By Katie PeekPosted 09.27.2010 at 10:06 am 5 Comments
This unlucky blast-test dummy was the star of the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s annual July press event on the National Mall in Washington. The commission, which regulates fireworks’ explosive power, here vividly shows the potential of pyrotechnics for bodily harm. The mannequin’s Styrofoam head, filled with cornmeal to simulate brains, was close to a professional-grade explosive, with a “quick match” fuse that burns almost instantaneously. (Consumer-grade pyrotechnics have a six-second fuse.)
A floating crane prepares to raise from the depths a South Korean navy combat corvette that mysteriously split in two and sank on March 26. To allow military and civilian investigators from South Korea, the U.S., Australia, the U.K. and Sweden to examine the 1,322-ton ship, a tag team of cranes—one capable of lifting 2,200 tons, the other, 3,600—retrieved the two pieces from the ocean floor.
By Katie PeekPosted 08.02.2010 at 12:34 pm 0 Comments
Ocean waves affect an oil spill in two ways. They help carry the oil from its source to land—in this case, from the Deepwater Horizon drilling site in the Gulf of Mexico to Orange Beach on the Alabama shore—and they also churn the oil slicks into smaller globules that wash up on beaches and stick to sunbathers' feet.
By Alessandra CalderinPosted 07.22.2010 at 10:23 am 14 Comments
In February, the Swiss company PlanetSolar SA unveiled PlanetSolar, a floating test bed for renewable energy, during a ceremony held in Kiel, Germany. The $15-million catamaran measures 49 feet wide, 25 feet high and 102 feet long and weighs 94 tons. It is equipped with 5,380 square feet of photovoltaic solar panels, and its four motors run entirely on solar power (when it’s cloudy out, energy stored in batteries powers the boat).
By Alessandra CalderinPosted 07.16.2010 at 10:07 am 8 Comments
This maze of electrodes, known as a surface-electrode ion trap, brings us closer to building quantum computers—that is, computers that could manipulate the quantum-mechanical states of atoms to process data millions of times as fast as today's most powerful supercomputers do.
By Alessandra CalderinPosted 06.01.2010 at 3:45 pm 0 Comments
These acrylic rods make up the Seed Cathedral, the centerpiece of the U.K. Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China. Encased at the tip of each 25-foot-long rod are seeds provided by China's Kunming Institute of Botany. Sixty-six feet tall and consisting of 60,000 rods, the structure took about four months to install at a rate of approximately 536 rods a day. The theme of the U.K.
Inexpensive cataract surgery is restoring sight in South Asia
By Alessandra CalderinPosted 06.01.2010 at 3:38 pm 0 Comments
In February, Raj Kaliya Dhanuk lay on an operating table in Nepal with weights on her eyes, preparing to undergo cataract surgery. The weights help reduce pressure within the eyeballs before surgery, which makes the procedure easier. During the operation that followed, Sanduk Ruit, the co-director of the Himalayan Cataract Project, removed Dhanuk's clouded ocular lenses, the structures in the eye that focus light, and replaced them with synthetic ones. Last year, Ruit and his colleagues, including project co-director Geoff Tabin, performed 200,000 cataract surgeries in Nepal.
DNA-testing Martian soil could lead us to life on another planet
By Lana BirbrairPosted 04.19.2010 at 11:08 am 11 Comments
Someday, microfluidics chips like this one might suss out life on Mars. The chip, developed by Gary Ruvkun, a professor of genetics at Harvard University, would ride along on a soil-collecting rover and search for microscopic life within Martian dust.
CT scans and genetic analysis of King Tut’s family reveal some surprising connections
By Lana BirbrairPosted 04.12.2010 at 10:23 am 0 Comments
Scientists once suspected that this 3,300-year-old corpse was King Tutankhamun's mother. They were close. The mummy is now believed to have been his grandmother—his only grandmother. Using CT-scan analysis and the first DNA tests able to amplify the genetic material of the desiccated Egyptian mummies, an international group of scientists and consultants with the Family of Tutankhamun Project found that King Tut's parents were full brother and sister, born of this woman.