Archive for January, 2017

Sonic Boom Photograph

The sound barrier is broken when an object moves faster than the speed of sound. Sound is essentially a set of waves. These waves travel outwards from the source of the sound. When an object moves really fast, it creates it’s own pressure waves that move super fast in all directions. Now as the object beats the speed of the sound it is creating a shock wave is created.

This shock wave is a result of a number of pressure waves layered one on top of the other. The shock wave is also called a sonic boom. Needless to say the occurrence is so sudden that the naked eye will never be able to catch it. Scientists have been working on a super quick camera which could photograph the pressure waves.

They are shaped like cones of light and are referred to as Mach cones. Researchers at Washington University have developed a camera with which it is possible to photograph and view the Mach cones as the light waves behind the sound waves form them. The graphic representation of a sonic boom is an interesting image showing small specks of light moving fast and blurred as the cone travels through them.

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Preparing for Mars

Getting a group of human beings on to the red planet is one of NASA’s current projects. Needless to say it is one full of difficulties. Living on Mars will have it’s own set of challenges. In order to prepare these people for their strenuous and demanding journey, NASA is currently training them to survive the conditions that they will face in outer space right here on Earth.

Below the summit of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii there are four men and two women living in a vinyl coated pod. They were selected from over seven hundred applicants, and now they are preparing themselves for the eight month long journey to Mars.

As part of the program they will live in cramped quarters to simulate the space craft. They will eat only frozen and dried food as such will be actually available to them for the long voyage. They will have twenty minute delay in relaying messages and responses to “Earth” like they would when travelling through space.

The science project is a simulation to check what problems the astronauts will face on their Mars adventure and just what all NASA needs to prepare them for. The researchers will also learn about team dynamics and human behavior during the project.

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Why Your Smartphone Battery Will Not Explode

The exploding batteries of the Samsung Note 7 made headlines across the globe. A company which was considered a pioneer in the field of mobile creation was suddenly under a dark cloud of suspicion. Did Samsung compromise safety for some extra bucks? Not likely when it’s reputation was at stake.

With the fear of exploding batteries following smartphone users, it made sense for researchers at the University of Stanford to begin a science project that looked into making batteries safer to use. The scientists have been working on a method to introduce flame retartdants into lithium ion batteries. While this does stop the batteries from overheating, it does prevent them from bursting into flames.

What the research scientists have done is to encapsulate a chemical called triphenyl phosphate into tiny sheaths made of plastic. The chemical is a common flame retardant. These sheaths are then inserted into the electrode which is positioned between the anode and the cathode. The plastic sheath keeps the retardant from touching the electrolyte material.

It is the electroyte material that is most imflamable and the source of the majority of batery fires. When the material overheats and may begin to produce flames, the plastic sheath melts and releases the triphenyl phosphate into the mix. This retards the formation of flames and reduces the chance of the battery fire. Thereby making sure that the smartphone battery will not explode. Now this is a science project with very practical use!

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Book a Flying Taxi

There have been countless references to flying cars in science fiction movies and novels. The kind that don’t get you stuck in traffic and can handle amazing speeds to get you to your destination as soon as you possibly say where you want to go. The concept has found merit in popular fiction, but it’s been a way behind when it comes to actual implementation.

The technology of Vertical Take Off and Landing also known as VTOL, has been in existence for a while now. Aircrafts equipped with this facility have been constructed and tested. They have some snags, but on the whole it’s completely replicable in a smaller vehicle like a car. Now that’s what Airbus is experimenting with.

Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus, said at the DLD conference in Munich that a hundred years ago urban transportation when underground, now they have the technological wherewithal to go above ground. He was speaking about Project Vahana, which is working on a single passenger taxi that is capable of VTOL, which is about ready for testing this year.

The company is also experimenting with a science project that deals with a multi passenger flying car. Enders says that with flying you don’t need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads. Airbus actually envisions a taxi service which will work with bookings through an app, much like regular road running taxis today. If you could book yourself a flying taxi by the end of the year, would you?

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Spinning an Artificial Web

Spider’s web is made of a thread which is much stronger than any thread artificially produced in that size diameter. It’s tensile strength is 1.3 GPa which is a little lower than steel which has a tensile strength of 1.65 GPa. Tensile strength refers to the stress that any material can bear before breaking.

Spider web thread is not as dense as steel and makes a much lighter material. Considering it’s almost five times as strong as a thread of the same weight made from steel, it is a material that scientists have been trying to replicate. Rather unsuccessfully as so far the material that has been formed used harsh chemicals and had an extremely limited use.

Now scientists at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Karolinska Institute have come up with a new step wise method for biomimetic spinning of artificial spider silk. The researchers focused on the protein in spider’s web silk which was water soluble and then used an artificial protein which was also water soluble in the creation process.

Anna Rising, says that their science project has come up with the first successful example of biomimetic spider silk spinning. They designed a process that recapitulates many of the complex molecular mechanisms of native silk spinning. In the future this may allow industrial production of artificial spider silk for biomaterial applications or for the manufacture of advanced textiles

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The Benthic Rover

We’ve heard about rovers exploring the surface of Mars, sending back amazing data that teaches us more about the red planet. How many of us have heard of the Benthic Rover? Developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MABARI), United States, the Benthic Rover operates under water.

It is the only un-tethered, seafloor crawler currently in existence. The autonomous underwater rover operates at Station M. The location is 4,000 meters deep on the flat, muddy seafloor about 220 km away from the coastline of California. It’s pretty much walking around on it’s own taking measurements.

It measures sinking marine snow, basically plankton and faecal matter, as it sinks towards the seafloor. It’s also measured the percentage of carbon that can sink to the seafloor. The amount was much more that scientists previously believed. It has spent 367 days on the seafloor, a huge record for the crawler. It also traveled a record 1.6 km during this period.

This is currently the world record for the longest distance and time spent undersea for any rover. Needless to say a huge amount of data has been collected during this science project which is giving scientists a better understanding of climatic data.

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