TWIE 132: Shrinking Skyscrapers

This Week in Engineering - Dreamliner battery failure; shrinking skyscrapers; sending Mona Lisa to the moon; opportunity’s tenth year; Mississippi may turn unnavigable; and inflatable addition to the ISS.

Dreamliner battery failure
http://www.engineering.com/ElectronicsDesign/ElectronicsDesignArticles/ArticleID/5190/How-Battery-Failure-Grounded-the-Boeing-Dreamliner.aspx
http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2013/01/boeings-787-0
http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-01/boeing-787-batteries-same-those-electric-cars-umm-no

Shrinking skyscrapers
http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-01/demolition-goes-eco-friendly-japan

Sending Mona Lisa to the Moon
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130117183400.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fspace_time+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Space+%26+Time+News%29
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-01/how-nasa-lasered-mona-lisa-moon
http://news.discovery.com/space/astronomy/nasa-beams-mona-lisa-to-moon-130118.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1

Opportunity¦s Tenth Year
http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/01/21/still-going-nasa-rover-opportunity/

Mississippi may turn unnavigable
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-01/army-corps-engineers-nearly-out-options-keeping-mississippi-river-flowing

Inflatable addition to the ISS
http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-01/nasa-awards-bigelow-aerospace-178-million-inflatable-addition-iss
http://news.discovery.com/space/private-spaceflight/inflatable-module-to-be-tested-on-space-station-130114.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1
http://news.discovery.com/space/private-spaceflight/space-station-to-get-balloon-like-extension-130116.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1


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Transcript For This Video

Dreamliner battery failure
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has now been grounded by the FAA and other countries after a series of fires in their lithium ion battery packs. There is no word yet, as of this recording, on the root cause for the failures, but suspicions include overcharging on voltage, overheating, and short circuits from vibrations. Lithium ion batteries are often chosen for their high energy density, and the Boeing batteries are a specific type that use cobalt oxide -- the same type used in mobile phones and computers. Such batteries are known to cause thermal events in extreme circumstances, and must have a battery management system, or BMS circuit, to protect against over- and under-voltage. The investigation is ongoing.

Shrinking skyscrapers
Japanese construction company Taisei Corporation has demonstrated a new eco-friendly way to demolish a skyscraper. Instead of bringing it down quickly with demolition charges or a wrecking ball, their Ecological Reproduction System takes the structure apart, floor by floor, from the inside out. A crane inside the building lowers material to the ground, and generates electricity in the process. And when a floor is finished, the temporary columns and jacks are lowered, and it¦s on to the next floor. Man, if it were me, I would totally light up that thing to look like Space Invaders.

Sending Mona Lisa to the Moon
Scientists from NASA¦s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland have used lasers to transmit an image of the Mona Lisa to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter -- the first one-way laser communication at planetary distances. Laser pulses were already used to track the orbiter¦s position, and the image piggybacked on the signal by varying the timing of the pulses. The 152 by 200 pixel image at twelve bits of resolution was transmitted at roughly 300 bps, using the same Reed-Solomon error correction commonly used in CDs and DVDs. Laser communication could one day enable higher data rates than radio. But did it have to be the Mona Lisa? Now I¦m confusing my lunar hoax conspiracies with the Da Vinci Code.

Opportunity¦s Tenth Year
Congratulations to NASA¦s Mars Exploration Rover Mission, as the Opportunity rover this week begins the tenth year of service. A smaller predecessor of the more-advanced Curiosity rover currently exploring Gale Crater, Opportunity¦s mission was planned for ninety Martian sols, but it turns out that little rover refused to die. Not all of the rover¦s instruments are operating at a hundred percent -- its robotic arm has difficulty moving, and due to a bad front wheel it mostly moves backwards -- but it is continuing to study chemical compositions, and will head south over the next couple of months looking for even more interesting terrain.

Mississippi may turn unnavigable
This year was the hottest on record in the 48 states, and the American midwest has been slammed with so much drought that now the shallowest part of the Mississippi River could become unnavigable within a month. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is running out of geoengineering options for managing the shallow stretch of river from Cairo, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri. Barges are currently trying to dredge two more feet of depth from the shallowest part, which could keep river traffic flowing until later in the winter, when the river depth historically would begin to recover. One remaining option would be to increase flow from the Missouri River, but it is also parched, and that option has legal caveats. Or, we could just use roads. Not to be a jerk or anything...

Inflatable addition to the ISS
NASA has awarded a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow Aerospace to develop a new module for the International Space Station made of an inflatable structure. Bigelow, a startup that envisions inflat