TWIE 161: Dark Matter Miss

This Week in Engineering - Dark matter miss; blowtorch fueled by water; intercontinental sea tunnel; Dream Chaser landing failure; smart glasses for the blind; and LED WiFi.

Dark matter miss
http://www.popsci.com/article/science/inside-hunt-dark-matter
http://www.popsci.com/article/technology/one-step-closer-dark-matter
http://www.space.com/23395-dark-matter-eludes-scientists-lux-detector.html
http://news.discovery.com/space/sensitive-dark-mater-detector-draws-a-blank-131030.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1

Blowtorch fueled by water
http://www.popsci.com/article/technology/portable-blowtorch-uses-only-water-fuel
http://www.euronews.com/2013/10/28/fire-from-water/

Intercontinental sea tunnel
http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/6574/Super-Deep-Railway-Tunnel-Opens-in-Istanbul.aspx
http://news.discovery.com/autos/transportation-infrastructure/first-sea-tunnel-to-link-two-continents-131028.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1

Dream Chaser landing failure
http://www.space.com/23371-dream-chaser-landing-gear-fails-to-deploy-on-test-video.html
http://www.space.com/23370-private-dream-chaser-space-plane-skidded-off-runway-after-milestone-test-flight.html

Smart glasses for the blind
http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/6577/Smart-Glasses-Help-the-Blind-Navigate.aspx
http://news.discovery.com/tech/gear-and-gadgets/smart-glasses-could-help-blind-people-navigate-131101.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1

LED Wifi
http://news.discovery.com/tech/gear-and-gadgets/leds-deliver-speedy-wi-fi-signals-131029.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1


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Transcript For This Video

Dark matter miss
Physicists from the Large Underground Xenon -- or LUX -- detector a mile underground beneath the Black Hills of South Dakota, have announced that they have failed to detect signs of dark matter during its first run, but that the detector has proven to be the most sensitive ever built.  The detector is located far underground to shield it from everything except weakly interactive massive particles, or WIMPs -- a leading dark matter theory.  After three months, LUX has achieved three to 20 times the sensitivity of any other dark matter detector.  LUX will continue gathering data over the next year.

Blowtorch fueled by water
Researchers from Britain’s ITM Power have developed a device that uses standard mains electricity to electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen, which can be burned as fuel in a low-temperature blowtorch.  The flame burns clean, producing water again, and since the fuel is added as water, there is no danger from transporting or storing explosive gas.  The research has focused on bringing down the cost of electrolysis due to expensive membranes and catalysts.  Wow, if we can burn water, maybe I can finally mod my SuperSoaker into a Super Flamethrower.

Intercontinental sea tunnel
The city of Istanbul has announced the opening of a 13.6 km underwater rail tunnel that will ferry passengers between the city’s European and Asian sides, 60 meters beneath the Strait of Bosporus.  Engineers used the “immersed tube method” of construction, by which tunnel sections were sunk to the bottom and linked together, and the tunnel has flexible joints for withstanding seismic jitters.  Construction started in 2005, but was delayed when engineers found 4th century archaeological ruins.  That’s right: engineers are today’s Indiana Joneses.

Dream Chaser landing failure
Sierra Nevada Corporation is developing the Dream Chaser space plane -- which resembles a miniature space shuttle -- to ferry up to seven astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit.  In an unmanned drop test, the automated flight control system successfully brought the space plane to the center of the runway on the right approach vector, but the left main landing gear failed to deploy, sending the craft spinning off the end of the runway.  Though footage of the incident and damage have not been released, the pressurized crew cabin was not damaged.

Smart glasses for the blind
Many people are legally blind, but retain some ability to detect light and motion.  Now, Stephen Hicks and his team from the University of Oxford have invented Assisted Vision, a pair of glasses that augment vision using transparent OLED screens.  The glasses have two cameras for stereoscopic vision with closer objects appearing brighter, and they have GPS and earphones to dictate navigation.  I say, soon I’ll have smart glasses that pixelate everyone’s faces, so it feels like I’m living an episode of Cops.

LED Wifi
Researchers from the U.K. have created the Ultra-Parallel Visible Light Communications project, demonstrating wireless data transmission up to 10 Gbps using flickering lights of an LED.  Data is sent by the LED changing intensity, like an AM radio, with each of three wavelengths -- red, blue and green -- carrying about 3.5 Gbps.  Unlike conventional wireless routers that use radio signals, the LEDs operate in the visible light spectrum, and require an unobstructed line of sight, but the flickering is too fast for human eyes to notice.  I like the ten gigs a second, but I love that my shadow puppet can eat your wireless signal.