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Archive for the ‘engineering’ category

May 2, 2019

The Biggest Problems We’re Facing Today & The Future of Engineering: Crash Course Engineering #46

Posted by in categories: engineering, futurism

In our final episode of Crash Course Engineering we are going to take all the tools and ideas we’ve discussed throughout this series and try to imagine where we’re headed. We’re going to explore some of the biggest problems that today’s engineers are trying to solve and make some guesses about what the future of the field might look like.

Crash Course Engineering is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1mtdjDVOoOqJzeaJAV15Tq0tZ1vKj7ZV

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May 1, 2019

Brain mapping: New technique reveals how information is processed

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, neuroscience

Scientists have discovered a new method for quickly and efficiently mapping the vast network of connections among neurons in the brain.

Researchers combined infrared laser stimulation techniques with functional magnetic resonance imaging in animals to generate mapping of connections throughout the brain. The technique was described in a study published in the journal Science Advances.

“This is a revolution in detecting connections in the brain,” said senior author Anna Wang Roe, Ph.D., a professor in the Division of Neuroscience at OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center. “The ability to easily map connections in the living brain with high precision opens doors for other applications in medicine and engineering.”

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Apr 30, 2019

Asteroid Mining: Getting the first mission off the ground

Posted by in categories: business, engineering, space travel

A fully-contained near-Earth asteroid retrieved to cislunar space can be used as a Research and Development destination for resource extraction and engineering tests as space-native material, unaltered by a radical change in environment, in industrial quantity, and in an accessible orbit.

As a geologist and data manager working in petroleum exploration, I’m not qualified to analyze an all-encompassing view of asteroid mining…but maybe I’m qualified to share what I see from my perspective. Rather than looking at all the reasons why asteroid mining is not currently happening, I’d like to dive deep into how changing decision-making perspectives may make a mission possible.

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Apr 29, 2019

DARPA: This Smart Contact Lens Could Give Soldiers Superpowers

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, military

“Smart” contact lenses sound like something from a sci fi movie — but they’re real, and they could help troops in the field.


French engineering school IMT Atlantique revealed what it calls “the first stand-alone contact lens with a flexible micro battery” earlier this month.

And, notably, it caught the attention of the U.S. military’s attention: the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is reportedly interested in the contact lens to augment troops’ visual capabilities in the field, according to Task and Purpose — meaning the gadget could represent the augmented contact lens that DARPA has spent a decade searching for.

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Apr 28, 2019

CRISPR accuracy increased 50-fold

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering

Biomedical engineers at Duke University, North Carolina, have developed a method for improving the accuracy of CRISPR genome editing by an average of 50-fold. They believe it can be easily translated to any of the technology’s continually expanding formats.

The approach adds a short tail to the guide RNA which is used to identify a sequence of DNA for editing. This added tail folds back and binds onto itself, creating a “lock” that can only be undone by the targeted DNA sequence.

“CRISPR is generally incredibly accurate, but there are examples that have shown off-target activity, so there’s been broad interest across the field in increasing specificity,” said Charles Gersbach, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke. “But the solutions proposed thus far cannot be easily translated between different CRISPR systems.”

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Apr 24, 2019

The Casimir torque: Scientists measure previously unexamined tiny force

Posted by in categories: computing, engineering, quantum physics

Researchers from the University of Maryland have for the first time measured an effect that was predicted more than 40 years ago, called the Casimir torque.

When placed together in a vacuum less than the diameter of a bacterium (one micron) apart, two pieces of metal attract each other. This is called the Casimir effect. The Casimir torque—a related phenomenon that is caused by the same quantum electromagnetic effects that attract the materials—pushes the materials into a spin. Because it is such a tiny effect, the Casimir torque has been difficult to study. The research team, which includes members from UMD’s departments of electrical and computer engineering and physics and Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics, has built an apparatus to measure the decades-old prediction of this phenomenon and published their results in the December 20th issue of the journal Nature.

