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F-35 to make Hollywood debut in Superman flick

October 16, 2012 5:32 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

According to Wired, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — the oft-delayed, oft-maligned, “backbone of America’s tactical aviation fleet” — is set to make its big-screen debut in the Superman reboot, Man of Steel. To be sure, this won’t be the first time the JSF has appeared onscreen. A computer-generated F-35 battled The Hulk in this summer’s blockbuster hit, The Avengers.

Filling the gap

October 15, 2012 1:53 pm | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Graphene has been getting a lot of press lately touting it as the electronics material of the future. It is a strong single-layer material with high electron mobility. All good things for a semiconductor material.But single-layer graphene lacks something very important for a semiconductor material: a band gap.

The 10-letter keyboard that will make your head hurt

October 11, 2012 4:50 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

The ASETNIOP keyboard is one of those things that may be great for future generations but will have a tough time integrating itself into the current workforce. The keyboard works on the premise that the traditional setup for typing is structurally inefficient, and you really only need 10 buttons to type


What equipment do you need to skydive from 120,000 feet?

October 11, 2012 8:54 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

By this point, you’ve probably heard that Felix Baumgartner is planning to skydive from 120,000 feet above the earth. For the record, that’s about 23 miles from solid ground. The jump was originally supposed to happen on October 9, but because of 14 mph wind speeds—they needed speeds of less than 2 mph to jump safely

Computer-generated art that doesn't look computer-generated

October 10, 2012 10:09 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I went to a city wide art show this last weekend and ran into the most marvelous artists who does computer generated art that doesn't look like computer generated art - at least not the generic stuff you so often see. His name is Barry Reithmeier. He has a feel for the medium. He uses a tool called Bryce which is currently available for free.

Prevent accidents by making your backseat disappear

October 9, 2012 11:16 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Crunch. That’s the last sound you want to hear when you’re backing up your car. It is scary. It is alarming. It is NOT a good sound.It’s the reason dashboard cams were invented. Unfortunately, the embedded cameras only show a small portion of what’s behind the car, and accidents still happen.

Solder wicki

October 8, 2012 11:31 am | by M. Simon | Articles | Comments

I like to do projects. I like to do projects that involve soldering. These days that means surface mount. And therein lies a tale. I design my own boards and get them produced by OSH Park they do great work. I try to make the boards easy to solder. To see the little bits when I do do the soldering I use a pair of Foster Grants with 3.25 magnification...

A roundup

October 3, 2012 9:01 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Gabtronicis has updated their micro e-scopes. You may recall I did an article on them a while back. They also have a Kickstarter project to raise money to do more interesting things. Gabriel (the "Gab" of Gabtronics) likes Atmel XMEGA microcontrollers. Daishinku Corporation (KDS) has been very helpful to me with some projects I'm working on...


Why you should support improvements in electric car chargers

October 3, 2012 8:55 am | Articles | Comments

People simply don’t think of electric cars as long-distance vehicles. It’s a car to run down the street and grab some groceries, make the 15 miles commute to work or—like one of my friends—if you live in Hawaii and can’t really drive that far. It’s not an option most people think about for a regular car.

10 must-see posts from September

October 1, 2012 12:28 pm | by The ECN Editors | Articles | Comments

Here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles for September. They all come with a witty, engaging summary just in case you missed them the first time or want to check up on an old favorite. Keep checking out the Lead and follow us on twitter @ecnmagazine for our most up-to-date articles.

A flywheel in the ointment

October 1, 2012 8:51 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I have been big on flywheels for electrical energy storage for quite some time. So it was quite a disappointment to me to hear that high tech flywheel company Beacon Power did a Solyndra and reneged on a government loan because it could not finance its debts from income.

Would you use a dissolvable medical implant?

September 28, 2012 2:08 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Part of the problem with implanted medical devices -- for example a birth control, drug delivery device like Implanon and Nexplanon -- is that eventually, they must be removed. This is proving particularly difficult with the Implanon and Nexplanon, as occasionally fibrous sheath

How a space hater becomes a space junkie

September 26, 2012 8:55 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor, Space Nerd | Articles | Comments

Space has never really interested me. When I was forced to go to a Star Trek museum at age 10 and a man dressed as a Klingon--the fictional warrior race--chased me around the gift shop, I was pretty much done with how “fun” space could be.


