By Arnie CooperPosted 10.07.2010 at 10:13 am 59 Comments
To reach the world’s first everything-proof underground luxury community, I drive east out of Barstow, California, 50 or so miles into the Mojave Desert, then turn down an unmarked gravel road, park in a barren lot surrounded by razor wire, enter what appears to be a small cinderblock garage, and walk down two steep flights of reinforced-concrete stairs, at which point the project’s enthusiastic promoter, Robert Vicino, greets me with an outstretched hand, slams a 3,000-pound blast door behind us, and asks this question: “Do you have a family?”
Age-related memory loss—the kind where you remember friends from decades ago but can't remember your grandchildren—is largely a mystery, but a class of com-pounds used to treat cancer has given neuroscientists clues to its molecular underpinnings. Scientists also suspect that the compounds responsible for this insight, called histone deacetylase inhibitors, could significantly slow memory loss—perhaps for years.
The world's biggest tornado hunt is stuck. I'm at an improvised command center in the conference room of the Holiday Inn Express in Perry, Oklahoma, and 35 scientists are trying to decide where, on this cloudy May morning, to deploy the 50 equipment-laden trucks parked outside. The first major storm system of the expedition is forming southwest of us, in Texas, and it's likely to lead to supercells, massive rotating thunderstorms that may in turn spin off one or more twisters. Very promising. But Lou Wicker, a team leader from the National Severe Storms Laboratory, sees a problem. He looks up from a radar screen. "Fifty miles per hour," he says. Too fast.
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 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.
Fifteen months ago, I set out to fulfill a lifelong ambition of building my own home using the latest green technology. On a $350,000 budget, several dreams came true. I installed a solar-powered boiler, a rooftop garden and a graywater recycling system. Other dreams were harder: A delivery truck damaged the recyclable foam panels meant to form the frame of my home, and I’m also considering suing my window contractor. But it will all be worth it when we move in next month. For those considering your own eco-haven, I offer four pieces of advice.
Drive for long enough, and eventually you'll experience it: that helpless feeling that comes when you discover you've locked your keys in your car. Before it happens again, install a system that unlocks your car doors with your cellphone. The setup involves using the Bluetooth module from a cheap wireless printer, which receives a command from your phone and sends it to a switch connected to your car's spare electronic key fob. Instead of telling the printer to print a photo like it normally would, the phone signals it to trigger the unlocking mechanism. Stash the system under a seat (plugged into a lighter socket for power), and a few keystrokes will pop open the doors from up to 10 feet away.
In 1894, American inventor Simon Lake designed the Argonaut Jr., a wheeled vehicle that would drive along the seafloor, the only way to reliably navigate underwater at the time. The unusual concept has inspired sub aficionados ever since. Among its fans are Doug and Kay Jackson, married DIYers from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who in June built a watertight replica from lumber, lead and enough marine epoxy to overflow a bathtub.