The third of the eight-episode series will showcase three Big Ten research programs with key implications at home, abroad and in space. The episode will air at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
Whether moving 55 miles per hour on the highway or 200 on a racetrack, a car out of control means danger for drivers and those around them. The level of danger often depends on the car’s speed of impact with an object, like a wall or safety barrier. Professor Dean Sicking, Director of the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has helped save the lives of countless NASCAR and INDY race car drivers — and those driving on highways — by developing safer roadside barriers. What began as a fledgling research program is now recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in roadside safety features. Their highway barriers have become standard designs in 41 highway projects across the country, helping prevent more than 1,000 fatalities annually. Former President George W. Bush awarded Sicking the National Medal of Technology, the highest honor granted to America’s leading innovators, for his life-saving work.
When it comes to researching the world’s disappearing glaciers, scientists at Ohio State’s Byrd Polar Research Center in Columbus are in a race against time. To capture a picture of how the earth’s climate has changed over time, researchers travel alpine and polar regions to collect, measure and archive ice cores collected from around the world and then reconstruct the history of the earth’s climate. The center, an internationally recognized leader in the field, incorporates 10 research groups which focus on the role of cold regions in the earth’s overall climate system. The segment also profiles the exploits of a team of Byrd researchers, led by Dr. Bryan Mark, who travel to Peru yearly to measure changes in glacial volume along the Cordillera Blanca. Sixty percent of Peru’s population lives along the Pacific Coast, much of which is desert, and depends on the glacial water for everything from drinking and bathing to energy production and farming.
Purdue is renowned as the “Cradle of Astronauts,” with more than one in three human space flights having a graduate on board and boasting an astonishing 22 astronaut alumni. That’s a good reason why NASA has brought to Purdue Project Morpheus, whose mission is to one day send a lunar lander equipped with robots, a rover and a small lab to the moon to do research. Purdue aerospace engineering students are building an engine – a rocket thrust chamber – to land Morpheus on the moon’s surface. The students already have spent a year and a half designing and analyzing their engine and now are building the prototype. They hope to begin testing in May.