News

New Airborne GPS Improves Weather Models

By designing a new GPS system aboard airplanes, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego researchers will improve weather models and hurricane forecasting by detecting precise conditions in the atmosphere.Current measurement systems that use GPS satellite signals as a source to probe the atmosphere rely on GPS receivers that are fixed to ground and cannot measure over the ocean, or they rely on GPS receivers that are also on satellites that are expensive to launch and only occasionally measure in regions near storms. The new system, led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography geophysicist Jennifer Haase and her colleagues, captures detailed meteorological readings at different elevations at targeted areas of interest, such as over the Atlantic Ocean in regions where hurricanes might develop.“This field campaign demonstrated the potential for creating an entirely new operational atmospheric observing system for precise moisture profiling from commercial aircraft,” said Haase, an associate researcher with the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Physics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) at Scripps. SourceAlso: Learn about GPS Estimates of Integrated Weather Forecasters.

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Researchers Build Innovative, Solar-Powered Toilet

A revolutionary University of Colorado Boulder toilet, fueled by the sun, will assist some of the 2.5 billion people around the world lacking safe and sustainable sanitation.  The technology will be unveiled in India this month. The self-contained, waterless toilet, designed and built using a $777,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has the capability of heating human waste to a high enough temperature to sterilize it and create biochar, a highly porous charcoal, said project principal investigator Karl Linden, professor of environmental engineering. The biochar can be used to both increase crop yields and sequester carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. According to the Gates Foundation, the awards recognize researchers who are developing ways to manage human waste that will help improve the health and lives of people around the world. Unsafe methods to capture and treat human waste result in serious health problems and death – food and water tainted with pathogens from fecal matter results in the deaths of roughly 700,000 children each year. Linden’s team is one of 16 around the world funded by the Gates “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” since 2011.SourceAlso: Have a new design idea? Enter our Create the Future Design Contest.  

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System Enables Unmanned Aircraft to Detect Another in Flight

Queensland University of Technology Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) researchers have made what's believed to be a world-first breakthrough for small unmanned aircraft (UA), developing an onboard system that has enabled a UA to detect another aircraft using vision while in flight.

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Flying Robot Would Monitor Environmental Health

With a contract from the U.S. Army, the University of Nevada, Reno is partnering with NevadaNano to develop a robotic flying vehicle that can be used for environmental health and safety monitoring of large areas. The goal is development of a flying robot with integrated chemical sensing, inter-unit communication, and the potential for self-powering. It will be able to "swarm" with other similar units to monitor, collect, and analyze samples while in flight and relay data immediately.

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Shape-Changing Wing Flap Reduces Drag and Noise

A milestone for the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge (ACTE) project at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center occurred with the delivery of two revolutionary experimental flaps designed and built by FlexSys of Ann Arbor, MI, for installation on the Gulfstream G-III Aerodynamics Research Test Bed aircraft. Researchers are replacing the airplane’s 19-foot-long aluminum flaps with advanced, shape-changing assemblies that form continuous bendable surfaces.

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Will Most Doctors Adopt Wearable Computing Like Google Glass?

Emergency room clinicians at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston recently tried out the wearable Google Glass eyeglasses. With Google Glass, the doctors could communicate and examine patients while simultaneously reading their charts. By using Glass to access information, doctors could remain with a patient and did not need a tablet to search through relevant medical documents and files.

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Engineers Build 3D Acoustic Cloaking Device

Using little more than a few perforated sheets of plastic and a staggering amount of number crunching, Duke engineers have demonstrated a three-dimensional acoustic cloak. The new device reroutes sound waves to create the impression that both the cloak and anything beneath it are not there.The acoustic cloaking device works in all three dimensions, no matter which direction the sound is coming from or where the observer is located, and holds potential for future applications such as sonar avoidance and architectural acoustics.The materials manipulating the behavior of sound waves are simply plastic and air. Once constructed, the device looks like several plastic plates with a repeating pattern of holes poked through them. The plates are stacked on top of one another to form a sort of pyramid.The cloak must alter the waves’ trajectory to match what they would look like had they had reflected off a flat surface. Because the sound is not reaching the surface beneath, it is traveling a shorter distance and its speed must be slowed to compensate.To test the cloaking device, researchers covered a small sphere with the cloak and “pinged” it with short bursts of sound from various angles. Using a microphone, they mapped how the waves responded and produced videos of them traveling through the air.SourceLearn about an Acoustic Liner for Turbomachinery Applications.

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