Students racing over curving roads in a video-game simulation hope to help scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center (LRC) answer a serious question: Do current lighting standards mislead us about the efficiency of roadway, parking lot, and security lighting? Lighting efficiency is widely calculated as lumens per watt of energy, explains Mark Rea, LRC director. The lumen, a measurement defined in the 1920s, is based on the response in bright light of the fovea, the part of the retina that contains cone photoreceptors. It's responsible for central, high-acuity vision. However, parts of the retina containing rod-shaped photoreceptors also are important in low-light conditions and for peripheral vision. As a result, lumens per watt delivers an accurate efficiency measure for tasks done in bright light, but is less accurate for such tasks as night driving, which requires good peripheral vision in low light. In research sponsored jointly by General Electric, OSRAM Sylvania, Philips, and the Department of Energy, the LRC is conducting experiments with the driving simulator to measure the reaction of the participants under varying lighting conditions. The information gained could help industry produce new lighting systems that are more efficient, Rea believes, since they would take into account the complex responses of the human eye. Phone Rea at (518) 276-8701 (E)
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Advertised as the "Most Powerful Tablet Under $100," the Kindle Fire HD 6 was too tempting for the team at iFixit to pass up. Join us to find out if inexpensive means cheap, irreparable, or just down right economical. It's teardown time!
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