Science is the poetry of Nature.







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Posts tagged "engineering"

climateadaptation:

How Bill Nye became the Science Guy.

yaleuniversity:

Yale engineers have developed a method for designing temperature adaptive enzymes, an innovation believed to be the first of its kind. Read on 

(via kenobi-wan-obi)

climateadaptation:

America, model for the world? This coal plant leaks and dumps waste into the Yellowstone River. Only about 30% of coal burned in a power plant produces electricity - the remaining 70% of the energy is literally wasted…

If you can stomach it, here’s a picture of an ExxonMobil oil refinery, also on the Yellowstone. This is how your electricity works…

Corette coal-fired power plant on the Yellowstone River in Montana. This facility is discharging toxic water pollution into the Yellowstone using a permit that should have expired several years ago. 

kqedscience:

MIT Scientists Develop New Breed Of Self-Assembling Robots

They’re called M-Blocks and the tiny, cubicle robots that can spin, flip and jump their way into new configurations are the brainchild of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

Read more from NPR.

txchnologist:


Can This Electric Car Break 400 Miles Per Hour?
by Marsha Lewis, Inside Science TV
When you think of electric cars, many people think of slow and small. But, a group of students at The Ohio State University is working on changing that perception by engineering an electric car that can travel up to 307 mph.
“It’s the world’s fastest [electric] vehicle. It’s lithium battery powered, four-thousand pounds and 800 horsepower,” said David Cooke, a mechanical engineering student at Ohio State who is working with a team of engineering students to build the fastest electric car yet.

Click through to see a video of the Ohio State team’s latest test run.
Read More

txchnologist:

Can This Electric Car Break 400 Miles Per Hour?

by Marsha Lewis, Inside Science TV

When you think of electric cars, many people think of slow and small. But, a group of students at The Ohio State University is working on changing that perception by engineering an electric car that can travel up to 307 mph.

“It’s the world’s fastest [electric] vehicle. It’s lithium battery powered, four-thousand pounds and 800 horsepower,” said David Cooke, a mechanical engineering student at Ohio State who is working with a team of engineering students to build the fastest electric car yet.

Click through to see a video of the Ohio State team’s latest test run.

Read More

(via naytile)

thenewenlightenmentage:

Fusion, anyone? Not quite yet, but researchers show just how close we’ve come

The dream of igniting a self-sustained fusion reaction with high yields of energy, a feat likened to creating a miniature star on Earth, is getting closer to becoming reality, according the authors of a new review article in the journal Physics of Plasmas.

Researchers at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) engaged in a collaborative project led by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, report that while there is at least one significant obstacle to overcome before achieving the highly stable, precisely directed implosion required for ignition, they have met many of the demanding challenges leading up to that goal since experiments began in 2010.

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Biomimetic bricks inspired by mother of pearl:

Chinese chemists have developed a new nacre-like material which is stronger than natural nacre and most other composites.
Nacre, which is also known as mother of pearl, is a naturally occurring composite formed from calcium carbonate and biopolymers that create a brickwork structure. It is also nearly a thousand times stronger than any of its component parts and a major target for biomimetic synthesis.

Full Article

Biomimetic bricks inspired by mother of pearl:

Chinese chemists have developed a new nacre-like material which is stronger than natural nacre and most other composites.

Nacre, which is also known as mother of pearl, is a naturally occurring composite formed from calcium carbonate and biopolymers that create a brickwork structure. It is also nearly a thousand times stronger than any of its component parts and a major target for biomimetic synthesis.

Full Article

abluegirl:

300,000 mirrors: World’s largest thermal solar plant (377MW) under construction in the Mojave

The largest concentrating solar power plant (100 MW) in operation is currently in Abu Dhabi, but it won’t stay at the top of the list for too long. Brightsource Energy is putting the finishing touches on its massiveIvanpah concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in the Mojave desert, and if all goes well, the switch should be flipped this year.

Ivanpah will have a capacity of 377 megawatts, or about enough energy to power 140,000 houses. It took more than 5 years to plan it, get permits, finance it, and build it. The shot above shows an early phase of construction.

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watershedplus:

One year ago the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams started to be removed as part of the watershed restoration on Washington’s Olympic peninsula. It is the largest dam removal in the history of the USA.
The dam removal will restores ecosystems in the long term, it will open up the river to migrating fish for the first time in 100 years and allow the river to transport sediment throughout its reach, helping to rebuild the natural bed structure and flow of the Elwha all the way to the sea by rebuilding beaches that today are starved for sand and other fine material.
In the short term, excess turbidity remains the biggest concern during the next 3–10 years. About 600 dams have been taken down in the U.S. over the past 50 years, but none involved so much sediment (24 million cubic yards).

