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Txch This Week: Flying Saucers from Earth and Medical Innovations

by Norman Rozenberg

This week on Txchnologist, we looked at innovations improving the medical field and the environment around us. First, MIT researchers have unlocked the mystery of what makes oyster shells so strong. Their discovery could make lightweight, translucent and extremely strong armor.

Medical devices continue to advance in leaps and bounds. The newest discovery can monitor the heart and perform other hospital-quality diagnostic functions with tiny wearable sensors. This marks a new step in miniature, flexible and wearable medical technology. Other diagnostic methods are getting an upgrade thanks to developments made with Google Glass. A new app developed for the hardware can scan samples and digitally send them out for analysis. This development by UCLA researchers reduces the need for nearby labs and might improve medical treatment in areas without large medical facilities.

Some optimistic news about U.S. air quality came out recently. Research shows that Americans are breathing air with fine fewer particulates. The new study shows that this measure of air quality has significantly improved over the last decade thanks to effective state emission control plans.

Buildings regularly suffer lightning strikes, offering a brilliant - and destructive - light show during storms. Scientists say they have devised a way to save buildings from Zeus’ wrath using laser beams. The high-intensity beams can guide lightning away from buildings.

And now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.

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Analysis Shows Changes In Greenland Ice Sheet

by Txchnologist staff

A NASA satellite and aircraft have been monitoring the ice sheet that sits on top of Greenland for years. An analysis of their data is providing a dynamic view of the sheet as it loses mass.

The Greenland ice sheet covers about 80 percent of the island with a cap that averages a mile in thickness. In some areas, it can be up to almost two miles thick. It comprises almost 684,000 cubic miles of ice, which would significantly raise sea levels if it melts.

Top Image: Adventure tourists near an Iceberg in Ittoqqortoormiit in eastern Greenland via Shutterstock.

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Tiny Air Jets May Cut Plane Tail Size

NASA and Boeing have successfully tested a new technology that may soon cut down the size and weight of aircraft vertical tails. The 757 vertical tail above was outfitted with tiny jet actuators that blow air over its surface.

Called active flow control, the air jets reduce friction and turbulence across the flight surface, and will let future designers make smaller and lighter tails that produce less drag. This performance improvement, which could be deployed on many different aircraft models, would translate into more efficient flight and lower fuel burn.

Aircraft tails aren’t the only places that jet actuators are likely to start appearing. GE has been studying them for use on boat hulls and wind turbine blades, and has licensed the technology for consumer electronics and computers, where it will replace bulkier fans that need more energy and space.

See the tail wind-tunnel tests in a video below.

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NASA has unveiled a stunning 360-degree view of the Milky Way galaxy to give everyone a better view of our neighborhood. The 20-gigapixel interactive map is the result of stitching together 2 million infrared pictures taken by the Spitzer space telescope and 10 years of work.

Spitzer captured about three percent of the sky—a seemingly miniscule amount that, because it recorded a band from a side view of the disk, actually contains around 50 percent of the stars in the Milky Way and 90 percent of the regions where stars are forming. The space telescope spent 4,142 hours taking these pictures as part of the Galactic Legacy Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (GLIMPSE) project.

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