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Kimberly CrandellRSS Feed of this column.

I'm a mother of three, with an aeronautical engineering degree.  Although it's been a while since I've done any aircraft design, there are surprising applications of

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In the fall of 2006, a strange design mysteriously appeared amongst the rows of crops in a farmer’s field. And this time, there was some serious product placement.

The large Firefox logo appeared in a farmer’s oat field outside of Amity, Oregon. But far from being a mysterious extraterrestrial communication, the design was carefully planned and executed by a group of Oregon State University students.

Two Mozilla video interns came up with the idea. Supported by the enthusiasm of fellow Mozilla staff members, things really started to take shape when the idea was presented to members of the Oregon State Linux Users Group (OSLUG). A local farmer offered up his field as the “canvas” for the creation, and the stage was set.
Firefox Crop Circle


Wile E. Coyote has nothing on this guy.

Yves Rossy, aka Jet Man, zoomed into the record books this morning, flying across the English Channel strapped to a single jet-powered wing, with only a helmet and flight suit for protection.

The 22-mile (35-kilometer) France-to-England journey took 13 minutes. Bad weather had twice postponed the event this week. But this morning—with clear blue skies and a nice tailwind—turned out to be an ideal flight day for the Swiss airline pilot.

Around 2 p.m., local time, Rossy leaped from a plane abound 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) above a beach near Calais. Within seconds he had opened his wing, fired up his four miniature jet turbines, and pointed his nose toward Britain.


Scientific happenings, big and small, on this day in history

But first: today’s quiz. What inventor, who died on this day in 1902, developed and patented a highly popular (and much beloved) item of clothing in 1873? Trust me, you most likely have this item of clothing in your wardrobe, and in fact may be wearing it right now – especially since it’s Friday. The answer can be found at the end of this article.

On to other historic happenings…

What happened to my jugs? They’re huge! I’m talking about my milk jugs, of course. No, seriously -- those large, plastic, gallon-sized jugs that you buy at the store that are filled with milk. It seems that they’ve gone through quite a growth spurt all of the sudden.

Milk Jugs - The New and the Old


Why the sudden design change? Transitioning to the new “squared off” jugs saves money, materials, time, and fuel… all things that are good for businesses, consumers, and the environment. The new-fangled jugs started showing up in selected Costco, WalMart, and Sam’s Club stores last fall. But because of the savings they represent, they are certain to start appearing in grocery stores all around the country before long.

Scientific happenings, big and small, on this day in history

First, let’s get started with today’s quiz:

What common household item, used in more than 90 percent of American homes, was developed on this day in 1930 by Richard G. Drew? As a little hint, despite its name it did not originate in Scotland. The answer can be found at the end of this article.

In the meantime, here are some other significant happenings that have occurred on this day:




1504
Michelangelo's David is unveiled in Florence


In autumn 1504 the citizens of Florence, Italy witnessed an exceptional event. After four days of traveling around the city inside a wooden cage running on greased beams, Michelangelo’s David finally reached its destination: the Piazza della Signoria.

A new age for air travel is dawning; at least if you’re one of the lucky few in the market for supersonic luxury travel. Lockheed Martin's advanced Skunk Works unit is designing a small, 12-seat passenger jet that would travel at 1,200 mph (Mach 1.8) but which would produce only a whisper of the annoying crack once emitted by the retired Concorde.

Aimed at business executives and diplomats, the QSST will fly at nearly twice the speed of conventional business jets and have a range of 4,600 miles nonstop -- Los Angeles to New York in just over two hours. The sleek, 130-foot-long QSST (for "quiet supersonic transport") aircraft is being designed for a Nevada consortium called Supersonic Aerospace International, or SAI, at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion. According to the company, it could be ready for boarding by 2013.

Quiet Supersonic Transport


It seems that this is a technology that is long overdue, and it may seem curious that domestic supersonic travel doesn’t already exist. But it’s been the pesky sonic boom that accompanies supersonic flight that has prevented development in this area -- until now.