaknesses of the individual components can be overcome. All this must happen at the nanoscale in order to be effective.

Full story here

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Robotics will Help EOD Soldiers - Future Robotics @ War College Preview

War College Previews Future Robotics

Looking into the future of transformational technology means moving away from human capabilities and letting the robots do the dirty work.

"Robotics like this will help give EOD Soldiers a safe standing distance. We want to take the man out any mission that's dull, dirty or dangerous".

Full story here

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US Military Systems Migrating to Open Source

The US military bets big on open source

While some in private-sector industry drag their feet on open source, it's instructive that arguably the most mission-critical systems in the world are being migrated to open source, namely, the US military's systems.

It's not just a question of cost that drives the US military to buy open source. Indeed, the biggest benefits come down to innovation and flexibility.

Full report here

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fabric Ducting - Fastest Growing Air Distribution Alternative in Open Ceiling Architecture

Fabric Ducting - Fastest Growing Air Distribution Alternative in Open Ceiling Architecture

According to Randall E. Fromberg, president of Fromberg Associates Ltd., fabric duct is the fastest growing air distribution alternative in open-ceiling architecture designs, which include warehouses, industrial plants, big box retail, sports arenas, gymnasiums, and large lobbies.

While many architects and consulting engineers still don't specify fabric ductwork, the architect firm Fromberg Associates Ltd. of Austin has specified fabric duct in over 10 gymnasiums and cafeterias it has designed over the last eight years.

Fabric duct can easily be a green product in more ways than one. Fabric saves using precious earth resources. Although recycling metals is good, finding a plentiful alternative material is better, especially a more economical material. When the time comes for remodeling, retrofitting or razing, fabric ducts take less space in landfills.

Full report from here

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Litroenergy & Litrospheres Take Top Prize in Design Contest

Energy-Saving Material Takes Top Prize in Design Contest

Litroenergy, a patent-pending designed material that emits light for more than a decade without electricity or sun exposure, has won the $20,000 grand prize in the 2007 Create the Future Design Contest sponsored by NASA Tech Briefs magazine and SolidWorks Corporation (www.solidworks.com).

Developed by Steve Stark, a design engineer from Champlin, MN, Litroenergy employs self-luminous micro particles called Litrospheres to emit light for 12 or more years without exposure to any external energy source. The relatively inexpensive material, which can be injection-molded or added to paint, could save billions of dollars in energy costs if it achieves widespread commercial adoption.

Full report here

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NASA Robots to Test Communication Systems from Antarctica for Future Space Missions

NASA is using a small robotic vehicle to test a host of systems that NASA may use in future planetary mission, as well as in more immediate operations like a maintenance flight to the Hubble Space Telescope. The project acronym in this case is GREAT (Goddard Robotics for Exploration and Avionics Testing). It's an engineering model which is being used to test avionics that are flying on our Hubble missions, Comberiate explained of the tracked vehicle. Its amob ile test bed.

University students mentored by GSFC engineers like Comberiate built the tank-shaped robot and its various systems. It features a LADAR (Laser Detection and Ranging) scanner that uses an infrared laser beam to create a 180-degree image of the area in front of the robot.

Full report here

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MIT and Texas Instruments develop energy-efficient microchip

MIT and Texas Instruments develop energy-efficient microchip

Feb 04, 2008

Researchers at MIT and Texas Instruments today unveiled a new chip design for portable electronics that can be up to ten times more energy-efficient than present technology. The design could lead to cell phones, implantable medical devices and sensors that last far longer when running from a battery.

Full report here

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hydrogen Hybrid Vehicles for U.S. Army (TARDEC) - Quantum Fuel Systems Receives Order

Quantum Receives Order to Expand Hydrogen Hybrid Vehicle Fleet for U.S. Army

Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide, Inc. ( announced that it received an order for four additional Ford Escape Hydrogen Hybrid vehicles for the U.S. Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). The contract will be administered by Aerospace Engineering Spectrum (AES: 19.14, -0.28, -1.44%), based in Ogden, Utah.

