Archive for January, 2012

Ocean motion could produce 9 percent of U.S. electricity

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 31, 2012   View Article

Next-generation technologies that harvest electricity from ocean waves and tides sloshing along the U.S. coasts could provide about 9 percent of the nation’s demand by 2030, according to a pair of recent studies.

The findings, which include maps of these ocean energy resources, should help guide companies looking to develop them.

Steve Jobs: The second greatest innovator of all time?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 26, 2012   View Article

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs ranks behind only Thomas Edison as the world’s greatest innovator of all time in a survey released today on young Americans’ attitudes about invention and innovation.

Jobs’ innovations include the iPhone and iPad, the popular gadgets that are helping to revolutionize how we communicate with each other and sent Apple’s stock to a record high Wednesday.

Unknown “Structures” Not Tugging on the Universe After All?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 20, 2012   View Article

Mysterious, unseen structures on the outskirts of creation most likely aren’t tugging on our universe, according to a new study. The paper reexamines “dark flow”— an unusual, one-way motion of matter —using measurements of supernovae and the existing laws of physics.

In 2008, a team of scientists took measurements of hundreds of galaxy clusters and calculated that everything in the visible universe—and likely beyond—is flowing at 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometers) an hour in the same direction.

The data couldn’t be explained by the distribution of matter in the known universe, so the scientists suggested that chunks of matter had been pushed out shortly after the big bang, and their gravity is now pulling on everything around us.

Road rage at driverless cars? It’s possible

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 20, 2012   View Article

The road to a future where we jump in our cars, enter a destination, and let them do the driving could be filled with rage, according to an expert on driverless car technology.

For starters, driverless cars will likely be programmed to obey all traffic laws. They won’t speed and will always come to a complete stop at stop signs, for example.

Throw just a few of those law-abiding robots on roads clogged with 250 million human-controlled cars, and there’s bound to be some shaken fists, or worse.

Can drones fly as well as Luke Skywalker

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 19, 2012   View Article

Next-generation drones may fly like Luke Skywalker zipping through the Endor forest on a speeder bike, suggests new research which focuses on how birds such as northern goshawks determine their maximum speed limit.

These birds race after prey through the forest canopy without smacking into tree trunks.

They avoid this fate by observing a theoretical speed limit, according to scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tiny tweezers help fat fingers do nimble tasks

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 18, 2012   View Article

Ever wish you had teeny tiny tweezers to pull a teeny tiny splinter from your pinky?

You’re in luck.

Researchers have developed easy-to-use “microtweezers” that are up to the task, and much more, such as plucking a cluster of stem cells from a petri dish and building all sorts of little mechanical devices.

Blowing bubbles to make ships more fuel efficient

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 19, 2012   View Article

Blowing a lot of bubbles under cargo ships turns out to be a good way to cut down on fuel costs, according to ongoing research on so-called air lubrication technology.

“The basic idea is that if you could somehow have air close to the hull, it would help the hull slip through the water better by reducing the skin friction,” Steven Ceccio, a professor of naval architecture and mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, explained to me Wednesday.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach