NASA’s new supersonic jet goes so fast it can’t have a windshield. Here’s how pilots will fly it

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Today NASA is officially trotting out the finished version of an experimental aircraft that looks like a stretched-out arrowhead. Painted in red, white, and blue, the plane is called the X-59, and it has a lofty goal: to fly faster than the speed of sound over land, but do so in a quiet enough way that no one below is startled by a sonic boom. (You can watch the event here.)

The aircraft’s most noticeable feature is a nose that measures 38 feet long, which represents more than one-third of its total length of 99 feet and 7 inches. Tucked into a compartment behind that nose will be space for one pilot. But because the cockpit sits totally flush with the top surface of the aircraft—it’s embedded in the body of the plane—there is no forward windshield for the test pilot to look out of when they fly. Instead, they’ll fly using a camera system and a screen inside the cockpit to reveal what’s in front of them. 

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Virginia Tech researchers receive grant to create way for developing underground power lines

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) – There are thousands of power lines underground that allow us to use our phones, laptops and devices daily.

A Virginia Tech research team will be using a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy(ARPA-E) to develop new technology that will enhance how underground power lines are made.

“The problem that we’re trying to solve is challenges with the current way our electrical grid [is] set up,” said Dr. Joseph Vatassel, an assistant professor with Virginia Tech’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “So most of our electricity that we get to our homes, or to our businesses is through overhead power lines.”

Dr. Vantassel will lead a team to revamp how underground power lines around the country are built.

“What we’re looking at is the alternative of drilling underneath the ground. And this is something that’s been done. It’s very expensive right now, it’s very risky right now,” Dr. Vantassel adds.

The research is being funded by a $2.5 million grant for technology designed to make underground drilling safer.

“What we’re proposing is a system that is going to allow the drill operator to essentially see ahead of where they’re drilling,” explained Dr. Vantassel. “So we have sensors on the drill head itself. We have complementary sensors at the ground surface. And then we’re going to use this artificial intelligence machine learning predictive model to take the data coming from the drill head, the data we’re measuring at the surface, put that all together and present it to the drill operators.”

Congressman Morgan Griffith (R- 9th District) announced the grant on behalf of ARPA-E. He said he is excited for this project because is important now more than ever

“Whenever you have high winds and cold temperatures, you are more likely to have power outages as we as we see here,” said the Congressman. “Same thing with ice storms. The reason that your power goes out in an ice storm is that ice builds up on the lines and the lines collapse.”

Underground power lines can also help prevent catastrophes like the fires in Maui we saw last year.

“We held a hearing last year related to the Maui fires, which were caused by power line,” explained Congressman Griffith “If they’d been underground, you wouldn’t had those problems.”

Congressman Griffith also mentioned as technology advances, our power grids need to as well.

“There’s so many more electrical devices, we are going to have to put in more power lines and the more that we can do, where we’re able to do some of that underground, the stronger the grid’s going to be. I think that’s important,” he said.

Although the research will be based at Virginia Tech, Dr. Vantassel says the research will not only impact our hometowns; it will help the entire country.

“The idea is really to develop this system to be used across the United States. So we’re looking not just at how do we improve the electrical system here at Virginia Tech, but really across the whole us,” said Dr. Vantassel. The whole United States has these challenges with how do we underground utility lines. And I think that’s why you’re seeing the Department of Energy put so much resources behind developing these projects, funding our project, and all of these.”

Dr. Vantassel is teaming up with colleagues at Virginia Tech along with Brigham Young Universityand the Colorado School of Mines. He plans on using grant money to begin research immediately.

What an astronaut, Molly Baz, and your mom

can teach you about creativity


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As a journalist prone to nerding out on books about design and creativity, a fair number of them cross my desk. But within them, there’s often a preponderance of thought leadership presented at its thinnest—a veritable Ikea table of wisdom that, let’s admit, probably came from a ghostwriter to begin with. 

Which is why Mike Schnaidt’s Creative Endurance is such a delightful anomaly.  

