Students Invent a Fire Extinguisher That Uses Sound

Scientists have used sound to do all kinds of amazing things, from levitation to brain surgery. Now, they've shown that sound can be used to put out fires.

Students Seth Robertson and Viet Tran from George Mason University have developed a way to harness sound and use it as a fire extinguisher. Low frequency sound waves—similar to the deep bass often found in hip-hop music—can apparently displace oxygen. If the oxygen is pushed away from the fuel, the fire will starve and go out.

The team started their endeavor after learning that sound had the ability to disrupt flames. They did not hear of any products on the market that worked, so they sought to make their own. Robertson and Tram originally experimented with high frequency sound between 20,000 and 30,000 hertz, but they found that 30 to 60 hertz was the ideal range. The students also learned to avoid music because the sounds were not consistent enough.

The resulting invention is a portable device that works similarly to a traditional extinguisher. A frequency generator was plugged into a power source and a cardboard tube then channeled the sound into a localized place. By pointing at the fire with the new invention, the flames dispersed, seemingly by magic.

This could do some serious good—not just on Earth, but also in outer space. "Fire is a huge issue in space," said Tran in a release. "In space, extinguisher contents spread all over. But you can direct sound waves without gravity," explained Robertson. The lack of foam is also perfect for outdoor settings or small rooms where the extra mess wouldn’t make sense.

The project has a lot of potential, but is not yet patented. “We still want to do a lot more testing," Tran said.

Kenneth E. Isman, a clinical professor at the University of Maryland, told the Washington Post that the invention still had some limitations. “One of the problems with sound waves is that they do not cool the fuel,” Isman said. “So even if you get the fire out, it will rekindle if you don’t either take away the fuel or cool it.”

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The Most Popular Netflix Show in Every Country
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most popular Netflix show in each country map
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most popular Netflix show in each country map key
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If you're bored with everything in your Netflix queue, why not look to the top shows around the world for a recommendation?

HighSpeedInternet.com recently used Google Trends data to create a map of the most popular show streaming on Netflix in every country in 2018. The best-loved show in the world is the dystopian thriller 3%, claiming the number one spot in eight nations. The show is the first Netflix original made in Portuguese, so it's no surprise that Portugal and Brazil are among the eight countries that helped put it at the top of the list.

Coming in second place is South Korea's My Love from the Star, which seven countries deemed their favorite show. The romantic drama revolves around an alien who lands on Earth and falls in love with a mortal. The English-language show with the most clout is 13 Reasons Why, coming in at number three around the world—which might be proof that getting addicted to soapy teen dramas is a universal experience.

Pot comedy Disjointed is Canada's favorite show, which probably isn't all that surprising given the nation's recent ruling to legalize marijuana. Perhaps coming as even less of a shock is the phenomenon of Stranger Things taking the top spot in the U.S. Favorites like Black Mirror, Sherlock, and The Walking Dead also secured the love of at least one country.

Out of the hundreds of shows on the streaming platform, only 47 are a favorite in at least one country in 2018. So no hard feelings, Gypsy.

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Roadside Bear Statue in Wales is So Lifelike That Safety Officials Want It Removed
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Wooden bear statue.

There are no real bears in the British Isles for residents to worry about, but a statue of one in the small Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells has become a cause of concern. As The Telegraph reports, the statue is so convincing that it's scaring drivers, causing at least one motorist to crash her car. Now road safety officials are demanding it be removed.

The 10-foot wooden statue has been a fixture on the roadside for at least 15 years. It made headlines in May of 2018 when a woman driving her car saw the landmark and took it to be the real thing. She was so startled that she veered off the road and into a street sign.

After the incident, she complained about the bear to highways officials who agreed that it poses a safety threat and should be removed. But the small town isn't giving in to the Welsh government's demands so quickly.

The bear statue was originally erected on the site of a now-defunct wool mill. Even though the mill has since closed, locals still see the statue as an important landmark. Llanwrtyd Wells councilor Peter James called it an "iconic gateway of the town," according to The Telegraph.

Another town resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Telegraph that the woman who crashed her car had been a tourist from Canada where bears are common. Bear were hunted to extinction in Britain about 1000 years ago, so local drivers have no reason to look out for the real animals on the side of the road.

The statue remains in its old spot, but Welsh government officials plan to remove it themselves if the town doesn't cooperate. For now, temporary traffic lights have been set up around the site of the accident to prevent any similar incidents.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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