US Infrastructure Faces An IQ Test
One measure of the stimulus bill's effect on righting the listing ship of the US economy will be how well it allocates monies for domestic infrastructure.
The list of ailments afflicting US highways, water supplies, electricity grids and public transit networks is extensive but most of them could be confronted with more smart technology. California is considering revamping its highways with Vehicle Infrastructure Integration, or VII, a series of electronic tracking systems to monitor traffic volume, accidents and speed to better predict congestion. Onboard instruments in the next generation of smart cars would receive information from VII and communicate updates back, in the event of an accident for instance. Such a system is already in place in Singapore which significantly alleviated congestion in their city center.
Ageing water supply systems are equally if not more in need of rethinking. In the New York area, for example, subterranean aqueducts are prone to serious leaks that some engineers say could compromise the entire city's drinking water if left unfixed. New technologies offer sensors to track leaks in water mains before they start flooding suburban basements.
The number of stakeholders that need to come to consensus on smart infrastructure technology is as daunting as the problems themselves. Federal government, the private sector, state municipalities and citizens must huddle intensely to decide how best to apply the financial opportunity the stimulus presents.
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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