The weather channel may take to the air--much to the benefit of those of us who fly. Honeywell (Phoenix, AZ) and NASA are joining forces to create a worldwide aviation weather distribution and display network called AWIN, Aviation Weather Information System. There were radio transmissions in the past from ground control, says Dr. Charles Scanlon, senior research scientist for NASA, "but it is hard to put a radar picture into words." Combining digital communication technology with powerful yet small PCs, Scanlon hopes to drastically reduce aviation accidents within the next 10 years. "Weather is a factor in 30% of all accidents," he says. In-situ turbulence and forward-looking sensors will send information to Earth where turbulence maps will be generated and data linked back to the aircraft. All equipment must be flight-hardened, meaning no electromagnetic influences, must withstand so many G-loads of force, and will not catch fire. Initial implementation should be within five years. FAX: (757) 864-2034.
The 2014 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Dr. Kiyoshi Mabuchi and his team members for their work measuring the slipperiness of banana peels. Turns out they're slipperier with the yellow side up.
Many scientists have been working battery-free ways to power wearable electronics that can replace bulky battery packs, particularly through the use of energy-harvesting materials. Now a team of researchers in China have upped the game by developing a lightweight and flexible solar cell that can be woven into two-way energy-harvesting fabric.
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