The Ford Escape Hydrogen Hybrids were developed for TARDEC for demonstration and use as administrative fleet vehicles at military facilities in North America, with the current order expanding the demonstration program to eleven vehicles. The Ford Escape Hydrogen Hybrids incorporate Quantum's advanced hydrogen fuel injection system and ultra-lightweight hydrogen storage system. This deployment will support the U.S. Army and its 21st Century Base initiative.
Full news release here

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Birds, Bats, Insects Outperform Aircraft in Aerobics, Can Teach Aerospace Engineers

Birds, bats and insects hold secrets for aerospace engineers

Natural flyers like birds, bats and insects outperform man-made aircraft in aerobatics and efficiency. University of Michigan engineers are studying these animals as a step toward designing flapping-wing planes with wingspans smaller than a deck of playing cards.

A Blackbird jet flying nearly 2,000 miles per hour covers 32 body lengths per second. But a common pigeon flying at 50 miles per hour covers 75.

The roll rate of the aerobatic A-4 Skyhawk plane is about 720 degrees per second. The roll rate of a barn swallow exceeds 5,000 degrees per second. You get the idea...


More from here

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Corning Sees Growth in Display Tech, Telecom, Diesel Products

Corning Sees Growth Opportunities Continuing

Corning's growing portfolio of new business opportunities:

1. Display Technologies - 30% increase in total LCD glass demand in 2008
2. Diesel Products - New emissions regulations taking effect over the next several years in the United States, Europe and Japan should provide a significant longer-term market opportunity for our heavy-duty diesel particulate filter and substrate products; also expects this year to be one of substantial progress for Corning's light-duty (passenger vehicles) diesel business
3. Telecommunications - conversion to HDTV, increased subscription rates for high-speed Internet service and increasing entertainment options may all combine to dramatically increase fiber-to-the-home and fiber-to-the node penetration rates in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Aiello will also say that Corning's newest telecommunications innovation, ClearCurve, an ideal solution for providing optical fiber-based service to multi-dwelling units (MDUs). This bend-insensitive technology could provide Corning with revenue potential in the range of $90 to $200 per household.
4. Emerging Technologies - The company is currently prototyping a green laser in handheld devices for micro-projection; microreactor technology for specialty chemicals; carbon-based substrates to reduce mercury emissions for coal-fired power plants; and silicon-on-glass technology for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) applications. In addition, have developed an optical-quality glass that is highly scratch resistant and durable and retains its optical characteristics after extended use. This glass named Gorilla glass, is now commercially available and being used as a cover glass for several touch screen applications

Source: Fox Business

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Software-Defined Instrumentation, Use of Multicore-Enabled Test Systems - Test, Measurement Industry Trends

Test and Measurement Industry Trends Toward Software-Defined Instrumentation and Use of Multicore-Enabled Test Systems

Engineers Harness New Technologies to Reduce Cost and Keep Up With Design Complexity

Engineers in industries ranging from aerospace and defense to consumer electronics are facing the challenge of testing increasingly complicated designs with shrinking timelines and budgets. To address these issues, engineers and scientists are incorporating new test and measurement technologies that are capable of meeting complex design requirements without raising costs. National Instruments (Nasdaq: NATI), a worldwide leader in automated test solutions, has identified five trends it anticipates will significantly influence the test and measurement industry over the next three years.

Full news release here

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Drought Resistant / Tolerant Crops - Monsanto, Pioneer Realize Urgency

Drought resistant / tolerant crops for a new age

Research into drought-tolerant crops takes on added urgency as the world braces for worsening drought and hotter temperatures.

This work is part of a global race pitting Pioneer, Monsanto and other biotech companies against each other in a race to develop new strains of corn and other crops that can thrive when water is in short supply.

“Equipping plants to be able to maintain productivity in the driest years is of critical importance,” said Bill Niebur, global vice president for research and development at Pioneer, a division of DuPont.

Full report here

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Polymer Biodegradable Fibres' Nano Scaffold Repairs Nerve Damage

Nano scaffold rebuilds nerve damage

A Monash University PhD student has developed a new technique that could revolutionise stem cell treatment for Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injury.

David Nisbet from Monash University's Department of Materials Engineering has used existing polymer-based biodegradable fibres, 100 times smaller than a human hair, and re-engineered them to create a unique 3D scaffold that could potentially allow stem cells to repair damaged nerves in the human body more quickly and effectively.

