"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.
One way to keep a Formula One racing team moving at breakneck speed in the pit and at the test facility is to bring CAD drawings of the racing vehicleís parts down to the test facility and even out to the track.
Most of us would just as soon step on a cockroach rather than study it, but thatís just what researchers at UC Berkeley did in the pursuit of building small, nimble robots suitable for disaster-recovery and search-and-rescue missions.
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