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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
More often than not, with the purchase of a sports car comes the sacrifice of any sort of utility. In other words, you can forget about a large trunk, extra seats for the kids, and more importantly driving in snowy (or inclement) weather. But what if there was a vehicle that offered the best of both worlds; great handling and practicality?
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.
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