Supersonic Ping-Pong gun fires balls at Mach 1.2

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 28, 2013   View Article

Few things capture the attention of physics students like a gun that fires Ping-Pong balls, according to a mechanical engineer who just built one that accelerates the balls to supersonic speeds.

“You can shoot Ping-Pong balls through pop cans and it is great, it is so captivating, it is so compelling that you can get kids’ attention and once you’ve got their attention, you can teach them something,”Mark French, the Purdue University assistant professor who built the gun, told NBC News.

Robo-cops may fight crime in the future – but it’s not what you think

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 2, 2012   View Article

A robot with a badge may soon patrol city streets, write parking tickets and Taser criminals, but don’t worry: these robo-cops will have the smarts, eyes and ears of trained police officers at the controls.

“This will be operated remotely by another person. The robot is not going to go and randomly shoot and make the mistake of hitting the wrong person,” Nagarajan Prabakar, a computer scientist at Florida International University, told NBC News on Tuesday.

Army wants rapid development of lighter, stronger armor

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: May 24, 2012   View Article

The U.S. military is plowing $90 million into a university-led research program to rapidly accelerate the development of lighter and stronger materials to better protect soldiers and vehicles.

The same tools that enable the development of this next generation protective gear could, of course, also be used to develop more lethal weapons – bullets designed to penetrate the toughest materials.

Printable sensors detect bombs

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: November 2, 2011   View Article

If there’s a suspicious package on the doorstep and you want to know if it’s a bomb, you may soon be able to print out a sensor that can do just that.

The ability to make bomb-detecting sensors with inkjet printer technology could also benefit soldiers on the lookout for roadside bombs and aid agencies working in war-torn countries.

Water harvested from diesel exhaust

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: April 6, 2011   View Article

A new technology to harvest drinkable water from diesel exhaust could help the U.S. military become more nimble and mobile as it engages in conflicts around the world.

Warfare is hot, dirty, and exhausting work that requires a steady stream of water to slake thirst, prepare meals and maintain healthy hygiene — up to nearly 7 gallons a day per person.

Supplying that water to soldiers increases vulnerability to military personnel and limits the tactical use of field troops, according to researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory who are developing the new technology.

Their solution is to use the fuel that the military burns to run its tanks, Humvees, generators and other machines that power field operations. When fuel is combusted, it gets oxidized and produces carbon dioxide and water.

Software pinpoints Afghan fighters

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: April 5, 2011   View Article

The ongoing military campaign against Afghan insurgents may get a boost from new computer software designed to zero in on the locations of weapons caches and warlords.

“The idea is to say, look, this is a large area, where do you target your resources,” Venkatramanan Subrahmanian, co-director of the Lab for Computational Cultural Dynamics at the University of Maryland, told me today.

Laser eyed to remove space junk

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 15, 2011   View Article

NASA-affiliated scientists have proposed using a low-powered, ground-based laser to nudge pieces of space debris off of collision courses with each other.

The proposal, presented in a paper submitted to Advances in Space Research and posted to arXiv.org, is a low-cost solution to the growing problem of space junk.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach