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Engineering News

Today’s atmospheric carbon dioxide levels greater than 23 million-year record — ScienceDaily

A common message in use to convey the seriousness of climate change to the public is: “Carbon dioxide levels are higher today than they have been for the past one million years!” This new study by Brian Schubert (University of Louisiana at Lafayette) and coauthors Ying Cui and A. Hope Jahren used a novel method to conclude that today’s carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are actually higher than they have been for the past 23 million years. The team used the…

Improve Information Exchange to Cope with Crises

When Matt Struble was called upon to work remotely and do his part to flatten the curve, he didn’t flinch. The senior manager for model realization at Nissan Design America said his team was able to make the adjustment to “a 100% virtual office” within a day. “It was really not a major disruption from a hardware infrastructure standpoint; the connectivity that we had in place allowed us to react very quickly,” said Struble, whose home office is set up…

Eco-preneurs Use Renewable Energy to Rebuild Our Planet’s Reefs

Can technology help reverse the loss of coral reefs occurring across the planet? Initial trials of a system for restoring coral reefs show that it’s possible and practical to use renewable energy to draw minerals from the ocean itself to create structures that become homes for reef-building organisms. The accelerated process, developed by CCell Renewables, a marine engineering company, has demonstrated the ability to create healthy, living reefs at an accelerated rate in 500 small-scale trials conducted throughout the world. …

Class of stellar explosions found to be galactic producers of lithium — ScienceDaily

A team of researchers, led by astrophysicist Sumner Starrfield of Arizona State University (ASU), has combined theory with both observations and laboratory studies and determined that a class of stellar explosions, called classical novae, are responsible for most of the lithium in our galaxy and solar system. The results of their study have been recently published in the Astrophysical Journal of the American Astronomical Society. “Given the importance of lithium to common uses like heat-resistant glass and ceramics, lithium batteries…

Solving Automotive Interior Lighting Challenges with Integrated Smart Embedded LEDs

Automotive interiors have been undergoing a significant transformation over the past decade. Historically, many individual buttons in the cabin served a dedicated function. Interior switches in modern vehicles are more complex with shared functions, menu options, and interactive displays. Adding to complexity, human-machine-interface (HMI) interaction windows are used to control assisted driving and other content. This transformation requires a move to sophisticated, controllable automotive interior solutions also enabling dynamic light effects. Practically nonexistent in the past other than for backlighting…

May PMI Rebounds as Optimism Mixes with Caution

Sparking hopes that the manufacturing downturn sparked by the global pandemic may be starting to reverse, the monthly PMI Index from the Institute for Supply Management rose 1.6 percentage points in May to 43.1%. The index still finished well below the manufacturing growth level of 50% and just slightly above the 42.8% overall economic growth threshold. Still, the rebound is the first time the index had improved since the beginning of the year, sparking hope that the decline may have…

Research also suggests the early universe could have been spinning — ScienceDaily

An analysis of more than 200,000 spiral galaxies has revealed unexpected links between spin directions of galaxies, and the structure formed by these links might suggest that the early universe could have been spinning, according to a Kansas State University study. Lior Shamir, a K-State computational astronomer and computer scientist, presented the findings at the 236th American Astronomical Society meeting in June 2020. The findings are significant because the observations conflict with some previous assumptions about the large-scale structure of…

These flexible feet help robots walk faster

An off-the-shelf six-legged robot equipped with the feet designed by UC San Diego engineers can walk up to 40 percent faster than when not equipped with the feet. Credit: University of California San Diego Roboticists at the University of California San Diego have developed flexible feet that can help robots walk up to 40 percent faster on uneven terrain such as pebbles and wood chips. The work has applications for search-and-rescue missions as well as space exploration. “Robots need to…

Sweat-Powered E-Skin Patch Monitors Body Vitals, Reports via Bluetooth

Using some form of energy harvesting to power personal medical devices that monitor body parameters is clearly an attractive proposition, but it’s difficult to realize in practice. Addressing this issue, a team based at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has developed a harvesting-powered electronic skin (e-skin) made from soft, flexible rubber that’s applied directly on top of the subject’s skin. The e-skin contains embedded sensors and an active circuit comprising the entire signal chain, including analog front end (AFE)…

Giving soft robots feeling

Professor Ted Adelson’s team created a soft robotic finger that uses embedded cameras and deep learning to enable high-resolution tactile sensing and “proprioception” (awareness of positions and movements of the body). Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology One of the hottest topics in robotics is the field of soft robots, which utilizes squishy and flexible materials rather than traditional rigid materials. But soft robots have been limited due to their lack of good sensing. A good robotic gripper needs to feel…