The saffron war of 1374 lasted 14 weeks driven by a notion that the spice could cure plague. It can’t. But people lost their heads over it. It’s not just gold, diamonds, and oil we cherish and plunder. Seemingly benign commodities—whether it’s medicinal tea or stinky fungus—have exerted power over us for centuries. Here’s just a taste of their recent history.
It was 75 years ago, beneath the bleachers of a University of Chicago football field, that scientists took the first step toward harnessing the power of the nuclear fission chain reaction. Their research initiated the Atomic Age, and kicked off in earnest the Manhattan Project’s race toward a weapon of unimaginable might. Later, precisely the same technique would spur construction of the nuclear power plants that today supply 20 percent of America’s energy. From medicine to art, the awesome and terrible potential of splitting the atom has left few aspects of our lives untouched.
Continue reading How the First Man-Made Nuclear Reactor Reshaped Science and Society
Free-roaming wireless power has been a dream of engineers since the days of Tesla and Edison waging their war of innovation but a number of technical hurdles have prevented it from becoming a reality. The folks at Disney Research have revealed that they’ve successfully built a method to provide full coverage of an average room and power all the devices one might need.
You probably don’t think of China as a clean energy champion given its frequent problems with smog and continued dependence on coal power, but you may have to rethink your views after today. The country’s National Energy Administration has revealed that its solar energy production more than doubled in 2016, hitting 77.42 gigawatts by the end of the year. The country is now the world’s biggest producer of solar energy in terms of capacity — it doesn’t compare as well relative to population (Germany, Japan and the US could easily beat it), but that’s no mean feat for any nation.
Brake rotors are basically big heavy chunks of cast iron that friction pads clamp onto to stop a car. They’re super beefy, able to resist really high temperatures and loads, and very rarely fail catastrophically. But when they do, it is not pretty—just look at what these crazy folks did to blast one to smithereens.
What’s the Number One question demanded of self-styled audio experts like me? “How much power do I need?”
The problem with charging your devices wirelessly—using a dock, sleeve, side table or some other surface—is that while it eliminates the hassle of being tethered to an actual cord, it’s still location dependent. In other words, you have to place your device in a specific spot for it to charge.