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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Turn Vibrations In To Electricity

With the current talk about global warming, and the impact of carbon emissions on our planet, focus is now shifting to green energy, and wind electricity has reigned supreme in this regard. People, organizations, and even governments are investing heavily in coming up with wind turbines to generate the much needed electricity. However, traditionally wind energy has been associated with huge installation costs, expensive turbines, and so forth. In this regard, researchers have come up with the less expensive Vibro wind set up, which uses less space, is not as expensive, and produces much electricity.
These Vibro wind panels will work like the solar panels do, where they will be fitted on top of buildings, where they will not only generate electricity, but will also convert even minor wind breezes. Unlike windmills and turbines that need plenty of space for them to be installed, the Vibro wind panels will herald a new dawn, where smaller and equally effective wind set ups will be used. It is worth noting that this project is being done in conjunction with engineers and architects, to ensure that it does not flop. This is also meant to ensure that the mechanical energy is easily converted to electrical energy. Conversion of the mechanical energy to electrical energy is being made possible by using a piezoelectric transducer.

Human And Machines Got Even Closer

In this era when technology continues to get advanced and better, it may pleasantly surprise many to note that machines are getting closer to humans and they are performing duties that no one hitherto would be possible. In other words, machines and gadgets are being invented that can imitate the human functioning, for example in the human brain, eyes and so forth.
But perhaps one of the latest inventions, that is a clear manifestation of humans getting even closer to humans, is a machine that has been made and which can imitate the human voice. The machine was invented as part of a completion, for the Artificial Conversational Entities, known as the ACE. Several machines that could imitate the human voice were entered for the competition and the winner was really awesome. During the competition, judges selected some of the five best machines and competed for five minutes, to get the best. This comprised if a five minute kind of interrogation, where there were unrestricted conversations with the machines, which tried to pass of as human beings. So real did these machines sound, that one would not tell whether one was a machine, or a human being.

Brain Scan And Mind Reading – Not So Far

Brain scan and mind reading of the part of the brain responsible for memory have been used to detect a person’s location in the virtual environment. This enables the location of individuals as they navigate through the virtual rooms. These are used to discern what someone was doing, where they are or were and where they are planning to go. This shows that detailed mind reading will be possible with the advancing technology and research.
The hippocampus underpins the ability of a person’s mind to navigate, form, recollect memories and imagine future experiences. The mind reading and scanning is done by using multivariate pattern classification and high resolution functional MRI to decode activities across the population of neurons in the human medial temporal lobe while the participants navigate in a virtual reality environment. The position of an individual can be predicted accurately even when the visual input and task are held constant. Reading precise locations or other types of memory is difficult because fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) resolves the activity of thousands of neurons at a time. 

Artificial Cornea Implants – donors of the future

The cornea is the clear protective layer covering the eye. Injuries and diseases affecting the cornea might lead to adverse eye problems like blurred visions. The cornea is responsible for filtering out ultraviolet rays that comes from the sun. However, with the advancement in medical technologies and the constant efforts of scientists through research, corneal diseases can be treated. The artificial corneal implants are the most recent of the treatments.
Artificial corneal implants proved to be beneficial because: it caters for the huge number of people who are waiting for corneal transplants and operations for instance Europe has a waiting list of over 40000 people and a worldwide list of 10 million. They are also biocompatible ensuring that there are no complications when in contact with the eye surface. In cases where traditional corneal transplants (also referred as corneal grafts) have failed to work, artificial cornea can be used. The risk of getting diseases from donors is also reduced. It prevents astigmatism and enhances rapid visual recovery.  Additionally, they are useful to patients who have not qualified to get living cornea donors.

3D printing

3D Printing Technologies

3D printing is used to come up with three dimensional objects and is a form of additive manufacturing. It is now easier and more affordable to come up with a prototype using the 3D technology. Before these technologies were introduced, it used to take several hours, skilled labor and tools to create a prototype.
One form of 3D printing technology is made up of inkjet printing systems. Fine powder layers made of resins, corn starch or plaster is bonded selectively on adhesives produced by the inkjet print heads. This kind of technology makes it possible to print a full color prototype and is considered to be one of the fastest methods.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


    MESSENGER Begins Historic Orbit Around Mercury  MESSENGER MOI NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft successfully achieved orbit around Mercury at approximately 9 p.m. EDT Thursday. This marks the first time a spacecraft has accomplished this engineering and scientific milestone at our solar system's innermost planet. For the next several weeks, APL engineers will be focused on ensuring the spacecraft’s systems are all working well in Mercury’s harsh thermal environment. Starting on March 23, the instruments will be turned on and checked out, and on April 4 the mission's primary science phase will begin.


NASA Has a Crush on You
It's almost one-million pounds of force on the "can," and they want to see it buckle.

