"I'm all shook up," sang Elvis. Well, the King may have been, but researchers at JILA, a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado sure aren't. They're building the "most vibration-free platform on Earth," they say. The structure will measure the ever-evasive thermal noise levels--typically unmeasurable due to the slightest mechanical vibration--as well as perform ground-based detection of low-frequency gravity waves coming from the cosmos. The instrument, designed to cancel out low-frequency, long-wavelength vibrations, uses three nested platforms hung on springs, each with six sensitive movement sensors and non-contact magnetic pushers. High-speed electronics activate the magnetic pushers that move the platform in the opposite direction and cancel the vibrations out. NIST researchers say the instrument can reduce vibration by a factor of nearly a million. The principles behind the project may be applicable to industrial processes like fabrication of ultra-small integrated circuits or diamond turning of super-smooth surfaces. Contact: James Faller (303) 492-8509 or Joseph Giaime (303) 492-0448.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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