When geek dreams become real life

January 24, 2012

Come on, this is Dungeons and Dragons brought to life, thanks to the mad scientists of DARPA: a Wand of Fire Suppression!

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known to its friends as DARPA, has announced their latest innovation: Instant fire suppression. The goal of the research project, which was part of a joint venture with Harvard University, was to find a better way to put out fires. Instead of conventional tactics, DARPA wanted a high-tech tool that would attack the very physical make up of fire using acoustics and electromagnetism.

You might be asking, “But DARPA, we already have perfectly good means of extinguishing fires, don’t we?” Sure, but each method has some pretty major drawbacks. Chemical suppressants, which interrupts the combustion process, are only effective against some types of fires, often result in collateral damage through their use, and are usually toxic. Water and CO2 suppression work well enough by smothering fires, but they still require a physical delivery system — the logistics of which can be hampered by the tight spaces one might encounter onboard a ship, for instance.

Through their research, DARPA wanted to use the physics of fire against itself. In their own words, they sought, “a novel flame-suppression system based on destabilization of flame plasma with electromagnetic fields and acoustics techniques.” Their research paid off in the form of a handheld “wand” device which snuffs out flames.

Click through for video. The big problem is scalability (perhaps power requirements or the size of the fire), but I imagine that can be fixed with enough research. Regardless, this is beyond way-cool. It’s science fiction brought to life, technology as magic.

Now, if they’d only start working on creating a hot Elf chick in a chainmail bikini…


When Texas burns, the Fed rushes into action… in Mexico??

May 11, 2011

In case you missed it, much of Texas is burned up, literally; according to Kevin Williamson at NRO, about 3400 square miles have gone up in flames, an area the size of Puerto Rico. Williamson uses this fact to excoriate President Obama for coming to Texas to raise money and sell his non-starter of an immigration plan while refusing to even tour devastated areas, let alone declaring a federal disaster area.

But he saves the cherry on the sundae for last:

To its credit, the Obama administration has dispatched aircraft to help with the firefighting . . . in Mexico.

MEXICO??

Following Williamson’s link, we find that he really did:

Two specially equipped U.S. Air Force cargo planes left Colorado on Saturday to help battle wildfires in northern Mexico.

The C-130s were requested by the Mexican government and the U.S. State Department, a U.S. Northern Command spokesman said.

The planes can spray about 3,000 gallons of fire retardant in a matter of seconds from a system of pressurized tanks called Modular Aerial Fire Fighting System or MAFFS.

The fires have burned 386 square miles in Mexico — one-ninth of what’s been destroyed in Texas — and yet the Obama administration won’t send help to Texas but will to Mexico? Mr. President… Barry… WTF??

Oh, and you want to know the best part? The planes will be flying from a base… in Texas.

That sound you heard was the sound of the back of Obama’s hand meeting Governor Perry’s face.

Look, I have no problem helping Mexico, per se; we have plenty of resources in the Western states. But it seems to me that you take care of your own people, first, and then lend what you can spare to help the neighbors. This looks like nothing more than the administration taking out its petty anger at Texas and its governor for not voting for Obama and for not supporting his policies. President Peevish apparently only helps those who help him, regardless of the duties of his job.

So, let’s consider. On the one hand:

  • He seemed indifferent to the  flooding that devastated Nashville in 2010.
  • He is ignoring fires that are ravaging Texas in 2011.
  • He is wrecking the Gulf Coast economy with his permitorium, in defiance of a federal court order.

On the other:

Three-to-one. I’d say it’s pretty clear his natural instincts are to go with the “gangster government” approach to governance: “If you play nice, you get help. But if you cross me, you can burn for all I care.”

Literally.

via Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt

CLARIFICATION: The linked article discussing planes sent to help Mexico is from April 16th, nearly a month ago. I should have noted that and apologize for any confusion. However, as an article from the Christian Science Monitor, dated just two days later, shows, Governor Perry was asking for help way back then. So, why the hold up?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)