TIME Innovation

NASA’s Crazy 18-Engine Electric Concept Plane Could Be the Future of Flying

LeapTECH Demonstrator Concept
NASA Photo LeapTECH Demonstrator Concept

The wing is in testing, while a concept plane could be just two years away

The good news for whichever test pilot winds up flying what NASA hopes will be an upcoming experimental aircraft? If they lose one engine, they’ll have 17 more to fall back on.

NASA is testing an experimental 31-foot aircraft wing with 18 electric motors placed along the leading edge. The wing is made of carbon composite, while the electric engines are powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries. NASA says the unusual setup, called Leading Edge Asynchronous Propeller Technology (LEAPTech), could result in more energy-efficient and greener aircraft.

For now, NASA will test the new wing by mounting it on top of a truck and driving across a lakebed at up to 70 m.p.h., a slightly different approach compared to the wind tunnels typically used by aerospace engineers. But if all goes well, NASA says it hopes to install LEAPTech wings and engines on a modified Tecnam P2006T — a four-seater Italian aircraft that’s typically powered by two traditional engines — within two years. The image above is a concept rendering.

While the 18-motor idea might sound a little strange, NASA is hopeful the technology could offer big benefits to commercial carriers, the military and travelers alike. Via NASA:

Each motor can be operated independently at different speeds for optimized performance. Key potential benefits of LEAPTech include decreased reliance on fossil fuels, improved aircraft performance and ride quality, and aircraft noise reduction.

LEAPTech is a key element of NASA’s plan to help a significant portion of the aircraft industry transition to electrical propulsion within the next decade. According to Mark Moore, an aerodynamicist at Langley, “LEAPTech has the potential to achieve transformational capabilities in the near-term for general aviation aircraft, as well as for transport aircraft in the longer-term.”

Read next: Here’s the Incredible Flying Car You Can Buy in 2017

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 16

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. There are no winners in a currency war, either. Here’s why the U.S. is carrying the burden of the global recovery.

By Mark Gilbert in Bloomberg News

2. Despite slow and censored Internet and the weakest mobile phone penetration in Latin America, Cuba is the land of opportunity for daring tech investors.

By Ramphis Castro in Re/code

3. Anyone with a smartphone can become a mobile environmental monitoring station.

By Brian Handwerk in Smithsonian Magazine

4. Permanent, easily accessible criminal records are holding back too many Americans. It’s time to “ban the box.”

By Ruth Graham in the Boston Globe

5. Autism Village is an app that helps families find autism-friendly businesses.

By Olga Khazan in The Atlantic

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 13

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Amid the rancor and theatrics in Washington, it’s easy to forget how remarkable it is that the U.S. and Iran are talking at all.

By George Perkovich at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

2. A critical step in drug research is understanding the impact on the heart. That’s why bioengineers built a beating heart on a silicone chip.

By Sarah Yang at the University of California at Berkeley

3. Americans are quitting their way to a stronger economy.

By Aaron Nathans in the Daily Economy

4. Just because we’re able to edit the DNA of tomorrow’s children, does that mean we should?

By Antonio Regalado in MIT Technology Review

5. America has its own ion collider, and its funding is in danger.

By Natalie Walchover in Quanta

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 12

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Protecting whistleblowers protects national security.

By Mike German at the Brennan Center for Justice

2. Could we treat pain by switching off the region of the brain controlling that feeling?

By the University of Oxford

3. Small businesses are booming in China, and it might save their economy.

By Steven Butler and Ben Halder in Ozy

4. Not so fast: Apps using Apple’s new health technology could require FDA approval. That doesn’t come quick.

By Jonathan M. Gitlin in Ars Technica

5. We might feel better about driving electric cars, but they’re still not good for the environment.

By Bobby Magill in Quartz

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

These Are the Incredible Images a Computer ‘Sees’ When a Person Dances

Check out this creative project built around motion data

A new creative project called as·phyx·i·a has produced stunning visuals by combining computers and choreography.

The project, created by Maria Takeuchi with Frederico Phillips, uses inexpensive sensors to capture motion data, which was then crafted by various computer tools into the incredible images and as well as an experimental film.

as·phyx·i·a’s goal is to combine tech with other fields without many of the common commercial limitations, an idea that’s reflected in the choreography’s “desire to be expressive without bounds,” according to the project’s website.

 

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 11

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Special collaborative courts focus on rehabilitating troubled veterans. They’re working.

By Spencer Michels at PBS Newshour

2. PayPal runs a dead-simple microlending program that helps small businesses grow.

By Michelle Goodman in Entrepreneur

3. To make voters care, a radio station in L.A. picked a prototype non-voter and built their election coverage around him.

