Flying SnifferSTAR may aid civilians and US military

A half-ounce ‘sniffer’ intended to ride on small aerial drones to detect possible gas attacks on cities and military bases has been created by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in partnership with Lockheed Martin Corporation. The patented device, which detects nerve gases and blister agents, operates on only half a watt of electrical power, says Sandia researcher Doug Adkins. While other gas monitors exist, “this is small, lightweight, low power, and offers rapid analysis,” says Adkins. “Rapid analysis currently is not possible with any other package near this size.”

Smart heat pipe efficiently cools laptops, permitting greater speed

Evacuating heat is one of the great problems facing engineers as they design faster laptops by downsizing circuit sizes and stacking chips one above the other. The heat from more circuits and chips increase the likelihood of circuit failures as well as overly heated laps. “Space, military, and consumer applications, are all bumping up against a thermal barrier,” says Sandia researcher Mike Rightley, whose newly patented “smart” heat pipe seems to solve the problem. The simple, self-powered mechanism transfers heat to the side edge of the computer, where air fins or a tiny fan can dissipate the unwanted energy into air.

Software assesses terror threat … to cows

Software developed at the federal Sandia National Laboratories could help farmers keep the nation’s dairy supply safer from bioterrorism. The system asses factors such as dairy location, numbers of buildings, how many cows there are and the types of shelters present. It then provides a risk assessment. Dull, you say? Maybe. But dairy is a multibillion dollar industry in the U.S. and no one wants to eat anthrax-tainted ice cream.