"IT STARTS WITH A PHONE RINGING," POPSCI staff photographer JOHN B. CARNETT (left, with Cindy Rivers of Baltimore's R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center) says of the rushed ballet that unfolds around each incoming trauma victim [see "Yesterday, They Would Have Died," page 56].
IF YOU'VE HAD SEVERAL JOBS YOU'VE LIKELY HAD A WORST JOB, and the only useful function of worst jobs, other than to get money into wallet, is to make you look for better work and count your blessings when you find it. My worst job was so easy, so genteel, so safe, so common, so free from the barbaric exactitudes of a tormenting boss (I don't recall even having a boss), that I hesitate to describe it: filing files.
I have been in prison for eight years. The answer to stopping prison violence is not better gas guns or riot gear [“Preventing the Great Escape," POPULAR SCIENCE Adventure, August]. It is humane treatment—protecting the inmate population just as the police protect noncriminals—and psychological treatment programs to help inmates see the insanity they were involved in on the streets.
When the top eggheads at Bombardier (a Montreal-based company that designs ATVs and jet skis) were asked to envision commuter transportation 25 years from now, they rolled with it. The Embrio Advanced Concept, a hydrogen-fuel-cellpowered, gyro-stabilized vehicle, makes your neighbor's Segway look like something out of the Steam Age.
DIGITAL MUSIC WANTS TO BE YOUR FRIEND. REALLY. EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HOW WE LISTEN NOW.
ESCIENT FIREBALL DIGITAL MUSIC MANAGER
1. ESCIENT FIREBALL DIGITAL MUSIC MANAGER: An all-in-one digital music component for your stereo system, combining a hard drive for MP3 and WAV file recording and playback, access to Internet and Sirius satellite radio stations, a CD drive for ripping and burning, the ability to load music onto compatible portable players, and CD changer control—all made extraordinarily simple through a well-integrated, remote-control-friendly user interface (complete with album cover art) displayed on your TV screen. (40GB and 120GB models available at $2,000 and $3,000 respectively.) escient.com
KENWOOD EXCELON MUSIC KEG
2. KENWOOD EXCELON MUSIC KEG: It's easy to keep your car in tunethousands of tunes, in fact—with the Music Keg KHD-CX910 ($600). The main unit (mounted in the trunk or under your seat) accepts 20GB hard disk cartridges, each with room for about 5,000 songs. To put that in perspective, with this setup you could drive crosscountry five times without hearing the same song twice. To fill up on music files, just attach the included USB docking cradle to your PC and transfer files from computer to cartridge, kenwoodusa.com
3. APPLE IPOD: A slim, elegant design, plenty of storage (10, 15 and 30GB models at $300, $400 and $500), excellent audio quality, decent battery life and an easy-to-use interface—what more do you want? How about new touch-sensitive controls? Beyond MP3, iPod also plays downloadable audiobooks, and it's the only portable player for ¡Tunes music downloads, apple.com
4. IRIVER IFP-390T: This pint-size powerhouse does it all—MP3 and WMA playback, FM radio, MP3 music file recording using the line-in jack, and surprisingly clear voice recording with the built-in mic—all in a solid-state device that weighs just over an ounce. The iFP390T, with 256MB of memory (shown), runs $200; its big bro, the iFP-395T ($300), has 512MB. Both feature an easyto-read backlit LCD screen and intuitive controls, iriver.com
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 5 years, you're aware that digital music has given its listeners unprecedented freedom to manage and move their music. It's also been running roughshod over the music industry (which still hasn't completely stopped blaming digital music for declining CD sales).
Rear-projection TVs are big, beautiful and bewildering. Which kind is right for you?
THE BOTTOM LINE:
CATHODE RAY TUBE
LIQUID CRYSTAL ON SILICON
LIQUID CRYSTAL DISPLAY
DIGITAL LIGHT PROCESSING
When buying a big-screen TV, you can go flat or you can go fat. Flat (with a plasma or direct-view LCD screen) means you can hang your TV on the wall, but you'll feel the pinch in the checkout lane. In the fat camp are the rear-projection screens, which offer larger screen sizes, great resolution and more affordable prices.
OUR FIRST INDUSTRIAL DESIGN CHALLENGE FOCUSES ON E-MEMORY.
PHOTOS THAT WON'T SIT STILL
PERSONAL GARDENING GENIUS
A PDA THAT REALLY GETS UNDER YOUR SKIN
THE MEMORY SCANNER
Though the Data Age has barely begun, the amount of information we wade through in a day is already nearly unmanageable. And while technology has given us massive memory storage, its true potential has barely been explored. This was the idea behind our first design challenge: when e-memory is ubiquitous, how will it enhance our wetware memory systems? POPSCI partnered with Core77 (a Web portal for industrial designers and design students around the globe) to solicit answers.
As the RIAA tightens the legal noose, music pirates add WASTE, a powerful new tool, to their arsenals.
