A lifelong learner, Valerie Varnuska enjoys brushing up on science and technology in her Westbury, NY home. In addition to enthusiasm for robotics and natural sciences, she is fascinated by large machines. Valerie Varnuska maintains a special interest in agricultural equipment such as combines and plows.
Harrows are large agricultural machines designed to break up the surface of soil just like a rototiller. Farmers use them to prepare the soil for planting, aerate soil, and cover recently sown seeds.
The oldest types of these tools are spring harrows, which use rows of iron teeth to loosen the soil. These antiquated tools must generally be adjusted by hand, and require several passes over the same area for maximum effectiveness. They are similar to chain harrows, which are more commonly used in landscaping.
Roller harrows have rows of large teeth mounted on rollers. They are particularly effective at breaking up clumps of dirt as they spin. Similarly designed disk harrows rely on rows of concave, blade-like discs. These are used to shred up weeds or plant matter remaining from previous crops.
A resident of Westbury, NY, Valerie Varnuska enjoys learning about engineering technology. Valerie Varnuska is particularly fascinated by large, intricate machinery such as trains.
Today’s trains are impressive marvels of technology, and they are advancing rapidly. The following leading-edge train technologies are still in development but are poised to transform the industry.
– Hydrogen fuel cells. Germany is leading the way in hydrogen fuel cell technology for trains. The country is home to the Alstom Coradia iLint train, which is due to enter service in 2018. An onboard fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to power this zero-emission train without the need for diesel fuel.
– High-speed rail. China is developing a hybrid propulsion system that will allow passenger trains to run at 310 miles per hour or carry cargo at 155 miles per hour. The current fastest train in the world, also from Chinese technology, is a magnetic train with a top speed of 267.8 miles per hour.
– The Hyperloop. Elon Musk’s futuristic train-like system relies on some of the same principles used by vacuum tubes. Low-pressure tunnels and friction-reducing measures could allow these advanced trains to reach speeds of 700 miles per hour. Preliminary testing is underway.
West Virginia University Mountaineers
In her Westbury, NY, home, Valerie Varnuska often follows robotics competitions on television. Valerie Varnuska appreciates the way robotics has grown and wishes there were even more competitions to watch.
In 2012, NASA began a five-year-long robotics challenge known as the Sample Return Robot Challenge. Teams competed to build robots that could solve real-life problems as part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program.
The West Virginia University Mountaineers dominated the competition at every turn and performed especially well in the final Level 2 event in late 2016. The team regularly put more than 100 hours a week into their robot, dubbed Cataglyphis. Their crowning achievement was getting Cataglyphis to make decisions autonomously, a major part of the competition.
The robot was able to navigate a 20-acre park autonomously, traversing difficult terrain and picking up four samples in a two-hour span. This victory earned the team a $750,000 prize, raising their five-year total winnings to $855,000.
A lifelong learner and proponent of science, Valerie Varnuska resides in Westbury, NY. Her varied interests include mechanical inventions, and especially robotics. Accordingly, Valerie Varnuska enjoys following robotics competitions and learning about the newest robots humankind has developed.
A small, unassuming robot known as Dusty 2.0 recently made quite the stir at the national robotics competition of The Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering in Orlando. Built by a team from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Dusty 2.0 won more than half of the points available in the entire competition.
In the competition, robots were expected to complete complex tasks both with and without human assistance. Dusty 2.0 performed exceptionally well in the head-to-head competition and also excelled in a challenge that required it to retrieve small puzzle pieces. Dusty’s team took first place across the board, winning audience favorite, best technical presentation, best poster, best electronic control methodology, and best fabrication.
Westbury, NY, resident Valerie Varnuska spends much of her time learning about science and technology. Valerie Varnuska is particularly interested in the mechanical marvels that humans create and enjoys reading up on new inventions.
Each year, TIME compiles a list of the 25 greatest new inventions humankind has produced. They represent the best new science and the greatest problem solving that human ingenuity has to offer. Three such marvels are discussed below.
1. Wynd, the affordable personal air purifier. No larger than a water bottle, this portable purifier removes pollutants from the air in a small area. It creates a small pocket of clean air and can even eliminate pollutants that contribute to cancer and other maladies.
2. The UNICEF Kid Power Band. This stylish step-counting bracelet encourages children to remain active and meet specific fitness goals. Kids earn points when they meet their fitness goals, then use those points to send food packages to children in need around the world. So far, users have logged 7 million miles, allowing them to feed more than 30,000 malnourished children.
3. IKO, the prosthetic device that doubles as a toy. Fully functional as a utilitarian device, this high-quality prosthetic arm is also compatible with Lego and Mindstorm products. Children can remove the hand module and replace it with toys or mobility devices of their own, all powered by the prosthetic base unit.