Electrical Engineering Could Lead to better Wireless Signals

We live in a world that would literally be unrecognizable to people from only 50 years ago. The technology that we have at our fingertips used to be beyond comprehension and without it, there’s no denying that the world as we know would crumble to a half and end. And yet, even with all of the access we have to millennia of human knowledge and experience, people are still running into issues when it comes to wireless technology and wireless signals. As most people know, the internet is still slow and gadgets that are supposedly wireless frequently don’t work as advertised or simply not at all. However, there is good news!wireless technology signal

It turns out that some of the research and work being done by electrical engineers very well may end up impacting wireless connections as we know them, vastly improving on both the current design and reliability. Dr. Aria Nosratinia, an electrical engineering professor at UT Dallas, is currently researching and working on ways to improve the wireless connections that have become so important in our lives. As both a sign of support and a sign of just how important this research is becoming, the National Science Foundation has awarded him 3 grants that end up totalling over $2 million this fall. With some of the grants going towards collaborative efforts with other universities and professors, everyone involved has high hopes for the outcome.

The main goal of the studies and grant money is to find a way to deal with wireless interference — the sort that leads to dropped calls, poor wireless reception, and electronics that don’t work as well as we would hope. One way to get around interference that’s being looked into is breaking wireless messages into microstreams so that they would be able to go through other signals instead of bouncing against them. Other techniques being researched have to do with manipulating coherence intervals and the discovery of new dimensions within communications over multi-user wireless channels that will allow for the development of new tools that will enhance wireless capabilities. While research is still being done and nothing is certain yet, this most definitely speaks well for the wireless future.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

A “Working” Version of Thor’s Hammer Has Been Built

For those who’ve seen the Avengers or know about ancient Nordic mythology, the names Thor and Mjolnir aren’t new. Thor is the ancient Norse god of thunder, strength, and protection and Mjolnir is his magical hammer that is unbreakable, can only be used by him, and will return when thrown. The legends state that Thor is the only person who can pick up Mjolnir — if someone else were to try, they would find the hammer to be literally immovable. Obviously, this is all mythology and hammers can be used and moved by all. Or at least they were up until an electrical engineer named Allen Pan got involved.

Using some clever electrical engineering, Allen built himself a hammer that used a microwave oven transformer as an electromagnet so that when the field is turned on and the hammer is placed on metal, it becomes immovable like the Mjolnir of legend. Pan was also smart enough to link the electromagnet to a fingerprint sensor that was keyed up to his print, allowing him to turn it off by simply touching it and making the hammer moveable again. As you can imagine, this is the perfect set-up for pranks galore and that is exactly what Pan ended up doing.

The video below is from his Youtube channel and shows Pan taking his creation around Venice Beach in California and tricking people into trying to pick it up, laughing as they fail and then laughing harder as he seemingly effortlessly picks up the hammer they struggled so hard with. Check out the video below and make sure you let him know what you think in the comments! This is a great use of electrical engineering that shows it can be used for fun as well as good in this world.

If you’d like to read more, check out the link here.

This Business Wants to Make Electrical Engineering Easy

Since it was first found, electricity has captured the human imagination and changed the way the we live with no chance of ever turning back. While many people may “know” what electricity is, the simple truth is that most don’t know how electricity works to power up the world that we live in. Unless someone is specifically schooled in physics and the nature of electrical currents, or simply interested in the topic for personal reasons, most peoples stop thinking about electricity when the switch has been flicked and the lights are on. However, for some people, this lack of knowledge and interest in unacceptable.

Adafruit Industries is the brainchild of Limor Fried, an engineer who has seen the interest in DIY electronics and recognized that this was the perfect field for a combination of business and educational initiative. Recently, there has been a surge of DIY electronics, with companies creating the the building blocks and consumers actually building the final product. While this is a new niche with a lot of financial and educational potential, the existing companies were only focusing on the monetary aspect and ignoring the chance to help educate and create a new generation of engineers.

Limor Fried and Adafruit aren’t ignoring this educational aspect of DIY electronics and are working to show how their product is fun and educational for not only children, but teens and adults as well. Along with allowing the creation of electronic devices and adding extra fashion options to your wardrobe (add lights and bulbs to clothing is one of the main reasons for the creation of this company — you can’t just buy things like that), Adafruit works to teach you the science behind what you’ve created. It wants people to not only know how to create simple electronic devices, but to also know why these things are working the way they do and why they need to be built in such a way. As America falls behind other countries when it comes to the scientific education of our children, hopefully companies like Adafruit will be able to help close the gap by getting kids interested in science outside of school.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Iraqi Army Moves to Retake Ramadi

Things in the Middle East have continued to veer from success to setback as new continues to come in regarding the Iraqi city of Ramadi. The city, close to Baghdad and of vital tactical importance, was taken by ISIS fighters after Iraqi soldiers fell back right in from the them, ignoring the fact that ISIS was vastly outnumbered (they reportedly only captured the city with 150-200 fighters). The retreat by Iraqi forces has faced withering criticism from governments across the country, especially the US, due to how outnumbered ISIS forces were and how it seemed as though the Iraqi soldiers didn’t even try to fight. Facing questions about their will to fight ISIS, Iraqi forces have responded by marshalling around the city with supporting Shiite militias and are now moving to retake the city.

Known as Popular Mobilization Forces, these Shiite militias are supported by Iran and have been vital towards helping the Iraqi army retake territory it has lost to ISIS. While that may seem good, it is leading to consternation and unease in the Western powers supporting the anti-ISIS campaign, especially the US. The use of Shiite militias in heavily Sunni territories has lead to fears of both sectarian cleansing as well as the chance that it might push more Sunni’s into the arms of ISIS as a way to combat the resurging Shiite influence in the region. The US and other Western powers are worried about expanding Iranian hegemony in the region, especially with the nuclear deal talks and a push against Iranian influence from multiple Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia. All fears aside, I can guarantee that the people in Ramadi and other ISIS-held territory don’t care who actually comes to rescue them, they just want to be rescued.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Israel Has Been Spying on the US

The United States of America has always been, by far, the strongest ally Israel has ever had. We have supported them throughout all of their wars, both in terms of equipment and diplomatically, and we continue to support them as the Palestinian crisis gets bloodier and more complicated every year. Due to this continuing US support in the face of all controversies so far, Israel has always been respectful of the US and its diplomatic process. It is for these reasons that the information that Israel has been spying on US Iran talks all the more a difficult pill to swallow. With the recent tensions between newly re-elected prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Obama, the news of Israeli spying is only going to make a bad situation worse.yaser_khalifa_netanyahu

The news of this spying scandal comes hot on the heels of two more Netanyahu-ian actions that are already threatening the relationship between the US and Israel. The first major misstep happened when Republicans in Congress invited Netanyahu to speak to Congress without seeking approval from the White House. Not only was this a highly political move (it was two weeks before the Israeli election), but it also spawned that awkward letter to Iran. The second big blow to relations was Netanyahu’s last minute hail mary speech before the election during which he promised that there would never be a two-state solution. While he immediately rolled back on this after he won, this is still worrying to the US due to the fact that we do support a two-state solution.

These actions have done more than harm US-Israel relations; they have helped isolate an already isolated Israel even more than it already was. With basically only the US on it’s side in the world political game, Israel is desperate for friends and desperate to not anger its last friend. Now it’s known that Israel has been spying on US Iran talks and what was once tense and fraught with anxiety is now doubly so. While the Israeli government will deny the spying, it’s known how obsessed Bibi is with these talks and no one will believe that he didn’t try to spy. What will happen next remains to be seen but there is a very real chance that the cooling of relations will continue.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Germany Rejects Greece Bailout Deal

For those who follow international economics, the news of Germany rejecting Greece’s plea for a restructuring of its bailout deal isn’t a surprise. As international observers watch the Eurozone lurch from one financial and economic crisis to another, the chance of Greece leaving the EU is becoming more and more realistic and all signs are pointing to that happening. While Germany’s decision to say no isn’t the be all end all of the matter, Germany is the Eurozone’s strongest economy and so it’s decisions have unbalanced weight behind them. The Greek government is still saying that the deal might go through but with Germany saying no, the chances of some sort of successful reconciliation is getting further and further away.Eurozone_dates

Ever since the anti-austerity Syriza party was elected in a total sweep in Greece, the government has been lobbying for a change in the bailout terms that they say have continued to hurt the economy and prevent any sort of economic growth. The Greek government wants a series of short-term bridge loans to help keep the country afloat while new bailout conditions and plans are figured out so that the Greek economy can stay in the Eurozone, not face crippling cuts to governmental services, and still get money to help support new infrastructure and businesses. While these seem reasonable on paper, Germany (and other countries) have been wary of giving in to the demands even as Greece floats the threat of totally pulling out of the Eurozone if the demands aren’t met. Seeing as how bailout restructuring was a key part of Syriza’s platform during elections, the government has to stick to its guns and not give in.

