control techniques and aerodynamic improvements developed
at the Georgia Institute of Technology could save the U.S.
trucking industry hundreds of millions of gallons of fuel
per year. Aerodynamic improvements on truck trailers -- such
as rounded corners -- coupled with pneumatic controls for
blowing air from slots, help reduce drag and improve fuel
economy for heavy trucks. Recent tests done using a full-size
tractor-trailer truck show the techniques based on systems
originally developed for jet aircraft wings could increase
fuel economy by as much as 12 percent. The improvements could
also enhance braking and directional control, potentially
improving safety for the big vehicles. "Aerodynamically,
we have resolved unknowns raised in earlier testing and the
next step is to get this into a fleet of trucks for more extensive
testing," said Robert Englar, principal research engineer
of Georgia Tech Research Institute. The aerodynamic improvements
produced by geometry changes involve rounding trailer corners,
installing fairings and making other changes that smooth airflow
over the boxy trailers. Fuel savings also comes from pneumatic
devices that blow air from slots at the rear of the trailer
to further improve and prevent separation of air flow.
Digital Camera in the Dark
could make it possible for homes to have "smart"
walls responsive to the environment in the room, a digital
camera sensitive enough to work in the dark or clothing with
the capacity to turn the sun's power into electrical energy.
Researchers at the University of Toronto have invented an
infrared-sensitive material that could shortly turn these
possibilities into realities. "We made particles from
semiconductor crystals which were exactly two, three or four
nanometres in size. The nanoparticles were so small they remained
dispersed in everyday solvents just like the particles in
paint," explains Professor Ted Sargent of University
of Toronto's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
The discovery may also help in the quest for renewable energy
sources. Flexible, roller-processed solar cells have the potential
to harness the sun's power but efficiency, flexibility and
cost are going to determine how that potential becomes practice.
Playing Computer Games Fail in Studies
new study conducted by leading scientist Professor Robert
Winston suggests that children who spend hours playing computer
games and watching television are failing to develop the skills
to succeed at school. He also added that youngsters are not
acquiring the long-term powers of study and application they
need in class. This is because the games they play and programmes
they watch require only short-term bursts of concentration.
The programme surveyed a group of primary school pupils and
found one in five had played Grand Theft Auto --- a notorious
18-certificate game where players steal cars, kill people
and pick up prostitutes. "Many children who love computer
games find it hard to concentrate on the sort of tasks that
require slow application and are necessary for school success,"
he said. Those who spend long periods playing quick-fire,
adrenaline-pumping games often lack a long-term attention
span, he found. "Digital media may well have some dangers
as well as some advantages for children. Modern children are
spending three to four hours a day in front of a computer
or television screen of some kind, often unsupervised,"
and Solar Weather Mystery
have identified ultrasound-like waves in our sun's atmosphere
that could explain some strange aspects of solar weather.
An analysis of data from NASA's TRACE spacecraft suggests
that the waves could be responsible for the star's unexplained
extra heat. The surface of the sun reaches a blistering 6,000
degrees Celsius. The chromosphere or middle solar atmosphere,
is even more scorching at 100,000 degrees Celsius, whereas
the solar corona is the hottest part of all, with temperatures
nearing a million degrees Celsius. Just what causes these
wide discrepancies in temperature has intrigued researchers
for decades. Craig DeForest of the Southwest Research Institute
and his colleagues analysed data from the TRACE ultraviolet
telescope and found evidence of waves with a frequency of
100 millihertz, which corresponds to a sound 300 times deeper
than the lowest noise audible to the human ear. "These
ripples seem to be carrying about one kilowatt of power per
square metre on the surface of the sun," says DeForest.
"something is releasing energy into the environment and
that release has a recognisable sonic signature."
is Similar to Drug Addiction
new study published in the journal 'Nature Neuroscience'
has indicated that serious gamblers demonstrate a similar
pattern of brain activity to people who are addicted to drugs.
The researchers from Hamburg, Germany, said that gambling
was also a form of addiction. The parts of the brain which
are active when people feel rewarded, curbing activity, are
less so in those who take drugs or gamble to excess, they
said. In the study, the brains of 12 compulsive gamblers and
12 non-gamblers were monitored using functional magnetic resonance
imaging (fMRI) while they played a simple card guessing game.
Players had to choose one of two facedown cards. If the card
came up red, they won one euro. It was found that the ventral
striatum, a part of the brain that signals reward, was less
active in the pathological gamblers even though both groups
won and lost the same amount of money. Reduced activity in
the area is recognised as a hallmark of drug addiction. This
study is one more piece of the jigsaw that helps give gambling
legitimacy as a bona-fide addiction.
Webindia123.com / New Scientist.com / Scientific America.com
by: Imran H. Khan
(R) thedailystar.net 2004