It was a short work week for us here in the U.S — Thanksgiving! The United States is a bit preoccupied with overindulging in Thanksgiving dinner, football watching, and shopping for the latest consumer gadgets on Black Friday, but we were able to find a few other important stories happening in the area of engineering technology. Enjoy!
- Advanced Auto Safety Features Should Be Standard in U.S
- Einstein’s Brain Reveals Clues to Genius
- Robots Are Marching into Homes
- Oak Ridge’s Titan Supercomputer is World’s Fastest
- Help for Small Nuclear Reactors
Car technology is developing at a rapid pace – new devices that can warn a driver of an impending collision and even automatically brake are offered at an additional cost, but some people think the U.S. government should mandate some sort of federal safety standards.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held a meeting on Wednesday last week – the board said that the technologies’ “full life-saving and crash-avoidance potential will not be realized until supported by federal rulemaking and related standards.”
From a simulation perspective, we know that these complex technologies need to be designed with all of the vehicles “systems” in mind — with even more standards potentially coming down the pike for car manufacturers, simulation will be playing an increasing role in meeting this challenge.
Einstein’s Brain Reveals Clues to Genius
This article is great – we actually tweeted it earlier this week and we had to include it in our roundup!
Photographs of Einstein’s brain were recently published in a journal appropriately entitled Brain and reveal that the extra complex foldings in his gray brain matter might help explain his genius! In general, thicker brain matter is tied to higher IQs and many scientists believe that more folds can create extra surface area for mental processing.
Interestingly, Einstein’s prefrontal cortex, which plays a key role in abstract thought, also had extra folds, which they think might have helped him discover the theory of relativity.
I wonder how Einstein’s brain would compare to a modern-day engineer’s?
Robots Are Marching into Homes
Consumer robots increasingly are becoming part of the American home, and may be fixtures within several years. Experts predict that within 10 years, general-purpose robots — costing $25,000 to $30,000 per unit — will perform house chores while consumers are at work or serve as butlers at cocktail parties. In recent weeks, a handful of companies have trotted out robotic devices to do everything from chasing the family cat to dream painting. Driving the growth are cheap, powerful cameras, advanced sensors and other electronics now form the foundation of robotics projects.
The Washington Post
Oak Ridge’s Titan Supercomputer is World’s Fastest
In the same week that Supercomputing 2012 was held, a new supercomputer topped the list of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers. The Cray XK7 system can perform quadrillions of calculations per second. Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s achievement is a realization of one of President Obama’s national security priorities: making the United States the top achiever in the high-performance computing world.
The New York Times
Help for Small Nuclear Reactors
The Obama administration announced that it will fund up to half the cost of a five-year project to design and commercialize small, modular reactors for the United States. Small modular reactors (SMRs) are typically about one-third the size of current nuclear power plants. The idea behind the reactors is that they could be built in a factory that would allow for lower costs through serial production, if not actual mass production. Factory fabrication would also make quality control easier. The reactor would be shipped by barge or rail car, and modules could be added as demand grew.
That’s it for this week’s engineering technology news! Go back to your shopping and football and we’ll see you next week!