By Melody Kramer at Poynter.org

4. Can the mining industry become a responsible, reliable partner for local communities and the environment?

By Andrea Mustain in Kellogg Insight

5. Robert Mugabe is 91 years old. The world should prepare for a succession crisis in Zimbabwe.

By Helia Ighani at the Council on Foreign Relations

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 10

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. How do we convince Americans that justice isn’t for sale — when in 39 states, it is?

By Sue Bell Cobb in Politico

2. It took pressure from customers and investors to make corporations environmentally sustainable. It’s time to do the same for gender equity.

By Marissa Wesely in Stanford Social Innovation Review

3. London’s congestion pricing plan is saving lives.

By Alex Davies in Wired

4. Libraries should be the next great start-up incubators.

By Emily Badger in CityLab

5. Annual replanting has a devastating impact. Could perennial rice be the solution?

By Winifred Bird in Yale Environment 360

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 9

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Take a data dive to see how a ring of suburban poverty is appearing around America’s revived cities.

By Luke Juday at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia

2. Don’t worry about Russia giving up on nuclear cooperation and the International Space Station.

By Lisa Saum-Manning in U.S. News & World Report

3. Scientists reverse-engineered social networks to learn how to fight HIV among homeless youth by word of mouth.

By Jessica Leber in Fast Co.Exist

4. A Pyrenees pipeline could weaken Putin’s grip on European energy.

By Paul Ames in Global Post

5. For developmentally disabled kids, the benefits of organized sports are huge.

By Darrin Steele in Quartz

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Will.i.am Warns of a Future With 3-D Printed Humans

'Humans – as great as we are – are pretty irresponsible'

Rapper and entrepreneur Will.i.am warned in a new interview that the world will need “new morals” to deal with the advent of 3-d printed humans.

The Black Eyed Peas founder predicted that the technology will exist within “our lifetime,” in an interview with Denizen magazine, and will push “humanity to have to adhere to new responsibilities.”

“New morals, new laws and new codes are going to have to be implemented,” he said. “Humans – as great as we are – are pretty irresponsible. Ask the planet. Ask the environment.”

3-D printing technology has been used to create human organs in the recent years—a development that Will.i.am says suggests that printing a full human is around the corner.

Will.i.am, once of the Black Eyed Peas, serves as the creative director of a 3-D printing company.

[Denizen]

TIME Science

Songs That Give You the Chills

violins-performing
Getty Images

You can try experimenting with the songs yourself

A good number of scholarly studies have examined the enigmatic ability of music to sometimes induce ‘The Chills’ in humans. See, for example : ‘Musical Piloerection’ (by Björn Vickhoff, PhD, Rickard Åström, MFA, Töres Theorell, MD, PhD, Bo von Schéele, PhD, and Michael Nilsson, MD, PhD) in Music and Medicine, April 2012 vol. 4 no. 2 82-89.

For those who wish to experiment (possibly even self-experiment) with such things, another group of researchers, from the Centre of Interdisciplinary Research on Music Media and Technology (CIRMMT) of McGill University, US (Valorie N. Salimpoor, Mitchel Benovoy, Gregory Longo, Jeremy R. Cooperstock, and Robert J. Zatorre) have compiled a list of musical excerpts which they found can sometimes induce The Chills (listed here in ascending order of chilliness):

• Holst, First Suite in E Flat, Classical, score 9:07
• Shostakovich, Symphony No. 11 – Mov. 4,Classical, score 10:00
• Phish, You Enjoy Mylsef, Jazz Fusion, score 10:50
• Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Static, Post-Rock, score 11:20
• Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 4 – Mov. 1, Classical, score 12:32
• Mahler, Symphony No. 2 – Mov. 1, Classical, score 13:00
• Shostakovich, 11th Symphony – Mov. 2, Classical, score 13:45
• Mahler, Symphony No. 1 – Mov. 1, Classical, score 14:00
• Shostakovich, Symphony No. 11 – Mov. 2, Classical, score 14:00
• Copland, Appalachian Spring Suite, Classical, score 20:00
… and, at number 1, chillwise,
• Shostakovich, Symphony No. 4 – Mov. 3, Classical, score 20:30

See: ‘The Rewarding Aspects of Music Listening Are Related to Degree of Emotional Arousal’, PLOS | ONE, October 16, 2009.

Note: The list included Liszt, whose ‘Danse Macabre’ (a.k.a. Totentanz), scored a relatively low 0.27

Also see (and hear): Kiss On My List’ (which may or may not induce The Chills)

This article originally appeared on Improbable Research.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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