At California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the world’s most powerful computers are working on some of our most fundamental questions about the universe. The Sierra supercomputer, for example, is delving into the Big Bang and trying to figure out why elementary particles have mass.

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But Sierra is also solving problems that are closer to home. This supercomputer and more recently the world’s second most powerful computer called Titan at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have been helping GE engineers to build a better jet engine.


This image shows a snapshot from a numerical simulation of a generic aircraft engine injector. Top Image: This animation shows a numerical simulation of a jet fuel spray performed on Sierra in collaboration with Cornell. Researchers used between 500,000 to 1 million CPU hours of simulation time. (One CPU hour is equal to one hour used by one computer processor for simulation.)

Jet engines started out as complicated creatures ever since GE built the first one in the U.S. in 1941, and their design has gotten exponentially more intricate since.

Madhu Pai, an engineer in the Computational Combustion Lab at GE Global Research, is working on an elaborate part in the jet engine combustor called the fuel injector. “It delivers the lifeblood of a jet engine combustor,” he says.

Injectors atomize liquid jet fuel and spray it into the combustion chamber where it burns and generates energy for propulsion. “They are one of the most challenging parts to design and very expensive to produce,” Pai says. (The next-generation LEAP jet engine is the world’s first engine with 3D-printed injectors.)

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This fuel nozzle for the LEAP jet engine was 3D-printed from a special alloy.

Pai has teamed up with researchers from Arizona State and Cornell universities to use Titan and Sierra to study what exactly happens inside a fuel injector. The time and processing power the engineers have at their disposal is equal to running 10,000 computer processors simultaneously for over 9 months. “The supercomputer gives us a microscopic view of the inside of the injector,” Pai says. “We can study the processes occurring in regions hidden behind the metal or where the fuel spray is too dense. This allows us to better understand the physics behind the design.”

This is physics with practical implications. Pai says that small changes to fuel nozzle geometry could lead to significant changes in engine performance. “These high-fidelity computer simulations help us understand how air and fuel mix and burn, and eventually reduce the number of trials,” Pai says. “Ultimately, we want to build more powerful engines that consume less fuel and have lower emissions.”

Pai’s simulations could also yield new insights beyond jet engines and improve injectors used in locomotives, land-based gas turbines, and potentially find applications in healthcare. “This is just the beginning,” he says.

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A still from a supercomputer simulation of a jet fuel spray.

Henry Sapiecha

Take a look at other GE research involving supercomputers here.

File photo of worker cleaning Audi A3 in final check area at production line of German car manufacturer's plant in Ingolstadt

Sogefi’s shares rose more than 3 percent on the news, and were up 2.6 percent at 4.09 euros by 1333 GMT, outperforming a 1 percent rise in Milan’s All-Share index.

The new suspension springs, based on a technology patented by Sogefi, will be made from a glass fiber-reinforced polymer instead of steel and will weigh between 40-70 percent less than traditional steel springs, the company said.

They can be assembled on cars and light commercial vehicles without affecting the suspension system architecture, allowing for a weight reduction of 4-6 kg (8.8-13 lb) per vehicle, it added.

Audi will launch the new springs in an upper mid-size model before the end of this year.

Henry Sapiecha


CICADA gliding UAV is designed to deploy sensors behind enemy lines
When soldiers want to gather intelligence in enemy territory, they often have to travel into high risk territory themselves, depositing acoustic, magnetic, chemical/biological or signals intelligence sensors by hand. Not only does this place the soldiers in harm’s way, but the logistics of such missions can also end up being quite costly. That’s why the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Vehicle Research Section created the CICADA unmanned air vehicle (UAV). The tiny sensor-equipped glider was successfully tested at Arizona’s Yuma Proving Grounds on September 1st.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha



One of the major problems with installing an elevator in a home is the amount of space required, not to mention the costly infrastructure and maintenance issues and the immense problems and cost associated with any retrofitting. Now a new type of elevator developed in Argentina looks set to revolutionise the residential lift market, making elevators affordable to everyone. The self-supporting vacuum elevator is constructed of aluminium and polycarbonate and takes just a few hours to install. Unlike previous elevators, the new lift is completely self-supporting, extremely light, has a footprint of just one square metr e and requires no excavating pit or hoistway, it can be fitted to almost any two or three storey building at a fraction of the cost of a normal elevator.

  • New vacuum elevator installs in a few hours at a budget price
  • New vacuum elevator installs in a few hours at a budget price
  • New vacuum elevator installs in a few hours at a budget price
  • New vacuum elevator installs in a few hours at a budget price

The Residential Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator may be a little challenging to look at the first time you see it – the hoistway is transparent and there are clearly no cables supporting the elevator cab, so it looks distinctly like some thing out of Star Trek, operating on some advanced levitation principle.