Nisbet said a combined process of electrospinning and chemical treatment was used to customise the fibre structure, which can then be located within the body.

Full report here

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Nano scaffold rebuilds nerve
Nano scaffold rebuilds nerve damage

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Engineering Jobs Become Car Makers' New Export

For years, car makers have been slashing expenses by building assembly plants in low-cost countries such as Russia, Turkey and Mexico. Now, high-skill design and engineering operations, which have long remained in industrialized countries like the U.S., Germany and Japan, are starting to follow.

Honda Motor Co. last year announced plans to create a development center in Guangzhou with one of its partners in China. Last month, Chrysler LLC said it will begin shifting development work to low-cost countries. General Motors Corp. has begun designing interiors in China for Buicks it will sell in the U.S.

Full report here

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Engineering Jobs Become Car Makers’ New Export

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World's Smallest Endoscope - Laser Scanner Created @ Univ of Washington

UW researchers scope out future, create world's smallest endoscope

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a laser scanner that is so small it can fit inside a pill. The diagnostic device is intended to be used to scope out cancer in the esophagus.

It's one of the world's smallest devices for probing a human body: a tiny laser scanner the size of a Tylenol, tethered to an optical fiber, used to scope out cancer in the esophagus.

The flexible capsule endoscope, invented by engineers at the University of Washington, is about half the size of its nearest competitor, and it's much easier to swallow than traditional endoscopes, which are so thick that patients would gag if they weren't sedated.

Full report here

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Blue Tarp-Like Material Makes Concrete Flexible and Pleasing

The future of concrete

U of M develops revolutionary technique to mould concrete into a thing of beauty

Boxy, sterile and even ugly seem like more fitting descriptions for concrete. But it shouldn't be that way, says Mark West, an architecture professor at the University of Manitoba. Concrete can be beautiful. All that's needed is a little bit of fabric to bring out its hidden beauty.

The director of the Centre for Architectural Structures and Technology (C.A.S.T) and his students have been experimenting with a revolutionary technique using material similar to a "blue tarp found at Canadian Tire" to mould concrete into aesthetically-pleasing -- and useful -- new shapes for the construction of buildings.

Full report here

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Polyset Epoxy Siloxane (PES) Polymer Aims to Streamline Chip Fabs

Polymer aims to streamline chip fabs

A cheaper, quicker-curing polymer aims to lower the cost and improve the efficiency of fabricating semiconductors, according to researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Working with materials experts at Polyset Company Inc. (Mechanicville, New York), the new formulation of polyset epoxy siloxane (PES) could enhance semiconductor performance for conventional photolithography, as well as ease the transition to nanoimprint lithography.

Full report here

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Sewage Into Drinking Water Using Sewage Treatment Plants

Converting Sewage Into Drinking Water: Wave Of The Future?

Amid growing water shortages in parts of the United States, more communities are considering tapping their sewage treatment plants as a new source of drinking water.

The conversion of wastewater into tap water could help meet increased demand for one of life's most essential resources, according to the article "Treating Sewage For Drinking Water" scheduled for the Jan. 28 issue of Chemical & Engineering News.

Full report @ Science Daily

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Manic Depression / Bipolar Disorder Chemical Signature Discovered

Chemical signature of manic depression discovered by scientists

People with manic depression have a distinct chemical signature in their brains, according to a new study. The research may also indicate how the mood stabilisers used to treat the disorder counteract the changes in the brain that it appears to cause.

Manic depression, which is also known as bipolar disorder, is a debilitating psychiatric condition characterised by alternating mania and depression. Although it is known that the condition can be treated relatively effectively using the mood-stabilising drugs lithium and valproic acid, the reasons why these treatments work are poorly understood. The authors of the new study hope that their research will enable a better understanding of the condition and of how it can be treated.

Full report of the study here

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Chemical signature of manic depression discovered by scientists
Scientists discover chemical signature of manic depression
Manic depression’s chemical signature discovered by scientists

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Microfluidic “Lab-on-a-chip” Devices - MRI/NMR to Microreactors

Lab-on-Chip Technology: Scientists Bring MRI/NMR To Microreactors

In a significant step towards improving the design of future catalysts and catalytic reactors, especially for microfluidic “lab-on-a-chip” devices, researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) at Berkeley, have successfully applied magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to the study of gas-phase reactions on the microscale.

