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


Informative, innovative and interesting articles from our favorite blogs

  1. Scientists detect radio echoes of a black hole feeding on a star, Jennifer Chu, March 18, 2018, MIT -- Scientists have discovered new findings in black hole research based on a cosmic even that happened years ago. In 2014, a global network of telescopes picked up signals from 300 million light years away that were created by a tidal disruption flare – an explosion of energy that occurs when a black hole rips apart a passing star. Since the discovery, astronomers have used telescopes to learn more about black holes. Recently, scientists detected radio signals from the event that match closely with X-ray emissions produced from the same flare 13 days earlier. The team believes these radio “echoes” are more than just a passing coincidence. The echoes appear to be evidence of a jet of highly energetic particles streaming out from the black hole as stellar material is falling in. The pattern suggests the power of the jet shooting out from the black hole is controlled by the speed at which the black hole is consuming on stellar debris. Researchers believe the team’s new insights into jet production and black hole accretion may help to simplify models of galaxy evolution. For the full article visit MIT.
  2. Unexpected Effect Could Lead to Lower-Power Memory, Computing Devices, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), March 19, 2018, ECN -- An unexpected phenomenon could lead to smaller, lower-power memory and computing devices. The phenomenon is known as zero field switching (ZFS). In the device, electric current can flip the data state between zero and one. Previous devices of this type have required a magnetic field to change the material’s magnetization. These earlier devices are not useful for building stable, non-volatile memory devices. The breakthrough occurred when researchers found they could flip the magnetization in a stable fashion between the zero and one states by sending an electric current through specific metal layers adjacent to the nanomagnet, not requiring a magnetic field. The ZFS effect was a surprise and had not been theoretically predicted. In future work, the team plans to seek and identify other materials that could enable ZFS. For the full story visit ECN.
  3. New Study Presents Method to Stop Cyber Attacks on GPS-Enabled Devices, University of Texas at San Antonio, March 19, 2018, Research & Development -- A new study describes a computer algorithm that could help cybersecurity professionals better detect and prevent cyberattacks in real time. The algorithm mitigates the effects of spoofed GPS attacks on electrical grids and other GPS-reliant technologies. Hackers have the ability to disrupt a device’s understanding of time and location by emitting a signal that’s pretending to be a GPS signal. This can be very harmful in many domains of technology, like the U.S. electrical power grid. Researchers have shown that the power grid can be vulnerable to spoofing cyberattacks that can disrupt the system’s time and location data. The algorithm, which can easily be applied to cell phones and computers, can recognize false GPS signals and counter an attack while it occurs. The main focus has been on protecting the U.S. power grid, but it’s applicable to other devices as well, like driverless cars, cell phone towers and banks. For more information check out Research & Development.
  4. Engineers Invent this Giant Harpoon to Clean Up the Space Junk, Aniqa Ajmal, March 19, 2018, Wonderful Engineering -- A team at Airbus is developing a method to remove large pieces of space junk from orbit. If not resolved soon, there will be more than 20,000 useless objects rotating in space. This includes items such as defunct satellites and paint chips. The team developed a giant harpoon tethered to a spacecraft to tackle this problem. Once on the ground, the junk will be burned. To test the device, researchers have been shooting 3-cm thick aluminum composite honeycomb panels in the lab using compressed air. Once up and running, the spacecraft will sit at a distance, wait for the target to rotate beneath and fire the harpoon. The biggest piece of junk out there is the Envisat Earth observation satellite, an eight-ton of metal that has been floating around for nearly six years. The team believes that if they successfully design their harpoon to cope with Envisat, then it can handle anything else. For more information visit Wonderful Engineering.  
  5. And lastly, the most popular Tektronix download of the week goes to Power Supply Measurement and Analysis with 5-PWR Application Software. Our latest application note explains how to set up your oscilloscope to take measurements, with emphasis on the 5 series MSO oscilloscope with 5-PWR analysis software. The note also gives you a high-level overview of the various measurements, how they are used, and what results they provide.


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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