New Sonar Technology Reveals City-size Schools of Fish

Low-frequency sound waves improve ocean sensing

11 min read
New Sonar Technology Reveals City-size Schools of Fish
Photo: Fred Bavendam/Getty Images

Early on a May morning back in 2003, I was on the research vessel Oceanus some 200 kilometers south of Long Island, N.Y., searching for something I had been chasing for years. It wasn't a white whale, but it was just as alive—and a whole lot bigger.

My scientific colleagues and I had jokingly referred to the enigmatic thing we were seeking as a UFO—for "unidentified floating object." To find our elusive prey, we had engineered a newfangled sonar system that operates at relatively low frequencies and installed it on Oceanus, which is operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. After days at sea, we finally got our big break—strong echoes emanating from about 20 km south of our ship, where the water was roughly 100 meters deep. On our sonar displays, it looked as though something the size of Manhattan was perched near the edge of the continental shelf.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Robot Gift Guide 2022

Your yearly selection of awesome robot gifts

7 min read
A collage of 9 photos of robots, including quadrupeds robots, wheeled robots, and drones.
IEEE Spectrum (Robots: Companies)

It’s been a couple of years, but the IEEE Spectrum Robot Gift Guide is back for 2022! We’ve got all kinds of new robots, and right now is an excellent time to buy one (or a dozen), since many of them are on sale this week. We’ve tried to focus on consumer robots that are actually available (or that you can at least order), but depending on when you’re reading this guide, the prices we have here may not be up to date, and we’re not taking shipping into account.

And if these robots aren’t enough for you, many of our picks from years past are still available: check out our guides from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012. And as always, if you have suggestions that you’d like to share, post a comment to help the rest of us find the perfect robot gift.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

The Women Behind ENIAC

A new book tells the story of how they broke a computer-science glass ceiling

6 min read
Two women programmers preparing a computer to be demonstrated.

Jean Jennings (left) and Frances Bilas, two of the ENIAC programmers, are preparing the computer for Demonstration Day in February 1946.

University Archives and Records Center/University of Pennsylvania

If you looked at the pictures of those working on the first programmable, general-purpose all-electronic computer, you would assume that J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were the only ones who had a hand in its development. Invented in 1945, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was built to improve the accuracy of U.S. artillery during World War II. The two men and their team built the hardware. But hidden behind the scenes were six women—Jean Bartik, Kathleen Antonelli, Marlyn Meltzer, Betty Holberton, Frances Spence, and Ruth Teitelbaum—who programmed the computer to calculate artillery trajectories in seconds.

The U.S. Army recruited the women in 1942 to work as so-called human computersmathematicians who did calculations using a mechanical desktop calculator.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
Accelerate Battery Development with Unified Design, Modeling and Simulation

Our world is becoming more dependent on batteries. The value chain from material suppliers to battery makers to automotive and industrial vehicle developers is under pressure to optimize battery performance for a wide range of conditions while ensuring safety.

However, batteries are high in mass and require rare materials, life between charges needs increased, and questions remain about long-term recyclability. Meeting these challenges requires advanced engineering methods: including chemistry, cell engineering, module and pack engineering.

Keep Reading ↓Show less