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Kevin Hardy: Building Ocean Explorers

Ocean engineer Kevin Hardy’s creations plumb the depths of the Mariana Trench

4 min read
Photo of Kevin Hardy.
Photo: Roxie J. Cirino

With the boat surging over ocean swells, a soaked and smudged Kevin Hardy reaches over the side and yanks a tether, freeing a 3-meter-long submersible. It sinks quickly into the waves—first the iron weight, then the long tubes that will collect water samples, and finally the bright orange spheres that protect its electronics. Hardy's latest oceanic probe is starting a 10.6-kilometer (6.6‑mile) journey to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest spot on planet Earth. The probe will fall for 3 hours to reach that mysterious seafloor.

Exuberant and ruddy-faced, Hardy wipes the salty spray out of his eyes and shakes hands with the crew members. It has been a grueling day. Embarking from Guam in the early morning on a small former ferryboat, the team motored 130 km out to sea, rocked by high waves that caused a few of the scientists to go green around the edges. They reached a part of the trench called the Sirena Deep as the sun began to set and readied their equipment for the big plunge. The boat's depth finder, overwhelmed by the abyss beneath the hull, displays an absurd depth reading of only 8.5 meters.

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This Wearable Neck Patch Can Diagnose Concussions

Self-powered sensors convert neck strain into electrical pulses to detect head trauma in athletes

4 min read
image of back of man's head and shoulders with a patch taped to his lower neck; right image is a time lapse image of a man's head extending far forward and back, simulating a case of whiplash

The prototype patch in this research is shown in (a) on the left; on the right (b) is the kind of head rotation that can yield an electrical response from the patch.

Juan Pastrana

Nelson Sepúlveda was sitting in the stands at Spartan Stadium, watching his hometown Michigan State players bash heads with their cross-state football rivals from the University of Michigan, when he had a scientific epiphany.

Perhaps the nanotechnologies he had been working on for years—paper-thin devices known as ferroelectret nanogenerators that convert mechanical energy into electrical energy—could help save these athletes from the ravages of traumatic brain injury.

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Video Friday: PoKeBo Cubes

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

2 min read
A young girl looks at a cluster of three simple robots facing each other on a table

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

RoboCup 2022: 11 July–17 July 2022, BANGKOK
IEEE CASE 2022: 20 August–24 August 2022, MEXICO CITY
CLAWAR 2022: 12 September–14 September 2022, AZORES, PORTUGAL
ANA Avatar XPRIZE Finals: 4 November–5 November 2022, LOS ANGELES
CoRL 2022: 14 December–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Get the Coursera Campus Skills Report 2022

Download the report to learn which job skills students need to build high-growth careers

1 min read

Get comprehensive insights into higher education skill trends based on data from 3.8M registered learners on Coursera, and learn clear steps you can take to ensure your institution's engineering curriculum is aligned with the needs of the current and future job market. Download the report now!