By Ryan BradleyPosted 01.17.2012 at 3:59 pm 2 Comments
Sten-Christian Pedersen oversees the northernmost antenna array on Earth, 25 dishes tracking about 100 satellites on the small archipelago of Svalbard, 500 miles south of the North Pole. Even when the winds are –76°F and visibility is 10 feet, Pedersen drives to the satellite station. When there is a risk of avalanche, he takes a helicopter. When there are polar bears, he carries a firearm.
It took the cell phone several generations to shrink from those oft-mocked Motorola DynaTACs to the slender, pocketable smartphones we have today. But it seems the cell phone tower is poised to make the move from large to very, very small in just one leap.
Watch those old videos of the Apollo missions (or movies about the Apollo missions), and the nail-biting, climactic moment is always spacecraft reentry, where the incoming craft comes screaming through the atmosphere in a burning ball of white-hot plasma resulting in a total radio blackout. But a team of Russian scientists say they’ve found a way to communicate through the plasma sheath that causes radio blackout by turning the sheath itself into a giant plasma antenna.
It's an act of waste that people the world over engage in every day just by switching on their mobile devices: boot up a mobile phone, netbook, or other mobile device and it begins searching in every direction for a communications node. Then, once it finds one and connects through that transmitter, the device continues to broadcast in every direction anyhow.
If devices could broadcast in a specific direction, Rice University researchers say, they could cut power consumption by more than half. So they created a beamsteering scheme that can do exactly that.
In the wide, wireless world we've created for ourselves, it's possible to access the Web in more places and on more devices than ever before. But while a new generation of more media friendly mobile devices (think tablets and large-screen smartphones) makes it possible to view large-bandwidth content like video on, say, our iPads, we still often have to hard-wire those devices to our computers (and the larger Web) to get the kinds of high-data-rate transfers we desire.
Aboard oceanfaring vessels, real estate is naturally limited. But communications are vital, presenting something of a conundrum for a ship’s communications crews: where to place all the large antennas necessary for long-range (and often encrypted) communications. So U.S. Navy R&D lab SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) engineered a clever scheme to turn the ocean’s most abundant resource into communications equipment, making antennas out of geysers of seawater.
Researchers at Queen's University Belfast are studying a new kind of wireless network that might someday help alleviate the crush of mobile internet traffic in dense cities. How does it work? By making you--and me, and all of us--into cellphone towers.
The large antennas that used to be part of our everyday lives -- atop the TV, on the boom box, telescoping into the bricklike handsets of our first cordless phones -- have largely been re-engineered over the past two decades to live inside our devices. But the malleable copper and other metals used in standard antennas are somewhat restricting; they can only be bent and straightened so many times before they break.
By Emily StonePosted 08.24.2009 at 4:15 pm 8 Comments
An enemy missile has no strategic value if its computer is down. A high-power-microwave emitter can disable a missile's electronics on the launchpad, leaving bystanders unharmed -- and now Texas Tech University engineers have a plan to scale down the truck-size tech.