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News

Franky Zapata's water-jet Flyboards have very quickly become a popular vacation experience, but the French jet ski champion has bigger goals in mind. Over the weekend, he released the first video that claims to show his new Flyboard Air in action. The Air ditches the water jet for what appears to be a jet turbine engine, and allows him to fly untethered through the sky to a maximum height of 10,000 feet and a maximum endurance of 10 minutes. It's early days yet, but we humbly propose a jet race against David Mayman and his JB-9 Jetpack.

We'd estimate that no human alive has more experience operating a standing jet platform than Franky Zapata. The French jet ski champion stunned the world in 2011 with the release of his Flyboard, a jet platform tethered to a jet ski that put enough thrust under your feet to lift you 9 meters (29.5 ft) into the air on a jet of water and perform all sorts of aerobatics.

The simple, fun Flyboard very quickly became one of the must-do holiday experiences of the noughties. It was tricky to fly, required a lot of core body strength and sent a lot of people forcefully into the drink – but it was the closest thing you could get to a safe and affordable personal flight experience.

And as it turns out, it may have been a stepping stone to something far greater.

Over the weekend, Zapata released the first video of his latest invention: the Flyboard Air. Gone is the jet ski, gone is the hose, and gone is the tether. This thing appears to take the handling and control system of the Flyboard, but replace the water jets with at least one jet turbine engine and what appears to be a backpack fuel tan

That puts Zapata in a similar league with David Mayman and Nelson Tyler, whose JB-9 jetpack is also capable of such numbers. And it saddles him with similar problems: what do you do in case of engine failure? How can you make it safer for non-Zapata level athletes to fly? Can you responsibly sell these things to people?

Parachutes are more or less useless below 100 feet, as they just don't have time to open and slow you down. Even that's a stretch – 250 feet is about as low as you want to get to feel like you're not pushing your luck. And yet, presumably, people will want to fly these things low enough to get a bird's eye perspective on the world. That means both the Flyboard Air and the JB-9 will spend a lot of their flight time in a deadly zone between 30 and 200 feet off the ground where the failure of a jet engine or a miscalculation in fuel load will be catastrophic. With no wings or autorotation to bring them down softly, they're entirely reliant on the thrust they produce.

Still, safety issues aside, the Flyboard Air is a proper space-age flying platform, and Franky Zapata is the perfect man to pilot it. He makes it look nimble and fun, if slightly terrifying. It'll be fascinating to see where things go from here, but clearly we need to get Zapata and Mayman together for some kind of jetpack race.

Video: Eddie Braun jumps the Snake River Canyon in an Evel Knievel-style rocket bike

42 pictures

Eddie Braun launches toward immortality in his 10,000 horsepower steam rocket, the Evel Spirit

Eddie Braun launches toward immortality in his 10,000 horsepower steam rocket, the Evel Spirit (Credit: Loz Blain/New Atlas) View gallery (42 images)

Stunt man Eddie Braun has achieved his childhood dream, successfully jumping the Snake River Canyon in Idaho in a treacherous steam-powered rocket bike. Completing Evel Knievel's dream and (we believe) setting a Guinness World Record in the process, Braun hit the button and launched himself over the canyon in a hissing rush of high-G acceleration that saw him hit speeds up to 430 mph (693 km/h) within a matter of 3-4 seconds. New Atlas was right there on site – here's some raw video of this extraordinary feat.

Sometimes, when you want something done right, you don't need a daredevil. You need a stunt man. Where Evel Knievel's rocket bike jump attempt in 1974 was underplanned, underfunded, undertested and underdone, Eddie Braun's team had this very dangerous stunt on lockdown. A peerless team of Hollywood stunt co-ordinators and rocket scientists oversaw the event and built a historically accurate but much safer Evel Spirit Skycycle, complete with a ballistic parachute system and hydraulic ram nosecone to soften the "lawn dart" style landing.

Braun didn't manage to raise enough money to fund the jump, so he dug into his own pocket to fund the jump attempt – to the tune of 1.5 million dollars. After more than 35 years as a stunt man, he was determined to retire with a bang.

And today, under perfect weather conditions near Twin Falls, Idaho, he did it. In front of a small crowd mainly comprised of family, friends, rocket scientists and the Hollywood stunt community, Braun was strapped into the Evel Spirit as it sat on a steep launch ramp. There was little fanfare and no messing about. Rocket engineer Scott Truax gave a countdown from five, Eddie thumbed his launch button, and the rocket did its fearsome thing.

A cutter sheared through the dog food can lids that were holding in 6,000 pounds per square inch of steam pressure, generated by a huge tank full of water superheated to over 450 degrees celsius. The ensuing release of steam launched Braun up that ramp so fast it was almost hard to follow, with some 6 Gs worth of acceleration over a 3-4 second blast.