A team of researchers have developed a technique in which parahydrogen-polarized gas is used to make an MRI signal strong enough to provide direct visualization of the gas-phase flow of active catalysts in packed-bed microreactors. This work, the first application of gas-phase MRI to microfluidic catalysis, shows that parahydrogen-enhanced MRI can be used to track gases and liquids in microfluidic devices as well as in the void spaces of a tightly packed catalyst reactor bed.

Full report here

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Berkeley scientists bring MRI/NMR to microreactors

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Organic Molecular Nanotechnology

Modest from the viewpoint of molecular manufacturing visionaries, but quite fascinating to a lot of scientists, research into nanofibers, as a modification of organic crystals, is making good progress. New research results coming out of Denmark offer the basis for a novel organic-molecule-based nanotechnological concept that allows for a multitude of applications in fundamental research and in device applications. Essentially, this concept is based on three steps: 1) directed self-assembled surface growth of nanofibers from functionalized molecules; 2) transfer and manipulation of individual fibers as well as of ordered arrays; and 3) device integration.

Full report here

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Magnetic Nanoparticles - Nano-magnets Aim to Replace Drugs

Medical electronics has long been key to monitoring, diagnosing and predicting disease. Last year, however, electromagnetic fields were shown to cure cancer in rats, and this year magnetic fields were shown to reduce swelling after injuries. Now, biomedical engineers working with a physicist at Harvard University have demonstrated magnetic nanoparticles that can bind to the same cell receptors as do drugs and trigger the same effects in the presence of a magnetic field--albeit without the side effects of pharmaceuticals.

Full report from here

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Light-scattering Probe could Replace Colonoscopy Cancer Detection

New technique could replace colonoscopy for early cancer detection

Technology that could replace the colonoscopy as doctors’ primary method of screening for colon cancer is under study at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare. The technology could later prove useful in early detection of other cancers, such as pancreatic and lung.

The new technique, which uses a light-scattering probe thinner than a pencil, allows doctors to examine a portion of the colon to determine whether a patient is likely to develop abnormalities. The probe can detect changes to the entire colon that precede the development of growths.

Full report here

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Biomedical Energy Harvester Recharge your Mobile from Walk

A brisk walk might soon help bring a dead battery in a cellphone back to life. Researchers have developed a new device that will allow a person to generate electricity while walking. A team of engineers from three universities in Canada and the US has developed a biomedical energy harvester worn on the knees that turns the mechanical energy of human muscles into electricity.

In experiments, volunteers who walked with one prototype device on each knee generated about 5 watts of electricity — sufficient to power 10 typical cellphones simultaneously.

Full report here

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Erosion Eel Fights Erosion, Cleans Water - by Denny Hastings

Denny Hastings' revolutionary product is the Erosion Eel. The Erosion Eel is a fabric tube filled with rubber and/or wood chips. The Eel is used at construction sites to prevent eroded soils from entering the water system by filtering soil as water passes through it.

The implications aren’t local or even national, but worldwide. Hastings is working to use the Eel in developing countries to create drinkable water. His company has developed a simple, fast, economical way to clean water with the Erosion Eel. According to a 2000 Environmental Protection Agency study, 40 percent of the US waterways do not meet quality standards.

Full story here

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Molecular Nanovalves - Store Gas with Barium Organotrisulfonate

Nanotechnology: Entirely New Way Of Storing Gas Created

new process for catching gas from the environment and holding it indefinitely in molecular-sized containers has been developed by a team of University of Calgary researchers, who say it represents a novel method of gas storage that could yield benefits for capturing, storing and transporting gases more safely and efficiently.

In a new article in Nature-Materials,* Shimizu, fellow U of C professor David Cramb, chemistry graduate student Brett Chandler and colleagues from the National Research Council describe their invention of "molecular nanovalves." Using the orderly crystal structure of a barium organotrisulfonate, the researchers developed a unique solid structure that is able to convert from a series of open channels to a collection of air-tight chambers.

