By Lawrence UlrichPosted 07.11.2011 at 12:40 pm 4 Comments
The mere existence of a 208mph Ferrari wagon confounds expectations. But the $300,000 Ferrari FF also upends the conventional approach to all-wheel drive. And when we tested it in Italy’s Dolomites, we learned what cost-no-object engineering can build: the world’s fastest four-seater and the first foul-weather Ferrari.
The ongoing flooding along the Mississippi River is the worst the region has seen in recent memory--all three of the river's three major spillways are open at the same time for the first time ever, diverting flood waters from New Orleans and one of America's major fuel refining corridors. Other areas aren't so lucky; water flowing from Louisiana's Morganza spillway (one of the big three) is flooding the Atchafalaya River basin, displacing some 4,000 people. Scenes of inundated towns, rooftops peeking above the water line, are playing out from the upper Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico.
But while the 2011 floods are the worst in years, for many places they're not the worst in that many years. The Big Muddy is topping its banks and barriers more frequently and with greater consequences than flood models tend to predict. There are several reasons for that depending on who you ask, but regardless of whether it's global warming, bad flood modeling, or simple statistical anomaly, one thing is abundantly clear: the mighty Mississippi wants out of the path that humans have determined for it, and it is increasingly finding ways to escape.
ST. LOUIS — The future of engineering is in the hands of kids like Alejandro Castro. He wants to be an aeronautical engineer, perhaps an unlikely option for a high school sophomore who lives in one of the poorest parts of California and whose parents work in service-sector jobs. But a one-armed wheeled cart named G-Bot will help make it possible.
Castro, 15, was the building manager for his school's rookie FIRST Robotics Competition team, which won a regional award and catapulted an unlikely mix of Latino kids to the Midwest for a week. Castro is one of more than 12,000 school kids from kindergarten through high school participating in the FIRST Championship, a series of three events showcasing student-built robots and the new-cool culture of science and tech nerdiness.
3-D printing is a young technology, but its pioneers and champions aren't satisfied with printing cars, airplane parts, or tiny edible spaceships--they're always looking down the road at what's next. We talked with some of the best minds in 3-D printing about their dream projects--not what's possible now, but what their current work might lead to in five or ten years. These six dream projects are pretty astounding, and what's most striking is how attainable they seem. These aren't pipe dreams. They're our future.
Few people experience the adrenaline spike that a Formula One driver gets tearing down a straightaway at 230 mph. To bring that thrill to the masses, the owners of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi—the world's largest indoor theme park—built the Formula Rossa roller coaster, which opened last October.
In 2000, Tal Golesworthy, a British engineer, was told that he suffers from Marfan syndrome, a disorder of the connective tissue that often causes rupturing of the aorta. The only solution then available was the pairing of a mechanical valve and a highly risky blood thinner. To an engineer like Golesworthy, that just wasn't good enough. So he constructed his own implant that does the job better than the existing solution--and became the first patient to try it.
What does an engineer do when he needs insight? “I don’t think,” says Maurizio Porfiri. “I watch an insane amount of movies.” He also tends listens to the Cure, devours novels, and tends to his tomatoes. That’s not to say Porfiri is a slacker. He works across several fields to build underwater devices and puts in 12-hour days at the lab, but his best thoughts come to him while he's relaxing.
Researchers at the University of Newcastle in the UK have created a new kind of concrete glue that can patch up the cracks in concrete structures, restoring buildings that have been damaged by seismic events or deteriorated over time.
Ten years ago, even though he was on the fast track at Siemens in India, Santosh Kumar abruptly quit. Coming up with code for telecom switches was not how he wanted to spend his life. Instead he moved to the U.S. to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science. He had an idea for inexpensive, low-power wireless sensor technology and how it might solve serious real-world problems. His leap paid off. Now a professor at the University of Memphis, he develops tracking systems that can foil robbers and might even help cure drug addiction.