Sci-Tech

  • Gait-recognition biometric technology to help soldiers manning checkpoints

    SET Corporation is developing a technology which directs low-power radar beams at people — who can be 50 yards or more away; early research indicates that this method could one day be augmented with video-analysis software that spots bombers by discerning subtle differences in gait that occur when people carry heavy objects

  • New communication system to help protect soldiers in the field

    The new technology will use arrays of highly specialized antennas that could be worn by combat troops to provide covert short-range person-to-person battleground communications; the technology will lead to advanced wireless systems that would enable small squads of soldiers to share real-time video, covert surveillance data and tactical information with each other via helmet-mounted visors

  • First winner in space elevator competition

    The contest requires their machines to climb 2,953 feet (nearly 1 kilometer) up a cable slung beneath a helicopter hovering nearly a mile high; the vehicle from the Kansas City-based LaserMotive zipped up to the top in just over four minutes and immediately repeated the feat, qualifying for at least a $900,000 second-place prize

  • First space hotel taking bookings for 2012 opening

    Space tourism is nearing, with the first space hotel set to open in 2012; the Barcelona-based company is already taking bookings; the cost of three nights (plus a two-month training course on a Caribbean island beforehand) will be $4.4 million per guest

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  • Robot fish could monitor water quality

    Michigan State University researchers develop robots that use advanced materials to swim like fish to probe underwater environments; robotic fish — perhaps schools of them operating autonomously for months — could give researchers far more precise data on aquatic conditions, and the quality — and security — of the water supply

  • African desert rift confirmed as new ocean is forming

    Geologists show that seafloor dynamics are at work in splitting African continent; scientists from several countries have confirmed that the volcanic processes at work beneath the Ethiopian rift are nearly identical to those at the bottom of the world’s oceans, and the rift is indeed likely the beginning of a new sea

  • Space elevator competition to test alternatives to rocketry

    The space elevator idea envisions replacing rockets with electrically powered vehicles which would run up and down a cable anchored to a ground structure and extending thousands of miles up to a mass in geosynchronous orbit — the kind of orbit communications satellites are placed in to stay over a fixed spot on the Earth; space elevator competition being held this week in the the Mojave Desert

  • DHS in trials of next generation multiband radio

    Emergency communication interoperability is getting closer as the day of the single-band radio is coming to an end; DHS’ S&T is testing a multiband radio for emergency services

  • New technology to boost food security

    A scientist in the Philippines develops a new method for keeping food fresh; brine-immersion freezing, or BIF, allows fish and meat can be stored for two to three days in styrofoam boxes without using ice, and up to six months when stored in freezers or chillers

  • Day of quantum communications in the theater nears

    The challenges so far with free space optical links, which use fibre optics for transmission, have been the turbulence or distortions from temperature differences that cause motion or wind in the atmosphere; researchers have established an optical link without distortion in test situations at a distance of 35km in stationary and flight situations

  • Nuclear energy central to climate debate

    There are 104 power reactors in 31 states, providing one-fifth of the U.S. electricity; they are also producing 70 percent of essentially carbon-free power and are devoid of greenhouse gas emissions; a study by the industry-supported Electric Power Research Institute says 45 new reactors are needed by 2030; the Energy Information Administration puts the number at 70; an analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assumes 180 new reactors by 2050 for an 80 percent decline in greenhouse gas emissions

  • R. Brooks's robots are called upon to inspect pipes at nuclear power plants

    The growing interest in nuclear power is good news for Brooks, a maker of remotely operated robotic inspection devices for pipes, especially in nuclear power plants; all power plants have intricate systems of pipes and systems whose internal condition is impossible to inspect by human eyes

  • Counterfeit chips may hobble advanced weapons

    While most computer security efforts have until now been focused on software, tampering with hardware circuitry may ultimately be an equally dangerous threat; the Pentagon now manufactures in secure facilities run by American companies only about 2 percent of the more than $3.5 billion of integrated circuits bought annually for use in military gear

  • The brief

    Vetting a chip with a hidden agenda is not easy, and chip makers cannot afford to test every chip; also, today only Intel and a few other companies still design and manufacture all their own chips in their own fabrication plants; other chip designers — including LSI Corp. and, most recently, Sony — have gone “fabless,” outsourcing their manufacturing to off-shore facilities known as foundries

  • Earthquake-proof airport terminal in Istanbul airport

    Large swaths of Turkey are earthquake prone; the 1999 Kocaeli earthquake, for example, killed 17,000 people, injured 50,000, and destroyed 27,000 buildings, leaving 500,000 homeless; estimates of property losses range from $3 billion to $6.5 billion; engineers claim they have made the terminal at Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport earthquake-proof