With a major technological boost in this world
this thread will report all the inventions which have taken place and are about to, to help our world
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With a major technological boost in this world
this thread will report all the inventions which have taken place and are about to, to help our world
Do check it out
do reply, your feedback is a must
Tech-savvy teams from across the globe are throttling their sun-fueled engines for the toughest Panasonic World Solar Challenge yet.
The event marks the 20th anniversary of the biannual solar-powered race, and a record number of teams will hurry through 1,863 miles (3,000 kilometers) of the Australian outback this year, organizers said.
The course from Darwin to Adelaide will be the same as in three previous races, but 23 teams this year will compete in a new "Challenge" category. These cars will have 25 percent less solar panel area than the previous 86 square feet (8 square meters) standard.
In addition to the energy-grabbing cut, vehicles competing in the category require upright seating, which organizers consider a more practical position compared to the luge-like seats found in most solar-powered cars.
"We've done this to try and increase the level to which people can relate to solar vehicles," said Chris Selwood, race event manager. Organizers will also host a "Greenfleet" category, in which vehicles must run on fuel made of 60 percent waste mineral oil and 40 percent water.
The World Solar Challenge measures success by average speed during the course of a race, which takes about 30 hours of total driving time spread over five days. Previous winners include:
Race organizers said 41 teams in total from 18 different nations are participating across all the categories in hopes of grabbing a sun-bathed trophy at the finish line.
- Australia's "Aurora," averaging 45 mph (73 kph) in 1999
- Holland's "Nuna," averaging 57 mph (92 kph) in 2001
- Holland's "Nuna II," averaging 60 mph (97 kph) in 2003
- Holland's "Nuna III," averaging 64 mph (103 kph) in 2005.
"Some of these vehicles may be examples of what we're driving in the future, as the issues of climate change and sustainable transport become increasingly urgent," Selwood said.
The Aurora 101 solar car racing in the 2007 Panasonic World Solar Challenge. The vehicle's designers, which won in 1999, installed a highly efficient electric motor in its front wheel to move it forward. Credit: Panasonic World Solar Challenge
A stellar black hole much more massive than theory predicts is possible has astronomers puzzled.
Stellar black holes form when stars with masses around 20 times that of the sun collapse under the weight of their own gravity at the ends of their lives. Most stellar black holes weigh in at around 10 solar masses when the smoke blows away, and computer models of star evolution have difficulty producing black holes more massive than this.
The newly weighed black hole is 16 solar masses. It orbits a companion star in the spiral galaxy Messier 33, located 2.7 million light-years from Earth. Together they make up the system known as M33 X-7.
"We're having trouble using standard theories to explain this system because it is so massive," study team member Jerome Orosz of the University of California, San Diego, told SPACE.com.
The black hole in M33 X-7 is also the most distant stellar black hole ever observed. The findings, detailed in the Oct. 17 issue of the journal Nature, could help improve formation models of "binary" systems containing a black hole and a star. It could also help explain one of the brightest star explosions ever observed.
Black hole eclipse
Black holes can't be seen, because all matter and light that enters them is trapped. So black holes are detected by noting their gravitational effects on nearby stars or on material that swirls around them.
The companion star of M33 X-7 passes directly in front of the black hole as seen from Earth once every three days, completely eclipsing its X-ray emissions. It is the only known binary system in which this occurs, and it was this unusual arrangement that allowed astronomers to calculate the pair's masses very precisely.
The tight orbits of the black hole and star suggests the system underwent a violent stage of star evolution called the common-envelope phase, in which a dying star swells so much it ****s the companion inside its gas envelope.
This results in either a merger between the two stars or the formation of a tight binary in which one star is stripped of its outer layers. The team thinks the latter scenario happened in the case of M33 X-7, and that the stripped star explodes as a supernova before imploding to form a black hole.