Full report here

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Entirely New Way of Storing Gas Created

A Nanotechnology Way of Storing Gas Created

Nanotechnology: Entirely New Way Of Storing Gas Created

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Has Thane Heins Created a Perpetual Motion Machine?

Turning physics on its ear

It all began back in 1985, when Thane Heins started thinking about how magnets could be used to improve power generators. Has this college dropout done the impossible and created a perpetual motion machine?

Thane Heins is nervous and hopeful. It's Jan. 24, 2008, and in four days the Ottawa-area native will travel to Boston where he'll demonstrate an invention that appears – though he doesn't dare say it – to operate as a perpetual motion machine.

The audience, esteemed Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Markus Zahn, could either deflate Heins' heretical claims or add momentum to a 20-year obsession that has broken up his marriage and lost him custody of his two young daughters.

Full story here

Update: Heins a couple of days back demonstrated his machine to MIT professor Markus Zahn, an expert in electromagnetic and electronic systems. It proved interesting enough to stump the professor, as well. But Zahn thinks the idea is worth investigating further. "It's an unusual phenomena I wouldn't have predicted in advance," Zahn told The Toronto Star. "But I saw it. It's real."...so there!

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Wireless Impact Guardian - A Helmet that Makes Phone Calls

A Helmet that Can Make a Phone Call

Brycen Spencer designed a safety helmet that offers more than just protection. He’s nicknamed it “the OnStar of Helmets.” His Wireless Impact Guardian, or WIG, will call 911 in an accident.

Spencer's WIG could be a boon for recreational athletes, especially those venturing into remote areas. There were 113,900 ATV injuries requiring emergency room treatment in 2002. The US Consumer Product Safety Council estimates that ATV crashes cost society a total of $6.5 billion in medical, legal, and work-loss expenses every year.

“The WIG will be activated when you buckle it on,” Spencer said “Then, say you fall and hit your head, the helmet will detect that. At this point it will beep for a minute or so. If you don’t turn it off, WIG sends for help, either directly to 911 or to a third-party service that relays the emergency call to 911. And with that message will be a GPS location giving your geographical coordinates so the emergency team knows precisely where you are.”

Full story here

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U.S. Army's "Mobile Backbone" Tactical Communications Network

U.S. Army previews future network's revolutionary "mobile backbone"

The US Army conducted an engineering field test of its future tactical communications network here in Oct. 2007 and demonstrated a new mode of combat communications with a "mobile backbone" .

Demonstrated were the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 engineering models being developed to allow brigade, battalion and company key leaders to continue to collaborate and exchange information using Internet-based voice, video and data technologies whether their combat formations are moving or halted.

Such a system would differ significantly from any currently used in the Army.

Full report here

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Is Bio-Suit The Space Suit of the Future?

Aero-TV: Is Bio-Suit The Space Suit Of The (Near) Future?

MIT May Have The Answer To The Question About What Tomorrow's Space Travelers May Be Wearing

During the 2007 World Space Expo, ANN's Aero-TV teams came upon something that would have looked like a space suit... if only there had been more of it -- or so we thought. Upon close examination, though, we found out that this suit -- the Bio-Suit, was indeed a space suit and that in years hence (and not so many as one might imagine), this will be "unform of the day" for spacefarers.

Full story here

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Self Healing Reinforced Plastics Materials that can Repair Themselves

Two groups in particular—one in America and one in Britain—are trying to create composite materials such as reinforced plastics that will mend themselves if they get cracked, in much the same way as an animal’s broken bone will heal. The difference is that these materials will heal in minutes rather than months.

Such self-healing composites may take a while to enter everyday use. But if they can be made reliably, they will be welcome in high-stress applications that are difficult to inspect regularly (the blades of wind turbines, for example) or are critical to safety (such as the doors and window-frames of aircraft).

Full report here

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Flapping-wing Airplanes Envisioned - Smaller Wingspans but Flexible

Flapping-wing airplanes are envisioned

U.S. scientists are studying birds, bats and insects and their aerobatic efficiencies as a step toward designing flapping-wing airplanes.

