As Apollo 13 sped toward Earth, mission control was beginning to worry about a new problem. While the lunar module had enough spare oxygen to accommodate Swigert as well as the intended lunar module crew of Lovell and Haise, carbon dioxide was beginning to build up. Normally lithium hydroxide (LiOH) canisters absorbed the gas from the air and prevented it from reaching dangerous levels, but the canisters onboard the Aquarius were being overwhelmed. The Odyssey had more than enough spare LiOH canisters onboard, but these canisters were square and couldn't fit into the holes intended for the lunar modules' round canisters. Mission control needed a way to put a square peg into a round hole. Fortunately, as with the lunar module activation sequence, somebody was ahead of the game. As reported in Lost Moon, Lovell's book about the Apollo 13 mission (cowritten by Jeffery Kluger; republished as Apollo 13), Ed Smylie, one of the engineers who developed and tested life support systems for NASA, … [Read more...] about Apollo 13, We Have a Solution: Part 3
Duct pressure testing
Fourth in a series of reports on biomedical engineering innovations. Meet Bob. Bob might be your next-door neighbor. He's an affable, 60-something retired engineer who took a buyout before the Internet bubble burst. He golfs, enjoys his grandchildren, and likes to travel with his wife of 35 years. The only problem is that he's getting old—and he knows it. He's bald on top, his skin is starting to sag in places, his eyesight isn't what it used to be, and he sometimes can't hear what his dinner companions are saying. Even worse, the diabetes that he was diagnosed with in his 40s is getting more difficult to control: his blood sugar seems like it is up one minute, down the next. And it seems as though all his friends have had at least one heart attack. Bob is worried about getting old. As an engineer, Bob knows that the body is just one big system that runs by chemical gradients and electrical impulses. So why is it so difficult to come up with replacement parts when bodies like … [Read more...] about The Body Shops
Whoosh Boom Splat is a book for people who get along with the staff at the local hardware store. When I went to find parts for the T-shirt cannon on page 120, I got the new kid at the store. He was assigned the job of helping me as a way of learning the store’s inventory. We spent the better part of an hour finding the right combination of reducers, couplers, valves, and PVC pipes to match the functional specs laid down by author William Gurstelle. The book (published by Three Rivers Press, New York, in 2007) contains 10 projects for people who want to create interesting but potentially dangerous gadgets from PVC pipe and other readily available supplies. At the safer end of the spectrum are a blowgun for miniature marshmallows and a balloon-powered slingshot. For the more daring, there’s a steam cannon that requires injecting water into a red-hot pipe fitting, a hair spray and Taser–powered potato shooter, and a pulse-jet demonstrator, which involves … [Read more...] about Kids, Do Try This at Home
Walk into a Jusco supermarket in Yamato, a small city near Tokyo, Japan, and you can glimpse the future of meat. In addition to a conventional bar code, each steak package sports its own ID number. Type the number into the computer sitting on a nearby table, and up pops information about the cow the steak came from: a scanned copy of its negative test result for mad-cow disease and, in case you are interested, its breed and sex, its date of slaughter, and the name of the producer. At some Japanese meat-counter displays, you’ll even see a picture of the family that raised the animal. All this information is available because the steaks come from Japanese cattle that have been individually tracked from birth, generally with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags; each of the cows has an ID number correlated with a database entry that documents its birth date, medical history, and movements from feedlot to slaughter, and the results of mandatory mad-cow tests. … [Read more...] about Where’s the Beef from?
SEMI-GAS Systems, a provider of ultra-high purity gas delivery equipment, recently broadened the capabilities of its custom Xturion Blixer gas blender product line. The new options include system auto-purging and a dynamic stream gas analyzer to facilitate the blending of highly corrosive gases into gas mixtures, as needed in semiconductor and microelectronics fabrication processes.Based on a preset component ratio, Blixer receives regulated process gases from two or more independent gas sources and blends them to the desired composition in the system’s on-board accumulator tank. The system then draws from the accumulator tank and delivers the uniform gas mixture through the process gas outlet to a tool or gas distribution manifold.To oversee all of these system operations, Blixer utilizes a SEMI-GAS GigaGuard PLC controller with an ergonomically front-mounted 8.0″ color touch screen. In addition, the PLC controller manages the electrical components and pneumatically … [Read more...] about SEMI-GAS broadens gas mixing capabilities for highly corrosive gases
Nissan announced that the new 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Edition, the most coveted GT-R on the planet, will carry a sticker price of $115,710.Designed to drive the legendary 545-horsepower street supercar to even higher performance extremes, the GT-R Track edition features a specially tuned suspension, special brake cooling guides, front spoiler with carbon fiber air ducts and a lightweight quilted cloth mat where you’d typically expect to find the rear seats. Upgrades for the Track Edition’s 4-wheel independent suspension include specialized Bilstein DampTronic gas pressure shock absorbers and higher spring rates, developed from rigorous testing on Germany’s Nurburgring, according to Nissan’s official press release for pricing. Powered by the GT-R’s 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 engine, the Track Edition’s air guides for the front and rear brakes were also developed and refined through track testing, notes the company. Inside, the GT-R … [Read more...] about Nissan announces pricing for GT-R Track Edition, the most exclusive (and expensive) car in the iconic line-up
Apple's new iPad Smart Cover for the iPad 2 took the tech geek world by storm when Apple first announced it and posted a fancy video of it in action on its Smart Cover site.I saw a lot of positive feedback for it online -- first impressions -- so when I was up at 2 a.m. ordering a brand-spankin' new iPad 2 on launch day, I ordered a Smart Cover, too. The last thing I wanted was to have a new iPad 2 and have zero access to cases and covers. Any cover is better than no cover, and besides, that video takes a bendy piece of polyurethane and some magnets, adds a splash of color to a dose of Apple marketing magic, and boom, instant desire for something undeniably cool.On the downside, the cover is a bit spendy -- US$39 for the polyurethane and $69 for the leather. Because the cost is out of no-brainer range for most consumers and there are very competitively priced other case options from other manufacturers, it drops my overall rating down to a very respectable 4 out of 5 stars. There's … [Read more...] about PRODUCT REVIEW iPad 2 Smart Cover: Softcore Armor Lets the Sexy Shine Through