Elon Musk Is Innovating Change in Space and on Earth (1 of 2)

In the first installment of a two-part blog series, we take a look at one of the most innovative minds in the world today: Elon Musk. The PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX polymath has been moving forward with visionary plans, including utilizing a revolutionary new rocket design both for interplanetary exploration and high-speed suborbital travel.

At the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia last week, Musk announced that SpaceX planned to send unmanned cargo ships to Mars by 2022 and human explorers by 2024 (Pulse, 10/3/17). This is going to be possible, according to Musk, by utilizing a new rocket, called the “BFR,” that is even larger than NASA’s Saturn V that carried astronauts to the Moon during the Apollo program. Furthermore, SpaceX is no longer going to put resources into its current line of Falcon 9 rockets (which are being used to carry satellites into orbit and to ferry cargo to the International Space Station) or its larger, next-generation Falcon Heavy (the Verge, 9/30/17). Instead, all resources will go into developing the new spacecraft, which will carry a payload of 150 tons and of which Musk reportedly hopes to begin construction “within the next six to nine months.” Continue Reading…

The New Tappan Zee Bridge’s Smart Technology Makes It Built To Last

One of the most technologically advanced bridges in the U.S. opened to traffic shortly after 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 26, partially replacing the old Tappan Zee Bridge, New York State’s longest bridge.

The Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is on schedule to replace the entire Tappan Zee Bridge when its second span is completed later this year. Once both spans are open for traffic, the new bridge will have eight lanes, including four for breakdowns and emergencies, bicycle and walking paths, and a future mass transit crossing. ENR reported in its March 20/27 issue that the new $3.98 billion bridge is designed to use smart technology systems to keep it operating smoothly and safely for the next 100 years—without needing any major repairs. Continue Reading…

A Grand Feat for Lower Manhattan

HAKS led the REI joint venture for this ambitious $40 million public works project that reconstructed water mains and utility infrastructure along Grand Street, from Broadway to Essex.  Subsurface challenges included active subways, non-functioning water main valves, active steam lines, underground building vaults extending into the street, and a high density of secondary electrical and communication lines.  Abandoned, heavily reinforced trolley track foundations also interfered with the work.  Continue Reading…

Drones Set to Take Off

Drone-4Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), popularly known as drones, were originally designed to carry out military missions that were deemed too dangerous for humans or for which manned aircraft were impractical. What we would recognize today as drones were jointly developed by Israel and the US during the 1980s and deployed against Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, and have since become a staple of modern warfare and antiterrorism activities. However, due to ongoing improvements in technology and miniaturization and decreasing costs, the use of drones has since expanded far beyond the military sphere to many other applications, including science, recreation, aerial photography, product delivery, agriculture, law enforcement, surveillance, and even protecting elephants from poachers. Continue Reading…

Eco-Friendly Cooling from an Innovative Metamaterial

services-762103_960_720Conventional air conditioners are energy hogs. According to the US Department of Energy, air conditioning in the United States accounts for 117 million metric tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere every year. Air conditioning is expensive, too—according to the Texas utility Austin Energy, households in warmer regions of the country can expect cooling their homes to account for 60 to 70 percent of their summer electric bills. Continue Reading…

Action Steps to Improve Your City

As we begin 2017, HAKS would like to share Curbed New York’s suggestions on initiatives we can launch to improve our cities.  We have culled a small number from the list; you can access them all at 101 Small Ways You Can Improve Your City. Continue Reading…

2017: The Year of the Commuter

As we prepare to ring in the new year, we would like to highlight some projects that will reshape area transportation and ease the way for thousands of commuters.  One improvement will be ready for use as early as January 1st, when the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway opens.  Others should be evident a little later in the year—emotive lighting on bridges and tunnels and the north span of the new Tappan Zee Bridge.  One change is already in place—remnants of a World Trade Center passageway dating to the 1970s.

The HAKS Family wishes you and yours a happy and healthy 2017. Safe travels.
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New Application for Mood Ring Technology

mood-ringThe mood ring, a popular fad in the late 1970s, is a specialized liquid crystal thermometer typically ornamented with a faux gemstone (usually made of quartz or glass). Temperature changes in the wearer’s finger cause the crystal to reflect different wavelengths of light, which change the color of the stone.  Green is considered normal or average, while blue is calm and relaxed and black is stressed and tense. Continue Reading…

Airborne Trains Traveling on Strings

Unitsky String Transport (UST) is a transportation system developed by Russian inventor Anatoly Unitsky as a railway consisting not of steel tracks bolted to ties but rather elevated high-tension concrete- and steel-enveloped wires strung between towers, thereby offering rails that can traverse uneven terrain, forests, or water without the prohibitively expensive infrastructure required by conventional transit systems. Furthermore, UST can traverse obstacles in a straight line, thereby obviating the need to circumnavigate impediments or build switchbacks and considerably reducing the distance between two points.

Unitsky began developing the concept back in 1977. His design uses high-tension steel wires inserted into a concrete-resin core and enveloped by steel shells and elevated from three to 30 meters from the ground (or potentially even higher, if the terrain necessitates it). While this might sound like a conventional ropeway (like a chairlift or the Roosevelt Island Tramway), it differs in its much higher cable tension with sag of less than an inch between support posts, allowing vehicles to travel along the wires with a minimum of drag and at speeds, according to Unitsky, of between 200 and 300 mph. “In fact,” according to newatlas.com, “it’s more accurate to look at a UST track more or less as a tiny pre-stressed concrete bridge, built for a fraction of the cost of a ground rail system or even a motorway.” Continue Reading…

Defensive Walking

photo-1472545068001-62d94063edd2

photo-1423853978401-35df4077ff7dIn October, the de Blasio Administration announced that New York City was redoubling its efforts around Vision Zero as the City enters what is traditionally the deadliest time of year for pedestrians on New York City streets. Pedestrian incidents increase by nearly 40 percent in the early evening hours compared to crashes outside the fall and winter. Lower visibility during the dark hours of the colder months leads to twice as many crashes involving turns.  In 2015, the year with the fewest traffic fatalities in New York City’s recorded history, 40 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred after October 1. Continue Reading…