Back on August 11th DARPA launched, then lost, its Falcon hypersonic vehicle, also known as HTV-2. Today we found it. Not the actual glider, but a video of it streaking through the sky over the Pacific Ocean as captured by a crew member aboard a tracking ship. And as you can see in this video, it is indeed moving fast.
Too bad the shuttles are shuttered. A Russian Progress cargo spaceship bound for the ISS crashed in eastern Russia this morning after failing to reach orbit. After launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrom in Kazakhstan in the wee hours today the spacecraft encountered some kind of trouble--Russian broadcaster RT said “engine trouble,” but that could mean a lot of things--and plummeted back to Earth with the nearly four tons of food, fuel, oxygen, and other supplies it was taking up to the International Space Station.
Anyone who has ever seen The Flintstones is probably aware of the unique braking mechanism on Fred’s stone age car. I always considered the technique of dragging your feet on the ground to bring your vehicle to a stop a matter of artistic license. Until last week, when this video appeared. It provides us with an excellent real-world example where knowing a little physics might have prevented this Michigan driver with failed brakes from attempting a cross-town drive using “The Flintstone Technique”, and possibly putting himself in the running for this year's Darwin Awards.
"One time we dropped it out of a helicopter from more than 100 feet," one of the designers tells me. "The worst that happened was that one wheel was slightly damaged so it wanted to drive a little wobbly. But it still rolled."
I'm at AUVSI's (that's the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) Unmanned Systems North America convention at the Recon Robotics booth, checking out the company's Scout reconnaissance robot, a tiny two-wheeled system weighing just more than a pound. It's a diminutive machine, about the size of a tallboy beer can. And I've just been invited to chuck it over an eight-foot wall.
At AUVSI's (Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) massive robot conference in D.C. this week there is no shortage of robots designed to seek out--and in some cases destroy--human targets. Sandia National Labs chose to go in the opposite direction with their Gemini-Scout, a remotely controlled rolling robot designed specifically to lead search and rescue efforts in the event of a mining disaster.
For as long as I can remember, I've loved gunpowder. One of my fondest childhood memories is pulling down volume G of the encyclopedia and seeing the formula for this magic substance for the first time. Saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal, listed with exact percentages! That was heady stuff for a kid who had been forced to rely on collecting match heads for flammable material. But where to get the ingredients? I settled on hitting up pharmacists, telling one that my mom had sent me out to get saltpeter for canning, and a different one that she'd sent me out for sulfur and I didn't know why (because I couldn't think of a better cover story).
Cities can only do so much to improve bicyclists’ safety — bike lanes and automatic traffic light sensors are great, but motorists are really the ones who have to pay attention for bike riders to be safe. An intrepid mechanical engineer has one solution: Make bike lights as obvious as car lights.
Easton LaChappelle, a high school sophomore from Colorado, built a wireless animatronic hand and entered it into his local science fair. He won first place with the device, which he controls with a glove worn on his hand. The animatronic hand mimics the gloved hand’s finger movements in real time to pick up objects. After the local fair, LaChappelle took his invention to the regional and then the state fair, where he won third place.
In 2008, Popular Science named Vision Research's Phantom V12 slow-motion video camera one of the best products of the year. This summer, we drove out to the headquarters of Vision Research in New Jersey to talk to the Phantom folks, see firsthand how the cameras are manufactured -- and ultimately borrow a camera to really get a feel for how it works.