Science

Autonomous cars head for the Big Apple

Oct 18, 2017

Autonomous vehicles are already navigating the verdant hills of Pittsburgh and cruising the pitched avenues of San Francisco. They may soon be tested by the chaos of downtown Manhattan, where pedestrians, taxis, buses and bikes embark daily on an eternal quest to avoid impact. 

Patrick Center / WGVU

Michigan State University officially opened its $88 million Grand Rapids Research with a ribbon cutting.

“One, two, three…”

Lead by Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon, a giant green ribbon was cut opening the Medical School’s six-story, nearly 163,000-square-foot Grand Rapids Research Center.

“Imagine people who are thinking about things that we can’t yet imagine. Ideas that may work, they may not. But they’re all about trying to improve the quality of life.”

A biodigester that turns food scraps into green energy has reopened after shutting down two years ago over financial problems. The new owner, Generate Capital Inc., wants the revamped Fremont Regional Digester to start running at capacity later this fall. The digester is expected to turn 165,000 tons of organic waste a year into enough green energy to power at least 2,500 homes. 

The original $22 million plant that opened in 2012 produced energy to power about 1,500 homes annually. Generate Capital is working with Dynamic Systems Management to run the plant.

Mastodon bones being donated to University of Michigan

Sep 8, 2017

Prehistoric mastodon bones that were found at a western Michigan construction site are being donated to the University of Michigan. Workers found the bones Aug. 31 while excavating a road at a housing development near Byron Center, about 13 miles south of Grand Rapids. 

The City of Grand Rapids is launching a new web app that will allow residents a digital way of conducting business transactions with the city. In a partnership with cloud-based mobile government and payment platform Technology Company, ‘Pay It,’ the city is launching a new app called “GR Pay It’ that links water, refuse and property taxes into a single account, giving residents the ability to pay and manage their bills through the application as well as settle outstanding parking tickets.

Delivery without drivers: Domino's, Ford team up for test

Aug 29, 2017

Forget the delivery driver. Ford and Domino's Pizza are teaming up to see whether customers like having their pizzas delivered by driverless cars. Starting Wednesday, some pizzas in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will arrive in a specially designed Ford Fusion outfitted with radars and a camera used for autonomous testing. For this test, a Ford engineer will be at the wheel. But customers won't be interacting with the driver.

Exhibition to highlight work of sculptors including Rodin

Aug 28, 2017

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park will host the work of 17 contemporary figurative sculptors alongside that of influential French sculptor Auguste Rodin. "Rodin and the Contemporary Figurative Tradition" includes loans of several of Rodin's works from the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The University of Michigan is partnering to create a digital encyclopedia of thousands of 3-D vertebrate specimens. The Ann Arbor school says a $2.5 million National Science Foundation grant will launch oVert, a new initiative to scan about 20,000 vertebrates and make the data-rich, 3-D images available to researchers, educators, students and the public.

Wildlife biologists are stepping up efforts in southern Michigan to monitor ospreys. The birds of prey had all but disappeared from the area because of pesticide pollution but are coming back. Four osprey chicks were fitted this year with "backpack" GPS units enabling scientists to track the birds' movements and seasonal migration patterns. 

Patrick Center

The great American solar eclipse has come and gone. It was a rare astronomical event and one that I  shared with my daughters. With solar eclipse glasses protecting their young eyes, this was their first solar eclipse experience captured in this audio diary. 

“Norah, what do you see?”

“It looks like a moon.”

“Whoa!” Shrieked her sister, Sienna, “It’s a moon! It’s the moon!”

I had to explain it’s the moon passing in front of the sun. Also, reminding the girls to keep the solar eclipse glasses covering their eyes.

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