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  • Bolt of lightning arcing from cloud to ground. Caption: we all want up-to-the-minute information.

    A new generation of smaller, highly capable radar systems in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is able to track with more accuracy the location of tornadoes and other severe weather conditions. These new systems are spaced much closer together than current radar sensors, and the closer proximity is part of the reason the new systems can catch a tornado that could be missed by current radar. Part of the National Science Foundation Series “Science Nation.”

    (Source: DCMP)

  • Person standing at the top of a wind turbine. Caption: to see if they can handle 300-foot heights.

    Wyoming has long been known as an energy exporter, from oil to natural gas to coal. The state is now booming with two other resources: wind energy and qualified technicians trained to build, install, and service the growth in wind turbine technology. With National Science Foundation funding, Laramie County Community College in Wyoming is becoming a national leader in training.

    (Source: DCMP)

  • Funnel with filter feeding into a receptacle. The fluid in the filter is dark and the filter is dirty. Caption: She's developing fluoride filtering devices

    Access to safe drinking water is a global problem for nearly a billion people. For approximately 200 million people, many in Africa, high levels of naturally occurring fluoride in the water cause disfiguring and debilitating dental and skeletal disease. University of Oklahoma environmental scientist Laura Brunson is back from Ethiopia where, with support from the National Science Foundation, she’s developing fluoride filtering devices that use inexpensive materials readily available right there in the villages.

    (Source: DCMP)

  • Person pumping fuel into a vehicle. Caption: (narrator) And there you have it: synthetic diesel fuel.

    Typically, diesel fuel is made from crude oil, but scientists can make high-grade diesel from coal, natural gas, plants, or even agricultural waste, using a process called Fischer–Tropsch (FT). FT Diesel is the ideal liquid transportation fuel for automobiles, trucks, and jets. It’s much cleaner burning than conventional diesel, and much more energy-efficient than gasoline. But, FT Diesel is expensive to make and generates lots of waste. With support from the National Science Foundation and its Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis (CENTC), chemists around the United States are working together to improve the cost and energy efficiency of alternative fuels. Part of the National Science Foundation Series “Science Nation.”

    (Source: DCMP)

  • Brightly colored tropical fish. Caption: how they work together to execute underwater maneuvers,

    With support from the National Science Foundation, aerospace engineer Michael Philen and his team at Virginia Tech are investigating the biomechanics of fish locomotion, in hopes of contributing to the next generation of robotic fish and underwater submersibles. They’re studying how fish use their muscles to swim efficiently and execute underwater maneuvers, such as darting around in perfectly synchronized schools. They’re also developing new smart materials, such as a bioengineered hair that is modeled after the hair cell sensors on the side of fish that allow it to detect minute changes in water flow. Part of the National Science Foundation Series “Science Nation.”

    (Source: DCMP)

  • Person working on a robotic leg that is wearing a shoe. Caption: This is a battery that powers everything.

    A shark attack survivor now knows what it feels like to be part bionic man. 23-year-old amputee Craig Hutto has volunteered to help test a state-of-the-art prosthetic leg with powered knee and ankle joints. With support from the National Science Foundation and continued support from the National Institutes of Health, Vanderbilt University mechanical engineer Michael Goldfarb has spent several years developing the leg, which operates with special sensors, an electric motor, a battery, and computer technology. Sensors monitor the user's motion and microprocessors figure out what the person is trying to do. Goldfarb says the powered leg reduces the lag time between a real leg and a prosthetic one. Hutto confirms that the powered prosthetic is much better at anticipating his next move.

    (Source: DCMP)

  • A cylindrical space craft with equipment and antennas protruding from it in relief against a large grayish-brown planet with rings in the background. Caption: We'll shoot between Saturn and its rings.

    The journey of NASA's Cassini spacecraft around Saturn is coming to an end. The Cassini mission has been exploring the Saturn system for nearly 13 years and has rewritten the textbooks on the ringed planet and its moons, but the spacecraft is pretty much out of fuel. However, a lot of work from engineers designed the spacecraft and programmed its flight path, and they used astrodynamics to navigate the spacecraft between the rings of the planet. Part of the "Crazy Engineering" series.

    (Source: DCMP)