NASA’s ‘X-Planes’ Use Less Fuel and Reduce Emissions
Nov17

NASA’s ‘X-Planes’ Use Less Fuel and Reduce Emissions

A new era of aircraft technology is on its way, with a focus on energy efficiency and economic impact. The aerospace industry is continuously adopting innovative technologies, but there’s a new interest in exploring alternative propulsion systems and energy sources. This new interest is giving aircraft engineers an opportunity to develop cutting-edge technology that will not only drastically cut fuel usage, but also open up potential new markets and business opportunities. NASA is working with the aviation industry on the development of unique vehicle concepts that will use different fuselage shapes. They will be longer, skinner, with more blended wings. They are also using innovative materials and components. Airplanes are typically made of aluminum or steel, which has a 90% recycled content, making it the most recycled material on the planet. These new materials and components will provide better efficiency with fewer emissions and less noise. “I feel we are at a tipping point in commercial aviation,” says Jim Heidmann, manager of NASA’s Advanced Air Transport Technology Project (AATT). “We are exploring and developing game-changing technologies and concepts for aircraft and propulsion systems that can dramatically improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact and accelerate the introduction of new aircraft.” Through NASA’s New Aviation Horizons initiative, the development of a series of experimental planes (X-planes) is being tested and hopefully validated. These X-planes will achieve the agency’s goal levels for fuel consumption, emissions, and noise. The Single-aisle Turboelectric AiRCraft with an Aft Boundary-Layer (STARC-ABL) will allow the X-planes to use the air flowing along the fuselage to reduce fuel consumption. With 24 million flight hours being logged by aviation aircrafts every year, there is a big concern with harmful emissions. In a traditional airplane, the boundary layer consists of slow-moving air that clings to and flows along the fuselage. This layer helps to reduce friction as it flows off the rear of the aircraft. However, this layer also breaks up into turbulence. The new concept would consists of a giant ducted fan that goes around the stern of the fuselage, allowing it to collect the boundary layer and accelerate it to turn into thrust. According to NASA, with this new technology, the plane’s engines will use 10% less fuel. NASA is working with industry and academic leaders to turn this idea into reality. The agency issues grants to the University of Georgia, Boeing, and Liberty Works with ES Aero to begin developing working designs using the STARC-ABL concept. Meanwhile, other X-place concepts will be explored during a year-long study to create a next generation, turboelectric, or hybrid aircraft concept. These concepts could be implemented and running within 20 years and...

Read More
Bike Lights Equipped With Cameras, A.I. Could Save Lives
Nov17

Bike Lights Equipped With Cameras, A.I. Could Save Lives

Numbering at upwards of 1 billion, there are now twice as many bikes in the world as there are cars. But just because there are more bicycles on the road these days doesn’t mean they’re always a safe form of transportation. In fact, cyclists are vulnerable for many reasons, including subpar infrastructure, dangerous motorists, and simple lack of visibility. Although cyclists may not always have control over driver behavior or non-bike-friendly roads, they can improve how well they’re seen by using a bike light. And the newest forms of illumination are smarter than ever before, able to capture events around you on video or even adjust based on real-time road conditions. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, more than 37,000 U.S. residents die in road crashes every year. Even worse, two cyclists die each day, according to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. Their data shows that in 2015 alone, 818 cyclists died in accidents. The increasing number of accidents can be at least partially attributed to the fact that there are more bikes out there on the road today, but the acceptance of this form of transportation isn’t necessarily widespread among motorists. Unfortunately, cyclists are often seen as a nuisance on busy streets, and many drivers don’t seem to possess the patience to share the road safely. The American Automobile Association, or AAA, has found that aggressive driving is a factor in 66% of fatal traffic accidents, or two out of three deadly crashes. Unfortunately, cyclists are all too familiar with the hazard posed by aggressive and angry drivers. When drivers take it upon themselves to scare bicyclists or engage in unsafe driving behaviors around them, filing a police report may prove ineffective; after all, it’s the cyclist’s word against the driver’s. But some bike light manufacturers are granting more power to the cyclists in the form of video cameras housed inside powerful bike lights. Not only will these lights allow both motorist and cyclist to see more clearly, but they’ll also capture movement in front and behind the bike. The Cycliq Fly6 and Fly12 come equipped with wide-angle HD cameras that capture anywhere from six to 10 hours of footage. Because there’s so little area on a bike for extra devices, Cycliq co-founder Kingsley Fiegert — who got the idea after being hit with slingshot ammunition while on a bike ride with his son — decided to combine lights and cameras and get in on the action. The cameras aren’t perfect (the more affordable versions aren’t really able to capture license plates), but a lot of cyclists want in. These camera lights can act...

