VIENNNA, Austria – At the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) meeting this week, American researchers are unveiling a new tool for detecting illegal nuclear explosions: the Earth’s global positioning system (GPS). Even underground nuclear tests leave their mark on the part of the upper atmosphere known as the ionosphere , the researchers discovered, when they examined GPS data recorded the same day as a North Korean nuclear test in 2009 . Within minutes on that day, GPS stations in nearby countries registered a change in ionospheric electron density, as a bubble of disturbed particles spread out from the test site and across the planet. “Its as if the shockwave from the underground explosion caused the earth to ‘punch up’ into the atmosphere, creating another shockwave that pushed the air away from ground zero,” said Ralph von Frese , professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University and senior author on the study.
In spite of new and unexpected findings by a Berkeley Lab research team that microbes have done an amazing job taking care of the underwater oil plume in the Gulf of Mexico, oil on the surface can cause a lot of damage to wildlife and property if it washes ashore. Researchers at MIT are working out ways to skim that surface oil using a swarm of robots. The robots communicate with each other using a WiFi network, and using GPS then coordinate their movements with software inspired by natural swarms. Oil is dealt with on the spot by heating it thus avoiding a lengthy trip to shore. See the video. <p style="text-align:right;color:#A8A8A8"></p>