University of Michigan engineers said such planes of the future might have wingspans smaller than a deck of playing cards and the aerodynamics of flying animals that can outperform current man-made aircraft.

Full story here

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Flapping-wing airplanes are envisioned

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Japanese Paper Plane's Space Odyssey

Space: final frontier for the paper plane

Later this year Japanese scientists plan to launch a specially designed paper craft from the International Space Station. Travelling at 17,000mph – the orbiting speed of the station – it is likely to cover more than a million miles before plunging into the Earth's atmosphere.

A professor of aerospace engineering at Tokyo University showed the plane was capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 250C and winds seven times the speed of sound. He now plans to give a number of the 20cm planes, which have been treated with chemicals to resist heat and rain, to a Japanese astronaut for a launch from space station later this year. If the first mission is a success, the technology could be used to make unmanned spacecraft.

Full story here

See also this article

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Can Japan's paper plane fly in space? - BBC News

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Integrated Multilayer Insulation (IMLI) for Energy Efficient Spacecraft

Colorado Engineering Firms Win NASA Grant to Develop Innovative Insulation for Next Generation Spacecraft - Super-Insulation May Allow Future Energy Efficient Appliances

Product Development, teaming with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., has completed a NASA research program and successfully demonstrated a new thermal insulation. NASA has awarded the team a Small Business Innovation Research Phase II grant to develop and commercialize this advanced thermal insulation.

Integrated Multilayer Insulation ("IMLI"), vital for NASA's new spacecraft and exploration missions would preserve rocket fuels such as liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.

Full report here

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Plasma Propulsion for Palm-Sized Robot Drones - Plasma Thrusters

Plasma Propulsion for Palm-Sized Drones

Military researchers keep building smaller and smaller robotic spies. But reliably propelling the things hasn't been easy. Using flapping wings, tiny propellers, or ducted fans, the drones all have a tendency to break down, because of the itty-bitty moving parts.

Which is why Darpa-funded researchers at Oklahoma State University are working on a propulsion system for tiny drones with no moving parts at all. It uses plasma thrusters instead

Full story here

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Plasma Propulsion for Palm-Sized Drones

Plasma Propulsion for Palm-Sized Drones

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MIT Team's Nanoparticles to Battle Cancer - Mimic Blood Platelets

MIT team develops nanoparticles to battle cancer

On a quest to modernize cancer treatment and diagnosis, an MIT professor and her colleagues have created new nanoparticles that mimic blood platelets. The team wants to use these new multifunctional particles to carry out different medical missions inside the body, from imaging to drug delivery.

The grant will allow the team to continue work on promising nanoparticle solutions that, while not quite miniature surgical teams, do have the potential to help identify tumors and deliver chemotherapy locally.

Full report here

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Team develops nanoparticles to battle cancer

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Quiet Crisis in the Future of U.S. Engineering - Nanotechnology to Civil Infrastructure

"The U.S. is still the leading engine for innovation in the world. It has the best graduate programs, the best scientific infrastructure, and the capital markets to exploit it. But there is a quiet crisis in U.S. science and technology that we have to wake up to. The U.S. today is in a truly global environment, and those competitor countries are not only wide awake, they are running a marathon while we are running sprints. If left unchecked, this could challenge our preeminence and capacity to innovate." A roadmap project on the future of engineering in the U.S. is coming pretty much to the same conclusion.

Interesting article...full content here

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The quiet crisis - the future of U.S. engineering, from nanotechnology to civil infrastructure

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CCNtv highlights latest Civil Engineering Software Products

CCNtv highlights latest Civil Engineering Software Products

28 Jan 2008

CADCAMNETtv, the web-video news show produced by the publishers of CADCAMNet, the leading CAD industry online and print news resource, and Alkemedia Productions LLC, announced its newest webcast, covering the most up-to-date CAD industry news is available now.

This week's report highlights two of the leading Civil Engineering software products, from Autodesk and Bentley. The report includes details of Autodesk's Civil3D product, and PowerCivil from Bentley systems.

Full report here

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Reverse Engineering Outsourcing - A Growing Trend?

Many recent needs have put reverse engineering in the news, as today's engineers painstakingly disassemble, analyze, and re-create mission-critical components from ancient spacecraft and support systems.

