This Bridge Shouldn't Blow Over
Wind turbine blades are incredible pieces of engineering, undergoing physical stresses that are hard to comprehend. They do eventually wear out for their main purpose, though, so what do you do with all these big blades that are still very strong, but no longer quite strong enough to spin at speed?
Well, it turns out that one of the things you can do with them is build bridges. Rather than sitting in a landfill, where they really don't break down at all, a new venture is using them to build pedestrian bridges - with the second one ever just being installed.
I think this would be a great use of the blades if it works out - maybe try them in some small buildings, too. Reuse is always better than pure recycling, after all.
You Had One Job
Talking of wind turbines, you would think that if there is any weather condition they might be expected to survive, it would be high winds.
Well, the UK has been faced with one of the windiest weeks in decades with the arrival of Storm Eunice, and as well as the roof of the iconic Dome being shredded, it seems a wind turbine, uh, couldn't deal with the wind.
Now, wind turbines aren't expected to just spin faster and faster as the wind gets stronger - at some point, they have a braking system that stops them from overspeeding - but it seems that this turbine in Wales had some further structural defect and decided to give up the ghost. Thankfully, like pretty much all turbines, it was in a remote area and didn't damage anything.
Ghosts Of The Drought
When you build a dam to create a reservoir, there's often a high ecological cost to the land that gets submerged, and sometimes a human cost too, as previously riverside villages are forced underwater.
It seems, though, that with increasing drought levels in Spain, one of those villages is having the last laugh as it emerges once again from the shrinking reservoir, somewhat of a time capsule of when it was flooded and claimed by the rising waters back in 1992.
I'm sure this is not the last of these we'll see re-emerge - reservoirs all around the world are at record lows, with the USA's iconic Hoover Dam and Lake Mead at their lowest levels since the 1930s, for example.
Throwing The Trash Out (To Another Orbit)
Space. The final frontier - of garbage collection, anyway. Satellites have this annoying habit of not working forever and then just staying in their orbits for way too long, causing a risk to anything else up there.
So, enter the idea of disposal satellites - ones that can change the orbits of dead satellites to either make them re-enter, or fling them out to a higher orbit. Notably, though, nobody is saying they have to be your satellites, or that they have to be dead, which is why a secret Chinese disposal satellite turning up and practicing its craft has everyone taken a little bit by surprise.
Let's hope this one is just them being secretive as usual with a good end goal, rather than developing anti-satellite capability. Though I reckon any anti-satellite capability is going to be rather defeated in the face of something like Starlink's proposed 4,000 satellites.
Hold On, I Can Feel Carrington Saying I Told You So
Talking of Starlink, their approach to launching satellites appears to be "blast as many into space as possible and it's OK if we lose some". Well, it seems they lost more than some this week as a geomagnetic storm disabled about 40 of them while they were parked in their initial low orbit.
The satellites are meant to boost out of the orbit once their systems check out, otherwise - if a satellite is disabled or damaged in some way - they will naturally re-enter the atmosphere after a few days to ensure there's a bit less space junk.
It turns out, though, that when you have a big old solar storm that temporarily knocks some of them offline, and you don't have a good procedure for preparing for that, you lose pretty much the whole bunch. This was still a relatively tame geomagnetic storm, too - all bets are off when another Carrington Event happens.
Seriously, All Spacecraft Must Come With Selfie Cameras
The James Webb Space Telescope is undergoing primary mirror commissioning right now, and they're aligning the segments to make all eighteen mirrors match up.
That didn't stop them, though, using a mode of one of the instruments to capture a selfie of the primary mirror array, something I don't think a lot of people knew was even possible and which is honestly a great move in terms of science communication and outreach.
After the Chinese Mars mission used a special selfie camera on a separate tiny spacecraft to take a picture of itself in orbit, and the famous Perseverance EDL video, I think we need to make sure every future mission of any scientific importance includes as many cameras as possible, and then add one more.
The People Who Capture The Fog
Peru has a lot of mist and fog, and an unfortunate lack of groundwater or river sources for local communities to get water from - and so some inventive use of fog-capturing nets and drainage systems is starting to turn one into the other.
Water captured and condensed out of the air like this is not without its downsides - it captures pollution and becomes undrinkable when the air has gone over cities, and the nets themselves require a very significant land area to produce a workable amount of water.
Still, though, as climate changes pushes more areas into drought, we'll probably see more of this around the world, especially in coastal areas, and with more advanced technology like fog towers. Climate change is changing the makeup and altitude of the fog and mist too, though, so it may not be a slam dunk.
Yes, The US Has A National Cheese Stockpile
A lot of people discovered this week, via this Twitter thread, that the US has a national cheese stockpile, with 1.4 billion pounds (about 600 million kilograms) of cheese stored in a cave system underneath Missouri.
It seems that falling demand for cheese in the face of the same level of production led the US government to step in and prop up the dairy industry by buying the surplus and just... shoving it in a cave. Seems to me like maybe we should reduce dairy output, increase cheese consumption, or probably just do both at once.
That said, let me on a tour of that cave, and I'll help make a very sizeable dent in the cheese stores. As long as it's good cheese, anyway.
When Your Vision Relies On Unsupported Technology
Technology moves at a rapid pace, with technology companies often closely following the mantra of "move fast, and break things". It seems, though, that this particular style of developing products have moved into the medical world.
Second Sight develop retinal implants - devices that capture images from an external camera and then relay the signals directly into a blind person's retinal nerves. They only give a very basic, blurry view of the world, but for someone who otherwise can't see, it can be revolutionary.
That is, until the company developing the device gets near bankruptcy, abandons the device and all support for it, and you're stuck with obsolete, unsupported technology implanted in your body. I can only imagine this is going to get more common - maybe we need to force medical device companies to put all their source code and designs in escrow, and have it released if they ever abandon a device.
The Good HIV News Just Keeps Coming
After the news that a HIV vaccine is now officially in human trials, another piece of great news comes along - a third person appears to have been cured of HIV after a stem cell transplant, joining the famous Berlin Patient and the London Patient.
The donation was for the patient's leukemia, but it happened to come from someone (via umbilical cord blood, which is especially good for transplants) with a gene that makes their immune system especially resistant to HIV, and it appears that after the course of chemotherapy and other medicines, she regained a new immune system that is resistant to multiple HIV strains.
Of course, this is not a procedure that can be done with a whole lot of people - it's incredibly hard on the body and only really makes sense where the patient is already dying of something like leukemia. What it does, show, though, is that it can be done - which is a promising avenue for other approaches that could make the same changes less destructively, like gene therapy!
We All Live In A Lego Submarine
What's better than making your own little submarine? Making it out of Lego, of course. You might be thinking, though - Lego motors and batteries aren't exactly waterproof, are they?
Well that's where building your own magnetically-coupled propeller system comes in! As this video shows, it's not without its teething issues, but it seems there really is nothing you can't do with Lego.
(By the way, there's plenty of other weird and wonderful videos on this YouTube channel, including other submarine versions!)