What's the buzz...

What's the buzz...

Engine that runs on liquid air coming soon

A London-based firm is developing an avant-garde engine that uses liquid air as main fuel.
The system created by Dearman Engine Company (DEC) cools the air to minus 256 degrees Fahrenheit, when it gets transformed into liquid state.

In place of petroleum, cryogenic air is injected into ambient heat inside the engine. It creates high-pressure gas that drives the pistons and only emits cold air as exhaust, the Discovery News reported. “You inject a heat-exchange fluid, such as anti-freeze and water, into the head of the piston just before you inject liquid nitrogen. The result is that all the expansion takes place inside the cylinder,” DEC founder Toby Peters told Transport Engineer.

The Dearman engine is similar to an internal combustion engine, only sans the spark plug.

When the cryogenic is injected, ambient temperatures quickly heat it and return it to its gaseous form. This builds up pressure and pushes the piston down. As the exhaust valve opens at the bottom of the stroke, the returning piston thrusts the heat exchange fluid and air out of the engine as cold air. DEC is working with Ricardo, a British engineering consulting agency, to make this engine a commercial reality.

A prototype engine turned out to be more efficient than earlier cryogenic engine designs and it powered a car at more than 30 miles per hour.

Extraterrestrial life possible but not like that on Earth

An astronomer has said that while we could find life outside of Earth, it is unlikely that it would be intelligent or multi-cellular.

Dr Robin Catchpole, who teaches at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, and was a senior astronomer at the Royal Observatory, said that over the past few decades scientists have slowly become more open to the idea of life existing elsewhere in the universe too.

 “In our solar system I think there’s every chance that we will find things like bacteria - life at that level somewhere else. Multi-celled life, I think, is unlikely,” News24 quoted Catchpole as saying. “There’s almost a sort of philosophical point that we don’t see ourselves as unique in the universe perhaps in the way that we used to,” he said. “In the last 100 years since Darwin really we’ve seen that we are related to all the other living things. So we would expect not only to find ourselves, of course, but we would expect and anticipate finding life elsewhere,” he added.

“With radio telescopes we’ve discovered evidence of molecules - the basic precursors of life - all over the place in interstellar clouds. The more we look, the more we find,” said Catchpole.

High heels may cause permanent damage

Wearing high heels regularly may change the way a woman walks, even after they take them off, say researchers. Scientists from The Griffith University in Queensland, Australia found that by constantly forcing a foot into a ‘plantarflexed’ position, or downwardly pointed toes, women are changing their walking behaviour - at the risk of causing permanent damage to leg muscles. For this study, a group of heel lovers were compared with a control group of women, who rarely wear heels.

 The results found that even when walking in flats, regular high-heel wearers - those who have worn a 2 inch plus heel for more than 40 hours a week over the preceding two years - have a neuromechanically adapted style of walking to that of non-heel wearers. Flat shoe wearers look longer strides, using their tendons to walk rather than overly engaging their calves. Heel wearers took shorter, more aggressive steps, putting more pressure on calf muscles.