Drones beyond Amazon’s Drone Delivery System

By Anupum Pant

For a long time I’ve had this idea noted in a file and the hottest news from Amazon, linked to a “revolutionary drone accomplishment”, pushed me into writing it down. Since I cover topics ranging from a gamut of areas in the name of science, I thought, through this article, it would be appropriate for me to enable my readers see beyond an ongoing viral news topic – The unveiling of Amazon’s drone delivery. If you haven’t seen it already, you’ll find the video here. [Video] [details here]

Long before Amazon released its concept of Premier Air, 30 minute delivery, the idea – usage of drones for things you wouldn’t have thought of – has been tested or put to use in several related ways. Some of the reported tests and uses of drones are as follows:

Drones for food delivery: During June 2013, with an idea (read: PR stunt) that would inspire Amazon in the future, Dominos U.K. released a test video of the “DomiCopter”. In the video they showed an unmanned drone picking up a Pizza and delivering it to the customer without having to encounter any traffic in between. Slick! But, that isn’t all.
A year before this, Taco delivering drones as well as a Burrito bomber drones were also seen. All of them had gone viral. Yet, we still have a long way to go to see these delivery systems working legally.

Mosquito killers: A North Florida-based company that supplies drones for military missions, showed a drone that would speed up detection of stagnant water. As a result, helping the authorities cut mosquito breeding grounds in Florida.

Hover Cameras: Golf channel tested a new way of filming golf tournaments using drones this year. Besides that, we’ve seen drones being used for sports photography and journalism too.

Drone Waiters: To promote a new product, YO! Sushi, a London restaurant started using ‘flying trays’ for bringing burgers to their customers. These flying trays were nothing but drones carrying food trays. Also, it increased their speed ‘exponentially’.

Drone Constructors: This project dates back to the year 2010-11. Two architects, Garamazio and Kohler demonstrated aerial construction using unmanned drones. However, they demonstrated building process for a heavily scaled down version of a building using foam bricks. Nevertheless, it was an achievement in the year 2011, when QuadroCopters were just starting to get popular.

Although we have seen a lot of unusual uses for drones being demonstrated all around the globe (many more creative uses remain to be seen), we are yet to see their practical implementation; especially for projects like the Amazon drone delivery, which require drones to move around in a complicated airspace (in terms aviation rules).

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is actively working on rules for unmanned aerial vehicles. Still we won’t see drones moving around legally and freely, any time before 2015.

Everything else you’d want to know about drones: PopSci

Hot Ice

By Anupum Pant

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For years we’ve been subconsciously conditioned to think of something cool when the word ‘ice’ is heard. But, does ice always has to be cool? How much more interesting, than water-ice, can ice be?

What is it?

The name: Hot ice isn’t solidified water, it isn’t anything even close to water. Neither is hot ice, hot. It is just a common name for Sodium Acetate Trihydrate. At room temperature, this substance looks like ice crystals and if heated, it starts turning into a transparent liquid. Since, the ice like crystals are formed at a relatively hotter temperature than water-ice, it is called hot ice.

Everything freezes. While metals ‘freeze’ at extremely high temperatures and carbon dioxide freezes at extremely low temperature, Sodium acetate freezes at 54 degrees centigrade. But, that is hardly anything interesting about it. There is more.

Touch water and turn it to ice

Think about water: Cooling water, beyond its freezing point without it getting solidified, can be done and it is called ‘super-cooling‘. This can be done by not letting water (distilled water) find any ‘nucleation points’ or simply by using an extremely clean tray to freeze it. Now, water remains in a liquid state despite being cooled under 0 degree centigrade. At such a state, if water is disturbed, say using your finger, a chain reaction starts and the water freezes almost instantly. But, doing it is tough.

Making hot ice at home – The same thing that happens with super-cooled water, can happen with sodium acetate. Touch the liquid sodium acetate and it magically turns to ice, it is indeed a fascinating process to watch (watch in the video below). And can be done fairly easily. Moreover, you are not at a danger of getting poisoned in any way. This is the reason it is used to make hot ice. It can be made at home using vinegar, baking soda and a steel vessel.