In recent years lidar has become the gold standard for people looking to make high-resolution aerial maps — from archaeologists studying ruins hidden beneath jungle canopies to engineers monitoring dams and levees. Although the technology has many useful applications, it’s often prohibitively expensive. Now, a new technique using an off-the-shelf digital camera is offering an inexpensive alternative for collecting 3-D aerial data.
The rapid proliferation of 3-D printing technology that began in the early 2000s sent ripples of excitement through the tech world and beyond despite the initial high price of printers. Now, more affordable printers have broken this barrier, and geoscientists have started testing the waters.
Scientific research has traditionally been funded by grants from various governmental agencies, along with funding from universities, corporations and private foundations. But money is often given out in large chunks to big research labs, leaving smaller, shorter-term projects in need of funding. Now, crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter — through which a large number of people donate small amounts of cash — are changing the landscape of research grant funding.
HOUSTON – The Geological Society of America’s joint meeting kicked off Sunday, beginning a week filled with thousands of presentations on soil science, atmospheric science, education and evolution, paleontological discoveries, energy issues and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike — made particularly poignant by the Houston, Texas, setting.
After the Cosco Busan container ship crashed into the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge last November and leaked more than 58,000 gallons of fuel into the bay, the U.S. Coast Guard deployed floating containment booms and absorbent pads to mop up the mess. Such technologies have been used to clean up oil spills for two decades. Soon, however, oil spill cleanup crews may have a more high-tech tool: Researchers have developed reusable sheets of nanowire “paper” that absorb oil without soaking up any water.
According to conventional wisdom, things that need to move efficiently through air or water should be sleek and streamlined. Dolphins, jets and Olympic swimmers stick to this rule, but humpback whales, with their massive knobby-edged flippers, buck the trend.