Archive for September 6th, 2010

Mathematica Tutorials

“Hands-on Start to Mathematica” is a free, two-part online screencast that introduces Mathematica basics to get you started with your first calculations, visualizations, and interactive examples. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Part 1 here:

Many students have asked for more in-depth training, so we now also offer “M10: A Student’s First Course in Mathematica,” a self-paced video training course providing step-by-step instructions on the basic features of Mathematica for students.  Through the included videos and practice exercises, students learn how to navigate the user interface, build calculations, create graphics and dynamic models, work with data, and more–for under $30:

Self-Healing Concrete

Reposted from the 9/2/10 ASEE First Bell:

Bacteria Could Be Key To Self-Healing Concrete.

New Scientist (9/2, McAlpine) reports, “Concrete could soon be healing its own hairline fractures” through the incorporation of bacteria. And whereas water exacerbates the damage of cracks in regular concrete, in this new design it would be part of the healing process, serving to activate the bacteria. Researchers at Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands, found “some strains of Bacillus” that could thrive in the high pH environment of concrete and remain dormant for long periods of time. “To keep the spores from activating in the wet concrete mix, and to keep them and their calcium lactate food from affecting the quality of the concrete, [the researchers] first set both into ceramic pellets 2 to 4 millimetres wide and then added them to the concrete.” The pellets crack when the concrete does, and when activated the bacteria “combine the calcium with oxygen and carbon dioxide to form calcite.”

Solar Cell, Heal Thyself!

Reposted from the 9/3/10 ASEE First Bell.

Synthetic, Self-Assembling Chloroplast Helps Solar Cells Repair Themselves.

Popular Science (9/3, Dillow) reports researchers at MIT think they have developed “a synthetic, self-assembling chloroplast that can be broken down and reassembled repeatedly, restoring solar cells that are damaged by the sun.” The design mimics the way “leaves rapidly recycle their proteins as often as every 45 minutes when in direct summer sunlight,” allowing them to repair themselves. “To recreate this unique regenerative ability, the MIT team devised a novel set of self-assembling molecules that use photons to shake electrons loose in the form of electricity.” The cells currently “work at 40 percent efficiency, and researchers think with some tweaks they could push that efficiency much higher.”

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September 2010