The Earth's gravity is generally perceived as a constant, with one "g" indicating an acceleration of 9.8 meters per second per second. However, small variations in the gravitational field are discernable at different locations, typically with magnitudes of one-ten thousandth of the average gravitational attraction, implying a "mass deficit" in such places. These undulations, known as gravity anomalies, are spread throughout the Earth, but one of the largest is centered over Hudson Bay, Canada. Using a new approach to analyzing planetary gravity fields, two geophysicists, Mark Simons at the California Institute of Technology and Bradford Hager at M.I.T., have shown that incomplete glacial rebound can account for a substantial portion of the Hudson Bay gravity anomaly. About 18,000 years ago, Hudson Bay was at the center of a continental-sized glacier with a thickness of several kilometers. The weight of the ice bowed the surface of the Earth down and after it receded, it left depression in its wake. Having an estimate of incomplete post-glacial rebound allowed Simons and Hager to derive a model of how the viscosity of the mantle changes with depth. Their favored model suggests that underneath the oldest parts of continents the viscosity of the outer 400 kilometers of Earth is much stiffer than under the oceans. Therefore, these continental keels can resist the erosion by the convective flow that drives plate tectonics. For more information, Robert Tindol, "Caltech", at (626) 395-3631.
During a teardown of the iPad Air and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 at the Medical Design & Manufacturing Show in Schaumburg, Ill., an engineer showed this "inflammatory" video about the dangers of maliciously mishandling lithium-ion batteries.
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.
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