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


Informative, innovative and interesting articles from our favorite blogs

  1. What is ‘hot lightning’? Satellites reveal which strikes are most likely to start wildfires, Amy Nordrum, August 2, 2019, IEEE Spectrum -- Lightning strikes occur between 50 and 100 times every second. Now, with new tools, researchers can distinguish the most damaging lightning strikes from the millions of others that occur every year. All lightning is dangerous, but if we can spot the harmful ones, rescue teams could react faster during a storm. The system combines data from its terrestrial U.S. and global lightning detection networks with new information from a pair of optical sensors, called Geostationary Lightning Mappers (GLMs). The sensors are orbiting Earth aboard two weather satellites. For the first time ever, maintenance and fire crews will be able to use an operational lightning data feed to target cloud-to-ground lightning events that are most likely to cause damage or start a wildfire. The team aims to use data to detect the presence of a single phenomenon: a continuing current, which is thought to occur in about 11 percent of lightning strikes. Lightning that harbors this current is more likely to start fires. The team’s global lightning detection network can pinpoint the location of any cloud-to-ground lightning strike in the world to within two kilometers. For the U.S. network, the accuracy is within 200 meters. For the full article visit IEEE Spectrum.
  2. Lessons of conventional imaging let scientists see around corners, Terry Devitt, August 5th, 2019, PHYS.ORG -- The ability to see through and around walls is now one step closer to reality. Scientists have drawn on the lessons of classical optics to show that it is possible to image complex hidden scenes using a projected “virtual camera” to see around barriers. Once the technology is perfected it could be used for a range of applications from disaster relief to manufacturing. It could also serve as a potential way to peer inside hidden caves on the moon and Mars. Technologies to achieve “non-line-of-sight imaging” have been in development for years, but technical challenges have reduced them to fuzzy pictures of simple scenes. Challenges that could be overcome by this new approach include imaging far more complex hidden scenes, seeing around multiple corners and even taking video around corners. The basic idea of non-light-of-sight imaging revolves around using indirect, reflected light to capture images of a hidden scene. Basically, the scientists send light pulses to a surface and see the light coming back; from this they can see what’s in the hidden scene. For information on the team’s new method check out PHYS.ORG.
  3. In the future, this electricity-free tech could help cool buildings in metropolitan areas, University at Buffalo, August 5, 2019, TechXplore -- Engineers have designed a new system that can help cool buildings in metropolitan areas without consuming electricity. The system consists of an inexpensive polymer/aluminum film that’s installed inside a box at the bottom of a solar “shelter.” The film keeps the surrounding area cool by absorbing heat from the air inside the box and transmitting that energy through the Earth’s atmosphere into outer space. The solar shelter helps block incoming sunlight and beams thermal radiation emitted from the film into the sky. The whole system measures about 18 inches tall, 10 inches wide and 10 inches long. To cool a building, multiple units would need to be installed to cover a roof. For more information visit TechXplore.
  4. A wearable device so thin and soft you won't even notice it, University of Houston, August 2, 2019, ScienceDaily -- Current wearable devices are bulky, uncomfortable and can’t always handle multiple functions at once. Now, a new multifunctional ultra-thin wearable electronic device is imperceptible to the wearer. The device allows the user to move naturally and, according to the lead researcher, is less noticeable than wearing a Band-Aid. The device is a metal oxide semiconductor on a polymer, offers manufacturing advantages and can be processed at temperatures below 300 Celsius. This device is worn on human skin to capture multiple physical data, and also can be placed on a robot to offer intelligent feedback to form a closed-loop human-machine interface (HMI). This multifunctional soft stretchy HMI device is based on a one-step formed polymer-processed semiconductor. For more information check out ScienceDaily.
  5. And lastly, the most popular Tektronix download of the week goes to Fundamentals of Floating Measurements and Isolated Input Oscilloscopes. Our latest application note will provide you with a fundamental glossary of power measurement terms, explains the different options available for making floating measurements and highlights the advantages and trade-off of each option.




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