If Braun was to black out from the high-G acceleration, there were stunt co-ordinators both at the jump site and the landing area ready to remotely trigger the drogue 'chutes and main ballistic parachutes to bring him down safely – "that main 'chute will bring him down so soft," said Aussie stunt co-ordinator Mick Van Morson, "that he could land on his head without a helmet and be absolutely fine.

Meanwhile, as the Evel Spirit left the launch ramp and rocketed into the sky, spraying anyone within a 130-foot radius with a cooling shower of water, the rocket started to spin –a terrifying sight as Eddie spiraled upward to some 2200 feet above the launch site, not counting the deep drop into the canyon below.

But this wasn't an Evel Knievel production. "Evel Knievel was a daredevil. Eddie's a stunt man," I was assured by Deirdre, the partner of one of Braun's lead stunt co-ordinators. "Stunt men prepare, and plan, and lock it down, because they don't wanna die. He's got the best in the business working with him today."

As Braun almost disappeared from sight, the first drogue 'chute popped out to the cheers of the crowd, followed by the larger 'chute deploying right on time. The launch crew, meanwhile, were sprinting to the pickup truck to make a bolt for the landing site.

Braun touched down, unharmed, in a bean field on the other side of the canyon - overshooting the canyon wall itself by a long way, and even going well past his expected landing site. Within minutes we had confirmation on the radio: he's out of the rocket, in one piece and one happy camper. The final distance covered was 4728.9 feet (1441.3 m).

It was over in the space of a minute, history made and a dream achieved. A privilege to witness and a heck of a spectacle. Well done, Eddie. Well done, team. You knocked it right out of the park.

View gallery - 42 images

[GWG] Daeima AdminD.X.O. That picture is excellent quality - time travel confirmed!
[GWS] RedSpartacus In 1740 my great great great great grandpa used a cannon ball for a reconnaissance flight, similar idea to get a human u...

Superhydrophobic coatings hold a wide array of potential consumer and industrial applications. However, most aren't overly durable, meaning their water repelling properties can be easily lost. Now scientists at the Australian National University (ANU) have developed a new spray-on superhydrophobic coating that is much more robust than existing solutions and low-cost to manufacture and apply.

Hydrophobic materials generally get their water-repelling properties from rough surfaces made up of tiny pillars, which trap a layer of air between them that prevents the liquid from getting a good grip on the surface of the object. We reached out to William Wong and Antonio Tricoli, two of the ANU researchers, who told us that the problem is that these complex surfaces are vulnerable to damage, which can reduce the long-term effectiveness of the material.

"Superhydrophobic materials are typically very fragile due to the need for delicate preservation of surface morphologies," the researchers told New Atlas. "Fluoro-functionalized nanostructured silica (F-SiO2), for example, is a highly performing superhydrophobic material, however, its commercial application remains largely impeded by poor mechanical durability resulting in the rapid loss of superhydrophobicity upon abrasion damages."

We last saw the team making a material that rolls itself into a tube when exposed to liquid, and this time they've set about improving that durability. According to the team, their new material, made using a combination of two plastics, polymethyl methacrylate and polyurethane, is up to 60 times more functionally robust than their control materials. Mechanically, the coating is very stable and in tests was found to be resistant to long-term abrasion damage without losing its superhydrophobic properties.

"Their cross-linking and material-synergistic properties create a much more robust hybrid (interpenetrated polymer networks) than either of these alone," say the researchers. "Think of this as two interwoven sets of fishing nets, made of different materials with different properties."

The coating also resisted damage from acids, UV light and solvents like cleaning alcohols, and this durability should help make the material a one-off, spray-on protection. That puts it ahead of other materials like Ultra-Ever Dry, which its manufacturer claims can go eight months to a year before needing a new coat.

"We have not yet tested it for every use but believe that for most applications it will be a long-term coat that does not require reapplication," the ANU team explains.

The team has actually developed two ways to crate the coating, both of which they claim are cheaper and easier than the processes used to create similar coatings. Additionally, the material is transparent, too, so its applications may extend to coating consumer electronics like smartphones, street signs, packaging materials like cardboard or wood, or to protect boats from water damage and planes from ice formation.

"It will keep skyscraper windows clean and prevent the mirror in the bathroom from fogging up," says Tricoli.

Beyond waterproofing, the same principles could be applied to make similar coatings that are anti-corrosive, self-cleaning or oil-repellent.

The research was published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces

The team describes their work in the video below.

Source: Australian National University

This amazing device is called the P-Laser QF-1000. Like its rigid-mounted counterparts, the hand-held instrument is meant for industrial applications, like preparing metal for robotic welding or removing residue from manufacturing molds. As such, it's very expensive: P-Laser told R&T that a low-power QF-50, with only 50 watts of muscle, costs 47,800 Euro, or more than $53,000 at today's exchange rate. We assume that's outside your tool budget.

