Every day we wake up, drink a cup of coffee, and get ready for work. Following are a handful of stories from around the tech world condensed to fit into a single cup of coffee. These are the things you need to know before you step foot out of your door (or in front of a webcam) and into the real world this morning.
So sit back, grab a cup, and start your morning off right with a few “Quick Bytes” from Innovation & Tech Today.
Chinese Spy Balloon Collects U.S. Nuclear Intelligence
After more than a week floating over the United States, the Air Force finally downed a Chinese balloon that Defense Department officials say was being used for military surveillance. The balloon first entered U.S. airspace over the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, before crossing over British Columbia and then into the lower 48 states. Before an F-22 Raptor took it down with a sidewinder missile off the coast of South Carolina, it lingered over several Air Force Bases (AFB), including:
- Malmstrom AFB in Montana, with its 150 intercontinental ballistic missile silos
- Offutt AFB in Nebraska, home of the U.S. Strategic Command in charge of nuclear forces
- Whiteman AFB in Missouri, where long-range B-2 bombers are stationed
“It loitered over certain sites. It went left, right. We saw it maneuver inside the jet stream. That’s how it was operating,” A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. The official reported the balloon had propellers and rudders.
Navy divers are working in shallow waters off of Surfside, South Carolina to recover the debris for intelligence purposes.
Fighting Fire with Soundwaves
In addition to jet engines, researchers are developing the use of low-frequency sound waves to fight fires. The method is chemical- and water-free and offers the possibility of a non-destructive method of structural and wildland fire control.
The principle behind the technology involves excluding oxygen from the fuel using the mechanical pressure created by bass frequencies between 30 and 60 Hz.
After failed attempts by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DRPA) to develop a sonic extinguisher, two students at George Mason University, Seth Robertson and Viet Tran, developed a successful prototype and applied for a patent.
While the prototype is for small fires, potential applications involve the use of speaker equipped drone swarms to attack wildland fires in their incipient stage. Another promising use would be for fires in spacecraft where the lack of gravity can cause dry powder extinguishers to contaminate the entire craft.
SpinLaunch Wants to Throw Satellites Into Space By 2026
As the demand for orbiting satellites proliferates, the problem of fueled rocket launches poses a growing problem. Solid and liquid rocket propellants are dangerous, expensive, and cause air pollution and ozone depletion.
Enter Spinlaunch, a California-based startup that’s building a rotating arm used to fling satellites into orbit. Last September they conducted their 10th successful suborbital launch in less than a year from Spaceport America in New Mexico. They plan to loft small satellites into low-Earth orbit in 2026.
During the most recent sortie, Spinlauch, for the first time, hosted third-party experiments from NASA, Airbus and Cornell University.
“Today we have accomplished our tenth test flight and it has proven that it’s a system that is repeatedly reliable,” said SpinLaunch founder and CEO, Jonathan Yaney, in a video shared by the company’s YouTube channel “This is not a rocket and clearly our ability to perform in just eleven months this many tests and have them all function as planned, really is a testament to the nature of our technology.”
More Tech Job Losses as Dell Lays Off 5% of Workforce
Compounding tech workers’ misery, Dell announced today it’s issuing pink slips to five percent of its employees worldwide. The layoffs will add 6650 workers to the unemployment rolls.
As is becoming standard industry practice, workers were notified via an email, which was co-signed by CEO Jeff Clarke. Clark said the move was caused by current economic conditions that have seen a steep decline in PC sales.
“Unfortunately, with changes like this, some members of our team will be leaving the company. There is no tougher decision, but one we had to make for our long-term health and success. Please know we’ll support those impacted as they transition to their next opportunities,” Clarke wrote.
Last Quarter Dell saw a 6% drop in revenue as PC sales plunged for the fourth quarter in a row. Dell, the biggest PC maker, saw the largest loss – down 37%.