It’s actually very safe with over 300 lifts already installed and working perfectly and works entirely according to the simplest laws of physics – the difference in air pressure above and beneath the vacuum elevator cab safely raise and lower it on a cushion of air and though there’s not much room inside, the lift is rated to a capacity of 450 pounds.

Though it might look precarious, it is absolutely safe even in the case of an electricity power failure as the descending car automatically stops and locks on the next floor.

Some clever locking mechanisms mean that the lift always stops exactly at floor level and as air pressure rather than mechanical apparatus move the lift, the starting and stopping is very smooth.

What’s more, the unique installation and streamlined design will adapt to many non-conventional living spaces in a variety house styles.

The lifts can be seen at Daytona Elevator’s web site below

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Lift-off for strap-on flying machine

April 13, 2011
$75,000 a piece ... The Martin Jetpack.$75,000 a piece … The Martin Jetpack.

George Jetson fans take note: the wait for your very own jet ski in the sky is nearly over, according to the New Zealand company behind an ambitious aeronautical project.

The Martin Jetpack, literally a strap-on personal flying machine, is now in the final stages of development, with the first machines to be dispatched for solo flights by the end of the year.

Military agencies, border control and rescue organisations in the United States will be the first to use the pricey $NZ100,000 (about $75,000) aircraft. 

Inventor Glenn Martin predicts it will be just 18 months before other wealthy enthusiasts get their delivery.

“We’ve had 2500 people sign up for one so far, and plenty of them from Australia,” Mr Martin told AAP.

Their plans for the expensive toy range from practical – “some just want to dodge the rush-hour traffic and do it in style” – to the purely frivolous.

“We know of someone that would love to do stunts flying across Sydney Harbour. How amazing would that be?” Mr Martin said.

The jetpack resembles two leaf blowers welded together but its capabilities are much more complex. The two-litre, jet-powered engine can soar across the skies at 100km/h at heights of up to 50 metres.

Carrying enough fuel to fly for 30 minutes, the contraption could be used in hard-to-access areas and war zones to patrol borders and, if unmanned, to make difficult deliveries by remote control.

“Some of that might sound boring but where there’s huge cost savings and an increase in efficiencies for agencies it’s actually hugely exciting,” Mr Martin said.

Recreationally, it could be used to go fishing and, one day, get to work.

For now, however, it is categorised as a microlight so it cannot be taken into the city centre, however this may change under US law.

Martin’s machine, lauded as Time magazine’s most anticipated invention last year, has been more than three decades in the making.

The Christchurch man began tinkering with the concept in the 1970s, inspired by the limited success of the US Bell Rocket Belt, which stayed airborne for just 26 seconds before crashing.

A gas-guzzler in the extreme, the belt burned through $US2000 worth of fuel in 30 seconds.

Martin’s latest and most celebrated version, unveiled at an air show in 2008, is more fuel efficient, costing just 15 US cents for 20 seconds in the air.

It was designed to be the “simplest aircraft in the world,” said Mr Martin, who has described how “you strap it on, rev the nuts out of it and it lifts you up off the ground”.

“It’s basic physics. As Newton said, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So when you shoot lots of air down very fast you go up and you’re flying.”

He said the interest had been overwhelming, with inquiries coming from Middle Eastern royalty, US business tycoons and European daredevils.

The Australian government hadn’t officially registered its interest but, judging by website traffic, the Australian Defence Force was a fan.

“It’s the fourth biggest visitor to our site after Boeing, NASA and the SAS, so something’s going on there,” he said with a laugh.

“Maybe they’ve just got an employee who thinks it’s so cool they spend all day checking it out.”


Received & published by Henry Sapiecha

Audi teams with Renovo for ‘duo’ line of wooden bicycles
While a number of car makers, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and McLaren, have sought to leverage their brand and technical knowledge to produce vehicles of the two-wheeled, pedal-powered variety, they tend to opt for the same high-tech, lightweight materials used in their cars, such as carbon fiber and aluminum. Audi has done the same thing in the past, but for its latest bicycle offering Audi of America has taken a different tack by teaming up with Renovo Bicycles to create the “duo” – a line of bikes that feature monocoque frames made of hardwood. Read More

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

StemCAPtain – not a bike lock,

but a bike CLOCK

By Ben Coxworth

11:25 March 23, 2011

The StemCAPtain replaces your bicycle's handlebar stem cap with one that incorporates a cl...

