Hey Preppers. It's me, Lisa, again, The Prepared's West Coast correspondent.
This week's issue has a lot of links to applications of materials science -- silver ions in clothing, coatings to prevent fruit rot, plutonium pacemakers, 'maxels' and some promising research for how to fix the exploding lithium battery problem. It's cool to see how new scientific discoveries make their way into products and manufacturing techniques, sometimes with unintended consequences.
Planning & Strategy.
- Terrapattern, the world's first "reverse image search" for satellite imagery is shutting down in May due to server costs. Check it out while it lasts.
- Some researchers at the University of Texas have come up with a metric for 'transit deserts'; you can look up your city on their interactive map. I wasn't terribly surprised to find some sections of San Francisco identified as a transit desert. I'm a firm believer in the General Motors conspiracy theory to rip out municipal rail, but then again I think anyone who sees this before and after map of SF street car lines might feel the same way.
Making & Manufacturing.
- A metallurgist applies his rust mitigation skills to fruit rot. This is definitely a Californian company: citrus and avocados are their first target products.
- This is cool -- a company is helping light up the Maldives with floating solar panels. The hope is to reduce the Maldives' current dependence on oil, specifically diesel fuel.
- Exoskeleton for crushing powder to be available soon. It makes sense that one of the first consumer grade exoskeleton products would be aimed at a sport that already requires a large amount of bulky equipment, like skiing.
- Military grade ray guns are pretty much already here.
- Boeing manufacturing plants were hit by ransomware, WannaCry, this week. Oops. Whether it will have any long term impact on their production schedule remains to be seen.
- A blogger delves into how plutonium pacemakers work; upon death, the pacemaker is to be shipped back to Los Alamos.
- I love this video of how magnet printing technology works. Sadly, the spring latch demo kit was out of stock last time I checked.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- Tesla issued their largest ever Model S recall this week, citing corrosion to the screws holding the power steering in place; in other Tesla news they had another fatal crash where Autopilot was engaged this week.
- Speaking of self-driving car accidents, local Tempe residents have documented the site where one of Uber's self-driving cars killed someone a few weeks ago; their videos demonstrate how Uber's dashcam makes the intersection look a lot darker than it probably was. All in all, not a great month for the self-driving camp. Self-driving cars were sold on the promise of being safer than human drivers, but they've still got a ways to go before proving this claim.
- Researchers find a way to 'heal' dendrites in lithium ion batteries. Dendrites are sometimes to blame for lithium battery explosions.
- I didn't know that silver has anti-microbial properties but apparently Patagonia does and has been using it on their fabrics to cut down on the smell. Silver ions that come off in the wash enter the water supply and can have a negative impact on the reproductive cycles of some plants and animals; researchers have come up with some cool ways to collect this silver, like modified washing machines.
Distribution & Logistics.
- UPS announced the launch of an electric charging network for their delivery fleet in London. In the long term, this is a cost reduction play, as eventually deploying an electric delivery truck will be cheaper than a diesel powered one. They mention that one of the challenges is charging all the vehicles simultaneously, given that the London grid isn't set up for the load; unfortunately I couldn't find great details on how it works.
- I recently learned that Nestle pumps up springwater for one of its bottled water lines near Flint, Michigan, for the low low price of $200 a year in filing fees. At an estimated 210m gallons pumped a year, that's a pretty good return on investment. Nestle applied to increase this amount in 2016 and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's computer model rejected the proposal, but the human operators said it's probably OK to do anyway. A bill was introduced last October that would change the pricing of groundwater extraction in Michigan, but it hasn't gone anywhere since it's introduction.
Inspection & Testing.
- Hubble's replacement telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope has been in the works since 1990. An update issued this week puts the project behind by a few months, setting the launch for 2020. The reason for the delay? Testing is taking longer than anticipated.
- The best argument for continuing to teach handwriting skills: a man's printer malfunctions so he manually draws his bus ticket; months later he discovers that the bus driver still has the ticket.
- A hobbyist astronomer films people's reactions to viewing the moon in real time, through a telescope.