Category Archives: Electromagnetism

We’re Not in Phoenix Anymore: How Radio Signals “Skipped” All the Way to Kansas

Yes, it’s that exciting.

Unlike AM signals, FM is confined to line-of-sight, so Phoenix’s KBAQ radio station doesn’t typically reach much beyond the Valley of the Sun, let alone to a Volkswagen Beetle 875 miles away. So it’s no wonder that Ken Baker of the Radio Kansas Network was surprised to see what resolved on his HD tuner that day.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
How Phoenix-Area Radio Signals Can Bounce All The Way To Kansas

Doctor-Hackers Warn of Medical Device Security Flaws

Image by Lucien Monfils.

Members of the medical and hacker communities are raising concerns about cybersecurity vulnerabilities affecting medical records, infrastructure and devices.

Experts have long warned of security flaws in medical devices — insulin pumps that can deliver deadly doses, for example. Many devices include wireless connectivity capability.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Doctor-Hackers Raise Awareness Of Medical Device Vulnerabilities

The Foggy Future of Refrigerants

Freon tanks await recycling. Image courtesy U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Stable, nontoxic refrigerants changed the world, transforming food storage, expanding Sun Belt populations, even helping early movie theaters succeed. But they also wrecked the ozone layer — Earth’s shield against harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Today, as stockpiles dwindle — and prices rise — due to phase-outs set by the Montreal Protocols 30 years ago,  the future of Freon and its successors remains in doubt.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
As Stockpiles Dwindle, Freon Prices Rise

Behind the Scenes at a Nuclear Generating Station Refueling

Every six months, the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station southwest of Phoenix, Arizona shuts down one of its three reactors for refueling and maintenance.

Join me in this feature-length venture into the belly of the beast, from the storage casks to the open reactor itself.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
http://science.kjzz.org/node/472070

We’re Going to Need New Idioms for This: Record-Breaking Lightning

Cloud-to-cloud lighting.
Cloud-to-cloud lighting. Photo by Fir0002 / Flagstaffotos.

A 200-mile lightning flash and another flash lasting nearly eight seconds have redefined experts’ notions of what is possible for such events.

The new data prompted a World Meteorological Organization committee to recommend revising the definition of lightning discharges.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Record-Breaking Lightning Flashes Help Change Definition Of Lightning Events