In the case of the Elwha, Congress authorized the dam removal 20 years ago, but it took two decades to get the money and logistical details in place.

Source 1, 2, 3

dgorman88:


In the late sixties General Electric developed a walking truck, officially called the Cybernetic Anthropmorophous Machine, C.A.M was strong enough to brush aside a jeep yet sensitive enough to gently manipulate a lightbulb with its “feet” without breaking it.

dgorman88:

image

In the late sixties General Electric developed a walking truck, officially called the Cybernetic Anthropmorophous Machine, C.A.M was strong enough to brush aside a jeep yet sensitive enough to gently manipulate a lightbulb with its “feet” without breaking it.

sagansense:

Supercharging the search for secrets of the universe

image 1: The Large Hadron Collider at CERN faces a two-year shutdown so engineers can ramp up its maximum energy.
image 2: Proton-proton collisions during the search for the Higgs boson. Photo: AFP
image 3: A collision event between two lead ions in the Large Hadron Collider as observed by the ALICE detector. Photo: Supplied
image 4: A simulated black hole created by the Large Hadron Collider. Photo: Supplied

When it comes to shutting down the most powerful atom smasher ever built, it’s not simply a question of pressing the off switch.

In the French-Swiss countryside on the far side of Geneva, staff at the Cern particle physics laboratory are taking steps to wind down the Large Hadron Collider. After the latest run of experiments ends next month, the huge superconducting magnets that line the LHC’s 27km-long tunnel must be warmed up, slowly and gently, from -271 Celsius to room temperature. Only then can engineers descend into the tunnel to begin their work.

The machine that last year helped scientists snare the elusive Higgs boson - or a convincing subatomic impostor - faces a two-year shutdown while engineers perform repairs that are needed for the collider to ramp up to its maximum energy in 2015 and beyond. The work will beef up electrical connections in the machine that were identified as weak spots after an incident four years ago that knocked the collider out for more than a year.

The accident happened days after the LHC was first switched on in September 2008, when a short circuit blew a hole in the machine and sprayed six tonnes of helium into the tunnel that houses the collider. Soot was scattered over 700 metres. Since then, the machine has been forced to run at near half its design energy to avoid another disaster.

The particle accelerator, which reveals new physics at work by crashing together the innards of atoms at close to the speed of light, fills a circular, subterranean tunnel a staggering eight kilometres in diameter. Physicists will not sit around idle while the collider is down. There is far more to know about the new Higgs-like particle, and clues to its identity are probably hidden in the piles of raw data the scientists have already gathered, but have had too little time to analyse.

But the LHC was always more than a Higgs hunting machine. There are other mysteries of the universe that it may shed light on. What is the dark matter that clumps invisibly around galaxies? Why are we made of matter, and not antimatter? And why is gravity such a weak force in nature? “We’re only a tiny way into the LHC programme,” says Pippa Wells, a physicist who works on the LHC’s 7000-tonne Atlas detector. “There’s a long way to go yet.”

The hunt for the Higgs boson, which helps explain the masses of other particles, dominated the publicity around the LHC for the simple reason that it was almost certainly there to be found. The lab fast-tracked the search for the particle, but cannot say for sure whether it has found it, or some more exotic entity.

“The headline discovery was just the start,” says Wells. “We need to make more precise measurements, to refine the particle’s mass and understand better how it is produced, and the ways it decays into other particles.” Scientists at Cern expect to have a more complete identikit of the new particle by March, when repair work on the LHC begins in earnest.

By its very nature, dark matter will be tough to find, even when the LHC switches back on at higher energy. The label “dark” refers to the fact that the substance neither emits nor reflects light. The only way dark matter has revealed itself so far is through the pull it exerts on galaxies.

Studies of spinning galaxies show they rotate with such speed that they would tear themselves apart were there not some invisible form of matter holding them together through gravity. There is so much dark matter, it outweighs by five times the normal matter in the observable universe.

The search for dark matter on Earth has failed to reveal what it is made of, but the LHC may be able to make the substance. If the particles that constitute it are light enough, they could be thrown out from the collisions inside the LHC. While they would zip through the collider’s detectors unseen, they would carry energy and momentum with them. Scientists could then infer their creation by totting up the energy and momentum of all the particles produced in a collision, and looking for signs of the missing energy and momentum.

One theory, called supersymmetry, proposes that the universe is made from twice as many varieties of particles as we now understand. The lightest of these particles is a candidate for dark matter.

