Sci-Tech

  • Apple patents heartbeat-recognition sensors for iPhone

    Apple’s new patent will allow iPhones to identify user’s heartbeats & mood; by integrating this technology with the iPhone, the handset can authenticate the user by seamlessly picking his or her heart rate instantly as soon as they pick up their phone; no password required or tedious scanning of fingerprints or faces

  • New video camera offers very high resolution from afar -- and up close

    A new, 360° surveillance video promises high-resolution detail, multiple views, and DVR features; coverage this sweeping, with detail this fine, requires a very high pixel count; the new camera has a resolution capability of 100 megapixels — this is as detailed as fifty full-HDTV movies playing at once, with optical detail to spare

  • Remotely controlled robot inspects dangerous structures

    A remotely controlled robot uses laser sensors to look inside damaged structures to look for survivors; when inside the structure, the robot takes multiple scans using Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) unit that takes up to 500,000 point measurements per second. It also can scan through walls and windows

  • Non-toxic cleaners for terrorist attacks

    Traditional chlorine- and lye-based cleaning agents are potentially hazardous and can react with chemical weapons and other materials in the environment to form new toxic substances; military researchers non-toxic, ultra-strength cleaners that could be used in the aftermath of a terrorist attack; the peroxide-based “green” decontaminants are tough enough to get rid of nerve gas, mustard gas, radioactive isotopes, and anthrax

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  • Manned troop supply helicopter converted to unmanned helicopter

    Lockheed Martin, Kaman convert a manned to an unmanned helicopter; the single-seat heavy-lift helicopter will deliver sling loads up to 6,000 lb at sea level and 4,300 lb at 15,000 ft

  • New sensor speeds water analysis

    New sensor creates a single procedure for in-situ monitoring of chlorinated hydrocarbons in water, obviating the need for laboratory-based technologies for the analysis of water contaminants, which are time consuming, labor intensive and expensive

  • The technology behind the Gulf oil spill disaster

    The culprit on the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a device called blowout preventer, or BOP; the Deepwater Horizon’s BOP is a 450-ton set of hydraulic rams that straddles the wellhead, just above the seabed; when the well blew out last month, sending oil and natural gas up the well, signaling from the rig operators or loss of communication with the surface should have automatically released pneumatic pressure stored in the BOP’s tanks, driving it mechanically to crimp or shear off the well pipe and close off the well; for an unknown reason, the BOP sat paralyzed on the sea floor, doing nothing; the disaster exposes over-reliance on blowout preventers that has been long disparaged by industry insiders and outside critics

  • New app turns cell phones into night vision devices

    Researchers develop an application for cell phones which turn the phones into night-vision devices; standard night vision goggles use a photocathode to convert invisible infrared light photons into electrons; the new imaging device replaces the vacuum tube with several layers of organic semiconductor thin film materials

  • UAVs to be outfitted with holographic adaptive optics-based instruments

    Researchers are looking into the advantages and challenges associated with using holographic adaptive optics-based instruments aboard UAV; such systems would generally improve the quality of observations these aircrafts produce

  • The bad news: Expect about 38,000,000 gallons of oil to be released into the Gulf

    The 1989 Exxon Valdez spilled 10.8 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound; the Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded on 20 April, has already released an estimated 9 million gallons of oil into the Gulf; this means that the well releases between 10,000 and 15,000 barrel of oil into the water (there are 42 gallons in a barrel of oil); BP says it will take about three months to cap the underwater gusher — meaning that we should expect the equivalent of 900,000 barrels, or 37,800,000 gallons, to released into the water yet

  • The good news: Tests confirm oil is light grade

    Preliminary tests on the oil spilled in the Gulf show that the material is typical Louisiana sweet crude, a light oil that can be either burned or readily dispersed; scientists were alarmed Friday when one of the samples showed a higher-than-expected concentration of asphalt and other nonvolatile components; such materials are extremely resistant to degradation, and they also are resistant to burning and extremely difficult to clean up once they reach the shore; scientists now believe the Friday samples were contaminated

  • Gulf oil spill exposes industry's lack of readiness, preparation

    The oil spill in the Gulf will inevitably become the worst spill in U.S. history — if it is not the worst already; BP has begun a three-month project to drill a relief well in 5,000ft of water to intercept and isolate the existing well at around 13,000ft below the seabed; one expert says: “At 1,500m the head is as easy to get to as if it were on the moon”

  • Search-and-rescue dogs to be fitted with satellite navigation devices

    Spanish company develops dog collars fitted with satellite navigation technology; the collar will be used by search-and-rescue dog to help locate trapped victims after an earthquake or similar disasters; the technology combines information on the scenting abilities of the dog with data on its location

  • Faster salmonella strain detection now possible with new technique

    New scientific method identifies salmonella strains much faster than current methods in use; faster detection of specific strains can mean recognizing an outbreak sooner and stopping tainted food from being delivered and consumed

  • Ungainly military boat center of attention

    An ungainly — some would say outright ugly — boat is drawing a lot of attention; the name of the boat is Stiletto and it is described as the largest all-carbon power boat in the world; its immediate mission is to support drug enforcement operations in Central and South America, but its long-term — and more significant — contribution is to help the military develop future technologies