However, something unusual must have happened to M33 X-7 during this phase to create such a massive black hole. "The black hole must have lost a large amount of mass for the two objects to be so close," Tomasz Bulik, an astronomer at the University of Warsaw in Poland, writes in related Nature article. "But on the other hand, it must have retained enough mass to form such a heavy black hole."
The team estimates the black hole's progenitor must have shed gas at a rate about 10 times less than models predicted before it exploded.
"[M33 X-7] might thus provide both the upper and lower limits on the amount of mass loss and orbital tightening that can occur in the common envelope," added Bulik, who was not involved in the study.
Twin black holes
If other massive stars also lose very little material during their last stages, it could explain the incredibly luminosity of 2006gy, one of the brightest supernovas ever observed, the researchers say.
One day, the lone star in M33 X-7 will also disappear, notes study team member Jeffrey McClintock of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. "This is a huge star that is partnered with a huge black hole," McClintock said. "Eventually, the companion will also go supernova and then we'll have a pair of black holes."
While 16 solar masses is hefty for a stellar black hole, it is miniscule compared with the black holes thought to lie in the heart of many large galaxies. Such "supermassive" black holes have masses millions to billions times that of our sun, but they are thought to form by mechanisms different from the stellar variety.
An artist's representation of M33 X-7: a binary system in the nearby galaxy M33, containing a massive blue star feeding material to a black hole surrounded by a small accretion disk
On a recent crisp autumn afternoon in Iowa, video cameras captured an unusual and visually dramatic result of two air masses colliding. Clouds split into a series of stripes and swept across the sky.
These so-called undular bores are created by atmospheric conditions that destabilize the air in a particular way. In the case of Des Moines, Iowa, they formed on Oct. 3 when a group of thunderstorms approached the city.
"At the time, a layer of cold, stable air was sitting on top of Des Moines," said atmospheric scientist Time Coleman of the National Space Science and Technology Center in Alabama. "The approaching storms disturbed the air, creating a ripple akin to what we see when we toss a stone into a pond."
A time-lapse video of the event shows just how strange it looked.
Undular bores are a type of gravity wave, one in which gravity is the force that pulls the wave down. Coleman likens the cloud waves to those created when a boat moves across the water.
"When a boat goes tearing across a lake, water in front of the boat is pushed upward," he explained. "Gravity pulls the water back down again and this sets up a wave."
The thunderstorms played the role of the boat in the skies over Des Moines in early October.
On radar images, the bores show up as bands denoting waves moving toward the radar and away from it. Coleman noted that residents of Des Moines actually felt the back-and-forth breeze as the waves traveled overhead.
"Flags flew one way during the crest of the wave and swung around 180 degrees to fly in the opposite direction during the trough," Coleman said.
The waves of undular bores typically measure 5 miles from peak to peak and race across the sky at 10 to 50 mph. Coleman estimates that one passes over any given point in the United States about once a month.
Undular bores can go on to form thunderstorms themselves.
"These waves churn up the atmosphere, causing instabilities that can initiate and sustain severe storms," Coleman said.
Of particular concern is the waves' ability to amplify tornadoes as they pass through the atmosphere, which is exactly what happened when an F5 (the strongest classification of tornado) struck right outside Birmingham, Alabama, in April 1998.
"At first the tornado was doing relatively little damage," Coleman recalled. "But our research shows that just before the tornado reached Birmingham, it was hit by an undular bore," causing it to spin up and increase in both intensity and size. The tornado went on to destroy more than 1,000 homes and businesses and caused $200 million in damage.
Screen-capture of undular bore waves moving over Des Moines, Iowa on Oct. 3, 2007. Residents felt the change in the wind direction as each wave moved across the city. Credit: KCCI-TV Des Moines/Iowa Environmental Mesonet SchoolNet8 Webcam
Astronomers have recorded heavenly music bellowed out by the Sun's atmosphere.
Snagging orchestra seats for this solar symphony would be fruitless, however, as the frequency of the sound waves is below the human hearing threshold. While humans can make out sounds between 20 and 20,000 hertz, the solar sound waves are on the order of milli-hertz--a thousandth of a hertz.
