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Exploding E-Cigarettes Are a Growing Danger to Public Health

Whatever their physiological effects, the most immediate threat of these nicotine-delivery devices comes from a battery problem called thermal runaway

7 min read
Photo: The Voorhes
Photo: The Voorhes

On 23 November 2016, as he stood behind the counter of a wine store in New York City, Otis Gooding felt an explosion on his right thigh. The e-cigarette he’d been carrying in his pants pocket had suddenly erupted like a small fireworks display. As a security camera later showed, the 31-year-old Gooding struggled to pull the burning device out of his pants. Gooding would later need a skin graft and 51 staples, and he may never recover the full use of his hand.

Exploding cigarettes sound like a party joke, but today’s version isn’t funny at all. In fact, they are a growing danger to public health. Aside from mobile phones, no other electrical device is so commonly carried close to the body. And, like cellphones, e-⁠cigarettes pack substantial battery power. So far, most of the safety concerns regarding this device have centered on the physiological effects of nicotine and of the other heated, aerosolized constituents of the vapor that carries nicotine into the lungs. That focus now needs to be widened to include the threat of thermal runaway in the batteries, especially the lithium-ion variety.

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Colorful chip with wires coming out of it surrounded by large metal plates.

Engineers probe the performance of noisy bits that, when working together, may solve some problems better than quantum computers.

Lang Zeng/Beihang University

A large universal quantum computer is still an engineering dream, but machines designed to leverage quantum effects to solve specific classes of problems—such as D-wave’s computers—are alive and well. But an unlikely rival could challenge these specialized machines: computers built from purposely noisy parts.

This week at the IEEE International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM 2022), engineers unveiled several advances that bring a large-scale probabilistic computer closer to reality than ever before.

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How PostScript Kickstarted Desktop Publishing

Adobe’s PostScript became the heart of the digital printing press

8 min read
An illustration consisting of a spiral of calligraphy-style lettering that repeatedly spells the word “infinity”.

“Infinity Circle,” by Xerox PARC researcher Scott Kim, was made using JaM, predecessor to PostScript.

Adobe

The story of PostScript has many different facets. It is a story about profound changes in human literacy as well as a story of trade secrets within source code. It is a story about the importance of teams and of geometry. And it is a story of the motivations and educations of engineer-entrepreneurs.

The Computer History Museum is excited to publicly release, for the first time, the source code for the breakthrough printing technology, PostScript. (Register to download the code here.) We thank Adobe for the company’s permission and support, and Adobe cofounder John Warnock for championing this release.

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Get the Rohde & Schwarz EMI White Paper

Learn how to measure and reduce common mode electromagnetic interference (EMI) in electric drive installations

1 min read
Rohde & Schwarz

Nowadays, electric machines are often driven by power electronic converters. Even though the use of converters brings with it a variety of advantages, common mode (CM) signals are a frequent problem in many installations. Common mode voltages induced by the converter drive common mode currents damage the motor bearings over time and significantly reduce the lifetime of the drive.

Download this free whitepaper now!

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