A few of the covers we’ve published during my tenure here have given me particular satisfaction. One cherished cover-whosesuccess-confounded-the-circulation-experts was our August 2005 image of solar-radiation-screening satellites circling the globe behind the headline “Saving a Scorched Earth: 6 Spectacular Technologies to Halt Global Warming.”
The paper-airplane competition in your May issue [“Paper Lions”] was a great idea. Projects like these encourage learning about physics and aerodynamics, especially for the younger set. Dedicating a few pages per issue to items that intrigue younger readers is a service to future science, because your young readers of today will be the inventors, engineers and scientists (and airline pilots) that will shepherd our world when we've grown old.
The 1,585-foot Fort Steuben Bridge spanned the Ohio River, linking Ohio to West Virginia for 84 years, but it took just seconds for it to drop in a controlled demolition in February. The Ohio Department of Transportation closed the aging concrete-and-steel suspension bridge in 2009 and finally hired general contractors Joseph B. Fay Company to take the bridge down.
At the Olympic level, where cyclists are in roughly the same physical condition, the difference between victory and defeat often boils down to a bike's aerodynamics. The more smoothly air flows over a frame and rider, the less wind resistance he will feel and the faster he'll go.
The SuctionSeal vacuum works as well on hardwood and tile floors as it does on carpet. A polycarbonate plate on the front of the upright creates a sealed chamber between the vacuum head and the floor, which makes for more-focused suction. Eureka SuctionSeal The new CordCruncher headphones prevent knots.
A wood-burning camp stove that doubles as a gadget charger
To get a hot meal on the trail, campers must either lug a propane stove and fuel canister or try their luck on the uneven heat of a campfire. Designers at BioLite in Brooklyn have created a new solution. Their lightweight wood-fired CampStove not only burns as hot as a propane one but also converts waste heat into electricity to charge any USB-powered gadget.
Can an all-electric version of Detroit'S too-selling compact car get traction?
Ford Focus Electric
Later this year, Ford will roll out the Focus Electric, Detroit's first direct competitor to the Nissan Leaf. Like the Leaf, the Focus Electric is an all-electric five-door hatchback with a 600-plus-pound lithium-ion batterg, a driving range of close to 100 miles on a charge, and a price tag north of $35,000.
The AALni-Elefan is the only fan with a pulse mode that mimics a natural breeze. It blows at Low speed for 10 seconds, high for five seconds, and then repeats the cycle.
Igloo Yukon Cold Locker
This 150-quart cooler keeps ice solid in 90° weather for 10 days, three days Longer than a conventional one. Its two-inch-thick insulation and gaskets seal out heat.
Tempronics Temperfect Office Chair
The Tempronics Office Chair is the first chair that can cool its user. Just beneath the fabric, semiconductor chips conduct heat away from the body when powered.
Patrick Di Justo
Twenty years ago, Mitchell Joseph set out to solve one of the great challenges of the modern age: how to make a can of beer that could cool itself. He designed a can that used and released the coolant HFC-134a. His prototype worked—it cooled liquid dramatically in a matter of minutes—but there was a hitch.
Intel's new processor powers a range of ultra-slim laptops
Toshiba Satellite U845
Although its one-inch frame is thicker than those of most ultrabooks, the 14inch Satellite U845 has more ports than its competitors, including full-size HDMI and Ethernet plugs.
Acer Aspire S5
At 0.59 of an inch thick, the Aspire S5 is the thinnest ultrabook available. To save space in the chassis, Acer designers fused the 13.3-inch laptop's boot drive directly onto the motherboard.
Fujitsu Lifebook U772
The U772 is the first ultra book to dock with an entire full-size office setupmonitor, kegboard, mouse-using a single plug. Fujitsu engineers placed a 1.2-inch docking connector on the bottom of the 14-inch laptop.
Last October, Acer and Asus debuted the first ultrabooks, a class of laptops characterized by their sub-inch-thick chassis. The trim designs, however, Left engineers little room to include graphics cards or large, fast processors. The new third-generation Intel Core chips, code-named Ivy Bridge, on the other hand, are both compact and powerful—and will run 110 ultrabooks by year's end.
How wireless charging will keep tons of toxic waste out of landfills
Brian Clark Howard
RECHARGEABLE batteries were supposed to keep trash out of landfills. Instead they replaced old garbage with new. Consumers throw away billions of battery chargers every year; cellphone chargers alone account for almost 100,000 tons of trash annually.
At last, a plan for airships that might finally take off
Some kids wanted to be firefighters,” Igor Pasternak says. “I always thought about blimps.” Pasternak grew up in Lviv, Ukraine, near a weather station. When he was six, he convinced the Soviet meteorologists there to let him launch one of their balloons.
A new bionic eye implant could allow blind people to recognize faces, watch TV and even read. Nano Retina's Bio-Retina is one of two recent attempts to help patients with age-related macular degeneration, which affects 1.5 million people in the U.S. Although a similar implant, Second Sight's Argus II, has been on the market in Europe since last year, it reguires a four-hour operation under full anesthesia because it includes an antenna to receive power and images from an external apparatus.
Since 2001, planners at NASA's Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) program have been sending people to live in Aguarius, an underwater laboratory three and a half miles south of Key Largo, Florida. Last month, during NEEMO's 16th mission, three astronauts lived there for 12 days, testing strategies for future asteroid expeditions, evaluating the best spacewalking technigues, and planning how to sample rocks and soil.
How the choices we make today will change the world
Population (in billions)
Purchasing Power (per capita)
Year When Natural Resources Will Run Out
How many people could live on Earth? Many scientists have tried to calculate that number, with widely divergent results. Seventeenth-century biologist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek put the upper limit at 13.4 billion; in 1967, biochemist C.T. De Wit said one trillion.
