Sci-Tech

  • 110-foot concrete bridge withstands 8.0 earthquake simulation

    University of Nevada, Reno, researchers demonstrate a 110-foot long, 200-ton concrete bridge model that can withstand a powerful jolting, three times the acceleration of the disastrous 1994 magnitude 6.9 Northridge, California earthquake, and survive in good condition

  • Chemical sensor may stop terrorists

    Terrorists may find it harder to carry out attacks thanks to a new explosives detector developed by Turkish scientists; the scientists have designed a colorimetric sensor that can selectively detect the peroxide-based explosives TATP and hexamethylenetetramine (HMTD) and can be used on-site

  • Panel sharply raises estimate of oil spilling into the Gulf to 60,000 barrels a day

    A government expert panel raised yet again the estimate of the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf: the new estimate is 60,000 barrels a day, up from 30,000 last week; BP had only been able to collect about 15,000 barrels a day at its peak with the containment cap, and this new calculation, if it holds up, suggests that BP’s latest plans for capturing oil may not be adequate

  • DARPA aims to help U.S. Army snipers to, well, aim better

    DARPA wants to help the U.S. Army’s snipers; in the works: programs aiming to give snipers the power to hit a target from 2,000 meters away in winds as high as forty miles per hour; making bullets that can change course in mid-air; and a stealth sniper scope that would make shooters all but invisible

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  • BP capturing "less than half" of oil from spill

    BP claims the cap placed on the broken well is capturing between 15,000 and 16,000 barrels a day, but this is less than half the 40,000 barrels of crude which keep gushing into the Gulf’s water; one Gulf drilling expert has warned that, in a worst-case scenario, it may take until Christmas to contain the leak fully

  • 23-mile long oil plume approaches Florida's Treasure Coast

    Scientists say that the most likely pathway for oil to reach the Florida Keys was for it to be pulled into a counterclockwise rotating frontal eddy in the northeast corner of the Loop Current, and then south along the eastern frontal zone of the Loop Current to the Dry Tortugas; a scientific research vessel finds an extensive oil slick that stretched about twenty miles along the southward flowing jet which merged with the northern front of the Loop Current

  • A first: plastic antibodies pass initial test

    Plastic antibodies, which mimic the proteins produced by the body’s immune system, were found to work in the bloodstream of a living animal; the discovery is an advance toward medical use of plastic particles custom tailored to fight an array of antigens

  • Web services could work with sensitive data -- without decrypting the data

    A cryptographic method could allow cloud services to work with sensitive data without ever decrypting it; a novel technique could see future Web services work with sensitive data without ever being able to read it; several implementations of a mathematical proof unveiled last year will allow cryptographers to start making the proposal more practical.

  • Fibertect absorbent can clean Gulf oil spill's crude, holds toxic oil and mustard vapors

    New material — raw cotton-carbon Fibertect — can absorb oil up to fifteen times its weight; the material can clean up crude oil and adsorb toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon vapors which sicken oil spill clean-up crew members; also, the material has been tested to successfully remediate mustard vapors such as those found from dumped munitions

  • Coast Guard solicits private sector ideas on how to stem spill, deal with consequences

    We’re adapting to an enemy that changes,” Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander for the oil spill, said; accordingly, in somewhat of an about-face, the Coast Guard last Friday began to solicit ideas from vendors, scientists, government laboratories, and nonprofits on how to stop, contain, and clean up the largest off-shore oil spill in U.S. history

  • 40,000-plus barrels per day pouring into Gulf

    Since the 20 April explosion of the Deepwater Horizon well, BP has insisted that the amount of oil being spilled into the gulf was no more than 5,000 barrels a day; U.S. government scientists yesterday corrected the company’s assertions, saying that amount is at least 40,000 barrels, if not more; the 1989 Exxon Valdez spilled 10.8 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound; there are 42 gallons in a barrel of oil, so 40,000 barrels mean 1,680,000 gallons; this means that since 20 April, the BP well has released oil into the Gulf at a rate of one Exxon Valdez every 6.5 days; in other words, between 20 April and 3 June, when the well’s riser was cut, a quantity of oil equal to seven Exxon Valdez has been spilled into the Gulf

  • Robot assembles itself, then flies

    Soldiers and first responders often find themselves in situations of surveillance or search and rescue, in which they may have to figure out on the fly what size and shape surveillance or search-and-rescue robot they need; Swiss researchers develop a flying platform made up of autonomous wheeled vehicle that lock together to share the task of controlled and autonomous flight; this self-sufficient wheeled DFA has another advantage: if one of the parts of which it consists breaks, the robot can reconfigure itself or substitute in a different part

  • Autonomous vehicles to map battle environments

    War is always accompanied by the fog of war; to pierce that fog, researchers at Cranfield University are working on developing swarms of autonomous military vehicles capable of sharing and overlapping video images to create high-resolution 3D panoramic scenes of dangerous battlefield areas

  • BP's cost-cutting approach made well vulnerable, left company unprepared

    Safety upgrades are critical but could mean higher prices for oil and gas; to cut costs, BP decided to install a continuous set of threaded casing pipes from the wellhead down to the bottom of its well; this leaves one blind to leaks that sneak up around the casing pipe, and the long string gives gas more time to percolate into the well; a preferred — and costlier — alternative in high-pressure deepwater is a “liner” design in which drillers install and then cement in place a short string of casing in the lower reaches of the well before casing the rest of the well

  • DOE puts raw oil spill data on new Web page

    A new Department of Energy Web page provides numbers on how much oil is being recovered, and schematics of the technology involved in trying the cap the well and the Gulf clean-up