A Steam engine car that can exceed 200 MPH
On of my favorite podcast is “This Week In Science” , http://www.twis.org/ .  It’s hosted by Justin Jackson and Dr. Kirsten Sanford.  They present science news in a much more entertaining, but still very informative, way.  Kirsten has her own blog, The Bird’s Brain, http://www.kirstensanford.com/ .  She is also seen, as Dr. Kiki, on the Pop Siren video podcast, http://revision3.com/popsiren/ .
 
When I find science news that I think they might find interesting I e-mail the article to them.  Here are some of the science news stories this past week:
 
1. A glass has been developed that could lead to things like airplane wings being made of glass.
 
 
Excerpt from the article:
 
“Scientists have made a breakthrough discovery in the bizarre properties of glass, which behaves at times like both a solid and a liquid.

The finding could lead to aircraft that look like Wonder Woman’s plane. Such planes could have wings of glass or something called metallic glass, rather than being totally invisible.

The breakthrough involved solving the decades-old problem of just what glass is.

It has been known that that despite its solid appearance, glass and gels are actually in a “jammed” state of matter — somewhere between liquid and solid — that moves very slowly.

Like cars in a traffic jam, atoms in a glass are in something like suspended animation, unable to reach their destination because the route is blocked by their neighbors.

So even though glass is a hard substance, it never quite becomes a proper solid, according to chemists and materials scientists.

Work so far has concentrated on trying to understand the traffic jam, but now Paddy Royall from the University of Bristol in England, with colleagues in Canberra, Australia and Tokyo, has shown that glass fails to be a solid due to the special atomic structures that form in a glass when it cools.”

2) A steam engine car has been developed with a top speed in excess of 200 MPH. 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4076811.stm

Excerpt:

“The search for a suitable alternative fuel source to hydrocarbons which can cleanly power our vehicles has touched on various different options.

Fuels which do not “rot” the environment usually bring to mind images of gently humming electric cars, clean hydrogen, natural gas, or hithane – a concoction of hydrogen and methane.

The most promising, believes Mr Bowsher, is either nuclear or hydrogen fuel.

The public is reluctant to explore nuclear; but researchers and engineers across the world are exploring how best to generate and, more importantly, store hydrogen fuel, one of the main barriers to its widespread use.

Nine European cities are taking part in a pilot scheme to use hydrogen fuelled buses on certain routes, for instance.

But until a viable mass-scale way of storing and distributing hydrogen effectively is developed, it remains limited in use.

 

 
INSPIRATION STEAM CAR
Construction: Tubular steel spaceframe with composite/metal panels
Length: 5.25m
Width: 1.70m
Height: 1.10m
Fuel: LPG (Liquified petroleum gas)
Working fluid: Water/steam
Performance: Maximum speed 200+ mph (320km/h); Initial acceleration: 0.52G
Brakes: Twin front wheel brakes and twin rear inboard rear disc brakes
Steering: Rack and pinion
Mr Bowsher believes that until then, designers could look to Inspiration for a different take on good old steam. “
 
3) It may be possible to grow vegetables on Martian soil, based on test of samples taken by the Phoenix Mars Lander.
 
 
June 26, 2008 — NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander performed its first wet chemistry experiment on Martian soil flawlessly yesterday, returning a wealth of data that for Phoenix scientists was like winning the lottery.

“We are awash in chemistry data,” said Michael Hecht of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, lead scientist for the Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer, or MECA, instrument on Phoenix. “We’re trying to understand what is the chemistry of wet soil on Mars, what’s dissolved in it, how acidic or alkaline it is. With the results we received from Phoenix yesterday, we could begin to tell what aspects of the soil might support life.”

“This is the first wet-chemical analysis ever done on Mars or any planet, other than Earth,” said Phoenix co-investigator Sam Kounaves of Tufts University, science lead for the wet chemistry investigation.

About 80 percent of Phoenix’s first, two-day wet chemistry experiment is now complet e. Phoenix has three more wet-chemistry cells for use later in the mission.

“This soil appears to be a close analog to surface soils found in the upper dry valleys in Antarctica,” Kouvanes said. “The alkalinity of the soil at this location is definitely striking. At this specific location, one-inch into the surface layer, the soil is very basic, with a pH of between eight and nine. We also found a variety of components of salts that we haven’t had time to analyze and identify yet, but that include magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride.”

“This is more evidence for water because salts are there. We also found a reasonable number of nutrients, or chemicals needed by life as we know it,” Kounaves said. “Over time, I’ve come to the conclusion that the amazing thing about Mars is not that it’s an alien world, but that in many aspects, like mineralogy, it’s very much like Earth.”

 
4) A “robot band”, “The Trons”.
 
 
Their My Space page:
 
 
“The Trons are a completely self playing robotic junk band! They are made mostly from old computer and mechanical parts and play original songs using an array of old amps and instruments. They now have five gigs under their belt and have just completed Hamilton’s Ignition Fringe Festival. There’s some pics below of the last gig.. robot groupies and mosh pit and all! Details of new gigs and some more downloads coming soon. Also some live footage of the gig.”
Advertisements