The next time you are sitting in city traffic
and get an eerie feeling when a large panel van goes driving stealthily by, relax.
It probably is not a terrorist with a load of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, but it
might just be a Z Backscatter Van™
(ZBV) spraying you with x-rays. OK, don't relax. AS&E has developed a dynamic
x-ray backscatter imaging system that uses a non-descript commercial van as its
mobile platform. Typical radiation dosage information is not offered, but the good
news is it supposedly will not cause cellular damage (even though it can see through
heavy-walled steel shipping containers). The system's "drive-by" capability allows
operators to conduct X-ray imaging of vehicles... <more>
Star Wars (SDI) derivative technology has
paid off again. Per
Raytheon's press release, "Raytheon Company and a U.S. Navy team
used a combined-beam fiber laser to shoot down four unmanned aerial vehicles in
flight during an over-the-water engagement. The UAV targets were engaged and destroyed
using the Navy's Laser Weapon System guided by Raytheon's Phalanx Close-in Weapon
System sensor suite. LaWS is made up of six industrial-use lasers that simultaneously
focus on the target. " Awesome, n'est-ce pas?
This gives a whole new meaning to "branch
circuits." Kaitrees craftsman Kevin forms his trees from bundles of aluminum wire
that begin at about 6 feet in length. The trunk is the thickest part of the bundle,
which is twisted tightly to keep everything together. No solder or glue is used.
Roots, branches, and leaves are fashioned from individual wires. Ends are trimmed
as necessary. His videos give info on cunstruction. Kevin currently has 7 different
models available for purchase. They would make great props for company lobbies or
IEEE TV has a video reporting on a 270 MW
geothermal power generation facility on the grounds of the
Naval Air Weapons Station
in China Lake, CA. The unground heat generated by the friction of tectonic plates
in relative motion manifests itself on the surface with hot springs and bubbling
mud pits. It is the perfect opportunity for tapping energy. Per the narrator, enough
electricity is generated to not only power the facility, but also to sell power
back to the grid. It is one of the largest of such facilities in the U.S. Unlike
wind turbines and massive solar cell arrays, geothermal and hydro generation are
are very efficient, low maintenance, are and non-polluting.
The world's first telephone book - and only
known surviving copy - from the New Haven, CT, telephone exchange, was recently
auctioned off by Christie's for a mere $170,500. Along with the names and phone
numbers of 391 subscribers were commercial advertisements in the back ala our modern
Yellow Pages, and even instructions for how to properly use the newfangled devices.
"Pick up the receiver. Say 'Hello." Say 'That is all,' when you are finished." Albert
W. Adams appears to be the first name listed. There were no phone numbers, because
operators patched through all calls (and no doubt listened in on many of them -
like NSA does today).
Regenerative braking has been around for a
long time. It converts the kinetic energy of a moving vehicle into electrical energy
that is stored in an onboard battery. The concept makes sense for vehicles that
are primarily powered by electric motors driving the wheels, because for most motors,
the only difference between being a motor and being a generator is the direction
in which the energy is being delivered (into or out of the motor). Large city busses
outfitted with regenerative braking have been a dismal failure in efficiency, but
for primarily electric cars, there is a real advantage. This video is from Popular
Science's Theodore Gray, whose
column each month usually has a very interesting demonstration fitting for a HS
has been a lot of research into remotely powering aerial vehicles via high power
lasers. DARPA and NASA fund numerous projects, and sponsor contests to encourage
participation. System efficiency greatly limits range and vehicle size/weight, since
not only does beam power drop off rapidly with distance, but the photocells or RF
antennas only capture a small percentage of the impinging signal. At a recent trade
show, LaserMotive, winner of
Power Beaming Challenge last year ($900k prize!), had a demonstration of a laser-powered
model helicopter being powered entirely by an 810 nm laser. They demonstrated capability
of 1 km during the competition. We still have a long way to go, but progress is
being made. Futurists envision powering the
Space Elevator and
even free-flying rockets with remote laser power.
Somehow I missed this part of the engineering
experience. Our hero Wally is evidently used to it, though. Warning: Watching this
short clip from the Dilbert television show that ran from January 25, 1999 through
July 25, 2000, may cause you to spend hours of valuable time viewing all the other
clips that are available. RF Cafe cannot be held responsible for lost productivity.
Japanese artist Isao Hashimmoto created this
video that shows all of the world's nuclear detonations from 1945 to 1998. "This
piece of work is a bird's eye view of the history by scaling down a month length
of time into one second... The blinking light, sound and the numbers on the world
map show when, where and how many experiments each country have conducted." At 1
sec/mo, things are slow-moving at first, then by 1955 the fireworks really get going.
The first blip is in the Nevada desert at the
Trinity test site in
July of 1945. The USSR entered the nuclear club in May 1949, followed by the UK
in August 1952. By the end, 7 countries were players, but since then N. Korea joined.
Soon, thanks to moronic politicians, Iran will also have detonated a nuke.
A lot of effort has been expended working
girls into the realm of the techie / geek / nerd (remember
the Nerd Girls video?) - a label assiduously avoided by many boys... until
they get rich from being one. The saga continues. "Hello friends, don't you want
to meet a nice girl?" That is the opening line in this music video produced by Team
Unicorn, whose mantra is Geek Girls: Like unicorns, we're not supposed to exist.
Sadly, I am not familiar with any of the players in the video, but reportedly it
is full of cameo appearances of movie stars and techie world moguls. Warning: There's
nothing too radical in here, but use discretion if playing in your cubicle.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology led
the way in providing free access to the content of course material via their
MIT Open CourseWare initiative. Although
credit is not awarded for the courses, they are a great way to refresh your knowledge
or to learn subject matter anew. Lots of professors have gained popularity through
these videos. To wit:
Dr. Walter Lewin's lectures on Electricity & Magnetism, which
are replete with demonstrations using animate (student)
and inanimate objects as part of the show. He covers all the classical topics like
charges and fields, solenoids and dipoles, Poynting vectors, oscillating charges,
and radiation pressure. Digressions into talks on levitating bullet trains and the
aurora borealis keep things interesting. Enjoy.
Watch the CNN reporter guy demonstrate how
easily his iPhone 4 loses a signal. Problem is, he really has to work at it to get
the signal to drop off. On top of that, he does not seem to consider that holding
that big metal video camera pressed right up to the phone face might be affecting
the signal quality. I doubt that Apple antenna engineers modeled that scenario.
Yeah, there really does appear to be a problem with the antenna, but I find it amusing
when the know-it-all TV people unknowingly expose the ignoramuses that most of them