Study on Magnetic Compass Orientation in Birds Builds Case For Bio-Inspired Sensors

on Friday, 09 May 2014. Posted in Biology, Physics, Sci/Tech

Researchers show that migratory birds are unable to use their magnetic compass in the presence of urban electromagnetic noise. The findings open up new areas of study for magnetic sensors.

Study on Magnetic Compass Orientation in Birds Builds Case For Bio-Inspired Sensors

Researchers working on DARPA’s Quantum Effects in Biological Environments (QuBE) program have shown that the electromagnetic noise that permeates modern urban environments can disrupt a bird’s internal magnetic compass. The findings settle a decades-long debate into whether low-level, artificial electric and magnetic fields can affect biological processes in higher vertebrates. For DARPA, the results hint at a new class of bio-inspired sensors at the intersection of biology and quantum physics.

VIDEO: MIT Scientists Answer Questions About the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis

on Thursday, 17 March 2011. Posted in Physics, Sci/Tech

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Questions abound about the nuclear crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility. After several explosions at the facility, reports of increased radiation dose rates, followed by other reports that radiation levels had stabilized, and with questions about the safety, or lack thereof, of nuclear power, much remains unclear and in doubt.

To answer some of these questions, as well as describe the type of reactors at the Fukushima plant, nuclear physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have hosted a seminar on the subject on March 14.

The seminar has now been posted for viewing at MIT’s webcast site. The more than hour long seminar features several top nuclear scientists discussing topics including: “the characteristics of the boiling water reactors at Fukushima; the possible causes of the accidents; the current status of the reactors; the technical options that may now be available to the reactor operators; and the possible future implications.”

Nuclear Time Capsule: Physicist Bernard L. Cohen on Meltdowns

on Thursday, 17 March 2011. Posted in Physics, Sci/Tech

Bernard Cohen{jathumbnail off}

With the nuclear crisis in Japan the worst since Chernobyl, many wonder what a meltdown at a nuclear reactor might mean. Just how dangerous is it? And, how dangerous is nuclear power over all?

In 1990, nuclear physicist Bernard L. Cohen sought to answer these questions and more in his book The Nuclear Energy Option. No longer in print, the book answers a wide away of questions about the safety of nuclear power and about how the technology functions overall.

A controversial but a well-informed subject matter expert, Professor Cohen served as group leader for cyclotron research at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory from 1950 to 1958. Following his stint at Oak Ridge, Professor Cohen moved on to the University of Pittsburgh where he served as Professor of Physics as well as Adjunct Professor of Chemistry, Adjunct Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Adjunct Professor of Radiation Health, and Adjunct Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health. He also served as Director of the Scaife Nuclear Laboratory from 1965 to 1978 and held temporary positions at such facilities and institutions as the Brookhaven National Laboratory, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Stanford University, the Electric Power Research Institute, and Argonne National Laboratory, among others. He is also the author of the textbook Concepts of Nuclear Physics, as well as several books on nuclear physics and nuclear power for the popular press and is the author of over 300 journal articles.

Nuclear Scientists Go Back to the Future

on Saturday, 05 March 2011. Posted in Physics, Sci/Tech

Nuclear ReactorNuclear scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are making progress in designing new technologies for the next generation of nuclear power plants.

The trouble is, this time they’re reinventing the wheel.

According to ORNL researchers, “Nuclear reactor technology research dwindled away when nuclear power fell out of favor several decades ago. Renewed interest in fission-based energy means knowledge gained in past research is relevant again.”

But with so many researchers from the past now long since retired, today’s scientists are forced to reinvent work that in some cases has already been done.

NIST Backs Proposal for a Revamped System of Measurement Units

on Tuesday, 26 October 2010. Posted in Physics, Sci/Tech

International System of Units (SI)Taking the first steps of what would be a major historical advance in the science of measurement, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is participating in a worldwide effort to recommend major revisions to the International System of Units (SI), the modern metric system that is the basis of global measurements in commerce, science and other aspects of everyday life. The new SI, which would be based on seven constants of nature, would enable researchers around the world to express the results of measurements at new levels of consistency and accuracy.

The most significant change in the possible future revision of the SI would be in the kilogram, the only one of the SI’s seven base units* still defined in terms of a material “artifact”: a 130-year-old platinum-iridium cylinder maintained at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in France. The kilogram artifact poses long-term problems because its mass changes slightly over time. The proposed revision “puts the SI on a firm foundation,” says Ambler Thompson, a NIST scientist involved in the international effort. “We get rid of the last artifact.”