“This is an interesting situation where industry is using something because it works, but the mechanism is not well-understood,” said Jeremy Munday, the leader of the research. “For LCD displays, for example, we know how to create twisted liquid crystals, but we don’t really know why they twist. Our study proves that the Casimir torque is a crucial component of liquid crystal alignment. It is the first to quantify the contribution of the Casimir effect, but is not the first to prove that it contributes.”

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Apr 24, 2019

This Wireless Charging Station Table is the Perfect Blend of Elegance and Tech

Posted by in category: engineering

And you don’t need an engineering degree to assemble it.

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Apr 24, 2019

Controlling instabilities gives closer look at chemistry from hypersonic vehicles

Posted by in categories: chemistry, engineering, transportation

While studying the chemical reactions that occur in the flow of gases around a vehicle moving at hypersonic speeds, researchers at the University of Illinois used a less-is-more method to gain greater understanding of the role of chemical reactions in modifying unsteady flows that occur in the hypersonic flow around a double-wedge shape.

“We reduced the pressure by a factor of eight, which is something experimentalists couldn’t do,” said Deborah Levin, researcher in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “In an actual chamber, they tried to reduce the pressure but couldn’t reduce it that much because the apparatuses are designed to operate within a certain region. They couldn’t operate it if the pressure was too low. When we reduced the pressure in the simulation, we found that the instabilities in the calmed down. We still had a lot of the kind of vortical structure—separation bubbles and swirls—they were still there. But the data were more tractable, more understandable in terms of their time variation.”

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Apr 22, 2019

Defying the laws of physics? Engineers demonstrate bubbles of sand

Posted by in categories: engineering, particle physics

The flow of granular materials, such as sand and catalytic particles used in chemical reactors, and enables a wide range of natural phenomena, from mudslides to volcanos, as well as a broad array of industrial processes, from pharmaceutical production to carbon capture. While the motion and mixing of granular matter often display striking similarities to liquids, as in moving sand dunes, avalanches, and quicksand, the physics underlying granular flows is not as well-understood as liquid flows.

Now, a recent discovery by Chris Boyce, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Columbia Engineering, explains a new family of gravitational instabilities in granular particles of different densities that are driven by a gas-channeling mechanism not seen in fluids. In collaboration with Energy and Engineering Science Professor Christoph Müller’s group at ETH Zurich, Boyce’s team observed an unexpected Rayleigh-Taylor (R-T)-like instability in which lighter grains rise through heavier grains in the form of “fingers” and “granular bubbles.” R-T instabilities, which are produced by the interactions of two fluids of different densities that do not mix—oil and water, for example—because the lighter fluid pushes aside the heavier one, have not been seen between two dry granular materials.

The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to demonstrate that “bubbles” of lighter sand form and rise through heavier sand when the two types of sand are subject to vertical vibration and upward gas , similar to the bubbles that form and rise in lava lamps. The team found that, just as air and oil bubbles rise in water because they are lighter than water and do not want to mix with it, bubbles of light sand rise through heavier sand even though two types of sand like to mix.

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Apr 22, 2019

Stunning new material invented in Turkey: “Metallic wood” is 5 times stronger than titanium, but lighter

Posted by in categories: engineering, nanotechnology, particle physics

(Natural News) Turkish inventors have created a new building material that is five times stronger than titanium and has the density of wood planks. Most remarkably, this new “Metallic wood” is lighter than titanium and still has the chemical stability of metal for use in manufacturing applications.

The new material is made out of nickel-based cellular materials as small as 17 nano-meters in diameter. These electroplated nickel nano-particles are strategically arranged in struts to maximize their load-bearing strength as a whole. This strategic arrangement of nickel makes the material four times stronger than bulk nickel plating. By tinkering with nano-meter-scale geometry, the inventors can increase the strength and density of the new material. This geometric arrangement of cellular materials is spatially organized and repeated to generate the new “Metallic wood” material. This geometric nano-meter engineering feat produces a very dense material, like that of wood. The inventors have even made the material as dense as water (1,000?kg/m3).

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