Read More
Zoned Out: Skipping Nightly Sleep Creates Mental Lags, Study Finds
Nov13

Zoned Out: Skipping Nightly Sleep Creates Mental Lags, Study Finds

The next time you’re sitting at your desk and totally space out, you might be able to blame a lack of sleep. A recent study by UCLA researchers found that sleep deprivation hinders communication between brain cells, leading to mental lags, according to USA Today. “We discovered that starving the body of sleep also robs neurons of the ability to function properly,” Dr. Itzhak Fried, who led the study, said in a press release. “This leads to cognitive lapses in how we perceive and react to the world around us.” According to USA Today, the study involved 12 participants. All had electrodes implanted into their brains. When asked to sort a series of images, their brains lit up almost 1,500 cells. Without sleep, however, the brain cells did not fire as strongly. Fried said in a statement to NPR that this lack of sleep alters an individual’s perception of reality. “These are the very neurons [that] are responsible for the way you process the world in front of you,” he said. Most health professionals recommend seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but studies show that Americans are not getting this much. A 2013 Gallip poll found that 40% of people get less sleep than recommended. And this leaves us with sleepy workers, or worse, sleepy drivers. “The very act of seeing the pedestrian slows down in the driver’s overtired brain,” Freid said in a statement to Forbes. “It takes longer for his brain to register what he’s perceiving…Severe fatigue exerts a similar influence on the brain to drinking too much, yet no legal or medical standards exist for identifying overtired drivers on the road the same way we target drunk drivers.” Freid equated this drowsiness to the effect of alcohol use. So, the next time you choose to stay up late and tough it out, remember that you might endanger more than just your job...

Read More

Innovative Digital Billboard Alerts Drivers to Traffic and Weather Problems

Billboards are known for being used to advertise a product or service. They’re typically a non-moving picture that says a few words and nothing else. Often times, there’s no bells and whistles on the billboard to help get to point across. However, one major company recently took their billboard advertising game to the next level with the use of technology and digital pictures. In the United Kingdom, the luxury car company Audi recently unveiled a new campaign which features a digital billboard. What was different about this specific billboard in comparison to others from Audi in the past it alerted drivers of potential traffic issues and potential weather problems. Besides giving drivers a leg up on the traffic, the new digital billboard was being used to advertise the Audi technology called Sixth Sense. This technology sends you alerts if you may be driving too fast, as well as additional alerts that inform you of any possible traffic delays. It also includes Audi’s special all-wheel drive. In terms of the billboard, if there happens to be any heavy traffic in front of it, the Pre-Sense technology kicks in and alerts drivers of the issues right in front of their eyes. If there is imminent weather, a screen will pop up showing how the Audi handles the conditions using its all-wheel drive. This gives onlookers a chance to see the type of technology one would be able to utilize if they were to purchase their own Audi vehicle. If there are no traffic or weather issues, the billboard will show an image of all of the Sixth Sense technology pieces. This includes an image of a nose, an eye, a mouth, an ear, and also shows hands on a steering wheel. Doing this gives drivers a chance to see what else the technology has to offer. The data for the weather is gathered from the United Kingdom government, while the data regarding the traffic is gathered from Google. The advertisements appeared on 211 billboards all across the United Kingdom in cities like London, Manchester, and Birmingham. The campaign ran from October 16, 2017, through October 29 2017. In a poll, 32% of people saythey visited a retailer after seeing their service or a product on a billboard. This is a prime example of how advertising actually works and how successful it can...

Read More
New Method for Stem Cell Extraction From Wisdom Teeth
Nov03

New Method for Stem Cell Extraction From Wisdom Teeth

James Mah and Karl Kingsley, researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, along with a few of their students, have developed a method for extracting a large amount of stem cells from wisdom teeth. According to Mah, director of UNLV’s advanced education program in orthodontics, doctor of dental surgery, and dental researcher, stem cells are found in nearly any living tissue and can be squeezed out of tissues of the deceased. “The biggest challenge with stem cells are gathering enough of them to work with and keeping them viable until they are needed,” he said. Using their experimental method, the research team managed to quadruple the number of stem cells that are extracted with traditional methods. The extraction of wisdom teeth is an outpatient procedure that is performed on five million Americans every year. Kingsley commented on how the majority of pulled teeth are healthy and contain viable tooth root pulp that can offer opportunities for reproducing cells that may have been damaged. Tooth root pulp contained two types of important stem cells: multipotent and pluripotent. Multipotent cells transform into specific types of cells within the organism while pluripotent cells have the ability to become any cell in the organism. While the initial thought was too crack the tooth in half to gain access to the pulp, the irregular surface of teeth would require drilling or shattering the tooth. In doing this, it can lead to a low stem cell recovery rate. Happy Ghag, a former dental student developed an instrument that saved the day. The “Tooth Cracker 5000” scores the tooth, allowing for a clean break. This results in a perfectly halved tooth, allowing complete access to the undamaged root pulp. After testing the prototype on 25 wisdom teeth, the research team reported a 100% success rate. While an average pulp recover rate is about 20%, this new method allows for 80% of the extracted cells to remain viable. The number of pluripotent stem cells found in teeth significantly decreases after the age of 30. But preservation could be easy by harvesting valuable cells during a wisdom teeth removal or root canal. “The next challenge,” Kingsley explained, “is reliably collecting the stem cells early enough and storing them successfully so they can be used when...

Read More