How's it work? A P-Laser spokesperson explained that the system uses short pulses of laser light. When aimed at a metal surface, "the dirt layer and any oxides underneath will absorb the energy and evaporate." The metal underneath will not absorb the laser energy, leaving nothing but a clean surface ready for welding or painting.

We know what you're thinking, and the answer is no: This thing won't vaporize human flesh. Amazingly, aiming this laser blaster at your finger doesn't even hurt at all.

GIF
 

Face Transplant - amazing

[GWG] Daeima AdminD.X.O. posted Aug 26, 16

Face transplant gives ex-firefighter his life back

14 pictures

Patrick Hardison before the transplant and a year later

Patrick Hardison before the transplant and a year later (Credit: NYU Langone Medical Center) View gallery (14 images)

One year ago, Patrick Hardison underwent the world's most extensive face transplant at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. The severely-burned Mississippi firefighter had lost most his facial and head features in the line of duty in 2001, but 15 years later the change is nothing short of dramatic. His doctors call his recovery "unprecedented" and holds promise for the future of similarly injured patients.

In September 2001, Hardison and three other firefighters were conducting a rescue search during a house fire in Mississippi when the ceiling caved in. Though he survived by holding his breath to protect his lungs, Hardison suffered severe third degree burns the his face, head, neck, and upper torso that destroyed his ears, lips, most of his nose, and almost all of his eyelid tissue – leaving his face, even with the best medical efforts, a mass of scar tissue.

In 2015, after years of treatment in hospital and over 70 procedures, a team of 100 surgeons and medical professionals led by Eduardo D Rodriguez, the chair of the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone, performed a face transplant on Hardison that was more complex than any previously attempted.

Because of the extent of Hardison's injuries, the team had no framework to build on, so they relied on advanced 3D modeling and 3D-printed cutting guides to match together Hardison and the donor organs.

The initial results were already dramatic, but after a year of recovery and several follow-up operations to adjust Hardison's new eyelids and lips; removal of his abdominal feeding tube and tracheal breathing tube; revisions to his forehead, eyes, lips, chin, and ears, he is now able to engage in previously impossible activities, such as swimming and driving.

"We are amazed at Pat's recovery, which has surpassed all of our expectations," says Rodriguez. "Most significant is the lack of a rejection episode. We believe this has much to do with the methodical approach we took in the matching process to ensure that Patrick's donor provided the most favorable match. Doing so also has allowed us to reduce the levels of certain medications that Pat takes to prevent rejection."

According to Rodriquez, Hardison now has normally functioning eyelids, which not only improves his appearance, but has also saved his eyesight by allowing him to blink to moisten and cleanse his eyes. Rodriguez calls this a "game changer" for reconstructive surgery.

In addition, the use of selective facial bone structure, along with the chin of the donor, gave Hardison natural bone marrow stem cells to help the transplanted face heal after surgery.

"Pat has been incredibly compliant with his postsurgical regimen, and that has allowed us to expedite his surgical schedule," says Rodriguez. "He is extremely committed to daily exercise, taking his medications and meeting with his physicians regularly. All of this has put him way ahead of schedule in terms of getting to the optimal level of recovery and appearance."

Hardison says that he's now ready to meet the family of David Rodebaugh, the 26-year old Brooklyn artist and cycling enthusiast from Ohio, who donated his face and other organs after his death in a cycling accident.

"The surgery has truly given me back my life," says Hardison. "I go about my day just like everyone else. It's allowed me to do things with my family that I had not been able to do. I can't tell you what a sense of freedom it is to even drive my kids to school. We recently went on a family vacation to Disney World, and I swam in the pool with them — something I hadn't done in 15 years.

"There are no more stares, no more frightened children running away from me. I'm pretty much just a normal guy. Now, I want to help others to pursue this type of surgery, especially fellow firefighters and members of the armed services. There definitely is hope."

According to Helen Irving, president and CEO of LiveOnNY, the organ recovery organization for the greater New York metropolitan area, New York State is considering new legislation to encourage organ donation, and the US Defense Department has provided research funding and other support in the reconstructive surgery field.

"We have entered a new era in transplant surgery," says Rodriguez. "The work being done, not only in face transplantation, but also in areas like hand, uterine and penile transplantation, is pushing the boundaries of medicine and surgery and opening up new avenues to restore the lives of people like Patrick. It's a very exciting time."

Hardison's operation is detailed in a number of papers published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

The video below shows Patrick Hardison today.

Source: NYU Langone Medical Center

View gallery - 14 images

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