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Games Soldiers Play

Computer games and virtual reality are radically altering the way the military prepares for war

11 min read
Illustration of a soldier
Illustration: Steven Belcher

Weeks before U.S. pilots took to the skies above Afghanistan last October, they had a pretty good idea what they would see there. Already they had logged many hours doing virtual fly-throughs over the rugged mountain terrain, using a mission rehearsal system known as Topscene (for tactical operational scene). Built for the U.S. Department of Defense by Anteon Corp., Fairfax, Va., Topscene combines aerial photos, satellite images, and intelligence data to create high-resolution three-dimensional databases of a region.

Seated at computer consoles running on Silicon Graphics Onyx processors, pilots could visualize flying from ground level up to 12 000 meters, at speeds up to 2250 km/h. The detailed renderings, showing roads, buildings, and even vehicles, helped them plot the best approach, scout for landmarks, and identify designated targets.

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IEEE President’s Note: Looking to 2050 and Beyond

The importance of future-proofing IEEE

4 min read
Photo of K. J. Ray Liu
IEEE

What will the future of the world look like? Everything in the world evolves. Therefore, IEEE also must evolve, not only to survive but to thrive.

How will people build communities and engage with one another and with IEEE in the future? How will knowledge be acquired? How will content be curated, shared, and accessed? What issues will influence the development of technical standards? How should IEEE be organized to be most impactful?

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The Device That Changed Everything

Transistors are civilization’s invisible infrastructure

2 min read
A triangle of material suspended above a base

This replica of the original point-contact transistor is on display outside IEEE Spectrum’s conference rooms.

Randi Klett

I was roaming around the IEEE Spectrum office a couple of months ago, looking at the display cases the IEEE History Center has installed in the corridor that runs along the conference rooms at 3 Park. They feature photos of illustrious engineers, plaques for IEEE milestones, and a handful of vintage electronics and memorabilia including an original Sony Walkman, an Edison Mazda lightbulb, and an RCA Radiotron vacuum tube. And, to my utter surprise and delight, a replica of the first point-contact transistor invented by John Bardeen, Walter Brittain, and William Shockley 75 years ago this month.

I dashed over to our photography director, Randi Klett, and startled her with my excitement, which, when she saw my discovery, she understood: We needed a picture of that replica, which she expertly shot and now accompanies this column.

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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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