The study, presented this week at the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Lancashire, England, reveals that the looping magnetic fields along the Sun's outer regions, called the corona, carry magnetic sound waves in a similar manner to musical instruments such as guitars or pipe organs.
Robertus von Fay-Siebenburgen and Youra Taroyan, both of the Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Center at the University of Sheffield, and their colleagues combined information gleaned from sun-orbiting satellites with theoretical models of solar processes, such as coronal mass ejections.
They found that explosive events at the Sun's surface appear to trigger acoustic waves that bounce back and forth between both ends of the loops, a phenomenon known as a standing wave.
"These magnetic loops are analogous to a simple guitar string," von Fay-Siebenburgen explained. "If you pluck a guitar string, you will hear the music."
In the cosmic equivalent of a guitar pick, so-called microflares at the base of loops could be plucking the magnetic loops and setting the sound waves in motion, the researchers speculate. While solar flares are the largest explosions in the solar system, microflares are a million times smaller but much more frequent; both phenomena are now thought to funnel heat into the Sun's outer atmosphere.
The acoustic waves can be extremely energetic, reaching heights of tens of miles, and can travel at rapid speeds of 45,000 to 90,000 miles per hour. "These [explosions] release energy equivalent to millions of hydrogen bombs," von Fay-Siebenburgen said.
"These energies are plucking these magnetic strings or standing pipes, which set up standing waves--exactly the same waves you see on a guitar string," von Fay-Siebenburgen told SPACE.com. The "sound booms" decay to silence in less than an hour, dissipating in the hot solar corona.
Erupting clouds of plasma are suspended in the Sun's hot corona. Every feature in the image traces magnetic field structure
For years, scientists have studied how leaves prepare for the annual show of fall color. The molecules behind bright yellows and oranges are well understood, but brilliant reds remain a bit of a mystery.
In response to chilly temperatures and fewer daylight hours, leaves stop producing their green-tinted chlorophyll, which allows them to capture sunlight and make energy. Because chlorophyll is sensitive to the cold, certain weather conditions like early frosts will turn off production more quickly.
Meanwhile, orange and yellow pigments called carotenoids—also found in orange carrots—shine through the leaves' washed out green.
"The yellow color has been there all summer, but you don't see it until the green fades away," said Paul Schaberg, U.S. Forest Service plant physiologist. "In trees likes aspens and beech, that's the dominant color change."
Scientists know less about the radiant red hues that pepper northern maple and ash forests in the fall.
The red color comes from anthocyanins, which unlike carotenoids, are only produced in the fall. They also give color to strawberries, red apples, and plums.
On a tree, these red pigments beneficially act as sunscreen, by blocking out harmful radiation and shading the leaf from excess light. They also serve as antifreeze, protecting cells from easily freezing. And they are beneficial as antioxidants.
Trees produce them in response to stresses in the environment like freezing cold, UV radiation, drought, and fungus.
But red leaves are also signal of distress. If you see leaves of a tree turning red early, in late August, the tree is most likely suffering from a fungus or perhaps a ding from a reckless driver.
Chemicals found in strawberries and carrots give leaves vivid colors that remain unseen during summer. When cool temperatures put a stop to the production of green, the colors shine through.
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Artificial retinas are already in human clinical trials at the University of Southern California, where they have helped blind patients distinguish walls from doorways and even watch soccer games, albeit as blurs of motion. But approximating normal vision--and possibly enabling people to read--will require devices that can deliver electrical current with much greater control and precision. A new chip densely packed with electrodes, developed by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), is the first step in that direction.
Currently being used in research, the chip can stimulate and record from individual cells in retinal samples. The technology will provide insight into how the retina codes information and how to mimic that coding--lessons that will be crucial in developing the next generation of retinal implants. Further down the road, some version of the technology might be used to send visual information down the optic nerve.
Test bed: A 512-electrode array (gold circle), modeled after detectors used to capture particles in high-energy physics, is helping to decipher the neural code of the retina. The findings will aid in the design of future retinal prostheses.
