Getting a Grip on the Grid

Widespread electric outages are not merely a fluke but a symptom—of poor policy and management

13 min read
Photo showing controllers at the New England Independent System Operator in Holyoke, Mass.,
Photo: Mitch Epstein

img One Smart Operator: Alert controllers at the New England Independent System Operator in Holyoke, Mass., saw the August 2003 outage coming and were able to disconnect their region in time to keep the lights on. Photo: Mitch Epstein

In his classic book Normal Accidents: Living With High-Risk Technologies (Basic Books, 1984), the sociologist Charles Perrow describes a day when everything just goes wrong. You lock yourself out of your house, leaving your car keys inside. The spare, normally hidden, house keys have been lent to a friend, and your alternate ride, a neighbor’s car, is in the shop. A strike has shut down metropolitan bus services, swamping the taxi fleet. On and on goes the litany, and in the end, you miss an important meeting. Perrow then challenges the reader to name the cause of the foul-up. The answer, of course, is everything and yet no one thing.

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Engineers Are Working on a Solar Microgrid to Outlast Lunar Nights

Future lunar bases will need power for mining and astronaut survival

4 min read
A rendering of a lunar base. In the foreground are rows of solar panels and behind them are two astronauts standing in front of a glass dome with plants inside.
P. Carril/ESA

The next time humans land on the moon, they intend to stay awhile. For the Artemis program, NASA and its collaborators want to build a sustained presence on the moon, which includes setting up a base where astronauts can live and work.

One of the crucial elements for a functioning lunar base is a power supply. Sandia National Laboratories, a research and development lab that specializes in building microgrids for military bases, is teaming up with NASA to design one that will work on the moon.

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Trilobite-Inspired Camera Boasts Huge Depth of Field

New camera relies on “metalenses” that could be fabricated using a standard CMOS foundry

3 min read
Black and white image showing different white box shapes in rows

Scanning electron microscope image of the titanium oxide nanopillars that make up the metalens. The scale is 500 nanometers (nm).

NIST

Inspired by the eyes of extinct trilobites, researchers have created a miniature camera with a record-setting depth of field—the distance over which a camera can produce sharp images in a single photo. Their new study reveals that with the aid of artificial intelligence, their device can simultaneously image objects as near as 3 centimeters and as far away as 1.7 kilometers.

Five hundred million years ago, the oceans teemed with horseshoe-crab-like trilobites. Among the most successful of all early animals, these armored invertebrates lived on Earth for roughly 270 million years before going extinct.

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Why Battery Energy Storage Is Moving to Higher DC Voltages

Download this free whitepaper to learn how battery energy storage up to 1500 VDC can deliver power efficiencies and cost reductions

1 min read

The explosive growth of the battery energy storage industry has created a need for higher DC voltages in utility-scale applications.

Download this free whitepaper and learn how you can achieve a smooth transfer of power, efficiencies and cost reductions with battery energy storage system components up to1500 VDC.