Archive for May, 2013

Bank of 1,440 lithium-ion batteries to make power grid smarter

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 31, 2013   View Article

A bank of lithium-ion batteries big enough to supply about 500 U.S. homes with electricity during a power outage went online today to demonstrate the future of smart grid technologies.

The 5-megawatt battery is a piece of a larger, government-backed $178 million research project in the Pacific Northwest to make the electric grid more efficient and friendly to additional loads of renewable energy such as wind and solar, which fluctuate depending on the weather and time of day.

60 years after first Everest ascent, anyone can climb (online)

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 29, 2013   View Article

Sixty years ago, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay struggled to make the first ascent of Mt. Everest — but today, anyone with an Internet connection can easily trek to basecamp, take a virtual flight over the region’s glaciers, and see how the mountain has changed over the years.

“What we’ve heard from the scientists that study these specific glaciers is that the melt rate is increasing dramatically,” David Breashears, a famed mountaineer and filmmaker, told NBC News.

“One then says, well if we continue to put more carbon into the air … what will the glaciers look like and what will the consequences be?”

‘Driven’ teen makes a working, one-person submarine

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 29, 2013   View Article

An 18-year-old high school student has built a submarine that he can dive in out of parts he found lying around his parents’ New Jersey summer home and ordered off the Internet.

Why?

“It is just generally what I do,” Justin Beckerman, who starts his senior year next fall at West Morris Mendham High School in New Jersey, told NBC News. His list of previous accomplishments is equally impressive, ranging from homemade remote-controlled vehicles to artsy mixed-media sculptures.

Satellite’s failure on eve of hurricane season ruffles meteorologist

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 23, 2013   View Article

For the second time in less than a year, the main satellite that keeps an eye on severe weather systems in the eastern half of the United States has malfunctioned, according to government officials. The failure is indicative of the overall aging of the nation’s weather satellite network that could lead to gaps in coverage as the fleet is replaced, an expert said.

Although a backup satellite began operating Thursday, the failure of GOES-East, also known as GOES-13, is “really bad timing because of the upcoming hurricane season, and also we are smack dab in the middle of severe weather season,” Marshall Shepherd, president of the American Meteorological Society, told NBC News.

Shoes could help charge artificial heart pumps

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 22, 2013   View Article

Cellphones, MP3 players and — one day — artificial heart pumps may get charged up as their owners walk or run around in a pair of electricity-generating shoes designed by college kids.

The shoes join a growing list of wearable energy-harvesting devices from a knee brace, and backpack to other shoes envisioned as a way to keep gadgets carried by everyone from soldiers in the field to kids on the go supplied with electricity.

Tools, artistry flourished with climate change, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 21, 2013   View Article

Sophisticated stone tool-making, artistic symbolism and trade networks were all innovated during times in the Stone Age when the South African climate abruptly became warmer and wetter, according to a new study.

The research is the first to “show that there is a link between the occurrence of these cultural innovations and climate change,” study leader Martin Ziegler, an earth science researcher at Cardiff University in Wales, told NBC News.

Tornado-proof homes? Up to 85 percent can be spared, expert says

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 21, 2013   View Article

Homes in the direct path of the monster tornado that roared through Oklahoma City suburbs Monday were all but certain to be destroyed. Yet inexpensive construction techniques could have kept up to 85 percent of the area’s damaged houses standing, according to a civil engineer.

The trick is already common along the hurricane-prone Gulf Coast — the use of clips and straps to keep the walls bolted to the roof and the foundation, explained Andrew Graettinger, a civil engineer at the University of Alabama. These parts cost about $1 each.

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