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Space Station Saved By a Toothbrush? 179

Hugh Pickens writes "Denise Chow reports that two spacewalking astronauts successfully replaced a vital power unit on the International Space Station today, defeating a stubborn bolt that prevented the astronauts from properly installing the power unit on the ISS's backbone-like truss with the help of some improvised tools made of spare parts and a toothbrush. Astronauts Sunita Williams and Akihiko Hoshide started by removing the power box, called a main bus switching unit (MBSU), from where it had been temporarily tied down with a tether, then spent several hours troubleshooting the unit and the two bolts that are designed to secure it in place on the space station's truss. After undoing the bolts, the spacewalkers examined them for possible damage, and used improvised cleaning tools and a pressurized can of nitrogen gas to clean out the metal shavings from the bolt receptacles. 'I see a lot of metal shavings coming out,' Hoshide said as he maneuvered a wire cleaner around one of the bolt holders. Williams and Hoshide then lubricated a spare bolt and manually threaded it into the place where the real bolt was eventually driven, in an effort to ensure that the receptacle was clear of any debris. Then the two applied grease to the sticky bolt as well as extra pressure and plain old jiggling until finally 4½ hours into the spacewalk, Hoshide reported: 'It is locked.' When Hoshide reported that the troublesome bolt was finally locked into place, the flight managers erupted in applause while astronaut Jack Fischer at Mission Control told the astronauts 'that is a little slice of awesome pie.'"

Salad Spinner Made Into Life-Saving Centrifuge Screenshot-sm 87

lucidkoan writes "Two Rice University students have transformed a simple salad spinner into an electricity-free centrifuge that can be used to diagnose diseases on the cheap. Created by Lauren Theis and Lila Kerr, the ingenious DIY centrifuge is cobbled together using a salad spinner, some plastic lids, combs, yogurt containers, and a hot glue gun. The simple and easily-replicated design could be an invaluable tool for clinics in the developing world, enabling them to separate blood to detect diseases like anemia without electricity."

Passenger Avoids Delay By Fixing Plane Himself Screenshot-sm 178

It would be a shame if an engineer on a recent Thomas Cook Airlines flight doesn't get a complimentary first class upgrade every time he flies. The engineer was on flight TCX9641 when it was announced that the trip would be delayed eight hours, while a mechanic was flown in to fix a problem. Luckily for the other passengers, the engineer happened to work for Thomsonfly Airlines, which has a reciprocal maintenance agreement with Thomas Cook. After about 35 minutes the man fixed the problem and the flight was on its way. A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook said, "When they announced there was a technical problem he came forward and said who he was. We checked his licence and verified he was who he said he was, and he was able to fix the problem to avoid the delay. We are very grateful that he was on the flight that day."

1000 pains = 1 Megahertz