Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ooops ... Your" Horoscope Star" has been changed


The field of astrology, which is concerned with horoscopes and the like, felt a major disruption from astronomers, who are concerned with actual stars and planets. The astronomers from the Minnesota Planetarium Society found that because of the moon's gravitational pull on Earth, the alignment of the stars was pushed by about a month.

"When [astrologers] say that the sun is in Pisces, it's really not in Pisces," noted Parke Kunkle, a member of the group's board. Your astrological sign is determined by the position of the sun on the day you were born, so that means everything you thought you knew about your horoscope is wrong.

It turns out that astrology has had issues from its inception. (Aside from the fact that it tries to link personality traits with positions of the stars.) Ancient Babylonians had 13 constellations, but wanted only 12, so threw out Ophuchicus, the snake holder. Libra didn't even enter the picture until the era of Julius Caesar.

Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16.
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11.
Pisces: March 11-April 18.
Aries: April 18-May 13.
Taurus: May 13-June 21.
Gemini: June 21-July 20.
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10.
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16.
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30.
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23.
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29.
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29-Dec. 17. (Yep, this one is new — read all about the Ophiuchus way of life here)
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Laser Missile Destroyer(An Unseen Destroyer)

Laser Missile Destroyer

It’s unclear which is the bigger news coming out of the Office of Naval Research; the fact that the Navy’s Free Electron Laser (FEL) program has demonstrated an injector capable of producing the necessary electrons to fuel a megawatt-class laser beam, or the fact that a next-generation future weapon under development by the military is months ahead of schedule. Both are good news for the Navy, which might begin lasing threats out of the sky sooner than it anticipated.

Development of the FEL program has been a large undertaking for the Navy, which has invested at least $163 million in a new kind of variable-wavelength laser weapon that should be effective at sea, where moisture and aerosols in the air can severely limit the effectiveness at lasers at certain wavelengths.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Split-Cycle Engine Design -To Improve Fuel Economy By 50 Percent

New Split-Cycle Engine Design -To Improve Fuel Economy By 50 Percent

Split cycle engines—engines that split the functions of a normal four-cycle piston into two separate but adjacent and complementary pistons—have never been able to match the efficiency and overall function of traditional internal combustion engines, but a new design could change all that. By tweaking the standard split-cycle design with new features like a compressed air tank that captures wasted energy from the system, the Scuderi Group claim not only to have matched the efficiency of the standard four-cycle engine, but to have far surpassed it.

The Scuderi Group’s design has drawn interest from nine major carmakers, the company says, but has yet to prove the technology in real world prototype tests. But in computer simulations that install a Scuderi engine in a 2004 Chevy Cavalier, the split-cycle engine shows to reduce fuel consumption by 25 to 36 percent, translating roughly to a 50 percent improvement in overall fuel economy.

The engine does so by tweaking old split-cycle designs to be more efficient and to trap wasted energy so that it can be fed back into the system. Traditional four-cycle engines have four piston strokes: a down-stroke that pulls air into the cylinder, a compression up-stroke that compresses air (and fuel) in the cylinder, a combustions stroke in which the fuel and air is ignited and turned to kinetic energy, and another up-stroke in which the exhaust is cleared from the cylinder.

$50 million engine: It took Scuderi Group most of the $65 million it’s raised so far to develop just one engine, the prototype shown here. It’s a split-cycle two-cylinder engine, in which one cylinder compresses air and the other combusts a fuel-air mixture. 
Credit: Scuderi
A split-cycle engine distributes those functions between two cylinders one cylinder handles the intake and compression strokes, then that compressed air is fed through a connecting tube into the second cylinder where it is combusted and expelled (this is demonstrated in the video below). Scuderi further improved on this design by adding an auxiliary compressed-air storage tank and by changing the the point at which combustion happens in the second cylinder (conventional engines ignite the gas just before the piston hits its peak on the up-stroke, but he Scuderi ignites just as the piston begins its down-stroke).

How does all this translate into better efficiency? First, the change in combustion timing gives the piston better leverage on the crankshaft, improving efficiency when the engine is working at low speeds. Further, a separate compressed air tank siphons off the air intake that isn’t used for combustion. When the tank is full, the air inside is used to drive the engine, allowing the compression piston to stop compressing air for a period until the storage tank is spent, saving even more fuel.

It’s an interesting and clever design, but while Scuderi does have a prototype engine completed these fuel economy improvements currently exist in computer models only, and there are no guarantees that they will translate into real savings on the road. Moreover, it’s not clear that the Scuderi engine’s savings will be able to compete with improvements in the gas-electric hybrid and EV engines automakers are already making. With automakers trying to move—albiet, slowly—toward whole new kinds of power plants, a redesigned conventional internal combustion engine may have missed its opportunity to be a true game-changer.

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