Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Headline Science

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Headline Science

Article excerpt

New Mirrors Eliminate Blind Spot

A new type of automobile mirror may eliminate the dreaded blind spot in traffic without distorting the perceived distance of cars approaching from behind. As described in a paper published in the journal Optics Letters, objects viewed in a mirror using the new design appear larger than in traditional side-view mirrors, so it's easier to judge their following distance and speed.

Today's motor vehicles in the United States use two different types of mirrors for the driver and passenger sides. The driver's side mirror is flat so that objects viewed in it are undistorted and not optically reduced in size. Unfortunately, the flat mirror also creates a blind spot that often leads to collisions during merges, lane changes, or turns. The passenger side mirror, on the other hand, possesses a spherical convex shape that widens the field of view but also causes objects to look smaller and farther away than they are. To remedy this problem, some car makers have installed a separate, small wide-angle mirror in the upper corner of side mirrors, but drivers often find this distracting.


A simpler design for a mirror that would be free of blind spots, have a wide field of view, and produce images that are accurately scaled to the true size of an approaching object has been proposed by researchers Hocheol Lee and Dohyun Kim at Hanbat National University in Korea and Sung Yi at Portland State University in Oregon. Their mirror uses progressive additive optics technology, common to "no-line multifocal" eyeglasses.

"Like multifocal glasses that give the wearer a range of focusing abilities from near to far and everything in between, our progressive mirror consists of three resolution zones: one for distance vision, one for close-up viewing, and a middle zone making the transition between the two," says Lee. "However, unlike glasses, our mirror surface is horizontally progressive."

The researchers claim that the manufacturing cost of their proposed mirror design would be cheaper than the mirror design with the added small wide-angle viewing section. Because mirror designs are nationally regulated, the new design would need to be approved for use in the United States before appearing on cars here. (Optics Letters)


Best Friends Affect Teen Drinking

All you remember about your first swig of alcohol may be how bad it tasted. What you didn't know is that the person who gave you that first drink and when you had it affects your predisposition to imbibe later in life.

A national study by a University of Iowa (UI)--led team has found that adolescents who get their first drink from a friend are more likely to drink sooner in life, which past studies show makes them more prone to abusing alcohol when they get older. The finding is designed to help specialists predict when adolescents are likely to first consume alcohol, with the aim of heading off problem drinking at the pass.

"Kids don't get their first drinks from their family," says Samuel Kuperman, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at UI and coauthor of the study. "They get their first drinks from their friends."

The basis for the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, is compelling: One-third of U.S. eighth graders report they've tried alcohol, according to a 2011 study of 20,000 teenagers. By 10th grade, more than half say they've had a first drink, and that percentage shoots to 70% by their senior year.

"There's something driving kids to drink," explains Kuperman, corresponding author on the paper. "Maybe it's the coolness factor or some mystique about it. So, we're trying to educate kids about the risks associated with drinking and give them alternatives."

Adolescents whose best friend used alcohol were twice as likely to have a first drink, the researchers found. …

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