"A snail could be used as a battery to power small sensors"
Our biofuel cell generates power from glucose sugar in a snail's body. We drill holes through the shell and implant enzyme-coated electrodes in the hemolymph, or snail blood, that naturally collects between the snail's body and shell. Like any battery, ours is based on chemical reactions that create a flow of electrons.
Our Web videos reveal more than we realize, and perhaps more than we want
AS WE UPLOAD more and more videos to the Internetone hour of new video every second to YouTube alone—experts are finding new ways to mine them. A team led by Igor Curcio of Nokia’s Research Center, for example, has developed an algorithm that stitches concertgoers’ cellphone footage into a single, synchronized multi-angle film.
Climate scientists routinely face death threats, hate mail, nuisance lawsuits and political attacks. How much worse can it get?
There's no police tape across Michael Mann's office doorway this morning. "Always a good start," he says, juggling a cup of coffee as he slides his key into the lock. Mann directs Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center. Several months ago, he arrived at his office with an armload of mail.
THERE IS NO LONGER any question of preventing climate change. Some 98 percent of working climate scientists agree that the atmosphere is already warming in response to human greenhouse-gas emissions, and the most recent research suggests that we are on a path toward what were once considered “worst case” scenarios.
Climate change will drive people to urban areas. How will urban planners accommodate them all?
Community-Shared Electric Cars
Really Local Eats
The world's population will top nine billion by 2060. Because of climate-change-induced environmental degradation, scientists project that tens of millions of people will move into today's small and medium-size cities. To prepare for the influx, says Dennis Frenchman, an architect and professor of urban planning at MIT, city designers must make decisions today to mitigate the migration of tomorrow.
Feeding a warming world won't be easy, but it can be done
1. ADD SEEDS
2. DIVIDE THE LAND
3. MULTIPLY WATER
4. SUBTRACT MEAT AND BIOFUEL
5. BALANCE THE BOOKS
The calculus of human sustenance is simple: to feed the planet's seven billion people, farmers must generate at Least 12 trillion calories' worth of food every day. And even as the world's growing population demands ever more of those calories, climate change is making them harder to produce.
How to adapt the three crops that provide 60 percent of the world's calories
Help Wheat Evolve
Breed Rice with Weeds
The biggest challenge in preparing crops for climate change is knowing what to prepare them for. Even within agricultural regions, the effects of global warming will vary. Consider Kansas, the source of a fifth of America's wheat. Parts of eastern Kansas are now 20 percent wetter than they were in 1900.
The amount of water on Earth is fixed, but everything else is changing fast
IF YOU COMBINED all of the water in the planet’s ice caps, glaciers, rivers, lakes, aquifers and oceans, it would fill a sphere 860 miles in diameter. That volume, some 366 million trillion gallons, hasn’t changed in millennia, nor will it change in the foreseeable future.
IT’S IMPOSSIBLE to predict the exact speed and severity with which climate change will unfold, but one thing is clear: if we take no preventive action, eventually we’ll be tempted to take desperate action. And over the decades, as the effects of climate change grow increasingly severe, the amount of risk humankind is willing to bear will increase.
On April 26, 1986, two powerful explosions tore through Unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, flipping the reactor’s giant 2,000-ton concrete lid into the air like a coin. White-hot chunks of the nuclear core rained down on adjacent buildings, setting fires and peppering the ground outside.
Jon Darsky spent years in San Francisco restaurants baking Neapolitan-style pizzas— thin crusts topped with fresh salted tomatoes and milky fior di latte mozzarella—in oldschool specialty wood-fired ovens. In 2010 he began looking around for a place of his own but couldn't find the right piece of real estate.
I'm a materials-science engineer at an agency that allocates funding to research projects. It's theoretical work, so in my spare time I like to do practical, hands-on things. I've been building R/C models for 33 years and have always preferred uncommon vehicles—amphibious cars, submarines, hovercrafts—so indoor R/C airships are a good fit for me.
A stringless guitar simulator that anyone can play
Two More Projects That Rock
Miroslaw Sowa, an electronics hobbyist in Montreal who grew up playing the accordion, liked the guitar but found fingering chords on the fret board too difficult. So he teamed up with Toronto software developer Vsevolod Zagainov to develop the Tabstrummer, an electronic instrument that allows the user to play different guitar chords simply by pressing one of up to 12 preset memory buttons.
A tinkerer works hard on a machine that helps him be lazy
It took Hubert Pissavin two weeks in his garage to build a machine that would do his least favorite chore for him: mowing the lawn. The retired electrical engineer started with a simple, boxy chassis made of wood. With four motorized wheels and a spinning blade, the battery-powered device moves in a straight line until it bumps into an obstacle, which activates a relay switch that backs the mower up about three feet.
"Damien Fournier, a Canadian inventor, designed aluminum water shoes that he can strap to his feet or lock together for use as a boat. They are held rigid by a special seat and are buoyant enough to support an outboard." Users normally get all the articles in an RSS feed, whether they want them or not.
Hot enough to boil oceans and vaporize rock. The highest terrestrial temperatures occurred more than four billion years ago, when a Mars-size proto-planet smashed into the Earth. (The debris from this collision formed our moon.) Within a millennium, the surface air temperature had dropped from a high of about 3,700°F down to 3,000°.
In the 1970s, so many Muslim people were traveling to Mecca each year that Saudi Arabian authorities decided to build a new terminal at the King Abdulaziz International Airport just to accommodate them. They hired American architectural firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill, which, along with German-born engineer Horst Berger, designed the Hajj Terminal, an open-air building covered by a 105-acre tension structure—a tent; actually, 210 tents joined together into two halves.