Shell Buckling Knockdown Factor test article
Click to enlarge

Shell Buckling Knockdown Factor test article
Click to enlarge
A massive 27.5-foot-diameter (8.4m) and 20-foot-tall (6.1m) fully-instrumented test article was moved into location in Marshall's Engineering Test Laboratory in preparation for the Shell Buckling Knockdown Factor test. The polka dot pattern applied to the barrel allows the engineering team to capture precise measurements of the deformations of the test article during the test using a technique called photogrammetry, the practice of determining the geometric shape of an object from images. Credit: NASA/MSFC
Watch live TV coverage on NASA Television's Education Channel and the agency's website as NASA engineers test an immense aluminum-lithium rocket fuel tank on Wednesday, March 23, 10:30 a.m. EDT from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The hope is to use data from the test to generate new "shell-buckling design factors" that will enable lightweight, safe and sturdy "skins" for future launch vehicles. The test is led by the NASA Engineering and Safety Center, or NESC, based at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

NASA 360's Jennifer Pulley will host approximately two-hours of TV coverage from the test site and interview NESC, Langley and Marshall engineers.

The aerospace industry's shell buckling knockdown factors are a complex set of engineering data that dates back to Apollo-era studies of rocket structures -- well before modern composite materials, manufacturing processes and advanced computer modeling. The hope is for the new test data to update essential calculations that are typically a significant cost, performance, and safety driver in designing large structures like the main fuel tank of a future heavy-lift launch vehicle.

The large-scale test follows a series of smaller scale tests, all aimed at reducing the time and money spent designing and testing future rockets. And by incorporating more modern, lighter high-tech materials into the design and manufacturing process, rockets will save weight and carry more payload.

The 27.5-foot-diameter (8.4m) and 20-foot-tall (6.1m) space shuttle external tank barrel-shaped test article is in place at Marshall's Engineering Test Laboratory. During the test, the section will be sandwiched between two massive loading rings that will press down with almost one-million pounds (453,592 kg) of force on the central cylindrical test article forcing it to buckle.

Leading up to Wednesday's big crush, the shell buckling team has previously tested four, 8-foot-diameter (2.4m) aluminum-lithium cylinders to failure. In preparation for the upcoming test, hundreds of sensors have been placed on the barrel section to measure strain, local deformations and displacement. In addition, advanced optical measurement techniques will be used to monitor tiny deformations over the entire outer surface of the test article. Research to date suggests a potential weight savings of as much as 20 percent.

The principal investigator of the Shell Buckling Knockdown Factor Project is Mark Hilburger, senior research engineer at NASA Langley; Mike Roberts, an engineer in Marshall's Structural Strength Test Branch is the Marshall lead for the test.

The Shell Buckling Knockdown Factor Project is led and funded by the NESC; Marshall is responsible for the test including the engineering, the equipment design, the hardware facilities and safety assurance. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company fabricated the test article at Marshall's Advance Weld Process Development Facility using state of the art welding and inspection techniques.
Chicken Fat Biofuel: Eco-friendly Jet Fuel Alternative?

In an RV nicknamed after an urban assault vehicle, scientists from NASA's Langley Research Center traveled cross-country this month for an experiment with eco-friendly jet fuel.

NASA DC-8 aircraft

Click to enlarge
NASA's DC-8 at Dryden Flight Research Center's Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. Credit: NASA Dryden/Tom Tschida
The Langley team drove 2,600 miles (4,184 km) from Hampton, Va., to meet up with other researchers at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California.

Researchers are testing the biofuel on a NASA DC-8 to measure its performance and emissions as part of the Alternative Aviation Fuel Experiment II, or AAFEX II. The fuel is called Hydrotreated Renewable Jet Fuel.

"It's made out of chicken fat, actually," said Langley's Bruce Anderson, AAFEX II project scientist. "The Air Force bought many thousands of gallons of this to burn in some of their jets and provided about 8,000 gallons (30,283 liters) to NASA for this experiment."

Anderson and his team will test a 50-50 mix of biofuel and regular jet fuel, biofuel only, and jet fuel only. The jet fuel is Jet Propellant 8, or JP-8, a kerosene-like mix of hydrocarbons.

Two of the team members headed west in a specially equipped 32-foot (9.75 m) van on loan from Langley's Aviation Safety Program. It's dubbed "EM-50" by researchers after the urban assault vehicle used in the 1981 comedy "Stripes" with Bill Murray.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Tim Berners Lee has invented something which affects us all on a daily basis, and something which we take for granted, despite being a relatively new concept. Tim Berners Lee invented the World Wide Web. Born on June 8th, 1955 in London, England, Tim was the child of two computer-mad parents, who both met whilst working on a computer to be commercially sold for the first time.