Car

How new underwater sonar is helping solve decades-old cold cases

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 19, 2013   View Article

Police officers in southwestern Oklahoma appear to be on their way to solving a pair of decades-old cold cases while learning how to use new sonar imaging equipment on a remote lake. Sonar itself may be decades old, but the imaging system that the cops were using is state of the art — and the technology is finally affordable enough for local police units to give it a try.

Sonar works by sending pulses of sound waves out into the water and recording the waves that bounce back to create an image. A new type of imaging technique, one that works in a similar way to an MRI scanner at a hospital, is finally becoming affordable enough to put into portable devices.

Swallows evolve shorter wings to avoid cars, study suggests

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 18, 2013   View Article

Cars and trucks thundering down the road in southwestern Nebraska stand a much lower chance today of smacking a cliff swallow than they did in the 1980s, according to a new study that suggests the birds have evolved shorter wings to pivot away from oncoming traffic.

The adaptation is important for the birds’ survival given that they nest by the thousands under bridges and overpasses there, noted Charles Brown, a biologist at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma who regularly drives those same roads to and from a nearby research station.

Sunlight forecasts to benefit electric utilities and … NASCAR

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

Race car drivers are likely to benefit from a newly-launched $4.1 million U.S. government-funded program to improve 36-hour forecasts of incoming energy from the sun.

Cloud cover impacts racetrack temperature, which in turn affects how well tires grip the pavement, researchers working on the program explained.

Wind-powered car crosses Australia on $15

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 8, 2013   View Article

A lightweight carbon-fiber car packing high-tech lithium-ion batteries and a portable wind turbine cruised 3,000 miles across Australia using just $15 worth of electricity from the grid. For an added boost, the drivers used a giant kite to pull the car down the road when the wind blew in the right direction.

“They were able to supplement their lithium-ion battery power with kite power about 10 to 15 percent of the time,” Bill Bunting, a senior scientist with Evonik Industries in New Jersey, told NBC News.

‘Bingo!’ Wasted energy from cities explains a global warming mystery

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 27, 2013   View Article

Heat that escapes into the atmosphere from the energy used to warm homes, drive cars and run factories is altering the jet stream and causing wintertime temperatures to rise in remote, sparsely populated stretches of the Northern Hemisphere, according to a new study.

The finding helps explain a mismatch of up to 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) between the observed temperature in some regions and what is produced by models that simulate the global climate. Scientists had attributed the mismatch to natural variability or errors in the models.

Dragster sets speed record with cheesy biofuel

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 26, 2012   View Article

A dragster powered by biofuel brewed from cheese-making waste has set a blistering land-speed record for a one liter, two cylinder engine of 64.4 miles per hour.

“That, in that class, is fast,” Lance Seefeldt, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Utah State University, told NBC News on Tuesday.

Robotic co-pilot makes dangerous drivers safer

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 13, 2012   View Article

The day when we leave the driving to robots may yet be in the distant future, but we could soon have robotic co-pilots to keep us safe on the road.

The technology works similar to an airplane’s auto-pilot, only in reverse. Instead of a human pilot taking the controls when a plane encounters danger, the intelligent co-pilot kicks in when a driver’s about to crash.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach