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An Ultrasonic Clothes Dryer Vibrates Clothes Dry

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Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee are trying to revolutionize the way Americans dry their clothes. They’re working on an ultrasonic dryer that vibrates moisture out, instead of evaporating it with heat, making the dryer more efficient and safer to operate. 

Working with GE, they're developing a prototype that swaps heat for ultrasound vibrations, using five to 10 times less energy than traditional dryers. See it in action in the video below. The vibrating dryer turns the moisture in wet clothes into a cold mist, and eliminates the danger of your clothes shrinking in a hot dryer. 

The first electric dryer was released in 1938 and became a popular fixture in American households after World War II. Now, some 85 percent of U.S. households have dryers and spend $9 billion a year to operate them [PDF], according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. By heating clothes in a rotating barrel, tumble dryers are exceedingly inefficient, using two to four times more energy than a new washer (and twice as much as European-style heat-pump dryers), and account for almost 6 percent of residential energy consumption [PDF]. These numbers are especially bleak considering there's a completely free, energy-efficient way to dry clothes: on a clothesline. 

For now, the ultrasonic dryer prototype is small and can only dry scraps of fabric, but the researchers estimate that a full-sized dryer could reduce drying times for a load by 15 to 20 minutes. Because of the lack of heat, the dryer also produces less lint, which can be a fire hazard when the lint trap isn't properly cleaned. 

The researchers expect to have a full working prototype by summer 2016. 

[h/t: USA Today]

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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The Force Field Cloak
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Design
This Glowing Blanket Is Designed to Ease Kids' Fear of the Dark
The Force Field Cloak
The Force Field Cloak

Many kids have a security blanket they bring to bed with them every night, but sometimes, a regular blankie is no match for the monsters that invade their imaginations once the lights are off. Now there’s a glow-in-the-dark blanket designed to make children feel safer in bed, no night light required.

Dubbed the Force Field Cloak, the fleece blanket comes in several colorful, glowing patterns that remain invisible during the day. At night, you leave the blanket under a bright light for about 10 minutes, then the shining design will reveal itself in the dark. The glow lasts 8 to 10 hours, just long enough to get a child through the night.

Inventor Terry Sachetti was inspired to create the blanket by his own experiences struggling with scary nighttime thoughts as a kid. "I remember when I was young and afraid of the dark. I would lie in my bed at night, and my imagination would start getting the best of me," he writes on the product's Kickstarter page. "I would start thinking that someone or something was going to grab my foot that was hanging over the side of the bed. When that happened, I would put my foot back under my blanket where I knew I was safe. Nothing could get me under my blanket. No boogiemen, no aliens, no monsters under my bed, nothing. Sound familiar?"

The Force Field Cloak, which has already surpassed its funding goals on both Indiegogo and Kickstarter, takes the comfort of a blanket to the next level. The glowing, non-toxic ink decorating the material acts as a gentle night light that kids can wrap around their whole body. The result, the team claims, is a secure feeling that quiets those thoughts about bad guys hiding in the shadows.

To pre-order a Force Field Cloak, you can pledge $36 or more to the product’s Indiegogo campaign. It is expected to start shipping in January 2018.

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