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Popcorn Engineering!

Sure, engineers tackle big problems to make the world a better place. But they design fun things, too! Check out this voice-activated popcorn-launching machine created by an electrical engineer at a popcorn company.

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Engineering Is: Saving the Earth


Coal-fired power plants are a major source of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. But they continue to be built because coal remains an abundant and cheap fuel source. Still, a report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says that carbon dioxide emissions could be drastically cut, even with increased coal burning. The trick: Future power plants would have to capture the carbon and then sequester, or bury, it underground.

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Engineering Is: Exploring Outer Space


We’re going back to the moon — this time, for good. NASA expects to establish a permanent base on the lunar surface by 2024. So engineers must design modular living and working quarters that can house four astronauts for four weeks at a time. The shelters will have to store adequate supplies of air, food, water, and equipment and protect occupants from heat, dust, and radiation.

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Engineering Is: Ending World Hunger


World hunger could worsen as cropland becomes scarcer and the Earth’s population increases. A Columbia University environmental health scientist thinks the solution lies in building high-rise, indoor farms right in the heart of the world’s cities.

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Engineering Is: Protecting Soldiers


Soldiers in battle wear many pounds of protective gear. But that protection isn’t perfect. Those who survive bomb blasts often suffer brain trauma, resulting in symptoms ranging from memory loss to blurred vision.But Shu Yang, a University of Pennsylvania materials engineer, has developed a crystal patch that changes color when hit by a shock wave. The resulting color can indicate the severity of the blast.

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