Tech Tuesday 11/21

Have a Happy Thanksgiving for those in the US (or not in the US, but who celebrate it anyway). We are reprising our plan from last year, which is to meet up with some friends at the local Brazilian Steakhouse. My Portuguese is a little rusty, but I’m pretty sure the name of the place translates to “Meat Coma”.

Aerospace

AERO1 – More images of Jupiter from Juno, because I just love looking at that massive display of Schlieren Photography and Qualitative Flow Visualization.

AERO2 – The Dream Chaser has done a successful drop landing (carried aloft by heavy lift helicopter, then dropped and successfully landed on a runway).  If you watch the video, you’ll notice the front landing gear is a skid pad, and you can see the handful of protective tiles at the tip of the skid vaporizing upon touchdown.

AERO3 – Oh man, dinosaurs, way to roll a 1 on your saving throw versus Death.

AERO4 – Highly flexible wings are being tested on a drone in order to come up with better wing designs for long range aircraft, since flexible wings will be able to adapt to changing aerodynamic conditions and improve fuel efficiency and over all aircraft performance.  However, highly flexible wings are very susceptible to flutter.  Flutter is high amplitude wing vibration that is at or very near a resonance frequency for a wing.  Flutter is hell on modern commercial aircraft because it can tear wings apart if it isn’t damped out.  The more flexible a wing is, the more resonance frequencies it will have, and the more likely it will be to experience flutter, so it is very important to have control technologies that will be able to damp out those vibrations.

AERO5 – Now that we’ve successfully detected gravitational waves, and we know what to look for, we can start looking at celestial objects to find gravitational waves our instruments are not yet sensitive enough to detect.

AERO6 – You ever get hired for a job, and before you’ve even finished filling out the HR forms and figured out where the coffee machine is, you’ve got work sitting on your desk.  It’s like that, but for a Space Observatory.

AERO7 – In real estate, it’s all about Location, Location, Location, but man, Temperature, Temperature, Temperature is pretty important as well.

Bio/Medical

BIO1 – Hey, living in space can be stressful, but seedlings are learning to cope.  Which, you know, is a good thing if we ever hope to live out there without relying on Earth for every bit of fresh food.

BIO2 – A gene therapy to cure blindness!  Who saw that coming? (you may groan, loudly, I won’t be offended)

BIO3 – The important bit is that they are stable.  A kill switch is no good if it can be evolved away from.

BIO4 – Red Wine and Chocolate contain the stuff of long life!

BIO5 – So what they are saying is that transcription errors are not a given.

Energy/Environment

EE1This is so simple it’s genius.  Sure, you need a seabed with a thick layer of silt/sand/mud on top of the bedrock, but aside from that..

EE2 – This one is a lot more complicated, but I like the concrete and the non-steel construction technique, which makes me wonder if the buckets from EE1 could be made of this formulation, rather than steel?

EE3 – One would have to be a fool to think that Geo-Engineering our way out of climate change was without risks.  And at the very least, it’s an all or nothing kind of deal, you most certainly can’t expect to cool one part of the planet without messing things up somewhere else.

Materials

MAT1 – While we still can’t quite get artificial silk right, we can, it seems, recycle silk into some pretty useful stuff.  So, that old silk shirt with the stain that will never come out might be quite valuable.

MAT2 – A little bit of charred wood, sunlight, and you got a water filter!

Physics

PHYS1 – That particle that everyone thought was Dark Matter?  Nope.  Back to the whiteboard.

PHYS2Very cool, but currently utterly useless, except as a way to annoy that guy on his cellphone (so far).

Robotics/Technology

TECH1 – Yes, that robot just did a backflip.  It’s already in talks with Cirque de Soliel.

TECH2 – Skynet is following this advance with great interest…

TECH3 – Pew! Pew! Pew!

TECH4Automotive HUDs are one of those things whose development has seemed, to me, to be ridiculously slow.  This has always struck me as one of those things the insurance industry would be pushing hard for automakers to develop and install, since it would help keep eyes on the road.  I’ve been waiting for these since I saw Runaway in 1986!

TECH5 – A hardware neural network may be at hand.

TECH6 – Perovskites might be the secret to creating Organic Laser Diodes.

