Light

Catastrophic power outages on the rise, but new tech helps keep lights on

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 2, 2013   View Article

Last year, nearly a tenth of the world’s population — 620 million people — lost power at once. The cause? Two simultaneous failures on India’s enormous electric grid.

While these catastrophes are a symptom of infrastructure investment lagging behind rapid urbanization and modernization, technology can help: A new computer algorithm could lower the chances of such massive blackouts from recurring.

They’re alive! Harvested fruits and veggies respond to light cycles, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 20, 2013   View Article

The fruits and vegetables lining grocery store shelves respond to light signals, according to a new finding that may have profound implications for how food is stored, when it is eaten and, ultimately, human health.

While biologists knew that certain cells in harvested crops keep living after they are picked from a tree, plucked from a vine, or pulled from the ground, the responsiveness of fruits and veggies to the daily cycle of light and dark is a surprise, said study co-author Janet Braam from Rice University.

“The idea that postharvest you could keep circadian rhythms going is new,” the cell biologist told NBC News. “And that it would have a consequence for the accumulation of certain types of metabolites, some of which may have relevance to human health” is also new.

Moldy strawberries? Not for 9 days with UV LEDs

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 4, 2013   View Article

Strawberries are a treat to treasure, but if stashed in the fridge for a handful of days, they’re likely to grow an undesirable goatee of mold. Those days may be numbered, according to researchers who’ve shown that exposing the red fruit to low levels of ultraviolet light doubles their shelf life.

The proof-of-concept results stem from a challenge given by an undisclosed refrigerator manufacturer to the maker of new light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that emit ultraviolet (UV) light at wavelengths found in sunlight transmitted through the atmosphere.

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.

Aging lighthouse gains new life as a beacon for offshore wind industry

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

An aging, wind-battered lighthouse about 13 miles off the coast of Virginia is set to gain new life as a test bed for technologies that could expedite the development of the offshore wind industry, the U.S. Department of Energy announced today.

Models suggest the raw potential of offshore wind is sufficient to meet the entire current electricity needs in the U.S., according to Will Shaw, an atmospheric scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who discussed plans for the test bed facility at a conference today in Austin, Texas.

‘Neon signs’ made with bacteria

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: December 20, 2011   View Article

The bar of the future may have all-organic brews on tap and blinking neon signs in the window made with millions of bacterial cells that periodically glow in unison.

The same “living neon sign” technology could also be used to help brewers and other folks monitor environmental pollutants in water such as arsenic, according to research published online Sunday in the journal Nature.

Camera captures light particles moving through space

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: December 14, 2011   View Article

A new imaging system that captures visual data at a rate of one-trillion-frames per second is fast enough to create virtual super-slow-motion videos of light particles traveling and scattering through space.

For reference, light particles —photons — travel about a million times faster than a speeding bullet.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach