The latest laser news

(via Engadget)
A co-worker pointed this out to me, as I missed it when perusing my Engadget news for the day – UC, San Diego researchers have come up with an improved method for finding flaws in tracks using lasers.

A team led by UCSD structural engineering professor Francesco Lanza di Scalea describes in the Aug. 22 issue of the Journal of Sound and Vibration a defect-detection technique that uses laser beam pulses to gently “tap” on steel rails. Each laser tap sends ultrasonic waves traveling 1,800 miles per second along the steel rails. Downward facing microphones are positioned a few inches above the rail and 12 inches from the downward pointed laser beam. As the prototype vehicle rolls down the test track delivering laser beams taps at one-foot intervals, the microphones detect any telltale reductions in the strength of the ultrasonic signals, pinpointing surface cuts, internal cracks, and other defects.

And let me just say, I find it freaky cool that there is even a scientific journal called Journal of Sound and Vibration. So naturally, I had to go look it up – here’s the skinny on the journal. Sadly, it appears subscriptions are roughly $1750 for 50 issues. That puts it slightly out of my price range.  Understand, I have no use for the journal, but I thrive on highly specialized knowledge that has no applicability to my daily life.
The article online does not mention specifically if the technology is based purely on lasers, or if there are any frikkin’ sharks involved in building the detector.

[tags]Lasers used in detecting train track flaws, Frikkin’ sharks possibly help find train track flaws[/tags]