• Protecting the grid from solar storm-induced blackouts

    Since the beginning of the Space Age the total length of high-voltage power lines crisscrossing North America has increased nearly ten fold; this has turned power grids into giant antennas for solar storm-induced currents; with demand for power growing even faster than the grids themselves, modern networks are sprawling, interconnected, and stressed to the limit — a recipe for trouble

  • BATS: Extending broadband communication, I

    BATS system’s tight integration with the radios, along with the performance characteristics of the directional antenna, are used by BATS’ innovative software to create search patterns and predictive algorithms that automatically locate a desired connection point, establish communications, and track whether one or both of the wireless broadband radios are moving

  • Oxford U researchers harness tidal energy

    U.K. waters are estimated to offer 10 percent of the global extractable tidal resource; an Oxford University spin-off has been set up to commercialize a tidal turbine concept developed by Oxford researchers

  • Unease grows as Chinese telecom behemoth gains foothold in U.S.

    China’s Huawei Technologies — a company linked to the People’s Liberation Army, and which has been repeatedly accused of stealing software designs and infringing on patents — is now the world’s second-largest telecom equipment supplier behind Ericsson of Sweden, and with Chinese government backing, it has sewn up major deals in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; a $3 billion in advanced wireless equipment deal with Sprint Nextel will give entry into the U.S. communication market — and this has lawmakers and security experts worried

  • Metal thefts threaten U.K. infrastructure

    The last two years have seen the price of refined copper more than double; at the end of 2008 it was selling it at a low of less than £2,000 a ton, but by earlier this month it had reached more than £5,000; one result is the epidemic of metal theft in the United Kingdom; there have been more than 5,000 such thefts from the railways and the gas and electricity networks this year; and the police says this theft campaign now threatens U.K. infrastructure

  • New technology weighs trucks while trucks are in motion

    Israeli researchers develop a method to detect overloaded trucks quickly and efficiently — while the trucks are in motion; the system, which has potential for use in law enforcement, infrastructure maintenance monitoring, and road and bridge design and planning

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  • U.K. railways threatened by changes in rainfall patterns

    Some of the U.K.’s railway infrastructure was built in the nineteenth century on unprepared foundations, before engineers understood soil mechanics; rail embankments are structures made of soil and rock, which are always be affected by climate — particularly rainfall patterns

  • Revolutionary forensic fingerprinting technique also detects corrosion

    Two years ago, Dr. John Bond at the University of Leicester developed a revolutionary method for identifying fingerprints on brass bullet casings, even after they have been wiped clean; now, Bond has applied the same technique to industry by developing a simple, handheld device which can measure corrosion on machine parts

  • Drought may threaten much of globe within decades

    A new study, based on twenty-two computer climate models and a comprehensive index of drought conditions, as well as analyses of previously published studies, finds that most of the Western Hemisphere, along with large parts of Eurasia, Africa, and Australia, will be at risk of extreme drought this century; in contrast, higher-latitude regions from Alaska to Scandinavia are likely to become more moist

  • Apollo astronaut offers asteroid-avoidance strategy

    If an asteroid is headed for Earth, NASA and its partner agencies will be able to see it a while before it gets too close for comfort; a 10- to 15-year window is enough time to send up a tracking probe to fly in formation with the asteroid; this would help scientists pinpoint its exact location and determine its trajectory, which would help them decide if they need to knock it away

  • High performance materials for the tunnel of the century

    On 15 October Swiss engineers finished their work on the Gotthard Tunnel — longest rail tunnel in the world; the 57-km (35.4-mile) high-speed rail link, which will open in 2017, will form the lynchpin of a new rail network between northern and southeastern Europe and help ease congestion and pollution in the Swiss Alps

  • NOAA: Global temperature ties for warmest on record

    The first nine months of 2010 tied with the same period in 1998 for the warmest combined land and ocean surface temperature on record (the records go back to 1880); this value is 1.17 F (0.65 C) above the twentieth century average; Los Angeles set a new all-time maximum temperature on 27 September when temperatures soared to 113 F;

  • America's latest wonder: Hoover Dam companion bridge

    After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. feared a terrorist with a truck bomb could attack the Hoover Dam, potentially flooding vast areas and disrupting water and power supplies to several states; semi-trucks were banned from bridge, forced to take route to Las Vegas that is more than forty miles longer; new 1,900-foot-long structure will reroutes traffic off of the two-lane road atop the dam, will improve traffic in the region, and help protect the dam from terrorist threats; it is the seventh highest bridge in the world and it is held up by the longest arch in the Western Hemisphere

  • PG&E to improve pipelines safety

    Following the deadly natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California, on 9 September, PG&E said it would upgrade its California pipeline system to boost safety; a key element will be the installation of hundreds of automatic shutoff valves to replace the current manual valves; the company would also contribute $10 million to a nonprofit group to develop better diagnostic tools to determine the condition of underground pipelines