A state-of-the-art facility aims to make desalination more efficient
By Katherine GammonPosted 09.15.2010 at 2:09 pm 0 Comments
By 2025, the United Nations reports, two out of three people on Earth will live in places without enough freshwater to drink or grow crops. One way to beat that trend is to extract water from saltwater. The most common method of doing that is reverse osmosis, an energy-intensive process. To reduce that energy burden, researchers are developing other methods to desalinate water, such as using biomimetic membranes. Some proposed desalination plants will reduce their energy needs by using energy-capture schemes or sustainable energy sources like wind power.
For over two centuries we have struggled to understand the scope of Afghanistan's mineral wealth. Now geologists, if they can determine what lies beneath the nation's ground, might also help bring stability to the surface
By Matthieu AikinsPosted 09.14.2010 at 10:26 am 21 Comments
Early one morning in June, just a week after the New York Times reported claims by U.S. officials that Afghanistan was perched atop enough copper, gold, iron, lithium, and assorted rare minerals and gemstones "to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself," I made my way with a local guide to the illegal mines of the Safit Chir, an emerald-rich line of ridges 100 miles northeast of Kabul.
Not since the end of the Cold War has the Pentagon spent so much to develop and deploy secret weapons. But now military researchers have turned their attention from mass destruction to a far more precise challenge: finding, tracking, and killing individuals
By Sharon WeinbergerPosted 09.09.2010 at 12:43 pm 66 Comments
Every year, tens of billions of Pentagon dollars go missing. The money vanishes not because of fraud, waste or abuse, but because U.S. military planners have appropriated it to secretly develop advanced weapons and fund clandestine operations. Next year, this so-called black budget will be even larger than it was in the Cold War days of1987, when the leading black-budget watchdog, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), began gathering reliable estimates. The current total is staggering: $58 billion—enough to pay for two complete Manhattan Projects.
When most people think "trade show," what comes to mind are harsh fluorescent lights and hollow convention halls, all filled with corporate drones (of the human variety) idly wandering through booths hyping the latest in office paper technology, stopping only to hover over bowls of stale candy and cheap swag.
The annual Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) event in Denver, Co. is also a trade show, down to the expansive halls and harsh lights. But instead of the latest in corporate nothingness, its booths are filled with something far more interesting: the state-of-the-art in flying robots.
An advanced fly-by-wire system capable of landing grossly damaged unmanned aircraft—demonstrated on video saving a plane missing 80 percent of one wing—is key to solving one of unmanned flight’s biggest problems
Word spread last week that a rogue MQ-8B Fire Scout copter drone entered restricted airspace just 40 miles shy of Washington D.C. after losing contact with its operators. The revelation occurred smack in the middle of AVUSI 2010, the world's largest UAV tradeshow. And it served as a poignant reminder that all the game-changing technology on display here at the Denver Convention Center still has some innovating to do, especially when flight crews lose control of their unmanned craft.
But to lose control of a flying robot over a warzone is one thing; things get much more complicated in crowded domestic skies. One remarkable system, capable of bringing a plane missing most of one wing safely home, aims to make losing control a more palatable proposition.
Why subject yourself to the dull buzz of fluorescent lights and endless data sets? Play with plastic explosives, dive with jellyfish, or make video games instead! These schools will make you wish class would never end.
Over the years, PopSci has pulled together annual lists of the coolest, funnest college labs, the places where we would like to have spent our youth tinkering, exploring, and learning. Here, we've collected the ultimate list of all the great labs we've ever covered.
Oceanographers announced today the discovery of a wispy oil plume at least 22 miles long and 1.2 miles wide floating beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a sign that plenty of the oil from BP's Deepwater Horizon leak remains in the environment. It's the first conclusive proof that a deep-sea plume from the leak exists, which at least partially explains what happened to the oil in the three months since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded. It also casts doubt on the federal government's statement earlier this month that most of the oil has dispersed or disappeared.
But the new study is merely a rough snapshot of what is happening in the depths. Wide disagreement persists among scientists who study the Gulf and oil spills, and they say it could take generations to fully understand the leak's scope. The best minds in marine science and geology can't say yet how bad it will be.
We talked to the Spitzer Space Telescope's visualization team about the challenges and rewards of rendering the mission's reams of non-visual data into something that catches the public eye. Plus: a gallery of their all-time favorite works
In a shared office on the southern edge of Caltech's campus, Robert Hurt and Tim Pyle are making art out of science. Armed with the industry standards–Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects–it's their job to break down the Spitzer Space Telescope's complex scientific data into visualizations that are accessible and meaningful to the average viewer. But their artistic challenge is unique: Human eyes have never seen the objects they are creating.
So far this hurricane season, the Atlantic has been quiet. That's good news for Gulf oil spill cleanup efforts, but a team of NASA and NOAA scientists are hoping things will get just a little nastier.
This weekend, NASA is launching a six-week mission to study the formation and intensification of hurricanes, hoping to inform forecast models and improve hurricane prediction abilities. The GRIP experiment (for Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes) involves more than a dozen satellite-quality scientific instruments onboard a Global Hawk unmanned drone, a converted WB-57 cold-war bomber and a modified DC-8.
It might seem silly to investigate whether people are happier on the weekend, but behind such truisms are revelations about our brains, our behavior and our environment. Here we round up the year's most outwardly obvious scientific studies
Sometimes it takes long, hard study to pin down what we thought we knew all along—and to reveal surprising findings beneath the surface of common sense. People drive poorly when talking on their cellphone? The elderly prefer happy memories over sad ones? Shocking!
Thus, with great pleasure, we round up ten of the past year's best hard science studies that answer some of the world's least pressing questions.