If you think Superman is fast, talk to Marcus Knudsun. His "Z accelerator" uses a magnetic field to hurl tiny plates at speeds up to 20 km/sec. At 20 times faster than a bullet fired from a rifle, the tiny plates are fast enough to leave most superheroes in the dust and also help aerospace and telecommunications engineers simulate how space debris affects the metal skin of orbiting satellites and space observatories. Knudson is a physicist at Sandia National Labs who is researching how materials react to pressure and temperature. "The impact velocities of space debris can be quite high, on the order of 20 km/sec," says Knudson. Beyond 20 km/sec, the temperature of the aluminum plates reaches 2,500K and the plates melt. The propulsion technique that Knudson uses works by applying the Z accelerators at 20 million amps to produce an evolving magnetic field that expands in approximately 200 nsec, ultimately reaching several million atmospheres of pressure. The resulting expansion of the magnetic field propels the small plates, just as a surfboarder who catches a wave is propelled through space. "The amount of mass that is launched to high velocity is limited to a pellet weighing a couple hundred milligrams," Knudson says. "The technology will allow testing of debris shields, something that would be of interest to NASA and the communications industry," he explains. The technique is said to be the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to determine how materials react to high pressures and temperature. For more information, contact Knudson at (505) 845-7796 or email@example.com.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
In 2003, the world contained just over 500 million Internet-connected devices. By 2010, this figure had risen to 12.5 billion connected objects, almost six devices per individual with access to the Internet. Now, as we move into 2015, the number of connected 'things' is expected to reach 25 billion, ultimately edging toward 50 billion by the end of the decade.
NASA engineer Brian Trease studied abroad in Japan as a high school student and used to fold fast-food wrappers into cranes using origami techniques he learned in library books. Inspired by this, he began to imagine that origami could be applied to building spacecraft components, particularly solar panels that could one day send solar power from space to be used on earth.
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