3-D printing has yielded items both fascinating and potentially troubling. Now we can add one more to the list of printed achievements: The U.S. Army has had a rapid prototyping wing for some time, and now they've deployed full teams--complete with scientists and 3-D printers--to Afghanistan.
On a clear day early next year, an unmanned aircraft painted in the dark gull gray of a Navy fighter jet will take off from a runway at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, bank over the Chesapeake Bay and set a course toward an aircraft carrier, motoring several miles out over the Atlantic. As it approaches the carrier, the craft will open communication with air-traffic control, request landing clearance from the deck officers and establish a glide slope that accounts for wind velocity, ship speed and even the slight rolling of the ship's deck. Pilots consider a carrier landing one of the hardest operations in all of flight. The X-47B will land without any pilot at all.
The WikiLeaks info-dumps, as a lot of the public realized as they started to be released, contained a whole lot of info--both genuine nuggets of military action and wartime marginalia. But by cataloguing all of the events logged in the WikiLeaks Afghan War Diary--91,000 reports from 2004 to 2010--researchers from the University of Edinburg have been able to accurately map the past of the conflict, which could lead to predicting the conflict into the future.
Using both the military and software sides of their education, a team of Polish military students studying computer engineering at Wojskowa Akademia Techniczna (Military University of Technology) presented at the Imagine Cup here in Sydney an app that uses the built-in magnetometer in a Windows phone to detect the magnetic signature of land mines buried in the ground.
Why drones won't be taking over our wars anytime soon
By C.J. ChiversPosted 04.23.2012 at 9:50 am 22 Comments
Early in 2008 on the Black Sea coast, a Georgian drone flying over the separatist enclave of Abkhazia transmitted an instantaneous artifact from the age of human flight—the video record of its own destruction by an attacking fighter jet. What happened that day was born of incendiary post-Soviet politics. The Kremlin backed Abkhazia and was furious that Georgia had bought surveillance drones to watch over the disputed ground. Georgia's young government flaunted its new fleet, bullhorning to diplomats and to journalists like me what the drones were documenting of Russia's buildup to war.
The homemade bombs known as IEDs accounted for 60 percent of all U.S. military injuries in Iraq and have killed more than 21,000 Iraqi civilians. Last November, a month before the last U.S. troops departed, Iraq's federal bomb squad paraded with bomb-disposal robots in Baghdad. QinetiQ North America has sold 16 of the $100,000 remote-controlled Talons to the Iraqi police.
It's been nearly a year since the beginning of a bloody uprising in Syria that has taken thousands of lives, both military and civilian. Just how many? Depends on whom you ask.
A trustworthy death toll is needed, to place the conflict in context, and document the crisis for present and future reckoning. But accounting for the dead has been difficult, due to a lock-tight government crackdown, ongoing violence and even political ideology. A collection of volunteer groups is trying to bring clarity to the conflict, however. By combining social media and crowdsourced data with automation and algorithms, Syrian casualty trackers are moving toward the realm of activist data mining.
Iran may not impress us with its flying saucer drones, but the country does at least one thing better than anyone else: Make concrete. Iran is in an earthquake zone, and its engineers make some of the world's toughest building materials, which could conceivably withstand small earthquakes.
Or, as it happens, artificially-induced earth shaking. Like from bombs.
"Getting Bin Laden," published in this week's New Yorker and online today, has all the trappings of a Hollywood espionage thriller. Having spoken to numerous officials in the military, the Obama administration, and the Navy SEALS of Team Six, writer Nicholas Schmidle paints a thrilling play-by-play of the mission's preparation, execution and aftermath. Including the chilling radio message confirming the death of Osama bin Laden: "For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo."
After celebrating the 67th anniversary of D-Day this week, it's only fitting that we publish a gallery documenting World War II-era PopSci. A warning, though: this was the 1940s, so practically nothing in here conforms to our modern-day notion of political correctness. Some of these headlines may sound a little extreme, but rest assured, we took care to elaborate on the idea from a scientific standpoint.