While their peers worry about zits, these rising young stars are designing lunar bioreactors and new cancer drugs. What did you accomplish before turning 18? Meet our eight future Edisons here
By Blaire BriodyPosted 08.24.2009 at 1:06 pm 16 Comments
Farming for Inventors
Every year, instead of prepping for prom or hanging out at the mall, thousands of high-school students are busy in labs, basements and classrooms finding fresh solutions to age-old problems. We've scoured the country to find the brightest among them, settling on eight teen talents who make Thomas Edison (whose first patented invention didn't come until the ripe old age of 21) look like a late bloomer.
The age of remote-control warfare isn't coming--it's here, and not even the Air Force, which made it happen, is entirely prepared. Here, a firsthand look at the struggle to train thousands of drone pilots virtually overnight
Armed with precision-guided bombs and missiles, the Reaper MQ-9 is the deadliest war drone yet. Here, it sits on the flight line at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.
Lance Cheung/U.S. Air Force Photo
Without traffic, it takes Captain Adam Brockshus about 45 minutes to drive from his four-bedroom suburban home outside Las Vegas to Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada. His commute follows Highway 95 northwest through a stretch of the Mojave freckled with Joshua trees and flanked by arid mountain ranges. He trains pilots for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet this desolate drive may be the most harrowing part of his job.
The challenge of growing twice as much food by 2050 to feed nine billion people—with less and less land—is everyone’s problem. But scientists are hard at work fomenting a second green revolution.
By Hilary RosnerPosted 08.07.2009 at 11:45 am 53 Comments
Today's crops crisscross the globe: Mexico's tomatoes end up on your plate, our wheat heads to Africa. As a result, the challenge of growing twice as much food by 2050 to feed nine billion people—with less and less land—is everyone's problem. But scientists are hard at work fomenting a second green revolution. Here's how nitrogen-spewing microbes, underground soil sensors and fruit-picking robots will help keep food on our tables.
Armed with better batteries and stronger materials, new submersibles aim to go deeper than ever before and open up the whole of the unexplored ocean to human eyes
By Abe StreepPosted 08.05.2009 at 12:46 pm 4 Comments
The Deep Flight II sub uses stubby wings that propel it down like an airplane goes up.
By liberal estimates, we've explored about 5 percent of the seas, and nearly all of that in the first 1,000 feet. That's the familiar blue part, penetrated by sunlight, home to the colorful reefs and just about every fish you've ever seen. Beyond that is the deep—a pitch-black region that stretches down to roughly 35,800 feet, the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Nearly all the major oceanographic finds made in that region—hydrothermal vents and the rare life-forms that thrive in the extreme temperatures there, sponges that can treat tumors, thousands of new species, the Titanic—have occurred above 15,000 feet, the lower limit of the world's handful of manned submersibles for most of the past 50 years.
Now engineers want to unlock the rest of the sea with a new fleet of manned submersibles. And they don't have to go to the very bottom to do it. In fact, only about 2 percent of the seafloor lies below 20,000 feet, in deep, muddy trenches. If we extend our current reach just 5,000 feet—another mile—it will open about 98 percent of the world's oceans to scientific eyes.
Possibly the single most influential event in the public's interest in science and technology (not to mention one of humankind's greatest adventures), the Apollo 11 mission touched the collective dreams of millions, while pushing science and technology swiftly forward at an unprecedented pace.
But in the decades since man first walked on the moon, science has advanced so rapidly that technology which even a few years ago might have been considered magic has become commonplace. Even so, it would be naïve to assume that Apollo 11 ever represented science and technology's pinnacle, and that nothing forthcoming will similarly explode the world's collective dreams and perceptions of what it means to be human.
So what's next? What will be the next worldwide event or discovery that fundamentally changes the way we look at ourselves and the universe we live in?
Among the hot new ideas afloat in the world of geoengineering is biochar, a form of charcoal that some say could significantly help in carbon sequestration in the future. Re:char, a fledgling company working out of a corner of a cluttered warehouse in a shared artist loft in Brooklyn, New York, is experimenting with biochar production on a very small scale.
Steven Chu, the new U.S. secretary of energy, is a Nobel-winning physicist and an unabashed advocate of fighting climate change. But can he negotiate the political realities of transforming the energy economy?
By Kevin ConleyPosted 06.29.2009 at 1:42 pm 41 Comments
For years, Steven Chu argued that leadership on climate change should be wrested from the politicians and turned over to the scientists. But on Capitol Hill this April, on Earth Day, as Chu testified on the scientific merits of the most ambitious climate-change bill ever to come out of Washington, you might have wondered whether he regretted getting his wish.
It's one of the most hallowed clubs in all of science--the lucky few who have discovered and named an element on the periodic table. After stabilizing and observing the latest addition to chemistry's constitution, element number 112, Sigurd Hofmann and his team will have the chance to make their mark. And despite element naming's bitterly contentious history (very bitter, actually), Sigurd isn't sweating it much.
If you're seeing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen tonight, prepare yourself for a parade of hardcore military hardware unlike any you've ever seen. As was the case with the first Transformers film, the U.S. Air Force Entertainment Liaison Office played a significant role in assisting with and supervising the placement of military gear.
But what happens when the F-22 Raptor--a weapons system in jeopardy of being canceled entirely--plays a central role in the film, while unmanned drones are flying nearly constant missions over Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan? We talked to the USAF Entertainment Liaison Office to find out.