Since the beginning of the Space Age the total length of high-voltage power lines crisscrossing North America has increased nearly 10 fold. This has turned power grids into giant antennas for geomagnetically induced currents. With demand for power growing even faster than the grids themselves, modern networks are sprawling, interconnected, and stressed to the limitâ€”a recipe for trouble, according to the National Academy of Sciences: “The scale and speed of problems that could occur on [these modern grids] have the potential to impact the power system in ways not previously experienced.”
So, basically, ninjas, in an attempt to protect the power grid from a solar storm, NASA is developing tech that could monitor the sun and adjust the grid as necessary to let key components remain un-damaged against powerful electrical surges. Read the article below and click through to find out more!
Every hundred years or so, a solar storm comes along so potent it fills the skies of Earth with blood-red auroras, makes compass needles point in the wrong direction, and sends electric currents coursing through the planet’s topsoil. The most famous such storm, the Carrington Event of 1859, actually shocked telegraph operators and set some of their offices on fire. A 2008 report by the National Academy of Sciences warns that if such a storm occurred today, we could experience widespread power blackouts with permanent damage to many key transformers.
What’s a utility operator to do?
A new NASA project called “Solar Shield” could help keep the lights on.
“Solar Shield is a new and experimental forecasting system for the North American power grid,” explains project leader Antti Pulkkinen, a Catholic University of America research associate working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “We believe we can zero in on specific transformers and predict which of them are going to be hit hardest by a space weather event.” -> Continue Reading at NASA Science
If they weren’t all out dying, we could learn a lot from the bees.Â For instance, they’re awesome at math.Â Who knew?Â Read on…
The insects learn to fly the shortest route between flowers discovered in random order, effectively solving the “travelling salesman problem” , said scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London.
The conundrum involves finding the shortest route that allows a travelling salesman to call at all the locations he has to visit. Computers solve the problem by comparing the length of all possible routes and choosing the one that is shortest.
Bees manage to reach the same solution using a brain the size of a grass seed.
photograph (Rex Features) and original text can be found here
For 90,000 USD you can buy “Chef’s Farm” by Dentsu Facility Management Inc, a small vegetable plant that can be installed in, for example, a restaurant and can produce 20,000 heads of lettuce per year.
From his childhood in segregated Mobile, Alabama, to his run-ins with a nay-saying scientific establishment, the engineer Lonnie Johnson has never paid much heed to those who told him what he could and couldnâ€™t accomplish. Best known for creating the state-of-the-art Super Soaker squirt gun, Johnson believes he now holds the key to affordable solar power.
Do the preservatives in Mickey D’s food make it immortal? Click here to read about one happy meal that just won’t die.
So, these idiots are replacing the Sunchips compostable bags that they spent millions developing and producing with the old plastic non-biodegradable bags because the new ones are too noisy?Â That has to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
NEW YORK (AP) — Frito-Lay hopes to quiet complaints about its noisy SunChips bags by switching out the biodegradable bags for the old packaging on most flavors.
The company is switching back to original packaging, which is made of a type of plastic, for five of the six varieties of the chips. It will keep the biodegradable and recyclable bags for its sixth variety, its original plain flavor. That’s its second best-selling, after Harvest Cheddar.
The snack maker said the switch started in the middle of September and should be complete by middle to late October.
The bags were launched in April 2009 with a big marketing effort to play up their compostability because they’re made from plants and not plastic.
But that which makes them compostable also makes them loud. The bags have a different molecular structure from the original packaging, and they’re stiffer. So people complained about the noise. Groups on Facebook abound with names such as “I wanted SunChips but my roommate was sleeping…” and “Nothing is louder than a SunChips bag.” [LINK]