Category Archives: Science and Technology

Video: Deciphering the reversals and excursions of the Earth’s magnetic field

The earth’s magnetic field varies over time and even flips in polarity periodically. Bruce Buffet of UC Berkeley talks in this SETI Institute seminar about efforts to understand how the earth’s interior causes such variability : Geomagnetic Reversals and excursions: The origin of Earth’s magnetic field – SETI Institute


From the lecture announcement:

Palaeomagnetic observations offer important insights into the origin of Earth’s interior, but a detailed reconstruction of the underlying dynamics is not feasible. A practical alternative is to construct a stochastic model for the time evolution of the dipole field.

Slow changes in the field are described by a deterministic (drift) term, whereas short-time fluctuations are represented by a random (noise) term. Estimates for the drift and noise terms can be recovered from a time series of variations in the axial dipole moment over the past 2 million years. The results are used to predict a number of statistical properties of the palaeomagnetic field, including the average rates of magnetic reversals and excursions.

Dr. Buffet will explain how a physical interpretation of the stochastic models suggests that reversals and excursions are part of a continuum of time variations in Earth’s magnetic field, arising from convective fluctuations in the core. Relatively modest changes the amplitude of convective fluctuations can produce large changes in reversal rates, including the well-known occurrence of superchrons lasting longer than 10 million years.

Video: Gwynne Shotwell of SpaceX + Dirk Ahlborn of Hyperloop Transportation Tech

Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, gave a keynote talk at last week’s South Summit entrepreneurial business event in Madrid, Spain. She then participated in a panel discussion titled, Future of connectivity: What can we expect from Space Exploration 6.0.

Her talk starts at about 1hr 31min 15sec into this video. The panel begins at around 1hr 45min

Then Dirk Ahlborn of JumpStartFund and CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc talked about the Hyperloop concept (see many Hyperloop posts here) and how his “crowdstormed” organization will start building a full-scale prototype system in Central California next year. His talk starts at 2hrs 38min 17sec into the video.

He then participated in a panel discussion titled Trains, Planes, and Drone-o-mobiles-Future of Transportation, starting at around 3hr 0min 35sec.

Sci-Tech: Hyperloop development update

Lots of activity on the Hyperloop development front:

* SpaceX is sponsoring a Hyperloop Pod Competition.

* Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) is building a prototype system in Quay Valley, California: The first full-scale Hyperloop test track may launch in California next year – The Verge


Hyperloop Technologies just hired former Cisco President Rob Lloyd as a new CEO: Hyperloop Technologies taps a new CEO – Sep. 16, 2015.

Lloyd talks about the company here: Hello Hyperloop.

The company is also building a full sized test track: Hyperloop Technologies has a CEO — and plans to open its test track next year – The Verge.

Here’s a report on the project: Pushing the Limits: Hyperloop Technologies – CBS News

Sci-Tech: New venture aims to develop vertical takeoff and landing biz-plane

The XTI Aircraft Company includes an aviation industry A-list group of founders and engineers who intend to develop a vertical take-off and landing aircraft called the Trifan 600. As seen below, the vehicle has three ducted fans to provide vertical lift. During horizontal flight the center fan is covered while the other two fans tilt and drive the vehicle forward at up to 400 mph (640 kmh). 






Here is a video about the vehicle:

To guage interest in the project, they have opened an equity crowdfunding campaign at StartEngine Crowdfunding. This involves eventual purchase of shares in the company, not contributing money for a perk as with Kickstarter or Indiegogo projects.

Here is an article about the project: The Transforming Vertical-Takeoff Plane That’s Better Than a Flying Car – Popular Mechanics.


Sci-Tech: Lexus Hoverboard + Tesla Snakebot charger + Solving a General Fusion problem

Some misc. cool tech stories today:

A real hoverboard built with high-temperature superconductors and flying above a special track with magnets: Lexus maglev hoverboard: 20 minutes of magic in a skatepark – ExtremeTech


A big advantage of an electric car is that you can top off the battery every night with a garage charger. Of course, that means you have to remember to plug it in every evening. Tesla Motors shows off a prototype robotic system to automatically connect a charger to a Tesla whenever it is parked in the garage:

Elon Musk on Twitter: “Tesla Snakebot autocharger prototype. Does seem kinda wrong :)”


An engineer wins $20,000 in a challenge contest sponsored by General Fusion to solve the company’s problem of finding a way to seal the hammer and anvil system from the molten lead surrounding the cloud of plasma that will be compressed by the lead to produce nuclear fusion reactions : General Fusion Announces Winner of Crowdsourced Engineering Challenge – General Fusion

Here’s a video describing the General Fusion system, which Jeff Bezos and other notables have invested in: