The countdown to the America’s Cup has begun. No matter what the outcome, the scientific and technological results of the partnership between Alinghi and EPFL have demonstrated that the benefits and the potential of the America’s Cup will extend far beyond the regattas. The collaboration that began in 2000 was strengthened after Alinghi’s victory in 2003, focusing on more fundamental areas. The relations between the sailing team, the design team and the scientists have opened up new horizons, demonstrating that Alinghi is fully committed to its slogan “Technology Together”. And Alinghi is not afraid to unveil a few secrets to the public at its base in Valencia, one of the few teams willing to do so. Visitors can explore an exhibit describing the main innovations of the Alinghi-EPFL partnership for the 32nd edition of the America’s Cup.
Even though America’s Cup Class rules require the boats to have the same basic silhouette, they are all quite different when it comes to the technology used in their design, construction and use. This technology, however, requires a high level of expertise in a number of research areas. As official “Scientific Advisor”, EPFL shares several important research axes with Alinghi:
-Mathematicians have been improving computer simulations of fluid flow, to better understand what is happening in the air and water around the hull and the sails. These numerical models are useful tools for optimising the design of elements such as the keel, the rudder, the hull or the sails.
-Materials specialists have continued their work to improve the performance of composites. Sophisticated materials, such as carbon-epoxy sandwich structures, have progressed considerably with improvements at the microscopic level in the manufacturing process. And now, thanks to the contributions of optics researchers, these materials have an added dimension – sensation. Similar to nerve fibers in the human body, these materials contain embedded optical fibers that give real-time feedback on strain and deformation.
-Results are not always easy to come by. For example, how can one determine the exact form of the spinnaker as the yacht is sailing, with its huge dimensions, the vagaries of the wind and the elasticity of the cloth? Here, image analysis has led to spectacular progress by making it possible to determine the three-dimensional form of an object from a series of still images. Considering that seeing in 3D normally requires two eyes, this research advance is a real tour de force.
-The wind above the water’s surface is constantly changing speed and direction. How can these fluctuations be anticipated? Here, again, mathematicians come to the rescue, developing new models based on game theory. These models are also used in many other domains, such as finance.
EPFL has carried out a unique collaboration with Alinghi during the lead-up to this America’s Cup competition, building upon the partnership developed in the previous campaign. Science and education, with fifty students involved from the project’s beginning, are already winners in this magnificent adventure.
Tracing aromatic molecules in the early universe
23.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
New study maps space dust in 3-D
23.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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