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The Spruce Goose Would Look Like A Tinkertoy Next To This


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THE SPRUCE GOOSE WOULD LOOK LIKE A TINKERTOY NEXT TO THIS

Operation Desert Storm proved once again that transporting armed forces and heavy equipment quickly to far corners of the world isn't easy. Stephan F. Hooker, president of Aerocon Inc. in Arlington, Va., has a solution: a giant so-called wingship that could lift far more weight than a conventional airplane.

The chubby, stubby-winged craft would fly just 15 to 100 feet above the ocean, taking advantage of the cushion of dense air near the surface. Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Aerocon calculates that a 550-foot-long wingship could zip along at 500 mph with a cargo of 2,000 troops and dozens of helicopters and tanks. Hooker also wants to collaborate with Russian engineers who have long been researching similar giant flying machines. But there's a hurdle: the price for each wingship could run to $600 million--as much as a B-2 bomber.Edited by Fleur TempletonReturn to top

THE SPRUCE GOOSE WOULD LOOK LIKE A TINKERTOY NEXT TO THIS

Predicting groundwater contamination is essential for protecting water supplies. To locate toxic seepage, geologists use flow meters and special tests that isolate small sections of a well. But scientists at the Energy Dept.'s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., and the National Co-operative for the Storage of Radioactive Waste in Baden, Switzerland, have devised an improved groundwater-monitoring system, dubbed "hydrophysical logging."

Berkeley hydrologist Chin Fu Tsang and his team developed a computer program called BORE that analyzes the hydraulic properties of underground rock and predicts how quickly contaminants will move from a given point of origin. The software evaluates data from fluid logging--a technique that measures the chemical changes to de-ionized water that has been pumped into a borehole. By monitoring or "logging" these changes, scientists can determine the source and volume of groundwater pollution.

The new system, 10 times faster than most tests and more accurate than flow meters, is being used in Switzerland to study possible underground sites for nuclear-waste disposal. And GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc. in Newton, Mass., is using BORE to evaluate pollution in shallow wells in the U.S.Edited by Fleur TempletonReturn to top

THE SPRUCE GOOSE WOULD LOOK LIKE A TINKERTOY NEXT TO THIS

The need for physicians to send blood samples off for laboratory tests often slows diagnosis. Now, i-STAT Corp. in Princeton, N.J., has developed a pocket-size blood analyzer that produces results in just 90 seconds. The $3,000 device relies on microchip biosensors to detect conditions that reveal ailments such as anemia and diabetes. And the analyzer requires just a pinprick rather than a test-tube sample of blood.

A combination of electronics and chemistry does the trick. The first step is to place two drops of blood in a microchip cartridge that is inserted into the hand-held analyzer. Membrane-tipped sensors measure electrical potential, conductivity, or resistance in the sample. The readings indicate levels of blood sugar, nitrogen, red blood cells, and common electrolytes such as potassium. More complex analyses, such as testing for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, still require lab tests.

The $12 cost of each cartridge far exceeds the pennies-per-test cost of large lab machines. But i-STAT thinks the device will sell to hospitals attracted by the quick, efficient diagnosis.Edited by Fleur TempletonReturn to top


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