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NASA/Paul Bagby
NASA/Paul Bagby

NASA is Designing a Plane Coating to Slough Off Bugs

NASA/Paul Bagby
NASA/Paul Bagby

Little bugs can turn into big problems for jets. When dead bugs accumulate on the body and wings of an airplane, it disrupts what’s called laminar flow, the smooth movement of the air across the surface of the plane. This, in turn, causes turbulence and drag, increasing the amount of fuel necessary to fly. 

For years, NASA’s bug team has been trying to find a way to combat insect-induced drag on aircraft. They even shoot bugs through a wind tunnel at 150 mph to mimic the effects of take off and landing. Most recently, the Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project tested five different non-stick wing coats on planes taking off and landing at an airport in Shreveport, La., where bugs are plentiful. 

There’s a reason insects stick to high-speed vehicles like cars and planes. When a bug goes splat against a surface at high velocity, its blood actually gets tackier. “We learned when a bug hits and its body ruptures the blood starts undergoing some chemical changes to make it stickier," Mia Siochi, a senior materials scientist with NASA, explains in a press statement. "That's basically the survival mechanism for the bug."

The new anti-bug coatings are designed to mimic a lotus leaf, which features microscopic rough, pointy patches that keep liquid from spreading out and sticking to the surface. One coating reduced the number of bugs splattered across the right wing of the test plane by 40 percent. Goodbye, bug guts! Now, when do we get this for windshields? 

[h/t: Washington Post]

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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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The North Face
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Design
The North Face's New Geodesic Dome Tent Will Protect You in 60 mph Wind
The North Face
The North Face

You can find camping tents designed for easy set-up, large crowds, and sustainability, but when it comes to strength, there’s only so much abuse a foldable structure can take. Now, The North Face is pushing the limits of tent durability with a reimagined design. According to inhabitat, the Geodome 4 relies on its distinctive geodesic shape to survive wind gusts approaching hurricane strength.

Instead of the classic arching tent structure, the Geodome balloons outward like a globe. It owes its unique design to the five main poles and one equator pole that hold it in place. Packed up, the gear weighs just over 24 pounds, making it a practical option for car campers and four-season adventurers. When it’s erected, campers have floor space measuring roughly 7 feet by 7.5 feet, enough to sleep four people, and 6 feet and 9 inches of space from ground to ceiling if they want to stand. Hooks attached to the top create a system for gear storage.

While it works in mild conditions, the tent should really appeal to campers who like to trek through harsher weather. Geodesic domes are formed from interlocking triangles. A triangle’s fixed angles make it one of the strongest shapes in engineering, and when used in domes, triangles lend this strength to the overall structure. In the case of the tent, this means that the dome will maintain its form in winds reaching speeds of 60 mph. Meanwhile, the double-layered, water-resistant exterior keeps campers dry as they wait out the storm.

The Geodome 4 is set to sell for $1635 when it goes on sale in Japan this March. In the meantime, outdoorsy types in the U.S. will just have to wait until the innovative product expands to international markets.

[h/t inhabitat]

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