An intense but brief form of lightening known as "red sprites" that occurs high in the atmosphere above large thunderstorms may not be the amorphous blob of light that scientists had first thought. Researchers from Stanford's Very Low Frequency Research Group, who have been studying this phenomenon for several years, now propose that sprites may consist of thousands of fiery streamers, each only a few meters wide. Current observations of sprites, which can be more than 25 miles wide and 25 miles in height, have been made from a considerable distance with high-speed cameras capable of capturing the images of these extremely brief flashes. The best resolution of these images has been several hundred feet, much larger than the size of the streamers that the Stanford model predicts. The group hopes to acquire a special telescope that can capture details in sprites as small as a few feet across. That will allow the scientists to determine if the structure that they have predicted does in fact exist. For more information, contact David F. Salisbury, Stanford News Service, at (650) 725-1944.
If you see a hitchhiker along the road in Canada this summer, it may not be human. That’s because a robot is thumbing its way across our neighbor to the north as part of a collaborative research project by several Canadian universities.
Stanford University researchers have found a way to realize what’s been called the “Holy Grail” of battery-design research -- designing a pure lithium anode for lithium-based batteries. The design has great potential to provide unprecedented efficiency and performance in lithium-based batteries that could substantially drive down the cost of electric vehicles and solve the charging problems associated with smartphones.
Robots in films during the 2000s hit the big time; no longer are they the sidekicks of nerdy character actors. Robots we see on the big screen in recent years include Nicole Kidman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Eddie Murphy. Top star of the era, Will Smith, takes a spin as a robot investigator in I, Robot. Robots (or androids or cyborgs) are fully mainstream in the 2000s.
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