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54 minutes | Sep 27, 2021
Episode 35: Exploring Jupiter
NASA’s Juno mission, led by SwRI, is rewriting the textbooks on the gas giant Jupiter, the fifth planet from the sun. Launching in 2011, the spacecraft reached its target in 2016, jumping into Jupiter’s orbit and revealing never-before-seen data and images of the massive planet. From the planet’s moons to its poles and core, Juno is unlocking the mysteries of Jupiter, giving humankind clues to the origin of the solar system and life on Earth. Juno instrumentation and data are also allowing us to hear the sounds of Jupiter, rich, haunting tones, captured as radio emissions. Listen now as Juno Principal Investigator and SwRI Space Science and Engineering Associate Vice President Dr. Scott Bolton discusses the mission’s top discoveries, deep space surprises, how the spacecraft was pulled into Jupiter’s orbit, and the art and music inspired by Juno’s findings.
33 minutes | Aug 23, 2021
Episode 34: Preventing Structural Failure
Structures like bridges, dams, underwater vessels and aircraft are expected to hold up and remain safe under a range of forces. SwRI’s Structural Engineering Department is equipped to design and test structures, their components and materials to ensure high performance through the toughest conditions. Using sensors, software and robots, the team analyzes structure strength and predicts when repairs will be needed, information that, in many instances, can save lives. Listen now as SwRI Engineer and Director Tim Fey discusses recent structure collapses making headlines and the tools and techniques used to prevent a failure.
36 minutes | Jul 19, 2021
Episode 33: Atmospheric Water Harvesting
Drought and pollution jeopardize water sources around the world, leaving communities without clean, life-giving water. SwRI engineers and scientists are taking on those threats with atmospheric water harvesting, a method of pulling water from the air. The process occurs naturally with morning dew on grass or condensation on a cold soda can. The team is re-creating the process on a larger scale, and researching ways to decontaminate existing water sources. They envision technology that makes and cleans water for people in need, wherever they happen to be, from rural areas to the desert. Their research could be a lifeline for disaster victims, soldiers on the frontlines and families without running water. Listen now as SwRI Engineer and Program Manager Kevin Supak discusses atmospheric water harvesting, pulling water from air.
34 minutes | Jun 21, 2021
Episode 32: Rheology is Everywhere
Episode 32: Rheology is Everywhere by Southwest Research Institute
30 minutes | May 17, 2021
Episode 31: Reducing Traffic Jams
For many drivers, traffic jams have become part of the daily routine. Accidents, construction, debris and flooding can cause roadway slow-downs and traffic snarls. SwRI’s Integrated Corridor Management (ICM) system provides a solution, offering a fast assessment of highways and roads to find detours, reduce traffic trouble spots and get drivers moving. An operator works with the system to determine the best way to get around traffic messes. Drivers get more green lights and save time. As our guest explains, ICM is just the beginning of more connected, smarter cities. Listen now as SwRI Manager Clay Weston discusses Integrated Corridor Management and how the system is mapping a new route for the future of driving.
34 minutes | Apr 19, 2021
Episode 30: Recycling Plastic for Fuel
Earth Day is April 22. This month, we’re learning about an Earth-friendly recycling technique turning piles of plastic into useful chemicals and fuels. Billions of tons of plastic are discarded in landfills. Much of it ends up in oceans in places like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Irresponsibly dumped plastics disrupt the environment and harm wildlife. A team at SwRI has a solution. They are fine tuning a process to turn mountains of plastics into an oil, which can then be turned back into plastic, other chemicals or fuels. They are also helping big companies enter a new era in plastics recycling. Listen now as SwRI Chemical Engineer Eloy Flores discusses pyrolysis for plastics, a new way to recycle and clean up the planet.
32 minutes | Mar 22, 2021
Episode 29: Floodlight™ and Searchlight™
Machine learning is powering cutting-edge software tools, Floodlight™ and Searchlight™, helping chemists sift through an overflow of data. Chemists look for chemical signals in samples of food, drugs, personal care products, carpeting, upholstery and other items we use every day. Identifying these signals and studying these chemical fingerprints could improve health and safety by creating better products and better public policies. Floodlight and Searchlight are speeding up this process, churning out weeks of work in a fraction of the time and saving chemists from data overload. Listen now as SwRI Analytical Chemist Kristin Favela and SwRI Computer Scientist Michael Hartnett discuss how they combined their expertise to create these fast and precise machine learning tools.