The StemCAPtain replaces your bicycle’s handlebar stem cap with one that incorporates a clock, compass or thermometer
(All photos courtesy StemCAPtain)

Consider your bicycle’s handlebar stem cap for a moment. It’s right there in front of you as you ride, yet it tells you nothing. Colorado mountain bikers Graeson Lewis and Mike Hogan obviously thought that just wasn’t good enough, and decided to put the humble stem cap to work. The result is their product, the StemCAPtain, which replaces a conventional cap with one that incorporates a waterproof analog clock, thermometer or compass.

  • The StemCAPtain replaces your bicycle's handlebar stem cap with one that incorporates a cl...
  • The StemCAPtain replaces your bicycle's handlebar stem cap with one that incorporates a cl...
  • The StemCAPtain replaces your bicycle's handlebar stem cap with one that incorporates a cl...

First of all, yes, a cyclocomputer would give you all that information and more. Bicycle computers can be expensive, however, and even if they weren’t, not everyone likes them. A wristwatch also does a pretty bang-up job of telling the time, although some people don’t wear one, or would prefer not to while cycling – who likes a sweaty watch band, or an untanned area on their wrist in the shape of a watch?

To install the device, you just remove your old stem cap with an allen wrench, replace it with the aluminum base of the StemCAPtain, then push in the clock or other insert of your choice. A silicone gasket on the bottom of the insert should keep it snug and rattle-free. If your headset has already been properly set up, removing and replacing the cap shouldn’t cause anything to go out of adjustment.

If you have any round pictures handy, you can also get a cap that simply acts as a picture frame. Lewis and Hogan are planning on future inserts that feature a bottle opener, altimeter, LED light, or a “digital multifunction device.”

The StemCAPtain is available through the company website, and various retailers. Prices range from US$19.95 for a mini version of the clock, to $26.95 for a tilting version of the compass with a non-magnetic mounting bolt.

Sourcd & published by Henry Sapiecha

Time travel, God’s particle

and Higgs singlet:

how messages might be sent

to the past or future

Stephanie Gardiner

March 22, 2011 – 5:01PM

Workers walk past a giant photograph of a part of the Large Hadron Collider.
Workers walk past a giant photograph of a part of the Large Hadron Collider. Photo: Getty Images/ Sean Gallup

Scientists believe they are one step closer to creating time travel.

American physicists from Vanderbilt University believe they may be able to use the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s biggest atom smasher buried underground near Geneva, to send a type of matter called the Higgs singlet into the past.

But they’re unsure if the Higgs singlet actually exists and whether the machine can produce it, according to a report by Live Science.

The Higgs singlet is related to another hypothesised particle called the Higgs boson, dubbed “God’s particle” because it is associated with giving other particles mass, which the 27-kilometre long atom smasher may produce.

If the Higgs boson is created, the Higgs singlet may also appear, scientists say.

The Higgs singlet may be able to jump through space and time, travel through a hidden dimension, and then re-enter our dimension forwards or backwards in time, physicists Professor Thomas Weiler and graduate fellow Chui Man Ho believe.

“One of the attractive things about this approach to time travel is that it avoids all the big paradoxes,” Professor Weiler said in a statement on research website

“Because time travel is limited to these special particles, it is not possible for a man to travel back in time and murder one of his parents before he himself is born, for example.

“However, if scientists could control the production of Higgs singlets, they might be able to send messages to the past or future.”

The singlet, a highly technical term to describe the particle that doesn’t interact with matter in the usual way, and boson are both named after theoretical physicist Peter Higgs.

The researcher’s study is based on M theory, or “the theory of everything”, which attempts to unite the cause of all matter.

But it’s much too early to start thinking like Back to the Future’sMarty McFly.

University of Sydney Associate Professor of Physics Kevin Varvell said the study was highly speculative, something the researchers themselves admit.

“From my reading of the paper, these guys themselves aren’t going crazy over the idea of time travel,” Professor Varvell said.

“They explicitly say we’re not talking about time travel for humans, they’re talking about potentially one might be able to send information through the production of these particles.

“But they’re also saying that’s very, very highly speculative as well.

He said it’s one of many ideas that proposes using the collider and it is serious scientific work.

“But, again, I think we need to find the Higgs boson or something like it, before we can entertain other new particles being produced in association with it.”

The Large Hadron Collider, which cost more than $4 billion to build, has attracted plenty of controversy.

Before it started working, some feared it would create black holes and its operation was delayed several times due to a string of technical problems, including a liquid helium leak in 2008.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha