Dept.: Gray Matter
Investigator: Theodore Gray
Shop Tech: Plasma-arc torches
Project: Metal spiral
Time: 45 minutes
Element: Hafnium -- Appearance: Exotic and ductile heavy metal with
smooth silvery surface and high corrosion resistance Most common uses: Nuclear control rods, plasma-arc
torches, incandescent lamps and alloys Melting temp: 2,229�C Discovered: Denmark, 1932
Jeffrey Stephenson's polished wood and chrome humidor sits gracefully in his living room, holding four dozen cigars, all dried to a crisp. That's because under the smokes lie a DSL modem; firewall and cache with 20GB of disk space; and a wireless hub streaming bits to and from every computer in his house.
In the hunt for toxins, spy insects go where humans can't.
By Michael Stroh
Posted 02.03.2004 at 5:23 pm 0 Comments
That, at least, is the vision of Jeff Brinker, a materials scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque. Brinker and his team have devised a way to transform the loathed insects into stealthy environmental sentinels to detect chemical or biological agents.
By David Sparrow
Posted 02.02.2004 at 6:10 pm 0 Comments
NAME Bob Dancer
JOB Professional video poker player and teacher. Dancer originally moved to Las Vegas to become a blackjack ace, but changed his name—Dancer is a pseudonym based on his other life passion—and his game when wary casino owners caught on to his card counting. Switching to video poker turned out to be a lucrative career move—during one six-month stretch in 2001, for example, he netted a cool million. (His greatest loss, $90,000, occurred during the same period.)
New Mexico’s high desert is a hotbed for electrical storms. Where better to camp among 400 lightning rods?
By Charles Graeber
Posted 02.02.2004 at 3:00 pm 0 Comments
Inside the little wooden cabin in a vast open field, on the wooden desk by the wooden chairs, you’ll find a list of suggestions for your stay. And at the bottom of that list you’ll find one simple fact, underlined for emphasis: The invisible is real.
They look like lawnmowers on steroids, but superkarts can keep pace with million-dollar Ferraris—150 mph on the straights and crazy Gs in the turns. The best value in racing is starting to get respect.
By Preston Lerner
Posted 02.02.2004 at 2:55 pm 0 Comments
Ken Frankel is a mechanical engineer whose company machines implausibly complex aerospace components to improbably precise tolerances. So it’s surprising to find him in the paddock of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca wrenching on an earthbound vehicle whose puny wheels wouldn’t look out of place on a clown car and whose engine is no bigger than the ones powering garden mowers. He carefully maneuvers the vehicle onto a set of scales—one for each low-profile tire—that have been leveled with a laser to within 30 thousandths of an inch.
By Scott Mowbray
Posted 02.02.2004 at 2:37 pm 1 Comment
Americans like science and technology but are happy enough not knowing very much about it: That's how the numbers in repeated National Science Foundation polls read. About half of those asked in 2001 did not know that it takes the Earth a year to go around the Sun; that antibiotics do not kill viruses; or that humans did not, Flintstones-style, share their backyards with dinosaurs at any time. Less than half of us, apparently, know that atoms are bigger than electrons.
By Dawn Stover
Posted 02.02.2004 at 2:00 pm 0 Comments
“To understand and protect our home planet. To explore the universe and search for life. To inspire the next generation of explorers...as only NASA can.” That’s the avowed mission of the U.S. space agency. But to understand what NASA actually does on a day-to-day basis, you need to look at the agency’s organization and budget.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.