32 minutes | Feb 22, 2021
Episode 28: Transformative, Powerful 5G
You may already have a phone or device equipped with fifth-generation mobile network technology — 5G. But 5G applications extend way beyond talk and text. 5G technology processes data at never-before-reached speeds, and we’ve only scratched the surface of what it can actually do. Our guest today is an SwRI 5G expert collaborating with the military to strengthen 5G security and explore its potential in health care. He tells us faster phone service, accessible virtual reality applications and high-intensity gaming are just the beginning. This powerful mobile network will eventually change lives and save lives. Listen now as SwRI 5G developer Jody Little discusses the capabilities and possibilities of 5G technology.
33 minutes | Jan 18, 2021
Episode 27: Finding a COVID Cure
SwRI scientists have pinpointed a potential drug therapy in the search for a COVID cure. After screening millions of drug compounds using SwRI’s Rhodium software, they have narrowed down the field to one strong hit with a family of related therapies. After testing is complete, their treatment could halt the virus and save lives. A scientist on the inside explains how they sifted through millions to find the one, what new virus strains mean for their research and what must happen before the therapy can be authorized to treat COVID patients. Listen now as SwRI Scientist Dr. Jonathan Bohmann explains the process of finding a COVID cure.
29 minutes | Dec 21, 2020
Episode 26: 2020 Top Listen and Learn Moments
2020 has been an unprecedented, unpredictable year. As many transitioned to working from home, we changed how we record our podcast, but our goal to bring you meaningful discussions on technology, science, engineering and research remained the same. This year, we covered hypersonic speed, COVID-19 research, mask testing, asteroid exploration, cybersecurity awareness and much more. Listen now as we review our year and highlight our top listen and learn moments of 2020.
35 minutes | Nov 16, 2020
Episode 25: SwRI’s 2020 R&D 100 Award Winners
The “Oscar of Innovation” goes to… R&D World Magazine recognized SwRI’s Laser Coating Removal (LCR) Robot and the System Performance and Real Time Analysis (SPARTA) software, with prestigious 2020 R&D 100 awards. Often called the “Oscars of Innovation,” the awards recognize the top 100 revolutionary technologies each year. Since 1971, SwRI has won 47 R&D 100 awards. The LCR Robot removes paint and coatings from aircraft, eliminating the need for costly, time-consuming and potentially hazardous manual removal. SwRI Engineer and Director Paul Evans discusses the robot’s impact on the aircraft industry. SPARTA software is on the frontlines of electronic warfare, protecting U.S. fighter jet crews. SwRI Staff Engineer Finley Hicks explains how the breakthrough software thoroughly tests critical safety systems.
35 minutes | Oct 19, 2020
Episode 24: Cybersecurity Awareness
How cyber secure are you? Laptops, smart phones, tablets and anything connected to the internet should be protected against hackers. While cybersecurity may seem daunting, there are simple solutions to guard your online presence and keep your information safe. With strong passwords, encryption and being selective about the information you share, there’s more in your control than you might think. Plus, SwRI engineers are developing technology to safeguard connected vehicles. Listen now as SwRI cybersecurity expert Victor Murray discusses cybersecurity best practices and how SwRI is taking down tech troublemakers.
37 minutes | Sep 21, 2020
Episode 23: OSIRIS-REx and Bennu
What can an asteroid tell us about life on Earth? How can its orbit predict an asteroid strike on our planet? NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission is searching for answers as it studies the asteroid Bennu. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft launched in 2016 and arrived near the asteroid in 2018. Since then, it has been mapping and surveying Bennu. Now, the mission team is preparing for a big moment, touching the asteroid surface and collecting a sample to return to Earth. Described as a time capsule of the earliest history of our solar system, Bennu could hold valuable information on the origins of life. Listen now as Mission Co-investigator and SwRI Space Scientist Dr. Vicky Hamilton discusses the discoveries of the OSIRIS-REx mission and the upcoming sample collection.
34 minutes | Aug 17, 2020
Episode 22: The Power of sCO2
The Supercritical Transformational Electric Power (STEP) pilot plant at SwRI will demonstrate a more efficient, cost effective, environmentally friendly method of producing power with supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2). One day, we could be using sCO2 technology to provide electricity to our homes and businesses. What happens when nontoxic, nonflammable sCO2 replaces water as the thermal medium in power cycles? What is sCO2 and what makes it a better way to power up? Listen now as SwRI engineers Dr. Tim Allison and Dr. Aaron McClung discuss the advantages of supercritical carbon dioxide.
