- For this month’s focus on technology, let’s take a look at recent advancements incorporating the ‘wonder’ material graphene – a single atom thick sheet composed of interlocking hexagonal carbon rings. A team of engineers at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute have demonstrated that replacing the traditional graphite in a lithium-ion battery with graphene can increase the charge/discharge rate by 10 times. To achieve these charge/discharge rates, graphene is shocked with an extreme flash of light to form cracks, pores and other defects in the surface. These defects allow electrons to travel through the graphene much quicker, hence the increased charge/discharge rates. Researchers at Northwestern University created a network of nano-channels which could be used to purify water and in batteries by stacking inexpensive sheets of graphene. In an advancement that could lead to lightweight and powerful artificial muscles, Duke University engineers discovered how to crumple and un-crumple sheets of graphene by attaching them to a thin layer of rubber. A group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has shown that graphene has the ability to release multiple electrons after absorbing a single one – a property that makes it promising for solar panels, especially given its lightweight and that it is inexpensive to produce. And finally, some fun renewable energy news, like this soccer ball that generates energy as it is kicked, charging a battery which can then power a lamp at night! Or how about this gravity-powered LED lamp that costs $5 and lasts 30 minutes on a single 3 second charge?!
- Who doesn’t enjoy gazing at the night sky? Well I certainly do and this highly interactive website, Planetarium, makes the viewing experience all the better. Users are able to change locations easily, move through the night and see how the constellations change. Every star that is part of a constellation has information on its distance from our planet and its magnitude. The maker of this website also has some other gems to check out, such as Fractal Zoomer and Imagination.
- In honor of my favorite sporting event of the year, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, it would be sacrilegious not to feature this study done in 2006 by a team of two CH2M HILL employees. In their well known piece called Spatial Madness, Ward and Davenhall tried to see if there was a spatial component to predicting the winner of each tournament game. I will not ruin the article by telling you their conclusions – but I will say it is 100% worth the read even if you are only a casual bracketologist. Can you tell what I was doing when I wrote this snippet?!
- From the land of the SEC and the Razorbacks, we travel to Pac-12 country and explore the GIS resources of the City of Los Angeles, California. And let’s talk about the fun and joy that exploring their map data entails. First, it requires the installation a free viewer that I am guessing is not Mac compatible, you can download that here. Now, you can only access the GIS data using Internet Explorer 5.0 or newer. From there, you are supposed to be able to access at minimum streets and parcel information but I speak in theory as after an hour of struggling with just these two seemingly simple steps, I never did gain access to their online mapping services!
Brock Adam McCarty