This insightful piece from the Huffington Post describes how the friendship of electrical pioneer Michael Faraday and landscape artist J.M.W. Turner influenced Turner’s work - Mario Livio: When Science Met Art.
The Czarina and I are finally moving on up. The bungalow that was merely “snug” when we only had one set of twin girl babies has become a raucous and cramped madhouse now that the eight-year-old girls have been joined by their four-year-old brothers. We scrutinized our finances, consulted with our lenders, and decided to hold on to the old house, build a new house, then clean-up and sell the old house. We could just barely swing the dual mortgage payments. The problem was coming up with the down payment for the new house while holding on to the old house. Fortunately, we had a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) from Bank of America, so we’d be able to borrow against the old house to raise the funds to pay for the new house.
Or so we thought.
Workers in six US nuclear power plants are being trained in a virtual radiation environment so that they can develop skills to keep radiation exposures low.
The Q-Track radiation worker training system combines a software program that can be used to define a virtual radiation zone with an indoor wireless tracking system that monitors trainees’ movements. When a trainee approaches a ‘virtual’ radiation source within the simulated radiation environment they will receive a realistic dose, rate and alarm from their simulated electronic dosimeter. Q-Dose also tracks the cumulative dose incurred during the training process. Software can be used to record the trainees’ responses, creating a radiation trail mapping their movements. Instructors can later replay this location, dose and rate data so that trainees can review and critique their performance.
This video shows the Q-Track Dosimulation™ system in action:
Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle won a Top Industry Practice or “TIP” Award from the Nuclear Energy Institute for piloting the Dosimulation™ system. For more information, visit the Q-Track website.
Employing Q-Track’s patented Near-Field Electromagnetic Ranging (NFER®) technology, Collision Avoidance Non-Line-of-Sight (CANLOS™) systems allow robots to detect and avoid colliding with their human co-workers even when when direct line-of-sight may be blocked. NFER® signals use low frequencies that penetrate better and diffract around obstructions that may block conventional RF and optical sensors. This non-line-of-sight behavior makes NFER® products well-suited for use in complicated industrial settings.
A leading manufacturer of innovative motion control and automation equipment for industry, CAMotion, uses Q-Track’s CANLOS™ System to provide non-line-of-sight awareness to robotic cranes, helping them to stop safely before colliding with their human co-workers. RFID Journal recently described the successful system in a feature story:
CAMotion is providing the CANLOS system—as redundancy to its laser-based collision-avoidance technology—to a magazine printing firm that utilizes automated cranes to move large stacks of paper, known as logs. The CANLOS system has been installed at 15 locations throughout the United States, according to Alex Furth, CAMotion’s CEO, with six additional sites slated to go live during the next few months.
Workers wear a QT-600 Tag Transmitter that not only allows the CANLOS™ receiver to detect their proximity, but also supports real-time location awareness in a more general NFER® Real-Time Location System (RTLS). The RFID Journal article explains how Q-Track’s CANLOS™ system works in detail:
A Q-Track QT600 RFID transponder, worn on a belt clip, beacons a unique ID number at predetermined intervals—typically, 10 times per second. The RFID receiver is installed on the crane’s gripper (the claw that picks up an item), which measures about 45 inches in length and 9 inches in width. The crane itself usually moves at the speed of a typical fast walk. When the gripper comes within about 8 feet of an individual’s transponder, the receiver determines that a collision is possible. The CAMotion software, loaded on the machine’s onboard computer, then instructs the crane to halt, which takes approximately 1.5 seconds to occur once the transmission has been received.
Here’s a close-up of the CANLOS™ receiver installed on the crane’s gripper:
And here’s a view of the system in a magazine printing facility:
For more information, see these additional links:
I bought one of these Velocity Micro T301 7” Cruz Tablets and I think it’s a great value at $60. Seriously under-powered for high performance Android apps, it’s still perfect as a book reader, web browser, e-mail reader, or even for listening to music (through headphones, not the wimpy speakers) or watching YouTube and other non-flash media. Woot is a one-deal-a-day commerce site, so act now if you want one. Enjoy!
Q-Track’s A-Team traveled to upstate New York the other day to show off NFER RTLS for tactical training at Tactical Conference 2012. Here’s the press release:
May 01, 2012 -
Verona, NY – Q-Track Corporation, the pioneer in Near-Field Electromagnetic Ranging, will demonstrate NFER Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) products in and around Booth 515 at Tactical Conference ‘12 today through May 3 at Turning Stone Resort in Verona, NY.
The high accuracy and low cost of NFER RTLS products allow Q-Track’s Dosimulation™
Systems to provide unprecedented realism in simulated dosimetry and radiation worker training. Now NFER RTLS is available in products suitable for Military Operations Urban Terrain (MOUT) training or for other tactical training applications indoors, underground, or anywhere GPS is not available. NFER RTLS may be deployed as a stand-alone system in support of after-action reviews, or integrated for use in other training systems.
