Test lab delivers virtual window to customer's test chamber
It may not quite be "Star Trek" transporters, but "beaming up" test data on-demand to remote facilities via the Internet offers a significant advance in test-laboratory capability. It's happing at the Detroit automotive testing division of National Technical Systems (NTS). The lab recently introduced an on-demand, password-protected data acquisition and report capability that opens a digital window at the customer's computer to a test cell's real-time data. With the on-demand data reporting, the lab provides up-to-the-minute visibility and value-added testing for design verification, product validation, field investigations, and testing protocols. Automotive-type applications for the system include electrical function, dynamometer, durability, hot fuel-injector, and thermal stressing tests. "With our reporting service," says Loren Isley, the testing division's general manager, "what you see on-screen are the conditions currently unfolding within the test cell. This places test results immediately at the engineer's fingertips and computer stations." E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Device moves electrons without voltage
Normally, according to Ohm's Law, when you want to move electrons you apply a voltage and the electrons begin to flow. However, a team of physicists from Stanford University and the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) have invented a device that moves electrons without relying on voltage difference to push them around. The device, a "quantum electron pump," operates according to the laws of quantum physics, which describe what goes on in the sub-atomic world, rather than classical physics, which describes what happens in the everyday world. In quantum mechanics, particles do not always behave as solid particles, but can appear as probability waves. That means they have a certain probability of being in a number of different places at any given time. It is only when a particle is observed that its presence is pinned down to a specific location. The researchers' microscopic pump is a special kind of quantum dot or spot of electrically conducting material surrounded by a non-conducting material smaller than an electron in its wave guise. Because of its small size, the dot constrains the electron's motion in all three dimensions. The researchers have operated the pump at frequencies from a few million to about 20 million cycles/sec, and have determined that 20 or so electrons pass through it in a typical cycle. The direction that the pump pushes the electrons is random, and can be changed by small variations in an external magnetic field. Next, the research group will attempt to measure the degree of quantum coherence that survives the pumping action. E-mail email@example.com.
Interactive web site maps geology worldwide
A vast amount of geological data, previously only available to--and understood by--scientists, can now be accessed through an interactive site on the World Wide Web (atlas.geo.cornell.edu) created at Cornell University. The Geographic Information System Interactive Map Server allows users to view and print out maps showing major geographic features of a region, along with such information as the location of earthquake faults, a record of earthquake occurrence, and technical data about the events. For engineers, the site contains records of the direction of earth movement in individual earthquakes. By compiling this information for a series of quakes in a particular region, you can determine how the tectonic plates underlying the region are moving. This can help determine how sturdy a building might need to be in a particular location. The system can display cross-sections of the Earth's crust and, in a few instances, 3D views of the surface. The site includes an extensive help facility. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.†
Technology permits 'driving by the seat of your pants'
Relaxor/JB Research has introduced what it calls an entirely new dimension in vehicle-driver communication and operational safety: the ComfortAlert TACT in-seat Tactile-Alert Communication Technology. TACT interfaces with the vehicle's on-board computer (and future drowsiness detection technology), while ComfortAlert in-seat massage systems create patterned "intensified" pulses to the driver's back and legs. The TACT pulses use simple pattern recognition to communicate vehicle and traffic conditions to the driver, including turn-signal indication, low gas, check engine, emergency vehicle presence, and intense-erratic-random surges. "Our patent-pending concept is based on extensive academic and military research," reports Charles Sleichter, Relaxor executive director of commercial seating. "We are the first to apply the tactile-cutaneous 'pulse communication' theoretical concepts to vehicle-operator communication and drowsy driver deterrence." FAX (562) 790-8355.