This app could save your teen driver’s life

September 25, 2012 9:26 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

We’ve all seen it. You’re driving down the road and see someone driving erratically only to find that person is messing with the radio, yelling at their reprobate children, shaving, eating, or applying makeup. Distracted driving has taken on an entirely new meaning with the advent of texting.

Your dollars are blowing in the wind and burning in the sun

September 19, 2012 10:41 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

My last column on alternative energy, A blow to wind energy, evoked more than a few complaints. For an engineering magazine writer a number of people thought that I was light on the numbers. So lets do some numbers. For that we will need a baseline. What is the cost of electrical energy in America these days? The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the average cost of electricity in the US is 13.5cents per kilowatt hour.

Carbon-based logic

September 18, 2012 9:14 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Physics World reports some spectacular advances in turning graphene-based semiconductors into real-world logic chips. Graphene will do some real good for us logic guys because of its carrier mobility. It is over 140 times that of silicon. Plus its heat conductivity is about 10x that of metals like copper and aluminum, and its resistivity is about 2/3rds that of copper at room temperature.

The lighting game is changing before our eyes

September 18, 2012 9:05 am | by Ted Konnerth, Founder, President and CEO, Egret Consulting Group | Articles | Comments

A secret lingers behind most lighting fixtures made since WWII. Don’t tell anyone, but lighting manufacturers don’t actually make ‘lighting’ equipment. For years, fixtures have fallen into the same classifications. When it comes to fixture types, there’s the 2X2, 2X4, troffer, downlight, strip, wrap, wallpack, Type 2, Type 5, spot, flood, can and so on.

Incandescent ban evokes nanny state

September 18, 2012 8:50 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

I've never thought of incandescents as dangerous contraband, but beginning September 30th, the Edison light bulb will be analogous with moonshine liquor and mind-altering drugs. Absent legislative action (which caused this mess in first place), this quintessential lighting technology faces mandatory retirement.

Open innovation: From its beginning to today

September 14, 2012 12:18 pm | by Ed Bernstein, President, Industrial Research Institute | Blogs | Comments

In our constantly changing world, corporations find themselves continually adapting to new trends and technologies, and often reinventing themselves to remain relevant. In fact, with our changing global business environment, staying the course is not an option if today’s businesses want to remain viable and competitive.

Doing the math

September 14, 2012 9:49 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

For all you random number lovers there is some excellent documentation on the www about linear feed back shift registers. LFSRs are a way to produce quasi random numbers without too much effort. Why quasi random? Well one number is excluded (all ones or all zeroes) depending in whether you use the XNOR or XOR function for computing your random number.

Can technology force you to relax?

September 14, 2012 9:10 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

In today’s world we’re all guilty of multi-tasking. We talk on the phone while we drive to work. We check email while eating breakfast. We read a book on the treadmill. There are just too many things to do and too few hours in the day. Sometimes you have to be reminded to stop

When smart cars get street smart

September 13, 2012 8:47 am | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

In recent years, there’s been a lot of buzz about automotive infotainment systems — features that are built into recent model cars that can offer anything from satellite navigation, DVD players, internet access and more. This has led to concern from regulators about driver inattention and its impact on safety.

Bike alone? You need this helmet sensor

September 11, 2012 4:12 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

As a naturally clumsy person, I’m all about using technology to improve safety, whether it’s in a car or on a motorcycle. If there was a device that would beep before my knee collided with a desk, cubicle wall, low table, or other immovable object, I would own 12.

Getting in your head

September 11, 2012 10:54 am | by Jeff Reinke, Editorial Director | Articles | Comments

Professor Edward S. Boyden is probably one of the few individuals on the planet who is actually best described as a brainiac. Currently serving as the principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Synthetic Neurobiology Group, Boyden’s mission is to develop tools for controlling and observing the dynamic circuits of the brain.

Twitter politics: How social media impacts presidential elections

September 10, 2012 5:28 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

The news that President Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention was the "biggest political moment ever" on Twitter isn’t exactly surprising, but it’s worth taking a look at how social media influences political contests.

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