Tech Universe: Wednesday 05 February

By Miraz Jordan

People watch as the 116 meter high AfE-tower, a former university building from the 1970s, falls during its demolition. Photo / Getty Images
People watch as the 116 meter high AfE-tower, a former university building from the 1970s, falls during its demolition. Photo / Getty Images

DOWN WITH A BANG: With one ton of explosives packed into 1,500 drilled holes, the AfE Tower in Frankfurt turned into a 50,000 ton pile of rubble in only 10 seconds the other day. To stop too much dust being produced canisters of water, each containing 1,000 litres, were blown up along with the building. The University building was put up in 1972 and was briefly the tallest building in Frankfurt. It's like dinner: takes ages to make and is gone in a flash.

DOWN WITH A RUSH: When the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project struck molten rock at a depth of only around 2 Km a while ago engineers decided to experiment with using the 1000 C magma to generate power. For 2 years they flowed superheated steam through the drill hole with a high degree of success until some surface equipment needed to be replaced.

The experiment has shown that using magma to create electricity is a possibility and engineers plan on further tests. It's always handy to have a nearby source of magma.

RUSHING WITH THE LIGHTWEIGHTS: Nissan's turbocharged DIG-T R engine has a displacement of 1.5 litres and is small enough to fit in the overhead locker of a plane. What's more it weighs only 40 Kg. But that doesn't mean it's a toy, as its 3 cylinders put out 400 horsepower. That means it has a better power-to-weight ratio than the V6 engines powering many Formula 1 racers. The engine will be used in a car in the experimental vehicles slot at Le Mans later this year. Small but strong.

BOIL DRY: Cooking a meal while tramping or camping isn't always easy or safe. The Baro Cook system could be a handy addition to a camping kit. A stainless steel bowl nests inside a plastic outer container. Put a little water in the outer container and add a single use heating pad. The water begins to boil in a few moments. Now put food in the stainless bowl inside the outer bowl. The boiling water heats the food, cooking pasta in around 20 minutes. The makers say the heating pad consists of 18 natural and environmentally friendly materials. It seems it would avoid the dangerous flames and potentially poisonous gases of other cooking methods. Just don't let those heating pads get wet in your pack.

ROBOTS BRANCH OUT: After studying a number of birds Vishwa Robotics came up with the idea of adding legs to a drone so it could perch on a wire or branch. The legs could also let it land and walk on flat surfaces. The drone perches in an upright position with a powerful gripping action from an electric motor. An operator uses images from a camera on the drone to help position it correctly for landing. Perching on a convenient vantage point could allow a drone to be less conspicuous while using a lot less energy than is required for circling. Is that bird watching me?

Miraz Jordan,

- NZ Herald

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