Now, disclaimer up front: Schnaidt is the creative director of Fast Company—but we’d cover this book even if he wasn’t because it’s such an anomaly in the “creative inspo” genre. Crack its covers, and there’s a wonderland of editorial design inside. Concept-driven type treatments dance across colorful pages. Illustrations. Activities. But above all, insights on pushing through obstacles and remaining engaged in your process and practice from not only designers (though you’ll indeed find such minds as Sagi HavivJennifer Kinon, and Bobby C. Martin Jr. here), but also from athletes, an astronaut, architect, wardrobe stylist, chefs, a sommelier, and . . . a third grader. 

If the book feels unorthodox, that’s by design. When teaching at Kean University in 2022, Schnaidt, a marathoner, eschewed the typical portfolio presentation and instead gave a talk titled, “The Runner’s Guide to Design.” 

This new cement could become America’s next big bumper crop and help save the world as we know it

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Colorado-based Prometheus Materials and other emerging companies are developing new biocements that could help meet the world’s growing concrete demands and avert climate catastrophe.

Innovation thrives when we pause to observe, question, and reimagine the world around us, turning challenges into opportunities for progress. Nature, in particular, serves as a rich source of inspiration. By observing it, studying its daily challenges, and contemplating its processes, we can discover valuable insights that inspire innovative solutions.

One of these current challenges is the production of concrete, an ancient and extremely popular material that is now accountable for a significant portion of global CO₂ emissions, due to the energy-intensive process of cement production and the chemical reactions involved. It is estimated to be responsible for approximately 8% of the world’s annual CO₂ emissions, pumping 11 million tons of CO₂ into the atmosphere every day and consuming 9% of the world’s annual industrial water usage. In addition, the world’s building stock is expected to double by 2060—the equivalent of building an entire New York City every month for the next 36 years, which means an incredible increase in demand for cement and concrete. Faced with this daunting situation, is there anything we can do? In this article, we speak with Loren Burnett, CEO of Prometheus Materials, which has developed a material that mimics nature’s processes to recreate concrete as we know it.

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The new, sci-fi ways AI will radically redesign airports

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Someday you might be able to check into your flight from your car.

Airports today are shaped like dumbbells. One end of the dumbbell is for ticketing and checked bags. The opposite end is where the gates are located along with restaurants and shops. The thin middle between the two ends is for security screening, which separates the “landside” of the airport from its “airside.”

This airport shape has become more pronounced in the past two decades, mainly because of security screening apparatuses. But artificial intelligence is poised to subvert that shape, first by creating new ways for people to interact with existing airport infrastructure, then by challenging the traditional landside-airside barrier, and, finally, enabling all-new design approaches to the physical and digital footprints of airports. Here’s how those changes will unfold in the next five, 10, and 20 years.


Airports have historically told you what they are doing: a giant flight information display system or series of gate announcements is the airport broadcasting its operations. What you are doing as a passenger is extracting relevant information and maneuvering those operations. This power dynamic between what an airport is doing and what a passenger is doing is changing, though, and becoming far more collaborative. At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), passengers can make “spot saver” appointments for security screenings, skipping the lines and avoiding any anxiety about getting through checkpoints ahead of flight times. Also at SEA, passengers parking their vehicles can use anautomated parking guidance system to find open spots faster. In each instance, the airport is improving its efficiency by allowing passengers to interact with infrastructure more directly.

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Humanoid robot factory

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A factory planning to pump out 10,000 two-legged robots a year is taking shape in Salem, Oregon — the better to help Amazon and other giant companies with dangerous hauling, lifting and moving. Jennifer reports.

Why it matters: Agility Robotics says that its RoboFab manufacturing facility will be the first to mass-produce humanoid robots, which could be nimbler and more versatile than their existing industrial counterparts.

Driving the news: Agility Robotics, which makes a bot named Digit that’s being tested by Amazon, plans to open RoboFab early next year, inaugurating what CEO Damion Shelton calls “the world’s first purpose-built humanoid robot factory.”

