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radar beam The New Look of Flying Machines

    Most people are familiar with the Standard Configuration,  the most common airplane design.  However, recent revelations in both military and general aviation have shown at least a slight movement toward different arrangements of an airplane's lift and control surfaces.  These variations in aircraft structure include the canard configuration and the flying wing.
    First, we must understand the basic principles of flight before any different configurations of lift surfaces can be discussed.  In order for any object to gain lift, it must have a force pushing it upwards which is greater than its weight.  This force, called lift, results from the differing pressures on the upper and lower surfaces of the wing.  The air that hits the leading edge of the wing separates.  Part goes over the wing, and part travels underneath it. The top of the wing curves, or is cambered, causing the air passing over the top of the wing to go faster than the air passing under the wing.  The lower surface of the wing is relatively flat, so air travels at, or near, its normal speed.  Bernoulli's Law says that as the speed of gas or fluid increases its pressure decreases (Pappas 2).  
    Therefore, there is a greater air pressure under the wing than there is above the wing.  This greater pressure under the wing pushes the plane up.  When this force exceeds the pull of gravity on the aircraft, flight is achieved.
    Two other forces affect an aircraft's movement through the air: thrust and drag.  Thrust is the force provided by an aircraft's power plant which pushes or pulls it forward through the air.  Drag, which counteracts thrust, is the force of wind resistance against the aircraft.  It is supplemented by various appendages on the aircraft, such as the wings, stabilizers, and the fuselage.  The less drag there is on an aircraft, the faster and more economically it can fly.  Drag can be reduced by eliminating items which disrupt airflow.  
    The wing, horizontal stabilizer and vertical stabilizer of an aircraft have, at their trailing edges, control surfaces which change the direction of flight by altering the lift characteristics of the surface which house them.  The flaps, which are designed to increase the lift of the wings on take-off and landing, are lowered.  The increased camber of the upper surface causes the air flowing across the wing's upper surface to move even faster, decreasing the air pressure on the upper surface.  This increases the force on the bottom of the wing and increases the lift.  The ailerons, which control the rolling motion of the plane, shift in opposite directions.  When the airplane is to turn to the right, the aileron on the left wing lowers, increasing the lift on that wing.  At the same time, the aileron on the right wing is raised, which creates an opposite-lift effect, and the aircraft "rolls" to the right.  The opposite is true for a left turn.  The rudder works similarly: to yaw to the right, the rudder swings right, creating a greater pressure on the right side of the vertical stabilizer.  This causes the tail of the plane to shift to the left, and the plane pivots about the vertical axis, pointing the nose right.  The opposite is true for left yaw.  Elevators, which control the pitch of the plane, work differently for each configuration.  They will be discussed separately.
    Today, the Standard Configuration is the most prevalent design of personal, commercial and military airplanes.  The main wing is located about a third- or half-way from the nose of the aircraft, close to the center of gravity, and serves as the lateral axis.  The empennage at the tail of the plane consists of the horizontal stabilizer and the vertical stabilizer.
    The horizontal stabilizer provides lateral stability and houses the elevator, which controls the pitch of the aircraft.  In the Standard Configuration, because the horizontal stabilizer and the elevator are aft of the lateral axis.  A downward motion of the elevator increases the lift of the airplane's tail.  As the tail rises, the plane pivots on the lateral axis, and the nose points downward.  An upward motion of the elevator decreases the lift of the tail, ... more

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Microwaves

You might remember the heroic role that newly-invented radar played in the  Second World War. People hailed it then as “Our Miracle Ally”.        But even in its earliest years, as it was helping win the war, radar proved to be more than an expert enemy locator. Radar technicians, doodling away in their idle moments, found that they could focus a radar beam on a marshmallow and toast it. They also popped popcorn with it.       Such was the beginning of microwave cooking. The very same energy that warned the British of the German Luftwaffe invasion and that policemen  employ to pinch speeding motorists, is what many of us now have in our kitchens.  It’s the same as what carries long distance phone calls and cablevision.       Hitler’s army had its own version of radar, using radio waves. But the trouble with radio waves is that their long wavelength requires a large, cumbersome antenna to focus them into a narrow radar beam.  The British showed that microwaves, with their short wavelength, could be focussed ina narrow beam with an antenna many times smaller. This enabled them to make more effective use of radar since an antenna could be carried on aircraft, ships and mobile ground stations.      This characteristic of microwaves, the efficiency with which they are concentrated in a narrow beam, is one reason why they can be used in cooking. You can produce a high-powered microwave beam in a small oven, but you can’t do the same with radio waves, which are simply too long.   Microwaves and their Use  The idea of cooking with radiation may seem like a fairly new one, but in fact it reaches back thousands of years. Ever since mastering fire, man has cooked with infrared  radiation, a close kin of the microwave.         Infrared rays are what give you that warm glow when you put your hand near a room radiator or a hotplate or a campfire. Infrared rays, flowing from the sun and striking the atmosphere, make the Earth warm and habitable.  In a conventional gas or electric oven, infrared waves pour off the hot elements or burners and are converted to heat when they strike air inside and the food.        Microwaves and infrared rays are related in that both are forms of  electromagnetic energy.  Both consist of electric and magnetic fields that rise and fall like waves on an ocean.  Silently, invisibly and at the speed  of light, they travel through space and matter.        There are many forms of electromagnetic energy (see diagram). Ordinary light from the sun is one, and the only one you can actually see.  X-rays are another.  Each kind, moving at a separate wavelength, has a unique effect on any matter it touches. When you lie out in the summer sun, for example, it’s the infrared rays that bring warmth, but ultraviolet radiation that tans your skin. If the Earth’s protective atmosphere weren’t there, intense cosmic radiation from space would kill you.      So why do microwaves cook faster than infrared rays?      Well, suppose you’re roasting a chicken in a radar range.  What happens is that when you switch on the microwaves, they’re absorbed only by water  molecules in the chicken. Water is what chemists call a polar molecule. It  has a slightly positive charge at one end and a slightly negative charge at  the opposite end. This peculiar orientation  provides a sort of handle for  the microwaves to grab onto. The microwaves agitate the water molecules  billions of times a second, and this rapid movement generates heat and cooks  the food.         Since microwaves agitate only water molecules, they pass through all  other molecules and penetrate deep into the chicken. They reach right inside  the food. Ordinary ovens, by contrast,  fail to have the same penetrating  power because their infrared waves agitate all  molecules. Most of the  infarred radiation is spent heating the air inside the oven, and any  remaining rays are absorbed by the outer layer of the chicken. Food cooks in  an ordinary oven as the heat from the air and the outer layer of the food  slowly seeps down to the inner layers.        In short, oven microwaves  cook the outside of the chicken at the same time as they cook the ... more

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