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5 Commandments

The rules engineers live by weren't always set in stone

11 min read
5 Commandments
PHOTO: BART NAGLE

What is it about technology and eponymous "laws"? In between discovering the electron and putting 50 million transistors on an integrated circuit, engineers and their predecessors have poured out a torrent of mathematical observations, pithy pronouncements, and even a few enduring self-fulfilling prophecies.

Some are sublime, and a lot more are silly. But you needn't speculate wildly on the burning issue of just how many there are of each: Sturgeon's Law, named for science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, posits that "90 percent of everything is crud." Silly or sublime? You be the judge.

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New Filter Doubles Nuclear Fuel Extractable from Seawater

It pulls uranium out at record rates—but real-world tests are still to come

3 min read
illustration of a blue stream of water traveling diagonally to the lower left, intersecting with a white filter membrane substance with yellow and red atomic stick models floating around in the upper half of the image
Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences/Nature Sustainability

The International Atomic Energy Agency expects nuclear power to grow significantly in the coming decades, by up to 82 percent by the year 2050. That would create an increase in demand for uranium that reserves on land may not be able to meet.

But the world’s oceans, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, contain at least 500 times more uranium than in all known terrestrial reserves. That equates to more than 4.5 billion metric tons of the element in seawater, albeit present at an extremely dilute concentration of 3.3 parts per billion, and scientists have been trying to find efficient ways to extract it.

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Video Friday: Guitar Bot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read
Closeup of a robotic arm strumming an acoustic guitar

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

ICRA 2022: 23–27 May 2022, Philadelphia
ERF 2022: 28–30 June 2022, Rotterdam, Germany
CLAWAR 2022: 12–14 September 2022, Açores, Portugal

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.

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Design for Functional Safety & Reliability with new FMEDA Database

Component Reliability Database drives efficiency and accuracy in FMEDA results

1 min read
Design for Functional Safety & Reliability with new FMEDA Database

Failure Modes, Effects, and Diagnostics Analysis (FMEDA) is popular for predicting safety and reliability during design. FMEDA results, however, are only as good as the failure rate data used in the calculations. A new component reliability database (CRD) improves accuracy, reduces engineering, identifies unforeseen failure modes, and enables better decision-making.