  • “We’ve placed a very high priority on just getting robots out there as fast as possible,” Shelton, who’s also a co-founder, tells Axios.
  • “Our big plan is that we want to get to general-purpose humanoids as soon as we can.”
  • There’s a growing backlog of orders for Digit, which the company says is the first commercially available human-shaped robot designed for warehouse work.

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What is a Data Lakehouse? Definition, Benefits & Features

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A data lakehouse is a hybrid data management architecture that combines the best features of a data lake and a data warehouse into one data management solution.

data lake is a centralized repository that allows storage of large amounts of data in its native, raw format. On the other hand, a data warehouse is a repository that stores structured and semi-structured data from multiple sources for analysis and reporting purposes.

data lakehouse aims to bridge the gap between these two data management approaches by merging the flexibility, scale and low cost of data lake with the performance and ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) transactions of data warehouses. This enables business intelligence and analytics on all data in a single platform.


What is a lakehouse?

A data lakehouse is a modern data architecture that creates a single platform by combining the key benefits of data lakes (large repositories of raw data in its original form) and data warehouses (organized sets of structured data). Specifically, data lakehouses enable organizations to use low-cost storage to store large amounts of raw data while providing structure and data management functions. Continue reading “What is a Data Lakehouse? Definition, Benefits & Features”

How Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity Could Help Vividly Image Alien Worlds

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One day, a mind-bending device called the gravity telescope might bring us visceral pictures of exoplanets far beyond our solar system.


Christmas Eve, 1968 — Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders took a picture that would soon reframe humanity’s view of the universe. It was an image of Earth, but from the moon’s vantage point. 

When you look at this picture, a crisp planet stares back at you, levitating just above the lunar horizon like a turquoise sunrise. And this very resemblance earned Anders’ photograph the perfect name: “Earthrise.” 

Since the time Anders took his shot from a moon-orbiting spacecraft, scientists have procured absolutely mind-blowing pictures of Saturn’s rocky rings, Neptune’s azure hues and even Jupiter’s orange marbled stripes— but these photos barely scratch the surface of our universe’s planetary society. 

There are thousands more alien worlds floating beyond our solar system, but they remain hidden to the human eye because they’re light-years on light-years away from us. Our telescopes are too far away to capture their beauty. They show up only as blurry dots of light — if they show up at all. Continue reading “How Einstein…Could Help Vividly Image Alien Worlds”

Surgeons in New York announce world’s first eye transplant

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Nov 9 (Reuters) – Surgeons in New York have performed the first-ever whole-eye transplant in a human, they announced on Thursday, an accomplishment being hailed as a breakthrough even though the patient has not regained sight in the eye.

In the six months since the surgery, performed during a partial face transplant, the grafted eye has shown important signs of health, including well-functioning blood vessels and a promising-looking retina, according to the surgical team at NYU Langone Health.

“The mere fact that we transplanted an eye is a huge step forward, something that for centuries has been thought about, but it’s never been performed,” said Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, who led the team.

Until now, doctors have only been able to transplant the cornea, the clear front layer of the eye.

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Michigan Tech Research Award Winner Pursues Discovery of Galactic Mysteries

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An internationally recognized expert in high-energy gamma-ray astronomy and galactic cosmic rays, Petra Huentemeyer serves as a vice-spokesperson for a globally collaborative observatory and mentors her students to seek their own bright futures. The experimental astrophysicist and distinguished professor of physics is the 2023 recipient of the Michigan Technological University Research Award.

Huentemeyer views the career path she has followed as a natural if not always easy progression. Fueled by a persistent curiosity to probe the unknown origins of the universe, her work has led her to study and conduct research at the world’s leading institutions in her field.

The researcher, who enjoys watching movies in her leisure time, said summer 2023’s blockbuster biopic  “Oppenheimer” sparked reflections on how she chose her discipline. “In the context of ‘Oppenheimer,’ I thought about how I actually started in the field of physics coming out of high school,” she said. “I grew up in the Cold War era. In 1991 I was watching a German miniseries, called the “End of Innocence,” about the competition with the Manhattan Project and the work of Otto Hahn.”

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