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For Love of a Gun

The tumultuous history of electromagnetic launch

20 min read
Harry D. Fair
True Believer: Harry D. Fair, director of the Institute for Advanced Technology, has for the past three decades championed research into electromagnetic guns. Refining the technology has proved thorny, but renewed interest in the United States, China, and elsewhere could finally lead to usable systems in the near future.
Photo: Jack Thompson

One day in 1977, researchers at Australian National University were putting the finishing touches on an experiment that they hoped would cap nearly a decade’s worth of groundbreaking research on electromagnetic guns. Tantalized by the prospect of unleashing the pure power of electromagnetism to accelerate projectiles at rates never before achieved, countless ­researchers had been pursuing the technology since the turn of the century. But without much success.

An engineer loaded a 3-gram Lexan cube into the 5-'meter-long barrel of a contraption that looked like a cross between a cannon and a particle accelerator. He threw the switch on a huge 550-megajoule generator and then took a few steps back as the generator hummed up to speed over several minutes, its giant flywheel rotors spinning and singing as they stored kinetic energy. He threw another switch, releasing the generator’s charge in a stupendous 2-million-ampere pulse [see photo, “Ready to Launch,” below].

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This Startup Is Using AI to Help Keep Store Shelves Stocked

Wisy’s platform eases supply-chain issues by tracking inventory

4 min read
Phone screen with Wisy platform on black background

Store employees take a picture of a product on display using Wisy's platform, and the AI records information based on the photo.

Wisy Platforms

Shoppers are seeing more and more empty shelves, as stores around the world struggle to keep products stocked. The situation is the result of supply-chain issues caused in part by the COVID-19 pandemic. The product-unavailability rate increased from 5 percent to 15 percent during the past three years, according to the Consumer Brands Association.

To make it easier for stores to track inventory, startup Wisy developed an AI platform that uses image recognition to detect which products are out of stock or running low, as well as those that are available but haven’t yet been put on display.

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When Gamers Get Nasty

Researchers grapple with subjectivity as they develop algorithms to detect toxicity in online gaming

2 min read
A man wearing a headset is seen in a dark room playing video games
Getty Images

Online gaming is a chance for players to come together, socialize, and enjoy some friendly competition. Unfortunately, this enjoyable activity can be hindered by abusive language and toxicity, negatively impacting the gaming experience and causing psychological harm. Gendered and racial toxicity, in particular, are all too common in online gaming.

To combat this issue, various groups of researchers have been developing artificial-intelligence models that can detect toxic behavior in real time as people play. One group recently developed a new such model, which is described in a study published 23 May in IEEE Transactions on Games. While the model can detect toxicity with a fair amount of accuracy, its development demonstrates just how challenging it can be to determine what is considered toxic—a subjective matter.

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Free On-Demand Webinars on Data Acquisition Boards and Their Applications

Explore the basics of digitizers, pulse detection, peer-to-peer streaming, and more

1 min read

Dive into the world of digitizers and explore how they can benefit your application. Explore the basics of digitizers, pulse detection, peer-to-peer streaming, and more. Whether you are a scientist, engineer, student or if you want to know more about Teledyne SP Devices deep knowledge base there is something for everyone. Register now for these free webinars!