Latest ‘Technology & Business’ Posts
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter
The Navy's unmanned and autonomous X-47B continues to hit new milestones. Less than a week after completing its first catapult launch from a carrier deck last Tuesday the Unmanned Combat Aerials System (UCAS) executed its first touch and go landings--that's when an aircraft touches down like it's landing but then accelerates and takes off again--aboard the USS George H.W. Bush on Friday, bringing this technology demonstrator ever closer to being fully carrier-capable.
The X-47B is the Navy's first modern unmanned fixed-wing aircraft to operate from a carrier deck and is currently proving out a suite of technologies that will enable a future program (known as Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike system, or UCLASS) to produce an actual unmanned, autonomous combat jet for Navy service. Critical to UCLASS are the precision GPS and relative navigation technologies aboard both aircraft and carrier that link the two together into a seamless system, and that's what we're seeing at work in the video below.
In the video, the X-47B makes two passes over the carrier deck before executing a couple of touch and go maneuvers, which are essentially aborted landings wherein an aircraft touches down on the carrier deck and takes off again. They are a typical training maneuver, used when a pilot is practicing landing approaches. In carrier ops touch and go maneuvers are quite a bit more significant, as pilots must quickly take off again if they miss the arresting cable on the carrier deck when landing (although technically this is called a "bolter" rather than a "touch and go).
The two initial flyovers aren't just for show, however, and that's perhaps the most interesting part of the this video. During the two approaches wherein the X-47B doesn't touch down it is basically practicing its landing approach plus a "wave off" in which either the Landing Signal Officer on the flight deck or the aircraft itself decides the landing is unsafe. This could be because something on the flight deck becomes unsafe (a person or vehicle wanders into the landing area, for instance) or because the X-47B's flight computers detect something amiss with the aircraft's glide path or angle of approach.
In other words, those first two flyovers are testing the ability of the carrier and aircraft to talk to each other over the super-fast datalink that they share--which is really the linchpin of this system. And the touch and go moments show the system working spectacularly, putting the X-47B on the deck and then sending it skyward again off the other end. The Navy is still certifying the X-47Bs tail hook and landing capability on a terrestrial carrier simulator at nearby Naval Air Station Patuxent River on Maryland's Chesapeake Bay (the USS George H.W. Bush is tooling around at some undisclosed set of coordinates off the Virginia/Maryland coast so the aircraft can fly between the two), but by the looks of things it shouldn't have any problem completing carrier landings--and its mission--once it is cleared to do so.
Yahoo! is a carnivorous plant whose prey-trapping mechanism features a deep cavity filled with liquid, known as a pitfall trap.
Startups, such as Flickr, Tumblr, and Del.icio.us, are attracted to the cavity formed by the cupped leaf, often by visual lures such as anthocyanin pigments and nectar bribes. Yahoo!'s rim (peristome) is slippery, when moistened by condensation or nectar, causing startups to fall into the trap. Yahoo! may also contain waxy scales, protruding aldehyde crystals, cuticular folds, downward pointing hairs, or guard-cell-originating lunate cells on the inside of the pitcher to ensure that startups cannot climb out.
The small bodies of liquid contained within the pitcher traps are called phytotelmata. They drown the startup, and it is gradually dissolved. This may occur by bacterial action (the bacteria being washed into the pitcher by rainfall) or by enzymes secreted by Yahoo! itself. Yahoo! may also contain mutualistic insect larvae, which feed on trapped startups, and whose excreta Yahoo! then absorbs.
Whatever the mechanism of digestion, startups are converted into a solution of amino acids, peptides, phosphates, ammonium and urea, from which Yahoo! obtains its mineral nutrition (particularly nitrogen and phosphorus). Like all carnivorous plants, Yahoo! exists in locations where the soil is too poor in minerals and/or too acidic for most companies to survive.
Good news, guys! Candy isn't going to make you fat or kill you or anything negative at all! Feast on M&M's like an 8-year-old on Halloween, because you're totally good on this one.
Says a study funded by the National Confectioners Association, a trade group representing the candy, chocolate, and gum industry.
Some findings from the study:
1.) "Frequency of candy consumption was not associated with the risk of obesity, overweight/obesity, elevated waist circumference, elevated skinfold thickness, blood pressure, low density lipoprotein (LDL) or high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, or insulin resistance."
2.) "Increased frequency of candy consumption among adults in the United States was not associated with objective measures of adiposity or select cardiovascular risk factors, despite associated dietary differences."
So in addition to "[fostering] industry growth by advancing the interests of the confectionery industry and its customers," the NCA apparently funds (sketchy) scientific studies about how it's cool to eat as much candy as you want, you guys, no problem, just live off the stuff. (Who runs this Association? I, personally, picture Candyland characters in suits sitting behind desks, barely visible through shadow and cigar smoke. But use your imagination!)
Well, some other studies would seem to disagree with the study's assessment. But who are you going to believe? The New England Journal of Medicine or Laura Shumow, MHS, Director of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, National Confectioners Association, who said in a press release: "There is a place for little pleasures, such as candy, in life. A little treat in moderation can have a positive impact on mood and satisfaction, and as emerging research suggests, minimal impact on diet and health risk."
Oh, God, Big Candy, we want to believe!
The New York Times has a fascinating documentary on the crack cocaine epidemic that gripped the United States in the 1980s. The short of it: The "crack baby" scare that threatened to spawn a generation of damaged children never materialized.
For those of you who may not recall, the mid-1980s were rife with hysteria surrounding cocaine--in particular crack cocaine--and the huge social toll it was taking on the U.S. New and little-understood, crack was associated with all kinds of social ills, including rising crime rates, poverty, and (far more nebulously) the escalating HIV/AIDS crisis. But for a moment, the "crack baby" alarm sounded the loudest--the country and its social system was about to be completely overwhelmed with a generation of babies who, due to prenatal exposure to crack cocaine, would be born with all kinds of mental deficiencies and health problems.
That generation of "crack babies" never emerged. Crack, which was described by some medical doctors as being as devastating to an unborn fetus as heroin, turned out to be less damaging than alcohol (which is far more widely used and carries greater risks for long-term fetal damage). The symptoms early research associated with "crack babies" turned out to be the same as the symptoms for any prematurely born baby.
How did science get it so wrong? The primary study behind the "crack baby" epidemic scare involved just 23 infants--a sample set too small to be meaningful. It also included only infants rather than adults who had been exposed to crack as infants. Later studies conducted on adults who had been prenatally exposed to crack often showed very small changes in their brains rather than the sweeping deficiencies predicted by the science of the time. It's a lesson in what happens when a misreading of the data leads to a publicly accepted narrative, especially one that feeds on society's collective fears about the future. Click through below to watch the mini-doc.