35 minutes | Jul 20, 2020
Episode 21: Examining Zero Emissions
SwRI Principal Engineer Dr. Graham Conway is sparking debate with his views on electric vehicles. Conway presented his ideas in a TEDx San Antonio talk, which now has thousands of views on YouTube. In this episode, he explains why he believes describing electric cars as “zero emissions” doesn’t tell the whole story. He urges listeners to examine where the electricity that powers battery-operated vehicles comes from. If the power source creates pollution, can the technology truly be considered zero emissions? Conway provides valuable insight for the environmentally aware driver. Listen now as we hear a new perspective on electric vehicles.
33 minutes | Jun 15, 2020
Episode 20: Creating a Cleaner Diesel Engine
Vehicles our communities depend on, like big rigs, garbage trucks and buses, are equipped with heavy-duty engines that contribute to smog. Ultimately, that pollution leads to poor air quality and public health issues. SwRI engineers have developed a solution. Their near-zero emissions heavy-duty diesel engine drastically cuts down on harmful nitrogen oxides, while decreasing other pollutants. After years of research, SwRI engineer Chris Sharp and his team are ready to introduce a game-changing technology in heavy-duty transportation that could benefit human health. Listen now as we learn about a cleaner way to hit the road.
34 minutes | May 18, 2020
Episode 19: Mask Materials Testing
COVID-19 has amped up the need for safe, effective masks. Manufacturers and health systems are getting creative, thinking of new ways to make or reuse face coverings. These new materials and materials that undergo tough sanitation methods require rigorous testing to ensure they can protect frontline health care workers. The SwRI particle emissions laboratory is well equipped for this challenge. Once used exclusively for engine emissions testing, the lab is now expanding its capabilities to test mask materials. On this episode, we talk to the SwRI engineer leading the lab through this crucial effort. He tells us why his team is doing this work as a community service, at no charge. Plus, he shares what makes a mask effective. Listen now as we share the science behind mask safety.
37 minutes | Apr 5, 2020
Episode 18: Combatting COVID-19
The novel Coronavirus is raging through communities around the world. It’s a virus never before seen in humans, and therefore, not recognized by our immune systems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people over 65 and those with underlying health conditions are at the highest risk. There is no vaccine or drug therapy to prevent or treat the illness caused by the virus, known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The heroes of this battle are the healthcare workers on the frontlines and the scientists and researchers in the labs developing a weapon to take down this persistent enemy. On this episode, we talk to two scientists joining the fight against COVID-19. SwRI scientist Dr. Jonathan Bohmann is using the Rhodium™ Software to analyze drug compounds that could successfully fight COVID-19. He’s working closely with Dr. Ricardo Carrion and his team from SwRI’s neighboring, San Antonio-based R&D organization Texas Biomedical Research Institute. Dr. Carrion explains how scientists everywhere are joining forces to eradicate the virus. Listen now as we discuss the global pandemic that has rapidly changed the way we live.
32 minutes | Mar 16, 2020
Episode 17: A Superhydrophobic Solution
The award-winning LotusFlo™ superhydrophobic coating is solving a major problem in offshore oil drilling. Substances often clog pipes, slowing or stopping the flow of oil. This innovative coating applied through a unique plasma process keeps substances from adhering to pipe surfaces. Better flow makes recovering petroleum for fuel and other products more cost-effective, which is a win for consumers too. But that’s not the only perk, LotusFlo is also better for the environment, cutting out the need for harsh chemicals that pollute the ocean. R&D Magazine recently recognized LotusFlo as one of the 100 most significant innovations of 2019. Find out why! Plus, an SwRI engineer shares his breakthrough moment bringing about cleaner engines and cleaner air. In Ask Us Anything, we’re tackling the popular tech topic, machine learning. Listen and learn from the people shaping our world through science, engineering, research and technology.
32 minutes | Feb 17, 2020
Episode 16: Superior Signals Intelligence
Antennas make modern communication possible from mobile phones to Wi-Fi. They also make our communities safer by supporting emergency, law enforcement and national security efforts. Even though they are vital to our way of life, we rarely hear about antenna advancements. In this episode, we’re talking to an SwRI electrical engineer who helped develop a sophisticated antenna technology taking signals intelligence to a new level. His team won a prestigious R&D 100 Award for the AF-369 VHF/UHF DF Antenna, recognized as a top 100 innovation of 2019. We’ll tell you what makes it a superior signals intelligence technology. In today’s Breakthroughs, artificial intelligence rescues a scientist buried in data. In Ask Us Anything, we’re untangling quantum entanglement. Listen and learn from the people shaping our world through science, engineering, research and technology.
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