Self-Charging Cell Phones?

While many of us probably view a dead cellphone battery as a minor annoyance in our daily lives, epic texters, gamers and business people who need constant access to their phones will likely view the new technology being developed by researchers at the Ohio State University as a metaphoric life preserver.

This new technology promises to increase a single charge’s life span by 30 percent. This is made possible through a new patented technology that converts some of the cell phone’s radio signals into direct current which in turn charges the phones battery. Researchers say this technology could be built into a modern cell phone with negligible increases in size or weight.

While there are some devices like this already on the market, they are only able to gather a few radio waves and only charge small devices such as temperature sensors.

Almost all of the radio waves transmitted by a cell phone are lost and never recovered – this device allows your phone to recycle those radio waves. Oddly enough, the principles behind this technology are hardly new to science. In fact, the ideas are as old as commercial electricity. Radio waves are essentially a very high-frequency form of alternating current. Like most modern electrical devices, a cell phone needs direct current. This new technology works like the adapters or rectifier circuits inside modern devices to switch the AC (the radio waves in this case) into DC power the phone can use to stay charged. Whether you know it or not you’ve seen a rectifier before. Many modern cables, like a laptop charger, have external rectifiers.

The system only works when the phone is transmitting signal, however, typically data transmission is what drains a phones battery the most. Therefore, this new technology would help a phone charge itself when it is working its hardest.

Researchers estimate the first charging system will cost around a hundred dollars.

Jody Victor

Ohio State Glacial Researcher to Help Nepalese Relief Efforts

Ian Howat, a glaciologist at the Ohio State’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research center will be using satellite imagery to help relief efforts after the devastating earth quake in Nepal. Combining this imagery and map building software Howat and other researchers can see how landscapes change in real time.

For example, they can map building and slope collapses to potentially help search and rescue teams concentrate on areas with the where the most damage occurred.

For years these researchers have been collecting image data of Arctic ice to study changes in polar landscapes. Similar data could be used to help predict at-risk areas—like areas near damns that might be at risk for flooding or areas where significant changes t the Himalayas have taken place. Unstable slopes could be identified and at-risk villages could be evacuated or relocated.

The researchers were granted intimidate access to the Oakley Cluster supercomputer at the Ohio Supercomputer Center due to the emergency, while normally researchers have to apply for grants. The Oakley Cluster was able to crunch the data in a few days, something a standard desktop computer could never hope to accomplish in a reasonable amount of time.

A United Nations relief group has used the maps to identify potentially troubled areas across Nepal.

Jody Victor

President Drake Proposes Landmark Tuition Freeze

If you are in the orbit of anyone associated with higher education — especially a student — you probably know that the word tuition has, nearly, become taboo. With soaring rates and talk of massive loan debt who can blame students and others associated with colleges and universities for worrying?

In a bold plan proposed by The Ohio State University President, Dr. Michael Drake, OSU would freeze tuition rates for the first time in the last 40 years. This plan would freeze rates, specifically, on in-state tuition, mandatory fees, housing, dinning and all undergraduate program, course and learning technology fees on the Columbus campus.

If the university went through with this plan it would not only affect in-coming students, but all students. Currently the yearly cost of education per in-state student at OSU is $10,037—which isn’t far above the national average for most in-state students. This cost would not increase for any current students.

The Ohio State University is a land-grant institution and part of their focus is to stay affordable for Ohio residents, while also trying to maintain a competitive cost for out of state students. This tuition freeze would extend to OSU’s regional campuses as well.

Jody Victor

Worm Invasion

When we think of earthworms many of us think of them as being beneficial in nature – even if a bit icky. However the arrival of dendrobaeana octaedra or the octagonal-tail worm in the boreal forest of Northern Alberta is not a welcome one. The boreal forests hasn’t seen any native worm life since the last ice age, 11, 000 years ago.

D. octaedra eats leaves that fall to the forest floor. The worms burrow beneath the surface where they mix different layers of soil and change the soil pH. Ultimately, these changes alter how organic and inorganic matter decomposes and result in fewer small invertebrates in the soil. Other types of worms have even been found to cause native plants living on the forest floor to die and birds that nest there to lose their habitat.

The ongoing research project at The Ohio State University, the University of Alberta and Simon Fraser University uses statistical analysis to forecast one worm species’ spread, in hopes of finding ways to curtail it.

Researchers want a more accurate picture of the spread, which is happening partially underground and is not easy to observe or analyze. One of the teams findings about how the worm is able to spread to new areas so easily is that the eggs of the worm are tiny enough to travel in tire tread – they get caught there as visitors drive over forest floor. They were able to come to this conclusion by finding that often the worms seemed to enter the forest near roadways.

Researchers are hoping to curtail the invasion because these boreal forests are too important to loose. The forests account for 1/3rd of forested land on Earth – so both the loss of the trees themselves along with other plant and animal life is a major concern.