Meet the Man Who's Building a Pop Culture-Inspired Strength Suit

A lot of people wish they could be a superhero, but one man is actually going the extra mile to make his dream a reality. Inspired by the film Elysium (2013), the comic book character Iron Man, and the video game Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, prop builder and “hacksmith” James Hobson began developing an exoskeleton that would allow him to lift a ton more weight than any normal human being.

As Hobson told Barcroft TV in the video profile above, the project started with an invention for his arms based on a concept from Elysium. The wearable device featured pneumatic pumps that allowed Hobson to curl 170 pounds with ease. The next step was to build a similar structure for his lower half, adding an industrial air compressor to his back and larger pumps to his legs, giving him the power to lift up to 1600 pounds, or, as you'll see in the video, the back half of a Mini Cooper.

Following the car lift and subsequent press exposure, Hobson took to his YouTube channel to provide updates and answer questions about the project. In addition to a few modifications to the design like hip joints to make turning easier, Hobson also plans to address the compressor which gets hot mere inches from his back. In the update, the real-life Tony Stark also took the time to thank Robert Downey Jr. (a.k.a. Iron Man) and Stan Lee for sharing his project on their respective Facebook pages.

Hobson hopes to crowdfund further development of the suit, but also sees a greater reach for the design far beyond superhero aspirations. "I see there being a lot of potential for exoskeletons in the future," he says. "Whether it's for medical use, military, or search and rescue, or even construction. Having an exoskeleton could allow human workers to be able to do the job that machines or robots are able to do."

Check out Hobson’s channel for more updates on this and other amazing builds.

Images via YouTube // Bancroft TV.

[h/t Barcroft TV]

Researchers Pore Over the Physics Behind the Layered Latte

The layered latte isn't the most widely known espresso drink on coffee-shop menus, but it is a scientific curiosity. Instead of a traditional latte, where steamed milk is poured into a shot (or several) of espresso, the layered latte is made by pouring the espresso into a glass of hot milk. The result is an Instagram-friendly drink that features a gradient of milky coffee colors from pure white on the bottom to dark brown on the top. The effect is odd enough that Princeton University researchers decided to explore the fluid dynamics that make it happen, as The New York Times reports.

In a new study in Nature Communications, Princeton engineering professor Howard Stone and his team explore just what creates the distinct horizontal layers pattern of layered latte. To find out, they injected warm, dyed water into a tank filled with warm salt water, mimicking the process of pouring low-density espresso into higher-density steamed milk.

Four different images of a latte forming layers over time
Xue et al., Nature Communications (2017)

According to the study, the layered look of the latte forms over the course of minutes, and can last for "tens of minutes, or even several hours" if the drink isn't stirred. When the espresso-like dyed water was injected into the salt brine, the downward jet of the dyed water floated up to the top of the tank, because the buoyant force of the low-density liquid encountering the higher-density brine forced it upward. The layers become more visible when the hot drink cools down.

The New York Times explains it succinctly:

When the liquids try to mix, layered patterns form as gradients in temperature cause a portion of the liquid to heat up, become lighter and rise, while another, denser portion sinks. This gives rise to convection cells that trap mixtures of similar densities within layers.

This structure can withstand gentle movement, such as a light stirring or sipping, and can stay stable for as long as a day or more. The layers don't disappear until the liquids cool down to room temperature.

But before you go trying to experiment with layering your own lattes, know that it can be trickier than the study—which refers to the process as "haphazardly pouring espresso into a glass of warm milk"—makes it sound. You may need to experiment several times with the speed and height of your pour and the ratio of espresso to milk before you get the look just right.

[h/t The New York Times]

Watch NASA Test Its New Supersonic Parachute at 1300 Miles Per Hour

NASA’s latest Mars rover is headed for the Red Planet in 2020, and the space agency is working hard to make sure its $2.1 billion project will land safely. When the Mars 2020 rover enters the Martian atmosphere, it’ll be assisted by a brand-new, advanced parachute system that’s a joy to watch in action, as a new video of its first test flight shows.

Spotted by Gizmodo, the video was taken in early October at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Narrated by the technical lead from the test flight, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Ian Clark, the two-and-a-half-minute video shows the 30-mile-high launch of a rocket carrying the new, supersonic parachute.

The 100-pound, Kevlar-based parachute unfurls at almost 100 miles an hour, and when it is entirely deployed, it’s moving at almost 1300 miles an hour—1.8 times the speed of sound. To be able to slow the spacecraft down as it enters the Martian atmosphere, the parachute generates almost 35,000 pounds of drag force.

For those of us watching at home, the video is just eye candy. But NASA researchers use it to monitor how the fabric moves, how the parachute unfurls and inflates, and how uniform the motion is, checking to see that everything is in order. The test flight ends with the payload crashing into the ocean, but it won’t be the last time the parachute takes flight in the coming months. More test flights are scheduled to ensure that everything is ready for liftoff in 2020.

[h/t Gizmodo]


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