Jan 19, 2009 | 3
A mathematician with a passion for optics has devised a rearview mirror that he says eliminates that bane of lane-changing, the blind spot. Andrew Hicks, an associate math professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, designed a convex driver's side mirror that gives a wide field of view without significantly distorting the reflected image. But don't look for his innovation on U.S. cars anytime soon—left-side mirrors in the States are required to be flat.
Challenged by a colleague to improve on the distorting bubble-shaped mirrors made for bicycle handlebars, as noted by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Hicks instead developed an automotive prototype. During highway road tests, Hicks tells SciAm.com that cars passing on the left remained in his mirror-augmented field of vision. "If you watched them come up behind you in the mirror, then when they disappeared from view in the mirror was almost exactly when they reappeared in your regular view," he says.
Jan 16, 2009 | 2
Physicist Steven Chu may be on the verge of becoming the nation's top energy official, but physics clearly is never far from his mind. To wit: on the day of his Senate confirmation hearing this week to become President-elect Barack Obama's energy secretary, a paper Chu co-wrote was posted by one of his co-authors on the Web site arxiv.org.
Chu, 60, is director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a 1997 Nobel laureate in physics, but he's also an active researcher who publishes regularly.
The new paper, "Noise-Immune Conjugate Large-Area Atom Interferometers," describes a high-sensitivity atom interferometer setup, a device that can be used to measure fundamental physical constants and even provide tests of Albert Einstein's general relativity, the reigning theory of gravity.
Jan 15, 2009 | 1
Look out, Harry Potter: researchers have advanced the study of cloaking—rendering objects invisible by forcing light waves to act as if the objects weren't there.
In a paper published in this week's Science, a team from Duke University and Southeast University in Nanjing, China, reports a new and improved cloak that can conceal a bump—and anything hidden beneath—on a flat surface. Both the surface and the bump (visible at the far left in the photo) must be reflective, however. The new setup is upgraded to function for a relatively broad spectrum of light, whereas previous models had very narrow operational regimes.
This cloak, like its predecessors from the group of David Smith, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Duke, is built from metamaterials—novel composite structures designed to make light work in unusual ways.
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The Seeker for this Challenge desires proposals for chemical methods that could rapidly degrade a dilute aqueous solution
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