JOHN R. QUAIN
Trying to stop file sharers is like trying to get rid of roaches: You might stomp one or two when you turn on the kitchen light, but most of them just scurry under the fridge and continue the party there. Similarly, the Recording Industry Association of America's recent effort to scare file sharers into compliance by subpoenaing ISPs for their personal information is pushing filesharing underground, a phenomenon made possible in part by a new program called WASTE.
Revolutionary technology may be endlessly fascinating, but often it's easier to take at a distance. Doubly so when it affects something central to the driving experience. Case in point, we were recently introduced to Active Front Steering on the new BMW 5 at its debut in Sardinia—a revolutionary (there's that word again) steer-by-wire system.
Dedicated portable navigation systems are fantastic, but they've been hamstrung by the process of plugging in addresses using a scroll pad. GPS granddaddy Garmin has leapfrogged the cumbersome data-entry issue by adding a touchscreen to its new 2650 ($1,400).
TVs with built-in Internet access have a spotty record here in the U.S., but Sony may have the right idea with its Japan-only plasma TV due this fall. The unit includes broadband capability and a color LCD remote for Web surfing. » Canon's ¡560 photo printer ($130) is the first device to support PictBridge, a standard that will let it connect directly to any PictBridge-enabled camera or camcorder.
Halloween is one of the only times when it's socially acceptable to scare the bejesus out of little children, and the time-tested best way to do it is with a haunted house. But nothing makes your amateur fright farm seem more like a joke than bad sound.
The killing of a young child led investigators to this problem: Can the single-celled life in water tell where the water is from?
JESSICA SNYDER SACHS
INVESTIGATORS WITH THE California Highway Patrol found the body of a 15-month-old toddler bobbing on the surface of Bear Creek in Merced in May 2002. The pitiful discovery followed by a few hours 3911 call from a local resident on behalf of the child's teenage mother.
Lawmakers look to new nuke plants to fuel the coming hydrogen economy.
Twenty-five years after Three Mile Island's near-meltdown stopped the industry cold (not a single U.S. plant has been approved since), nuclear energy is making a serious comeback. This fall, Congress is expected to start funding a $1.1 billion project to build a new breed of nuclear reactor.
Scientists design gold "nanoshells" that seek and destroy tumors.
Here is the future of cancer treatment as Naomi Halas sees it. During a cancer screening, your physician injects a gold-laden liquid into your bloodstream and shines an invisible light over your body for roughly 30 seconds. She turns to a computer monitor that displays a precision map of the size, shape and location of a newly budding tumor.
Power lines deliver highspeed Internet access where cable and DSL fear to tread.
Soon you may be sharing an Internet connection with your toaster. Sounds dubious, but Massachusetts-based Ambient Corp. is using power line communications technology (PLC) to send high-speed data over the electrical grid. With the utilities footing part of the bill, Ambient (along with a raft of competing companies) plans to give the Great Unwired around the world access to eBay.
Researchers at the University of Western Australia and the Georgia Institute of Technology have created the world's first semi-living artist. Right now, the project consists of a mechanical arm, housed in Australia, that scribbles with markers, and roughly 50,000 rat neurons living in a petri dish at Georgia Tech.
Join the world's largest optical hunt for extraterrestrials.
Got a telescope, a thousand bucks and a yen to look for E.T.? Soon, you too will be able to fish for alien laser signals beamed from other star systems—without leaving your couch. Amateur astronomers will form the volunteer force behind a new distributed approach to OSETI, the loosely organized Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, whose proponents believe that alien communication will arrive in the form of high-intensity laser-light pulses.
A new X-ray machine sizes up all the damage in seconds.
Finally, a scanner that keeps pace with the urban emergency room: The Statscan is a digital X-ray device that can produce a full-body image in 13 seconds. Compare that to conventional X-ray films, which take up to 45 minutes to develop and must be pieced together to make head-to-toe images.
Lockheed Martin wants to resuscitate the supersonic jet. But who is footing the bill?
The Concorde, the world's only supersonic airliner, is due to make its last commercial flight on October 24, grounded by stratospheric maintenance bills. But within a few years, the world's elite may be flying at better than 1,000 mph again, in a supersonic business jet that is being designed by Lockheed Martin’s secretive Skunk Works, with support from an unnamed backer.
2010 IMPLANTS PASS THE MCAT "Intelligent" hips and knees self-diagnose and treat infections, then report the results back to a doctor. The implants release antibacterial agents when trouble is sensed. AD-BUSTING CLOTHES Wary of snooping retailers, consumers opt for designer jackets that jam the radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags widely embedded in food and product packaging.
ROCKET-PROPELLED AIRPLANE SEATS, SPACE SHUTTLE ESCAPE PODS, LIFEBOATS THAT PLUNGE FROM OIL RIGS INTO FIERY SEAS: EXIT TECH FOR HIGH-RISK MACHINES RACES TO KEEP PACE AS THE PERILS PILE UP.
WHY NOT THE SPACE SHUTTLE?
