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1100 Articles published in 2020

1223 Articles published in 2021

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  • 09 May 2019
    360 Video: Zoom Over Zanzibar With Tanzania’s Drone Startups

    With 360-degree video, IEEE Spectrum puts you aboard drones that are flying high above the Tanzanian landscape: You’ll ride along as drones soar above farms, towns, and the blue expanse of Lake Victoria. You’ll also meet the local entrepreneurs who are creating a new industry, finding applications for their drones in land surveying and delivery. And you’ll get a close-up view from a bamboo grove as a drone pilot named Bornlove builds a flying machine from bamboo and other materials.

    You can follow the action in a 360-degree video in three ways: 1) Watch on your computer, using your mouse to click and drag on the video; 2) watch on your phone, moving the phone around to change your view; or 3) watch on a VR headset for the full immersive experience.

    If you’re watching on an iPhone: Go directly to the YouTube page for the proper viewing experience.

    For more stories of how drones are changing the game in Africa, check out IEEE Spectrum’s “Tech Expedition: East Africa’s Big Bet on Drones.”

  • 06 May 2019
    360 Video: Go on a Mission With Zipline’s Delivery Drones

    With 360 video, IEEE Spectrum takes you behind the scenes with one of the world’s first drone-delivery companies. Zipline, based in California, is using drones to deliver blood to hospitals throughout Rwanda. At an operations center in Muhanga, you’ll watch as Zipline technicians assemble the modular drones, fill their cargo holds, and launch them via catapult. You’ll see a package float down from the sky above a rural hospital, and you’ll get a closeup look at Zipline’s ingenious method for capturing returning drones.

    You can follow the action in a 360-degree video in three ways: 1) Watch on your computer, using your mouse to click and drag on the video; 2) watch on your phone, moving the phone around to change your view; or 3) watch on a VR headset for the full immersive experience.

    If you’re watching on an iPhone: Go directly to the YouTube page for the proper viewing experience.

    For more about Zipline’s technology and operations, check out the feature article “In the Air With Zipline’s Medical Delivery Drones.

  • 17 October 2018
    A Techie’s Tour of New York City

    Do your travel plans include New York City? Are you a techie? If the answer to those questions is yes, let IEEE Spectrum be your guide! We've put together a list of some of our favorite places to visit, including important locations in the history of electrotechnology (New York was once the center of the electrical and electronic world) and places where fun and interesting things are happening today. See where Nikola Tesla lived, check out cutting-edge artists working with technology, or take the kids to see an Atlas and Titan rocket.

    All the locations are accessible via the subway, and many are free to visit. If you do visit, take a selfie and post a link in the comments below.

  • 10 July 2018
    Don Eyles: Space Hacker

    In the early hours of 5 February 1971, Don Eyles had a big problem: Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell were orbiting the moon, preparing to land, but it looked like they were going to have to come home without putting so much as a single footprint on the surface. The only way to save the mission was for Eyles to hack his own software.


    Don Eyles's recent memoir details how the mission software for the lunar module was developed.

    Shepard and Mitchell were onboard their lunar module, the Antares. The Antares flight computer was registering occasional presses of an Abort button in the cabin, even though the astronauts hadn't touched it. A loose ball of solder was floating around in zero gravity inside the switch and shorting it out. The button was intended for extreme emergencies. But once the descent to the lunar surface had begun, the rogue bit of solder could activate the switch, ordering the Antares computer to try to rocket the lunar module back into orbit. Eyles had written the mission software running in the Antares computer, and his challenge at that moment was this: Find a way to lock out the emergency switch behavior that he had carefully programmed into the computer.

    Eventually, Eyles was able to come up with a few lines of instructions that the astronauts were to punch into their computer, bypassing the code that paid attention to the switch. Apollo 14 landed on the moon later that day. His fix was elegant and creative, and it's not hard to see why Eyles finds no discontinuity between engineering and art. In fact, in later life, he himself went on to become a photographer and sculptor.

    IEEE Spectrum was able to speak to Eyles at the Vintage Computer Festival East in May. He shared interesting anecdotes from his career, including how he saved the Apollo 14 mission. He was there to give a talk and promote his recently released book, Sunburst and Luminary: An Apollo Memoir, which provides a wealth of inside detail about how the Apollo software was developed at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, then a part of MIT.

  • 30 June 2018
    We Grew Algae and Asked Spectrum Editors to Taste It

    When was the last time you sipped algae? Chances are, you’ve never done that. But while working ona special report about potential climate-saving technologies,IEEE Spectrum decided to try to growSpirulina, which proponents have pitched as asustainable food, in a five-gallon plastic bucket in a back room of our New York City office over the course of six weeks.

    The point was to not only explore algae’s ability to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and serve as a stupendous source of vegetable protein—two topics addressed in“New Tech Could Turn Algae Into the Climate’s Slimy Savior”—but to also figure out whether anyone would actually eat the stuff. Though the majority of algae grown by humans is cultivated in large farms to be dried or added to processed foods, a company calledSpira sells a home-growing kit (which we bought) to encourage people to harvest and eat fresh algae every day.   

    We originally thought this humble experiment would take between 10 days and 2 weeks, but growing algae wasn’t as straightforward as we’d hoped. After replacing an LED light, pouring in liberal amounts of baking soda, carefully adding iron droplets, and starting over when we accidentally killed it—we finally harvested our first batch. Then, we askedSpectrum editors if they’d be willing to drink it, for the planet’s sake.

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