TWIE 135: Supersonic Ping Pong Ball Cannon

This Week in Engineering - Curiosity drills; rigid airship for cargo; supersonic ping pong balls; glasses cure color-blindness; research station on skis; and DIY prosthetic hand.

Curiosity drills
http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/5299/Designer-Edge-Image-of-the-Day--2-12-13.aspx
http://www.space.com/19708-mars-rover-curiosity-rock-drill-sample.html
http://news.discovery.com/space/curiosity-drills-into-pristine-mars-rock-130204.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1
http://news.discovery.com/space/curiosity-mars-bedrock-sample-analysis-130210.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1

Rigid airship for cargo
http://news.discovery.com/autos/military-vehicles/massive-airship-flying-start-130205.htm

Supersonic ping pong balls
http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/5268/Supersonic-Ping-Pong-Cannon.aspx
http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-02/watch-supersonic-ping-pong-ball-smash-through-ping-pong-paddle
http://gizmodo.com/5981379/what-happens-when-a-900mph-ping-pong-serve-hits-your-paddle

Glasses cure color-blindness
http://io9.com/color-blindness/

Research station on skis
http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/5273/Modular-Antarctica.aspx
http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-02/weird-antarctic-research-station-skis-ice
http://archrecord.construction.com/news/2013/01/130131-Antarctic-Research-Station.asp

DIY prosthetic hand
http://www.popsci.com/diy/article/2013-02/how-two-makers-built-customizable-new-prosthetic-hand-150-and-changed-boys-life


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Transcript For This Video

Curiosity drills
The Mars Curiosity rover is now the only robot ever to drill a hole into another planet. Using its arm-mounted drill, the rover has bored a hole 6.4 cm deep and 1.6 cm wide into a rocky outcrop named (John Klein÷ after a Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager who passed away in 2011. The dust drilled out of the hole will now be checked for earth-based contamination, and analyzed in the rover¦s instrumentation. The operation should yield valuable information about the geological history of the Yellowknife Bay area of Gale Crater, an area riddled with calcium sulfate veins, suggesting it was once persistently underwater.

Rigid airship for cargo
Airship company Aeros, from Montabello, California, recently tested a 230-foot long prototype of a rigid airship that can both fly like a plane and float like a balloon. The (Aeroscraft÷ has a rigid carbon-fiber composite shell and turboprop engines for thrust. Helium is kept in compressed tanks, and when more lift is needed, the helium is released into honeycomb-like chambers and decompressed. To fall, the helium is pumped back into the tank, allowing the chambers to fill with air from outside. The full size version will be about 500 feet long, with a top speed of 130 MPH at 12,000 feet, capable of carrying 66 tons of cargo. I say it¦s about time these things did more than sell insurance at sporting events. It¦s 2013 -- do we even need aerial coverage?

Supersonic ping pong balls
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Mark French and his team of students from Purdue University have created a vacuum-powered ping pong ball gun that fires at a remarkable mach 1.2. Remember, do not try this at home, but the innovation was to add a convergent/divergent nozzle, which is used in rocket engines to maximally direct kinetic energy, to apparently propel pressurized air to a supersonic stream around the ball. The resulting shot was able to fire a ping-pong-ball-shaped hole through the paddle. Hey Vince Gilligan, Walter White needs to take somebody out with a ping pong ball gun, so that Jesse can yell, (Yeah! Nozzles, yo! Nozzles!÷

Glasses cure color-blindness
Mark Changizi and Tim Barber from 2AI labs have developed O2Amps, a special pair of glasses that effectively cures a specific type of red-green color blindness. Originally looking for a way to see oxygenation in the blood by looking at skin color, the glasses filter out noise in the light spectrum to bolster the difference between red and green. Red and green sensitivity, available to only a few primates, is achieved by the eye¦s M and L cones, with frequencies which are very close together in the light spectrum. After testing the glases on colorblind users, they found that if the user has some of both M and L cones, then amplifying the difference can effectively be a cure. The O2Amp glasses, and the Oxy-Amp technology behind them, have various other uses, including general-purpose lighting.

Research station on skis
The $40.6 million Halley VI Antarctic research station, built by Hugh Broughton Architects, has now opened on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica. The eight buildings can house up to fifty-two researchers, and they sit on top of skis and hydraulic legs, which can be maneuvered to climb out of the roughly three feet of ice and snow that tend to accumulate during the winters. Also, the skis make the buildings towable so they can be pulled off a piece of ice at risk for breaking away. I say, skiing buildings might get away from the shape shifting monster from another world. Don¦t feed the Norwegian dog!

DIY prosthetic hand
When South African carpenter Rich Van As lost four of his fingers in an accident, he couldn¦t afford to pay for a medical prosthetic. So he worked with American special effects artist