In a demonstration at a MOUT training range, Q-Track deployed four QT-550 Locator-Receivers to track tags to a typical accuracy of 30cm-1m within a 50m x 50m (165ft x 165ft) city block, including in and around three buildings. A video is available below:
About Tactical Conference 2012: Sponsored by the New York Tactical Officers Association (NYTOA) and New York Association of Hostage Negotiators, the 6th annual Tactical Training Conference and Exposition is a culmination of what the NYTOA is all about: training, sharing information, and networking with peers and companies who make tactical officers’ jobs safer and more effective. The program brings together an exceptional instructor cadre, conference training agenda, and vendor show. Visit http://www.nytacticalexpo.com/
About Q-Track and NFER RTLS: Q-Track, a privately held company located in Huntsville, AL, has been pioneering NFER technology since 2002. Q-Track’s NFER technology is the basis of the Dosimulation system piloted at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle nuclear facility. RFID Journal recognized the breakthrough nature of Q-Track’s innovative NFER RTLS offering with a “Best-In-Show, Finalist,” designation for the third annual RFID Journal Awards. The Nuclear Energy Institute awarded Southern Company the 2010 Top Industry Practice (TIP) Award for Training for their use of Q-Track’s NFER RTLS-based “Dosimulation”
system. Q Track’s NFER RTLS is also employed in a proximity detection system and other location awareness products. For more information, visit the company’s website at http://www.q- track.com. “NFER” “Dosimulation” and “Q-Track” are trademarks or registered trademarks of the Q-Track Corporation.
A couple of years ago, I surveyed the origins of the GPS system in a Sputnik-inspired satellite navigation system that operated using Doppler shift measurements of satellite signals. The TRANSIT or NAVSAT system yielded 100m – 400m location accuracy (accounts vary).
The system included several firsts: the first nuclear powered satellite (Transit 4A) as well as the first satellite damaged in a nuclear blast (Transit 4B damaged by the United States Starfish Prime high-altitude nuclear test in 1962).
Transit was increasingly overshadowed by the superior performance of GPS and ceased operation in 1996.
Here’s a very informative Navy training video dating back to 1967 providing an excellent overview of the system and how it worked.
Any student of electromagnetics knows the story – Michael Faraday devised the ingenious concept that electric and magnetic effects were due to “fields” pervading space. Applying this simple concept, he was able to devise and demonstrate the phenomenon of induction, discovering the physics that gives rise to electric motors and generators. Faraday’s fundamental insight inspired James Clerk Maxwell who, a generation later, cast Faraday’s nebulous field conception in rigorous mathematical form. By so doing, Maxwell predicted the existence of electromagnetic waves – the properties of which Hertz established and proved yet another generation later.
As usual, there’s more to the story.
One hundred eighty years ago today, on March 12, 1832, Faraday wrote a secret letter predicting the existence of electromagnetic waves. Faraday submitted his letter to the Secretary of the Royal Society of London where it lay for over a century in a strong box. The letter only came to light when it was opened by Sir William Bragg on June 24, 1937. The only online publication of this letter in its entirety appears to be in Google Book results such as for Garratt’s The Early History of Radio, the text in which I found it, or in journal articles behind pay walls. Faraday’s magnificent foresight deserves more attention than it has thus far received, so I’m delighted to share Faraday’s letter in full, after the break.
Today’s Google Doodle honors Heinrich Hertz (1857-1893), discoverer of radio waves, on the 155th anniversary of his birth.
Heinrich Hertz was not the first to experiment with radio waves. Contemporaries such as Charles Hughes and Oliver Lodge performed similar work in parallel. What set Hertz apart, however, was his tenacity in teasing out the properties of electromagnetic waves from the brilliant use of crude instrumentation – up to and including attempting to use frog legs as RF detectors. Hertz further provided a comprehensive theoretical framework for understanding radio waves. Among Hertz’s antenna discoveries were the half-wave dipole, end-loaded dipole, and the parabolic reflector. He also employed loop antennas. Hertz also first worked out the near-field physics that makes Q-Track’s NFER® Real-Time Location Systems possible.
One of the best summaries of Hertz’s work I’ve seen may be found in Glenn S. Smith’s An Introduction to Classical Electromagnetic Radiation. But really, every student of electromagnetism and antennas ought to read the master straight from the source, his Electric Waves, published in 1893.
Hertz accomplished more in his all-to-short life than most, and I applaud Google for honoring the debt we all owe him.
LightSquared, the company that sought to re-purpose their satellite spectrum adjacent to GPS to a terrestrial wireless network appears to have suffered a fatal blow to their plans. Matthew Boyle at the Daily Caller describes the politics behind LightSquared’s maneuverings as the FCC’s Solyndra. Ars Technica has a good summary of the technical reasons why LightSquared failed. But I was struck by the fact that the FCC still has not corrected a technical flaw in their logo.
Look closely at the FCC seal behind the commissioner in the Daily Caller photo. One of the three horizontal antenna wires has two connections. Another has none. Amazingly, the FCC has known about this issue with their seal for nearly a year now. Spectrum guru Michael Marcus sent broke the story last April, reporting how broadcast consultant Dane Eriksen advised them of the mistake and asked them to correct it. As Marcus notes:
The seal in the Commission Meeting Room may not bother lawyers, but drives engineers crazy and may be a symbol of the state of technical things at FCC.
The technically flawed seal is an apt metaphor of politics trumping technology at the FCC. Fortunately in the LightSquared case, the GPS community was able to muster enough political push-back to keep LightSquared from causing substantial interference to the existing community of GPS users. Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds.
Update: I see the Daily Caller also picked up on the FCC’s seal problem last year.