EXITING UNDER PRESSURE
OCEAN ON FIRE? NO WORRIES
ESCAPE ALIVE RATHER THAN DIE ONBOARD: THIS IS A RELAtively new idea. Historically it was enough to build a fantastic new machine—a three-masted schooner, a Deperdussin monoplane—and set out into dangerous waters or thin air with a wave and a prayer. Risk attended the job; you and the machine survived, or not, together.
In Eject! The Complete History of U.S. Aircraft Escape Systems, author and aerospace engineer Jim Tuttle offers excruciating first-hand accounts of bailout experiences. German test pilot Schenk (his given name is lost to history) made the world's first emergency ejection, from a Heinkel He-280 jet, in 1943: "I... pulled the release lever for the seat and was thrown clear of the aircraft without coming in contact with it....I realized I was revolving considerably and believe I executed a backward somersault, as I recall seeing the aircraft again....I then pulled my ripcord and the parachute opened perfectly.
Please remain calm and walk, do not run, to the nearest elevator bank. Wait a second. Take the elevator? Down from a flaming skyscraper? The World Trade Center disaster unleashed a flurry of ads for parachutes and rappelling gear unsuitable for the average working stiff: Skydiving from 1,000 feet or less is the domain of experts.
As ejection systems get smarter and safer, the design challenges keep coming. Fighters: Martin-Baker is already planning enhancements to its Mk 16E escape seat. The company may create a data-bus link between the seat and the aircraft's flight systems that would, among other things, enable a car-like seat-memory system that tailors ejection forces to an individual pilot's weight.
THE WORST, MOST TORTUROUS, ICKY, PAINFUL, STINKY, DANGEROUS, AND JUST PLAIN HORRIBLE JOBS IN SCIENCE
1 FLATUS ODOR JUDGE
2 DYSENTERY STOOL-SAMPLE ANALYZER
3 BARNYARD MASTURBATOR
5 HOT-ZONE SUPERINTENDENT
7 FISTULA FEEDER
8 PRISON RAPE RESEARCHER
9 CARCASS CLEANSER
12 CORPSEFLOWER GROWER
13 ENDANGERED SPECIES ECOLOGIST
15 FISH COUNTER
THE WORST-JOB HALL OF FAME
16 U.S. STEM CELL RESEARCHER
17 PLANETARY PROTECTION OFFICER
WILLIAM SPEED WEED
AH, SCIENCE! Ennobling. Fascinating. Deeply challenging. Also, dangerous, gross and mindbogglingly boring. We at POPULAR SCIENCE are sometimes brought up short by the realization that there are aspects of science—entire jobs, even—that, when you strip away the imposing titles and advanced degrees, sound at best distasteful and at worst unbearable.
Engineer Sridhar Kota uses artist Maya Lin's 1995 earthen sculpture, The Wave Field, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, to demonstrate wing morphing. His revolutionary airplane wing is flanked by colleagues Joel Hetrick (left) and Greg Ervin.
The Worrell is a brutal 1,000-mile race. The Javelin 2 is one of the fastest boats on two hulls. We're in over our heads.
IT'S A BALMY SPRING AFTERNOON in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The water is warm, the winds are a friendly 12 knots, and there's not a cloud in the sky—perfect conditions for sailing. But as Mark Chisnell and I push our Bimare Javelin 2 catamaran into the surf, I'm ... well, a bit scared.
NAME Dave Minto AGE 52 JOB As technical director of the High Speed Test Track at the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, Minto oversees hyper-speed (over Mach 5) ground tests of everything the Air Force shoots into the air—from ejection seats to prototypes for anti-ballistic missile delivery systems.
The art of shrinking coins using copper coils, magnetic fields and enough energy to power a small city.
I REMEMBER DRIVING past a fraternity house when I was a teenager and wondering why I could tell instantly that someone was playing the drums live, not on a stereo. Live drums, I realized, have a sharper attack than any electronic reproduction, and the distinction is obvious to the drums in our ears.
SARS, fires, floods and earthquakes: How a new D.C. command center manages America's crises.
WITH A WRY GRIN, Dean Ross presses a button on his control panel, releasing 80,000 gallons of liquid chlorine on downtown Washington, D.C. Aided by local wind patterns, the chemical’s toxic vapors quickly engulf six area hospitals, fifteen police stations, a dozen schools and four fire stations.
Partial transcript of a recent interview with ex-astronaut Sidney Gutierrez, veteran of two shuttle missions and leading advocate of a shuttle escape system [see "Get Out Now,” page 46]. SIDNEY GUTIERREZ: On an earlier flight a window was hit by a little piece of something, and they concluded afterwards it was a piece of chicken the Russians had ejected and was just floating around in space.
To find new secrets of power and speed, an early aviation pioneer studied how birds twist their wings.
Aviators from Daedalus to today's wing-morphing innovators [see "The Shape of Wings to Come," page 80] have looked to birds for inspiration. Leonard Bonney of Flushing, N.Y., creator of the aircraft illustrated on this 1926 cover (left), had to approach the problem without computer modeling; he simply experimented, guided by the seagulls he admired.