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The Road to Lightweight Vehicles

With a steady rise in fuel prices and increasing restrictions on emissions, automakers face difficult challenges as they are forced to find ways of making their cars lighter and more fuel-efficient. One way to achieve this goal is to incorporate strong, lightweight, and durable composite materials to replace heavier, more energy-hungry materials.

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NASA Innovation Up Close and Personal

NASA’s post-Shuttle era has demonstrated that the agency continues to achieve amazing engineering feats – not the least of which is the Mars rover Curiosity, which has met the main goal of its 2-year mission in less than one year.

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Racing to Market

Earlier this year, Mouser Electronics pulled off a marketing/branding coup. They won the Indy 500, arguably the biggest, most famous automobile race in the world. As an official partner of driver Tony Kanaan’s KV Racing Technology team, Mouser’s name and corporate logo were prominently displayed on the race car’s side pods and front wings. On any given day that delivers a certain amount of prestige and brand recognition. But the Indy 500 is no ordinary motor race. It is the largest single-day sporting event in the world, bar none. It is also the most historic auto race in the world with roots dating back to 1911. Mouser is now a part of that history.

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Cyber-War – Have I Been Attacked?

Today we are pleased to have a guest blog on embedded device security from Alan Grau, president of Icon Labs. In July of 2011, Bloomberg Business Week’s cover story was ”Cyber Weapons: The New Arms Race.” Media reports of cyber-attacks by China on military targets and military contractors are frequent and are increasing. It is clear that a cyber-war has begun. The reported attacks focus on attacks against corporate networks, many aimed at stealing intellectual property and military secrets. One report details how Chinese hackers stole information relating to the operation of the power grid from a large corporation in the US and Canada.

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Laser Eye Beams

As the editor of Photonics Tech Briefs, I cover laser technology for a living. They’re pretty fascinating devices, but that doesn’t mean I ever wanted to have a laser beam shot into my eye. Unfortunately, Father Time and our own bodies do not always give us a choice. I was recently diagnosed as a prime candidate for narrow angle glaucoma. According to my optometrist, fluid in the eye normally drains through the space, or angle, between the cornea – the clear element covering the front of the eye – and the colored part of the eye, called the iris. In some people, like me, as we get older the lenses in our eyes continue to grow while the anterior chambers get shallower, causing the drainage angle to narrow. This causes pressure in the eye to increase. If it gets too high, it can result in a very serious condition known as acute angle closure glaucoma, which can send you to the emergency room with severe eye pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and some other very unpleasant symptoms. If they can’t relieve the pressure immediately, it could result in permanent damage or loss of vision.

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Explore & Discover with NASA

NASA is one of the top research entities in the world, producing technologies that range from electronics and new materials, to state-of-the-art robotics and sensors. Readers of NASA Tech Briefs get a firsthand look at these new technologies every month. But how many of you have had the chance to go behind the scenes at NASA and talk face-to-face with the engineers who are inventing these cutting-edge breakthroughs every day, or tour a NASA facility?

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Good News and Bad News

The bad news: the U.S. Government is shut down. The good news: the deadline has been extended to enter the Speed2Design Exploration & Discovery contest for a visit to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. In August, I was able to attend the Speed2Design event at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, and it was an unbelievable experience (see my blog of September 4). Sponsored by Littelfuse, the events give ten winners a chance to spend two days at a NASA facility, where they go behind the scenes to see what’s being developed at NASA, and meet the engineers who are inventing these state-of-the-art technologies. In these peer-to-peer TechTalk discussions, winners will discuss technological breakthroughs in spacecraft, bioengineering, robotics, and more.

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