The Tek Pulse: The latest and greatest engineering and science posts

Informative, innovative and interesting articles from our favorite blogs


1. Find your next must-play game by flying through a virtual galaxy, July 17, 2017, New Scientist – New software may help you find your next favorite video game. There are thousands of games available today, so developers created the new software, called GameSpace, to “cut through the clutter” and provide recommendations based on how people actually talk about games. The system drops users into a galaxy where every star represents a game, and similar tiles are grouped into constellations. The team created their software using natural language processing software to find 21,456 descriptions of games online. A system then identifies 200 points of comparison between descriptions to generate a similarity score measuring how alike are any two games. The team believes their software could be used for books and films as well. Their work will be presented at the Foundations of Digital Games Conference in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, next month. For the full story check out New Scientist.


2. Ultra-high-contrast digital sensing, Larry Hardesty, July 17, 2017, PHYS.ORG – Researchers from MIT and the Technical University of Munich recently presented a technique called unlimited sampling, which can accurately digitize signals with voltage peaks far beyond an analog-to-digital converter’s (ADCs) voltage limit. Modern cameras, audio recorders and phones all have an ADC in them, which converts the fluctuating voltages of analog signals into ones and zeros. However, most ADCs have voltage limits, and if that limit is maxed out it flat lines or cuts off. For instance, in digital images, a blue sky would show up as white when the ADC limit is exceeded. The new technology can capture all colors visible to the naked eyes, allows for audio that doesn’t skip, and environmental sensors that can handle long and low periods of activity. This technique is still in the beginning stages, with more work needed before it’s commercially viable. For more information check out PHYS.ORG.


3. Rooftop concentrating photovoltaics win big over silicon in outdoor testing, Pennsylvania State University, July 17, 2017, TechXplore – Engineers field-tested a new prototype concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) system with remarkable results. The team found that their unit produced over 50 percent more energy per day than standard silicon solar cells in a head-to-head competition. Unlike silicon solar panels, CPVs focus sunlight onto smaller, but more efficient solar cells, like those used on satellites. Current CPV systems are about the size of billboards and need to rotate to track the sun. The engineers wanted to create a CPV system in the form of a traditional silicon solar panel. So, they embed multi-junction solar cells into a sheet of glass, with the whole arrangement at about two centimeters thick. The team’s prototype was able to reach 30 percent efficiency and produced 54 percent more energy than the silicon cells. According to the team, the technology could one day be used for rooftops and electric vehicles. For the full article visit TechXplore.


4. Self-Fueling Boat Sets Off from Paris on 6-Year World Trip, July 17, 2017, Wireless Design & Development – A self-fueling boat is setting off on a six-year journey around the world. The boat, named Energy Observer, will use its solar panels, wind turbines and hydrogen fuel cell system to power the trip. The $5.25 million, 100-foot boat is taking off this Saturday from Paris. Energy Observer will rely on sun and wind during the day and use its hydrogen reservoirs at night. It creates its own hydrogen through the electrolysis of sea water. The boat was originally designed in 1983 before researchers converted it into the Energy Observer project. For more information visit Wireless Design & Development.


5. And lastly, the most popular Tektronix download of the week goes to Cable and Antenna Measurements Using Tektronix USB Spectrum Analyzers. Our latest application note explains the basics of line sweeping measurements on cable and antenna systems, including why they are important and how to perform them.


Download your copy today!


Do you have a great article, blog or idea that you’d like to see featured in our series? Please be sure to share in the comments below. Stay tuned next week for another installment of The Tek Pulse, featuring more trending articles from the engineering, technology and science worlds.


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