Shields Up! Practical Force Fields Are In the Works
I am not one to endorse stereotypes based on ethnicity, nation or religion. Especially not the ones from the earliest Star Trek series, in which everyone in the galaxy either spoke like a Californian or with the heaviest Russian- or Scottish- inflected English that a book on accents for actors could provide. That said, what are we to make of the fact that humanity's hopes for Trek-style deflector shields are all lodged in Great Britain?
A few days ago, researchers at the United Kingdom's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory went public with a practical force field for tanks. The idea is to build capacitors into tank armor, so that a massive electromagnetic current can be discharged when the tank is about to be hit by, say, a Rocket Propelled Grenade. "Electric armor" built along these lines would allow for much lighter vehicles, because some of the protection they now get from heavy metal would instead be provided by magnetic repulsion—if scanning systems can be sharp and fast enough to trigger the protective pulse at the right moment.
Even if the spaceships of the future are not armed to the teeth, they will still need some sort of shields: Solar "storms" of high-energy particles are the greatest single danger to people travelling beyond the protection of the Earth's own magnetosphere. (The Apollo astronauts were amazingly lucky not to be hit by these cosmic rays, but longer trips are in far more danger.) Never fear, a solution is in development: a "mini-magnetosphere" that spaceships can carry when they leave the Earth's natural magnetic shield. The research is an ongoing project of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, in what appears to be an increasingly well-defended England.
Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.