If the Eurozone finance ministers all officially say no then Greece very well might leave the Eurozone for good. This would be a huge blow to the entire organization and could very well set a far more dangerous precedent. Other more independent countries, and those that have harsh feelings towards the austerity cuts the Eurozone has placed a numerous governments in return for bailout money, might use this as an excuse to leave the Eurozone too. Germany and those in charge have angered many countries through the demands for frequently painful levels of austerity and if one country pulls out, those that are angry might also pull out. If numerous countries were to leave the Eurozone then it might collapse and that would be bad for all countries involved.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

France Arrests Chechen Terrorists

The Charlie Hebdo attacks shocked the world and showed that Muslim terrorists were adapting new tactics in the face of heightened security on standard targets. The commando-style attack on the magazine office shows that terrorists and extremists might start shifting towards attacks on soft targets as opposed to the standard hard targets of airports, government buildings, and public locations. The heightened security at these places has made attacks more difficult and so terrorists are changing focus. To counter that from happening, France (and much of Europe) have drastically increased anti-terrorist efforts and surveillance and it has been paying off already. Belgium has arrested a number of terrorist suspects (as well as killing two in a firefight), some of whom were planning on attacking police, and now France has caught some too.

After the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo office, France deployed 15,000 extra police troops to help the existing police and gendarmerie patrol the streets and make sure high-value public buildings and institutions that might be seen as targets had bolstered security. The country also started to monitor anti-terrorism channels with extra vigilance and it seems as though that extra scrutiny has paid off. French police have arrested and detained 5 men from Chechnya who are suspected of possessing explosives and planning a terrorist attack on French soil. Chechnya has a history of Muslim extremism and terrorism due to a constant struggle for independence from Russia and a heavily Muslim population that feels isolated and ignored by the Russian government.

While the French government says that there should be no rushing to judgement and that there’s no proof of a Chechen terrorist attempt on French soil, people are still wary. The region has had massive protests against Charlie Hebdo and its showing of the Prophet Muhammad and so there is validity to the threat of terrorism. Either way, France is showing that it is taking terrorist threats much more seriously than before and hopefully nothing like Charlie Hebdo happens again.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Mexican Protesters Clash With Police

For the past few weeks, Mexico has been crippled by massive protests against a number of issues that all focus on one aspect that needs changing, corruption in the government. What began with an attempted protest has now evolved into a full blown civil movement against the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto and his ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The conflict was started when 43 students from a radical farming college were kidnapped and disappeared by what is assumed to be a combination of Mexican local police and a local drug gang acting under the orders of the mayor of the town of Iguala. While this is only the starting point, the resulting protests have both scandalized the world as well as shaken the very foundation of the Mexican government and the faith people placed in it.

As of now, the initial localized protests have now morphed into a national movement that is using the disappearance of the 43 students as a launch point to target the increasing corruption, inefficiency, and seeming lack of care that the Mexican government has been sliding into since Nieto took office. The fact that captured gang members have admitted to working alongside Iguala police under the orders of the mayor and his wife has just added fuel to the fires that the protesters are using for inspiration and energy. While the missing students started the movement that is now encompassing Mexicans from all states and walks of life, it most certainly isn’t the only thing driving it. Corruption in all levels of government is under-fire and there is a mounting pressure to respond without violence as more and more people join the protests.

With activists and protesters violently clashing with police in a number of states and cities, it seems like things are going to get worse before they get better. The Mexican people are showing that they are tired of living in a somewhat narco-state that is fueled by corruption and rules through fear. The hashtag #Yamecanse (I am tired) just goes to show how fed up the people are and how they’re willing to risk jail and death to see an actual change in the way the country is run.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

As Referendum Draws Closer, The Masses Rally

Tomorrow is the day that the entire UK has been both looking forward to and dreading for years; tomorrow is the day Scotland holds the referendum vote regarding it’s independence and status in the United Kingdom. While the race was once a clear victory for those who wanted to maintain the union, it is now too close to call with the results going both ways falling into the margin of error. As the pressure ramps up and the date comes closer, representatives and politicians for both sides have increased their efforts to get their message out and sway voters towards their respective sides. With the most recent unofficial polling (that excludes undecided voters) saying that pro-independence had 48% while pro-union had 52%, both campaigns have launched into overdrive to maintain their lead and win over the voters who still haven’t made up their minds.

While Scottish independence has been a movement since the borders wars during the Middle Ages, this is the first time that there has been an actual threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom and it has many people worried. For those who were born with the UK and who have never experienced anything else, this is a momentous occasion that is leading to both formerly unseen patriotic fervor as well as crises of national being. If Scotland gained independence it would mean a number of things for both people who live there as well as for the world’s newest country. For one, Scotland would have to reapply to join the EU as well as facing the loss of the NHS, the UK welfare state, and the possibility of a number of companies fleeing Scotland and moving to England. For the people, they will now have to deal family members living in other countries and wrapping their heads around their new political reality.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.