For instance, engineers working on a particular problem learn their lessons, apply what they've learned to the solution, and move on. The lessons are retained by the group, but over time the group memory is lost. This has serious implications for commercial enterprises as well as government agencies.

Engineering managers are often reluctant to take engineers away from critical design projects that are timelined, to put them on reverse engineering projects. Now, they have the option of outsourcing the project to a reverse engineering specialist. Thus, a new breed of reverse engineering outsourcing vendors are cropping up!

More from here

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Why Single Nanotube is Better than Multi Nanotubes Sensors, Flat Planar Sensors

Modeling Technique Explains Why a Single Nanotube Performs Better than Sensors Containing Several Nanotubes or Flat Planar Sensors

A new modeling technique explains for the first time why a single nanotube performs better than sensors containing several nanotubes or flat planar sensors and refutes a popular explanation for why smaller sensors work better than larger ones.

The technique was developed to study and design miniature biosensors, and could help industry perfect lab-on-a-chip technology for uses ranging from medical diagnostics to environmental monitoring.

Full report from here

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'Smart' Interactive Fitting Room Suggests What to Wear

A dressing room equipped with cameras and interactive displays could lead to intelligent fitting rooms that connect shoppers to a social fashion network, where they can see themselves and others wearing different outfits.

The system can help shoppers compare their dressing room choices before purchase and can suggest alternative styles. The program can also recommend other clothes available on the store's racks.

Interactive dressing rooms and social fashion networking are already a part of our society. A Prada store in New York City has a "Magic Mirror" that takes a video image of the shopper, which can then be sent via email or SMS to friends, who can reply with a thumbs up or down.

Really cool...full report here

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'Smart' Interactive Fitting Room Suggests What to Wear

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DSM Engineering Plastics' PA4T Polymer for High Performance Thermoplastics

DSM Engineering Plastics has a new polymer

DSM Engineering Plastics announces the development of a new polymer, PA4T which expands their portfolio for high performance engineering thermoplastics.

DSM Engineering Plastics, one of the world's leading suppliers of engineering thermoplastics, is the inventor and global market leader in high performance polyamides with Stanyl* , a polyamide 46.

The new PA4T polymer offers an exciting and unique balance of properties including excellent dimensional stability, compatibility with lead free soldering, high melting point, high stiffness and mechanical strength at elevated temperatures, and excellent processability in terms of flow and processing windows. The new polymer will answer to market trends for miniaturization and convergence of electronic devices like cell phones and computers. It will assist automakers in continued weight reduction efforts for better fuel efficiency and lower costs.

Full news report here

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DSM Engineering Plastics has a new polymer

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Litroenergy Emits Light for a Decade without Electricity

Energy-Saving Material Takes Top Prize in Design Contest

Competition sponsored by NASA Tech Briefs and SolidWorks Corp. attracts nearly a thousand innovative product ideas from engineers worldwide

Litroenergy, a patent-pending designed material that emits light for more than a decade without electricity or sun exposure, has won the $20,000 grand prize in the 2007 Create the Future Design Contest sponsored by NASA Tech Briefs magazine and SolidWorks Corporation (www.solidworks.com).

Full report here

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Energy-Saving Material Takes Top Prize in Design Contest

Energy-Saving Material Takes Top Prize in Design Contest

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Electric Ciruits that Turn Contact Lenses Into Screens

Future screens may lie on the surface of the eye

Frontier technology lays minute circuits and lights on contact lenses

Screens that sit on the eye are on their way. Scientists at the University of Washington have fit a tiny electric circuit onto a contact lens, and shown that a rabbit can happily wear it. The embedded circuit incorporates lights, and, although the technology is still nascent, it could lead to contact lenses that act as tiny screens. These screens would, ideally, superimpose images on the wearer’s world.

If this technology comes to fruition, the lenses could be used in video games and while surfing the internet, or display health-related information like heart rate and blood pressure. Drivers and pilots wearing them wouldn’t need to lower their gaze check instruments, and traders could keep constant track of the stock market!

Full news report here

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Future of Engineering Blog Started

Will present insights, updates and news on where engineering is headed...