Transportation

TRANS1 – I think the idea of an electric highway is neat, and there is a certain cross-functional harmony of electrical infrastructure to it, but man I just loathe the look of pantograph wires.  I get it, it’s way easier and cheaper to suspend wires above an existing road than it is to embed something in or below the road, but they are just ugly!

TRANS2 – Speaking of trucks, there is now a retrofit device to improve the aerodynamics of trucking by reducing or eliminating the drag that happens when high speed air slips behind the truck cab and gets caught between it and the trailer.  The trick is, of course, that the system has to be able to get out of the way at slow speeds so the truck can make sharp turns, which means it must fail to the retracted position.  Also not sure how well this would work on refrigerated trucks, since the refrigeration unit would both get in the way, and is probably very dependent on the airflow behind the cab.

TRANS3 – And finally, Tesla is touting their electric long haul rig.

TRANS4 – A bubble shroud is an idea that has been floating around for a long time, but AFAIK no one has every successfully deployed one on an actual vessel.

TRANS5 – Waymo (Alphabet, Google, etc.) is letting it’s cars do their own thing.

 

Wacky, Weird, and Wonderful

WWW1 – KFC is offering a personal, inflatable, Faraday cage with the Colonels warm, finger licking embrace.

WWW2 – What to do with plastic waste in your city?  Recycle it into 3D print plastic and print out some durable city benches.

WWW3 – Didn’t IKEA try this some time ago?

WWW4 – Asgardia has put the first bit of itself into space.  Obviously, part of me wants this to be in Aerospace, but I truly think it belongs here.

Image by NASA on The Commons


Associate Editor

A Navy Turbine Tech who learned to spin wrenches on old cars, Oscar has since been trained as an Engineer & Software Developer & now writes tools for other engineers. When not in his shop or at work, he can be found spending time with his family, gardening, hiking, kayaking, gaming, or whatever strikes his fancy & fits in the budget. ...more →

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19 thoughts on “Tech Tuesday 11/21

  1. I’m flabbergasted that you failed to link to Rendezvous with Rama. Seriously, the first confirmed sighting of an interstellar visitor and it looks like that??!! Not a nice, sorta round, potato-looking thing like any other respectable asteroid, but something 10 times longer than it is wide? I’m not going full-blown Art Bell on ya here but that’s just weird.

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  2. EE1 has the link from BIO4

    TRANS2 looks like it doesn’t rely on the driver to deploy it. I often see the aerodynamic fairings on the back of trailers still folded down flat on the highway, I guess because the driver forgot to open them out, or maybe it was raining so they didn’t want to…

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      • I assume so (our company doesn’t use them) since at least half the time I see them they’re folded but there’s a sign on the back saying they deploy automatically.

        I wonder about the reefer units as well. Not so much the airflow but it looks like the top part might run into it when it deploys. The other thing is we generally have stuff mounted on the back of the cab: load bar storage, spare tire, even a broom and some guys stick a bicycle up there.

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  3. TRANS1: Philadelphia’s regional rail system uses overhead wires and pantographs. Aesthetics aside, the trains have to slow down in hot weather because the wires sag. The real fun, though, comes in the Autumn. It turns out that dried leaves crushed under a train’s wheels make a great lubricant. The train will slide through a station and back up to the platform. Good times.

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  4. WWW2: Less the 3D printing, when my kids were in grade school the schools collected plastic milk jugs which were recycled into playground equipment (including benches). My new deck planking is largely recycled plastic. Standard molding tech seemed/seems sufficient for most applications.

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  5. Trans3: I’m cautiously impressed. But I’ve learned to be skeptical of Musk. Too much tendency to oversell. He really lost me when that guy was killed because the auto-drive system couldn’t see a semi crossing the highway in front of him. He puts a civilian in an autonomous vehicle that clearly wasn’t 100% with a big ole button label “Automatic”,

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  6. This man is planning an attempt to launch himself, via steam-powered rocket, to an altitude of 1,800 feet as the first part of a research program to prove that the Earth is a flat disk. I’m not sure what 1,800 feet will show that can’t be seen from the window of a commercial jetliner at >35,000 feet.

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