Credit: Alan Litke
"The retina is a very sophisticated visual-information-processing device," says Alan Litke, a physicist at UCSC who is applying his expertise to neurobiology. "To have a human patient someday approach normal visual functioning, such as reading, you need to have a very accurate level of control."
The retina is a thin layer of cells at the back of the eye; photoreceptor cells in the retina detect light and send signals to the retinal ganglion cells, which then transmit the signals to the brain through the optic nerve. In macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, two leading causes of blindness, photoreceptor cells are damaged, but the remaining retinal ganglion cells are left largely intact. Artificial retinas, which rely on an external camera to capture visual information, consist of a that translates that information into an electrical code intelligible to the nerve cells of the eye, and a chip dotted with tiny electrodes that transmit the electrical signals to the retinal ganglion cells.
Litke and his collaborators modeled their chip after the silicon microchip detectors that line supercolliders to capture signs of elusive, high-energy, subatomic particles, such as the Higgs boson. Using common integrated-circuit fabrication techniques, the researchers custom-built more than 500 electrodes and amplifiers onto a small glass strip. "There are other commercial, multi-electrode recording systems available, but the team at UCSC has really pushed the technology forward by coming up with a system with the capability to record many more neural responses," says Matt McMahon, a scientist at Second Sight, the company based in Sylmar, CA, that's developing the retinal prostheses used in the USC study. Second Sight is using Litke's device to inform the design of future prostheses. The company's first-generation device had 16 electrodes, the second-generation device currently in human trials has 60, and a 200-electrode version is under development.
A novel machine that makes nanostructured fibers could be the key to a new generation of military uniforms that take on active functions such as generating and storing energy.
The fibers can be made of up to three different materials, arranged in regular, nanoscale patterns visible in cross section. The machine, manufactured by Hills, of West Melbourne, FL, is one of only two in the world capable of producing such fibers, says Stephen Fossey, a researcher at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center, in Natick, MA. The machine is scheduled to be delivered early next year to the Natick facility, where it will serve as the centerpiece of a program geared to making multifunctional uniforms.
Among the machine's many potential uses is assembling fibers that act as rechargeable batteries. Angela Belcher, a professor of biological engineering and materials science and engineering at MIT, says that some of the sample structures the device has made could be useful for combining positive and negative battery electrodes and electrolytes into individual threads. Such threads could be woven into uniforms and paired with threads that act as fuel cells or photovoltaics.
Wearable power: Researchers have developed technology that combines multiple materials into intricately structured fibers, such as those shown here (right). The researchers hope to make fibers that can store energy or convert sunlight into power, for use in soldiers’ uniforms.
Credit: (left) U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center, (right) Hills, Inc.
The machine was featured last week as part of a workshop on wearable power held at the United States Army Research Laboratory, outside of Washington, DC. The workshop was part of a major push to develop better alternatives to today's batteries as foot soldiers come to depend more on electronic devices, from night-vision goggles and laser range finders to advanced radios and networked . Today, a typical platoon requires almost 900 batteries of up to seven different types for a five-day mission, says Charlene Mello, a member of the macromolecular-science team at the Natick soldier center. Besides being cumbersome to manage and carry, the batteries don't last very long, which could put soldiers in the position of having to change them in the middle of a fight.
What's needed are ways to store energy in less space and relieve soldiers of logistical burdens so that they can concentrate on their jobs, says Dave Schimmel, a project manager at the Natick facility who works with experimental technologies that are close to being tested in the field.
Proposed solutions include lightweight fuel cells and batteries molded to the shape of a soldier's body armor. The Natick machine is important for longer-range research on power sources that would simply disappear into the background.
The machine is a variant on a common manufacturing technology used to extrude polymers: heated materials are forced through a die and then drawn down to make thin fibers. Its ability to combine three different materials into intricate patterns, however, depends on separate control of the temperature of each material (the upper temperature limit is 350 ºC).