Wells says that ramping up the energy of the LHC should improve scientists’ chances of creating dark matter: “That would be a huge improvement on where we are today. We would go from knowing what 4 per cent of the universe is, to around 25 per cent.”

Teasing out the constituents of dark matter would be a major prize for particle physicists, and of huge practical value for astronomers and cosmologists who study galaxies.

“Although the big PR focus has been on the Higgs, in fact looking for new particles to provide clues to the big open questions is the main reason for having the LHC,” says Gerry Gilmore, professor of experimental philosophy at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge.

“Reality on the large scale is dark matter, with visible matter just froth on the substance. So we focus huge efforts on trying to find out if dark matter is a set of many elementary particles, and hope that some of those particles’ properties will also help to explain some other big questions. So far, astronomy has provided all the information on dark matter, and many of us are working hard to deduce more of its properties. Finding something at the LHC would be wonderful in helping us in understanding that. Of course one needs both the LHC and astronomy. The LHC may find the ingredients nature uses, but astronomy delivers the recipe nature made reality from.”

Another big mystery the Large Hadron Collider may help crack is why we are made of matter instead of antimatter. The big bang should have flung equal amounts of matter and antimatter into the early universe, but today almost all we see is made of matter. What happened at the dawn of time to give matter the upper hand?

The question is central to the work of scientists on the LHCb detector. Collisions inside LHCb produce vast numbers of particles called beauty quarks, and their antimatter counterparts, both of which were common in the aftermath of the big bang. Through studying their behaviour, scientists hope to understand why nature seems to prefer matter over antimatter.

Turning up the energy of the LHC may just give scientists an answer to the question of why gravity is so weak. The force that keeps our feet on the ground may not seem puny, but it certainly is. With just a little effort, we can jump in the air, and so overcome the gravitational pull of the whole six thousand billion billon tonnes of the planet. The other forces of nature are far stronger.

One explanation for gravity’s weakness is that we experience only a fraction of the force, with the rest acting through microscopic, curled up extra dimensions of space. “The gravitational field we see is only the bit in our three dimensions, but actually there are lots of gravitational fields in the fourth dimension, the fifth dimension, and however many more you fancy,” says Andy Parker, professor of high energy physics at Cambridge University. “It’s an elegant idea. The only price you have to pay is that you have to invent these extra dimensions to explain where the gravity has gone.”

The rules of quantum mechanics say that particles behave like waves, and as the LHC ramps up to higher energies the wavelengths of the particles it collides become ever shorter. When the wavelengths of the particles are small enough to match the size of the extra dimensions, they would suddenly feel gravity much more strongly.

“What you’d expect is that as you reach the right energy, you suddenly see inside the extra dimensions, and gravity becomes big and strong instead of feeble and weak,” says Parker. The sudden extra pull of gravity would cause particles to scatter far more inside the machine, giving scientists a clear signal that extra dimensions were real.

Extra dimensions may separate us from realms of space we are completely oblivious to. “There could be a whole universe full of galaxies and stars and civilisations and newspapers that we didn’t know about,” says Parker. “That would be a big deal.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson- Why Would-be Engineers End Up As English Majors

Scientists investigate that which already is; engineers create that which has never been.
Albert Einstein (via ikenbot)

(via kenobi-wan-obi)

aamukherjee:

Princeton’s Solar Cell Design Nearly Triples Solar Cell Efficiency

The sun has enough energy to supply our current energy needs for at least a few more billion years. Sadly, modern silicon and indium-tin-oxide-based solar cells are approaching the theoretical limit of 33.7% efficiency meaning that a lot of the energy from the sun is simply lost as residual heat. 

Enter Stephen Chou and his research team. By utilizing sandwiched plastic and metal with a nanomesh, they have developed a “Plasmonic Cavity with Subwavelength Hole array” or “PlaCSH” solar cell which substantially reduces reflectivity and the capture of light which is not being reflected. 

This PlaCSH is not only up to 175% more efficient than conventional solar cells but could potentially be cheaper if mass produced as they are missing the ITO element (the transparent conductor in your average solar cell) and utilising a nanomesh instead.

We’re still await a major breakthrough in alternative energy sources over the next few decades, but projects like this have a lot of potential to make solar power a sound investment for the future. 

aamukherjee:

Prodigies: Kelvin Doe

15-Year-Old Kelvin Doe is an engineering whiz living in Sierra Leone who scours the trash bins for spare parts, which he uses to build batteries, generators and transmitters. Completely self-taught, Kelvin has created his own radio station where he broadcasts news and plays music under the moniker, DJ Focus.

People know him as DJ Focus in his community because he believes, if you focus, you can create an invention perfectly. I think I have a lot to learn from him.