Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Thermal

Seek Thermal for iOS

Ever wonder if there’s something hiding in the bushes at night or if your door seals are leaking heat in the winter? A thermal imaging camera is one way of answering these questions, but they tend to be bulky and very pricey. California-based Seek Thermal is aiming to bring thermal imaging into the consumer realm with its small, relatively affordable thermal camera smartphone accessory.  Read More

A composite of graphite flakes and carbon foam is claimed to convert 85 percent of solar e...

Researchers working at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering claim to have produced a sponge-like substance that helps convert water to steam using sunlight one-hundredth as bright as that required by conventional steam-producing solar generators. A composite of graphite flakes layered on a bed of carbon foam, the new material is reported to convert as much as 85 percent of received solar energy into steam.  Read More

A  large, distributed network of concentrated solar power plants in desert regions could r...

Researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) have conducted a study to examine the potential for solar power to provide reliable electricity around the clock, every day of the year. The team found that a large, distributed network of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants in the Mediterranean basin or the Kalahari desert in southern Africa would be able to consistently run at 80 percent of maximum capacity or more throughout the year regardless of time of day, season, or weather conditions.  Read More

The heat shield, attached to the underside of the Orion spacecraft (Photo: NASA)

NASA scientists have installed the largest heat shield ever created for the intention of atmospheric re-entry, onto the crew module of its next generation spacecraft, Orion. The shield, made of the same base material as that which protected Apollo-era astronauts from re-entry conditions over four decades ago, is set to be tested to the extreme later this year as Orion's maiden flight blasts off.  Read More

The new chips could make thermal imagers standard issue for soldiers and police officers

Technological advances aren't just about making new devices. Many times it's more a matter of taking an existing device and improving on it. A case in point is Raytheon’s work on a new thermal imaging chip that the company says will find so many applications due to it being so small and cheap, that it may make the humble flashlight obsolete.  Read More

The new coating protects airplane engine components from heat damage, while lasting longer...

The higher the temperature at which an aircraft engine is able to run, the more efficiently it uses fuel. In order to run at those high temperatures, the metal components of airplane engines are presently treated with heat-shielding coatings. Scientists at Sweden's University West, however, are developing a new such coating that is said to be far more effective than anything presently used – it could extend the service life of engines by 300 percent.  Read More

Lunar ranging laser pulse scattering off high terrestrial cloud during eclipse (Photo: NAS...

The full moon has long been associated with any number of superstitions. While links with lunacy, violence, fertility, disasters, and the stock market have been thoroughly debunked, the possibility of a causative role in some arenas still remains a possibility. A lunar ranging study carried out using reflectors has long contended with the "Full-Moon Curse," a near-total fading of reflected signals during the full Moon. This Curse is real, and has now been explained.  Read More

Mimicking polar bear fur, which is able to insulate the animal's body to temperatures of 9...

Put a polar bear and a biophotonics expert together in a chilly room and what do you get? Potentially, better insulation. When looking to uncover the secrets of the impressive insulation properties of polar bear fur, researchers at the University of Namur in Belgium and the University of Hassan I in Morocco found that radiation plays a larger role than conduction in the insulation of polar animals, such as penguins and polar bears, than previously believed.  Read More

The Wristify thermoelectric bracelet being put to the test at MIT's MADMEC (Photo: Frankli...

Most bracelets aren't likely to alter your temperature too much either way, but the Wristify isn't most bracelets. Developed by four MIT engineering students, the Wristify works on the principle that heating or cooling the skin on one part of the body can make the entire body feel warmer or colder. By creating a personal heating and cooling device, the Wristify team ultimately hopes to cut the amount of energy currently used to heat or cool entire buildings.  Read More

Does water hold the key to more efficient windows? (Photo: Nathan Larkin)

Researchers at the University of Toronto say they can improve the energy of efficiency buildings by fitting window panes with tiny channels of water. The scientists says that these channels, inspired by vascular systems in nature such as the network of blood vessels in the human body, can provide 7º to 9º C of cooling in the summer, and reduce heat loss during winter.  Read More

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