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Engineer invents a 'flying saucer'

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Good Morning,

Technology is always changing. It never seems to let up. 
Whether it's software, space travel, medical research or 
energy production, technology seems to be improving by 
leaps and bounds. 

What will they think of and develop next? 

Until Tomorrow,

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         New software finds symmetries faster

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - U.S. computer scientists say they've 
created software that reduces the time to find symmetries 
in complicated equations from days to seconds in some 
cases. The University of Michigan researchers said finding 
symmetries is a way to highlight shortcuts to answers that, 
for example, verify the safety of train schedules, identify 
bugs in software and hardware designs, or speed up common 
search tasks. The algorithm is an update to software called 
"saucy" that the researchers developed in 2004. The research-
ers said their new open-source software's applications 
extend to artificial intelligence and logistics. It speeds 
up solutions to fundamental computer science problems and 
quickly solves what's called the graph automorphism problem.
Symmetries are interchangeable options that lead to the 
same outcome, the researchers said. In complicated 
equations, symmetries point to repeated branches of the 
search for solutions that only need to be determined once. 
Current programs that look for symmetries can take days 
to give results, even when they find no instances, the 
scientists said. The new method finishes in seconds even 
when there are millions of variables. Paul Darga, a 
University of Michigan graduate student presented the 
research last week in Anaheim, Calif., during the Design 
Automation Conference. 

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          Engineer invents a 'flying saucer'

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A U.S. aerospace engineer has designed 
a plasma-propelled flying machine that looks much like the 
"flying saucers" depicted in numerous movies. University 
of Florida mechanical and aerospace engineering Associate 
Professor Subrata Roy has submitted a patent application 
for his circular, spinning aircraft he calls a "wingless 
electromagnetic air vehicle," or WEAV. The prototype 
measures less than 6 inches in diameter and will be powered 
by on-board batteries but Roy said the design theoretically 
should work in a much larger form. "This is a very novel 
concept and, if it's successful, it will be revolutionary," 
Roy said. The vehicle will be powered by magneto-
hydrodynamics, or the force created when a current or a 
magnetic field is passed through a conducting fluid. In 
the case of Roy's aircraft, the conducting fluid will be 
created by electrodes covering the vehicle's surfaces that 
will ionize the surrounding air into plasma that, in turn, 
creates lift and momentum. The U.S. Air Force and the 
National Aeronautics and Space Administration have 
expressed interest in the aircraft and the university is 
seeking to license the design, he said. 

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         Transistors tested for radiation damage

EVANSTON, Ill. - Transistors based on a material created 
by U.S. scientists have been attached to the exterior of 
the International Space Station for radiation testing. 
Northwestern University researchers say their new kind 
of transistor might prove helpful on long space missions 
since early experiments on Earth indicate the transistors 
hold up well when exposed to radiation. The transistors 
are constructed of a new kind of gate dielectric material 
called self-assembled nanodielectrics, or SANDs. They were
placed on the space station during a March 22 spacewalk 
and will remain there for a year as part of a NASA 
materials experiment. SANDs were developed by a research 
group led by Professor Tobin Marks. He said in addition 
to possibly proving handy in space, SANDs could pave the 
way for a variety of new technologies. NASA is interested 
in SANDs because space radiation severely damages 
electronics. But early tests with nuclear reactors showed 
SANDs are largely resistant to such radiation damage. 
"Everybody was astounded," Marks said. "These experiments 
showed that SANDs have the potential to revolutionize the 
whole field." The research is funded by NASA, the 
Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation.

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